a hungry ghost visits penang

This was originally submitted as an entry to the 2017 World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship. The original submission can be found here.  THE BEST COFFEE POWDER SOLD HERE IN RETAIL So reads the sign on the wall behind the counter at Toon Leong in English and Mandarin. It’s not hyperbole. On all 5 days I …

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cowboy lady pork knuckle rice

Proof that you can buy happiness for 30THB - or at least, a certain ecstatic bliss lasting approximately 6 minutes. The lady with the cowboy hat at the North Gate market (what a mouthful of a title) braises vats of pork knuckle into submission. Each plate of rice is bathed in that soy braising liquid, …

a hike and one uber-useful thailand travel tip

Forget tuk-tuks or those open-air red vans which squeeze a truckload of people in to Doi Suthep and back. Pick up a local SIM card with data and download Grab, which is a ride-sharing app local to Southeast Asia. I’m one of those people who actively boycotts Uber, but even if I weren’t, I’d use …

thai mango sticky rice | khao neow mamuang

I'm not much of a sweets person, but I do love less-sweet desserts with a definite hint of salt. Think a zingy lemon tart, salted caramel ice cream, very dark chocolate fudge brownie, white bean paste mochi with a hint of miso. No one-note sugar cakes, no in-between endings for me. Thai mango sticky rice …

som tam | thai papaya salad

Much has been written about som tam. There are all kinds of variations, but I like it simple. Adding salted crab doesn’t do much for me, though I’m always happy to try again. Dried shrimp does give it a funky sea-savoury presence, but it’s one I can live without. Give me a classic som tam …

postcard from tokyo: buttered oysters

On this sultry Monday evening in July, we have teetered down a most precarious spiral staircase into a basement izakaya for an early dinner. It’s 6pm at the beginning of the workweek and we are the first people to have trickled in. They serve island food - Hachijo Island, to be exact - but it’s …

heart attack gyoza

Obviously, these aren't really called 'heart attack gyoza' but they may as well be. You have a filling of garlicky minced chicken, chicken fat and negi - so far, so good. However, these are wrapped not in floury wheat squares but chicken skin. Blistered by the heat of bubbling oil, salted and then dragged through …