Jason explores and tastes a variation of Vietnamese bánh dishes, including Bánh Chưng (rice cake made from glutinous rice and mung beans), Bánh Cuốn (steamed rice rolls), Bánh Lai Fun (thick noodles made from tapioca), and Bánh Mì (Vietnamese baguette). Jason soon discovers that many of Vietnam’s local delicacies reflect Chinese influences, and begins to compare Bánh Chưng to a similar Chinese dish Zongzi, which is also made from glutinous rice, mung beans and wrapped leaves. Jason then gets a real taste of Bánh Mì, and then learns the history of the classic Vietnamese sandwich with a French colonial past.
While Pho is warm, hearty and delicious, it is also a dish that is rich in tradition and is parallel to the history of the country itself. After tasting both Northern and Southern Vietnam Pho Bo (flat rice noodles with beef), Jason mingles with local vendors and discovers the strong Chinese and French influences present in these dishes. Jason compares the dish to other variations of rice noodle dishes around Vietnam including Pho Ga (shredded Cantonese flat rice noodles with chicken), and Hủ Tiếu (noodle soup with pork stock and flat rice noodles), both dishes that have been brought to Vietnam by Chinese immigrants over 1000 years ago.
Jason travels to Indonesia and uncovers a rich variety of Satay. Originally derived from Arab and Muslim Tamil immigrants in Java, the dish quickly spread across the archipelago, crossing the Strait of Malacca to Malaysia, Thailand and other neighboring countries where variations of the dish have since been adapted to suit local taste buds. In this episode, he samples Satay Tanggerang (Indonesian Straits-born Chinese Satay), Satay Ayam Madura (East Java Satay), Satay Bangkong (Satay with Chinese soup), and Satay Betawi (beef Satay from Jakarta).
Typically made up of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meat served with a fragrant dipping sauce, Jason explores the diversity of Satay across Indonesia and speaks with stall owners to uncover the different cultural influences.
Jason spends his time in Indonesia trying a variety of hybrid Chinese-Indonesian dishes. He learns the history behind the cuisine, and traces it back to Chinese immigrants bringing their legacy of Chinese cuisine and modifying some of the dishes with the addition of Indonesian ingredients. Jason samples Bakmi (Chinese Hakka minced pork noodles), Mie Ayam (Bakmi made with chicken), Bakso (Chinese Teochew beef ball noodles), and Soto Ayam Ambenan (Chinese shredded chicken soup).
Chinese Filipinos are one of the largest overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. Jason begins his food adventure in the Philippines by exploring sweet local delicacies that have strong Chinese Filipino influences. He gets a taste of Piaya, a muscovado-filled unleavened flatbread that resembles Chinese Hopia. He then learns about the origins of muscovado sugar, an unrefined sugar made from sugarcane, and then tastes traditional Kakanin (snacks made with muscovado sugar), Chicken Inasal (sweet grilled chicken), and Adobo and Sinigang with Sugarcane Vinegar (sour and savory meat stew).
Chinese influences on Filipino food traces back to the 11th century with the interaction of trade, and is now deeply embedded in Philippine history, hearts and tastes. Jason meets with two local families and tries Lumpia, a spring roll of Chinese origin similar to Popiah, and is treated to a Chinese New Year feast comprising of Hokkien Kiampong (Hokkien rice casseroles), Siomai (steamed dumpling), Ngo Hiong (local spring rolls) and Siopau (steamed buns with sweet spiced pork). He learns that many Chinese Filipinos do not recognize these dishes as Chinese but rather popular native Filipino dishes.
Jason travels back in time to the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, when the Chinese began settling in the country. Many Chinese immigrants were able to set up their own establishments, which were called Panciteria (a common name for “Chinese restaurants” then), which typically served Chinese noodles and were made more “exotic” by its Spanish names. Jason samples Pancit Batchoy (Teochew bak choy noodles), Pancit Molo (wanton soup), Guisado (stew), Miki (egg noodles), and a variation of Chinese-Filipino soup noodles including Lomi, Mami and Sotanghon. Jason also befriends the owners of a local Panaderia, where he learns how popular breads and pastries are made.
In this episode, Jason experiences fast food, Vietnamese style. While you can find wrap and roll dishes across many countries, Vietnamese wrap and roll dishes are favored due to their harmonic combination of meat, fish, numerous sorts of herbs and vegetables. Jason visits local street food vendors and savors some of the country’s tastiest rolls, including Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese spring rolls), Phở Cuốn (fresh rice noodle rolls), Nem Tai (northern Vietnamese spring rolls), and Bo La Lot (wild betel leaf beef rolls).
Rice vermicelli is a part of several Asian cuisines, and Vietnam is no exception. Jason samples bowls of Bún in varied forms, from Bún Tahng (similar to Chinese Bee Hoon soup), to Bún Cari (curry laksa Bee Hoon), to Bún Thit Nuong (grilled pork Bee Hoon), to Bún Cha (roasted pork Bee Hoon), and Bún Mi Vang (mixed Bee Hoon soup).
In this episode, Jason is treated to a variety of local rice dishes with Chinese influences. He experiences Cap Go Meh (Indonesian Chinese New Year) where he had the opportunity to taste various local holiday dishes, and is treated to Nasi Uduk Betawi (local Nasi Lemak from
Jakarta), Chinese Nasi Uduk (fragrant coconut rice), and a variety of different Nasi Goreng dishes.
Jason explores the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City, discovering many Cantonese influenced dishes such as Wonton Soup, traditional cart noodles, and duck noodles. Unlike other Indochinese nations, which are strongly influenced by Indian culture, Chinese culinary influences remain strong in Vietnam, particularly in the South. Jason finds the similarities between Cantonese and Vietnamese dishes uncanny.
Manila is home to the world’s oldest Chinatown, Binondo. Crowded with residents and iconic Jeepneys, the streets of Binondo get busier every year. Binondo residents mainly comprise of Chinese Mestizos, a mix of local Filipinos and Catholic Chinese whose ancestors mostly migrated from China’s Fujian province, where the Hokkien dialect is widely spoken. Jason speaks with local residents and is invited to taste a range of Chinese-filipino foods including Kuchay Ah (pork and chives stuffed pastries), Hopia (flaky pastry filled with sweet mung bean paste), Machang (sticky rice filled with mung beans, chicken and chestnuts), Kiampong (Hokkien rice casseroles), Duck Misua (egg wheat noodle soup), and Kikiam (sausages made of meat and vegetables).
Filipinos are known for formulating some of the world’s most delicious pork recipes. Discover Philippine’s favorite pork dishes with Jason as he savors signature dishes including Lechon (roasted suckling pig), Lechon Kawali (crispy fried pork belly), Pork Asado (sweet pork dish), Crispy Pata (uncut pork leg boiled in spices and served crispy) and Chicaron (pork cracklings). He speaks with restaurateurs to gain a better understanding of the mix of Spanish and Chinese influences in today’s Filipino cuisine.