The Harbour Takeaway (Scotland): Fish, Chips, And a Vista

SetonDorset Boy knows I need to see the sea.

I can’t possibly consider living in any city that’s not near a massive body of water. I’ve been spoiled, you see, growing up in Singapore, where a short bus ride in just about any direction would land me on a shore, looking out at a vast expanse of blue — ever the perfect spot for a good sit and a hard think.

So, on the first clear day in Scotland that a visit to the water seems possible, we pack into the car and head north.

I wonder aloud if we’re headed to Musselburgh, where I’ve heard there’s a terrific fishmonger whose fresh lobster and local catches have earned him a staunch following among regional cooks. I wonder if we’re headed to the Forth Bridge, an 1890 architectural wonder stretching 8,296 feet across the scenic Firth of Forth.

Dorset Boy has other plans, however. He simply says, “Fish and chips” …

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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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The Wharf (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.): A View — With Food on the Side

Remember how I mentioned that people love to tell me where I must eat when I travel?

Well, The Wharf in New York‘s Rockaway Beach is certainly not one of those places.

Check it out, yes — I definitely heard that. With its outdoor dining deck with sweeping views of the water and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, The Wharf’s vista for a sunset cocktail can’t be beat. But eat? We had read and heard enough about the food to know there were probably better restaurants in Rockaway Beach.

Even so, on a recent evening, as our cocktails on that famous deck were disappearing, the vaunted view was nudging us to stay.

How bad could the food truly be? We decided to find out …

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Soondubu Jjigae: Korean Silky Tofu with Beef & Seafood, A Quick WeeknightTake

Fiery foods are never far from my mind — but the summer months are when this yearning really consumes me.

Perhaps it’s because spicy food and sweltering weather are so intertwined in Singapore, where I grew up. Regardless, whenever the weather turns hot in New York, that’s when my hankering for mouth-numbing flavors truly rears its head.

This week, this led me to try my hand at a dish that I’ve adored for years in Korean restaurants but had never considered trying: Soondubu Jjigae …

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Minh Hoa Restaurant & Cajun Seafood: Vietnam in the Heartland

It’s always a treat to find good Asian food where you don’t quite expect it.

Recently, that unexpected place for me was Wichita, Kansas, where yes, I’d thought I’d find terrific steaks but Vietnamese? Never crossed my mind.

Now, no matter where I’ve been, be it little Strasburg, Virginia, or Boring, Oregon (yes, there is such a town and yes, I have been there), I expect to find decent Chinese food. (I’ve learned that any place in the U.S. tends to have a Chinese family hard at work somewhere churning out OK versions of General Tso’s chicken and kung pao beef.)

Any other kinds of Asian food, however, is a different matter. So I was pleasantly surprised to come across a restaurant in Wichita that served up not just Vietnamese — but good and less usual Vietnamese dishes.

You can read my full report on Minh Hoa Restaurant & Cajun Seafood in this weekend’s New York Times Travel section. But if you want to see more visuals, carry on reading here…

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