Kampong Ah Lee (Edinburgh): A Malaysian “Village” in Scotland

photo 2 (5)Dorset Boy is a little particular about food, which I realize could be a problem.

As you may have guessed from this blog (and Tiger), I am a total food trollop.¬†I will eat anything at least once — I constantly crave variety, the different, the new.

Potato – potahto, though. Plus, there seems to be some degree of curiosity about my food quirks. So when I learn that there is a Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh — one that actually comes well-endorsed by the one Malaysian-Scot I’ve met in the city — he knows we have to go.

So one night, the ever-patient man allows me to drag him to Kampong Ah Lee …

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Vietnam House (Edinburgh): The Hunt For Pho

photo 2 (1)A few days into any visit to a city that’s not in Asia and the urge always strikes — I must have a bowl of noodles.

In Edinburgh, this proves slightly more challenging than in many other sizeable western cities — yes, the place is filled with cheap Chinese takeouts and Indian curry shops. But the Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese noodle craze that has a firm hold in several metropolises appears to have bypassed this one altogether.

When I text this dilemma to an Asian food-loving friend in Edinburgh — the sweet and adorable¬†Lauren of Asian Cajuns — she immediately replies: Vietnam House for pho.

Well that’s that then — pho it is …

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Dark Sauce Pork Noodles: A Touch of “Singapore Noir”

Dark Sauce Pork Noodles

In the twenty years that I’ve lived in the U.S., whenever I mention I’m from Singapore, all too often I’ll hear one of the following words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.

It’s always frustrated me that Americans tend to think of my native country as this sterile, boring place with strict rules where no adventures happen. Anyone who’s ever been so Singapore, of course, knows that this isn’t true — we have a seamy, dark side just like any other country!

So I was especially thrilled to have the opportunity to put together “Singapore Noir,” an anthology of dark fiction set in this little city-state perched on an island near the equator.

The book, which launched in the U.S. this month, has run me ragged so far, taking me from New York to Washington, D.C., to far-flung Los Angeles and San Francisco. (Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Miami and New York are still up — swing by a book signing if you’re in one of those cities!)

So when the intrepid Let’s Lunch crew settled on a Noir-themed lunch this month to toast the book, a certain Singaporean comfort food immediately came to mind: Dark sauce pork noodles

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Albert Street Prawn Noodle (Singapore): 51 Years And Counting

Albert Street Prawn MeeI’ve always found that there are two sure ways to figure out whether a hawker stall is good in Singapore:

1. There’s an insanely long and rather slow-moving line in front of the stall, even during off-peak hours.

2. The stall bears the name of a street or neighborhood that’s practically half the country away.

Singaporeans are among the most impatient people I know, so if they’re waiting calmly, quietly, in a snail-paced line, that’s a sign there’s something well worth waiting for there. As for the name, if the stall has made such a reputation for itself at its previous location that it needs to refer to it, well, you certainly need to try its food.

So on a recent night, during my first visit to Old Airport Road Food Centre, a legendary hawker center I’d been hearing about it for years, when I found myself utterly flummoxed by the plethora of choices before me, each one seemingly more delectable and fragrant than the last, I looked around for the longest line.

There it was — in front of Albert Street Prawn Noodle. What sealed my decision? The fact that Albert Street was nowhere nearby …

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Excellent Pork Chop House: Taiwanese Comfort Food

There are some people whose food instincts and advice I greatly respect. One of them is the voracious (and all-around awesome) Ed Lin, author of New York Chinatown thrillers “One Red Bastard,” “Snakes Can’t Run” and more.

So when Ed recently posted a photo of a bowl of noodles at his favorite Taiwanese place in New York, I immediately sat up. I trust Ed on all matters gastronomic — especially Taiwanese, a cuisine he knows inside and out.

Which is how a few days later, sous chef and I found ourselves wending down a narrow curvy lane in Chinatown, eyes peeled for one “Excellent Pork Chop House” …

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