Eat up at the EATOF!
WHILE MOST EYES WERE on the boat races during the Sarawak Regatta along the Kuching Waterfront on September 4th, I was heading towards the EATOF Food Fair at the other end of the waterfront to fulfill my longtime fantasy of tasting every food available in most, if not all of, South East Asia.
With the aim of promoting cultural exchange, it was a good opportunity for restaurateurs and food lovers to exchange ideas and opinions about food from different countries.
The EATOF Food Fair boasted a range of cuisines from Japan, Korea, China, Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and, of course, Malaysia organised by Absolute Tribal restaurant from September 4 to 7, 10 am to 10 pm.
Festival food (Tottori, Japan)
Since it’s a food festival, what better way to enjoy it than walking down the street, looking at interesting things while enjoying food that you can easily carry with you?
Here in Malaysia, we might know it as satay, but in Japan the grilled skewered chicken is called Yakitori. Different from the ones we have here, the small bite-sized pieces of chicken are marinated in teriyaki sauce before they are grilled over a fire.
Other than that, the Kushi katsu (breaded chicken on a skewer) and Karaage (fried chicken Japanese-style) may be eaten with a special flavourful smokey sauce, tonkatsu.
Aside from than that other treats that was prepared were Mitarashi Dango which is a sweet treat made up of glutinous rice dumplings skewered on sticks and glazed in soy sauce.
Red hot (South Korea)
Is it just me or has anybody been curious about what Korean street food tastes like?
My curiosity was first piqued from watching a scene play out in one of my first Korean drama series (I forgot the title) where this bunch of teenagers were eating roundish street food coated in a reddish sauce.
Well, for the EATOF food festival, Korean chef Kim Dae Ki, who owns a restaurant called ‘Obuja Dalk Kal Bi’ which means a father and his four sons, especially prepared tteokbukki (rice cake with spicy sauce), gimbap (seaweed rice) and kimchi (fermented side dish).
According to the chef, Koreans love spicy food (to the extreme!) but for the food festival, he mellowed down the level of spiciness to accommodate our local taste buds.
For sweet tooths (Cebu, Philippines)
For dessert addicts out there, you might come to appreciate the desserts the Filipino booth has to offer such as the creamy and not overly sweet Leche flan pudding, their buttery and sweet Cassava cake, the puto (steamed rice cake) and kucinta (brown rice cake).
Despite these sweet delights, the best seller for the Filipino food booth was the Lumpiang Sariwa (fresh vegetable spring roll). Made fresh, the contents of the spring roll is totally made up of vegetables and topped with homemade peanut sauce.
Other Filipino delicacies offered during the food festival were Lechon Manuk (roast chicken) and Pancit Palabok (rice noodle with prawn sauce)
Fresh and tangy (Luang Prabang, Laos)
Made out of fresh unripe papaya, chillies and tomatoes, garnished with peanuts, Tam Mak Hoog – which literally means pound papaya – is perfect for those who are health conscious. Fresh, tangy and slightly spicy, the green papaya salad is made by mixing and pounding the shredded unripe papaya in a mortar and pestle with chillies, and fresh sliced tomatoes, topping it with a garnish of peanuts and dried shrimp.
Other healthy dishes prepared during the food festival were Larb Kai/Larb Ner (minced chicken/beef salad).
Prepared by Chef Pradon Yenchai, the dish is spicy with a herbal aroma and grainy texture. The salad has a distinctive flavour as it mixed with an uncommon herb known as ‘Englishman’s coriander’ by the Lao people.
Seafood anyone? (Quang Ninh, Vietnam)
Light, fresh and absolutely delicious!
If you happen to love seafood, these Vietnamese seafood treats are sure to make your mouth water.
At first glance, Tom Mia (sugarcane prawn) might look like our very own local satay at first, but it is actually prawns wrapped around a sugarcane skewer and then grilled to perfection. This delicious savoury sweet delicacy is a tasty street food making it handy to carry around and the best thing is that the sugarcane does not burn easily and you can actually chew to sugarcane stick for its refreshing sweet juice!
Aside from that, other delicacies served were Roi Cuon (spring roll), Bun Tom (rice noodle) and Muc Cham Nuoc Mam (squid).
Tower top (Jogjakarta, Indonesia)
It is impossible not to gawk at the impressive edible tower of an art piece created by Chefs Purnomo and Fajar Subeni of Jogjakarta together with Chef Imade Witara of Bali.
Shaped into a triangle yellow tower, according to Chef Purnomo, the ‘Tumpeng gunungan’ is usually prepared during special occasions such as weddings, anniversary or the birth of a newborn.
Savoury and flavourful, the rice is cooked with garlic, shallots, lemongrass, coconut milk and several other ingredients. Aside from that, the rice served alongside various side dishes such as begedel kentang (potatoes patties), kedelai hitam (black soybean), ubon sapi (beef floss), kering tempeh (soybean product in a cake form), uraban (various vegetables) and telur dadar suwir (omelette) with roasted chicken.
According to Chef Purnomo, Yogyakarta’s cuisines are known to be more sweet than savoury, so their madu wongso and yangko are must-try delicacies if you ever visit Jogjakarta in the future!
Exotic Iban cuisines (Sarawak, Malaysia)
Iban, or Dayak cuisine, is trending on the Kuching culinary landscape. I am sure each of us has our own favourite Dayak eateries, mine happens to be Patz Dayak Home Cook Special!
For those who have already been there, you might be well acquainted with Patriella’s delicious and one-of-a-kind cuisine.
During the EATOF food festival, Patriella laid out four scrumptious dishes – terung dayak with salai lumik (eggplant with smoked fish), manuk pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo), buah entekai dan daun (pumpkin with leaves) and my personal favourite, manuk cencaluk (chicken cooked with fermented shrimp).