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Yum Cha Chats with MYRNE: Asian delicacies you need to try

The Singaporean DJ & producer shares the dishes closest to his heart

  • Myrne
  • 17 May 2020

Sunday’s are hard but can be made easier with unexpected delights — so here’s some fluff to get you through it. Inspired by a recent jaunt for dim sum with Miss Yellow in Hong Kong, allow us to present the first of many Yum Cha Chats — which means let’s go eat dim sum and drink tea in Cantonese. The series will dig into the obscure and tasty 'fillings' you never knew about your favourite DJs and have nothing to do with music — every Sunday. Best enjoyed from bed…

There are certain delicacies in Asia that are not for the faint-hearted either because of their rustic and untampered appearance or simply because they are not on most menus around the world — or even around Asia for that matter. These certain dishes are very native to the gastronomic cultures we’re about to explore. If you ask a Singaporean about what is most important to them, it will most likely be food. The street food culture of Singapore has to be one of the most uniquely diverse in the world when it comes to pan-Asian influence, and — inspired by his latest venture cooking live on Instagram — our dear friend DJ and producer MYRNE tells us about local delicacies that mean the most to him. We advise you to open your mind, and then cleanse your palette.

Singapore: Bak Kut Teh

"Bak Kut Teh literally means ‘meat rib tea’ and is a dish that is extremely close to my heart. As with other stew-based dishes, this is often served with tofu skin (known as tau kwa) and white rice, along with a chilli and soy sauce accompaniment. The dish itself is a peppery, rich, clear soup with garlic and stewed pork ribs that have been cooked for hours, and the meat just melts apart. A fun fact — this dish was allegedly brought to Singapore and Malaysia through Teochew and Hokkien-speaking immigrants from China and although the Malay-Cantonese variant involves a herbal soup instead of a peppery one, I prefer the Teochew variety that I’ve been eating for years. There are a lot of popular chains in Singapore to get it from — and pictured above is Bak Kut Teh from Song Fa Bak Kut Teh. But another great place is called Founder Bak Kut Teh and deserves a mention as the tastiest BKT I've ever had."

China: Hainan Chicken Rice

"If there was a scoreboard of what dishes I ate the most frequently, this would top it. Unlike the name, this dish has little connection to Hainan apart from its starting point — the Hainan Chicken Rice in Hainan province, China, is a different dish altogether. In the Singapore variant, it’s usually served with cold with poached chicken and rice seasoned with pandan leaves. The chicken is drizzled with sesame oil when served, and it makes for another rich, fulfilling dish that I have no problem eating almost thrice a week. Important note — it is very high in fat, so eating too much will definitely be a problem. The place I consider my go-to would be Rocovo Restaurant in Singapore — my father took me there when I was eight years old, and I’m happy to see it’s still alive and well."

Taiwan: Ice Cream Spring Roll

"We had this while travelling in Taiwan, and we were blown away. It’s got several scoops of ice cream filling, surrounded by peanut flakes, cilantro and wrapped up in a soft flour roll. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip. It was an interesting mix of sweet, savoury and crunchy, plus that all-too-familiar feeling of biting into a fat burrito. We got this from A-Zhu desserts in Jiufen, which I’m sure is touristy, but it was the only city I could find it in."

Singapore: Kaya Toast & Eggs

"A local favourite, Kaya Toast is a Singaporean breakfast staple and is undoubtedly enjoyed across Southeast Asia. The meal consists of toasted slices of bread with butter and kaya, which is a coconut jam, usually served with half-boiled eggs in soya sauce and pepper. The result is a tasty, full breakfast that’s not always healthy, but a staple for many Singaporeans daily. A way to eat it, or rather my way to eat it, would be to dip the slices of bread into the eggs, so you really hit every available flavour at once — sweet, salty and savoury. I know a lot of people hate this because it removes the crispiness of the bread, but I like to do whatever I want. A great place to get this would be at Heap Seng Leong in Singapore, where the stall seems like it was straight out of 1980s Singapore. If you’re looking for something more casual, the Ya Kun chains across the island offer a more convenient experience."

Malacca: Durian Chendol

"Durian Cendol! It was very tempting to put durian in here, but in my opinion, durian-based desserts come across easier to the uninitiated. Cendol, pronounced chen-doll, is a dessert made of ice shavings, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup and rice flour jelly. The toppings here are the durian fruit. This particular photo was taken in Jonker Street in Malacca, Malaysia — a popular spot for tasty and affordable dessert in the region. This dish would be great for friends that haven’t warmed up to eating an entire durian by itself yet. The combination of ice-cold sweetness, topped off with the creaminess of the durian, makes this a special treat. A place I’d recommend would be East & West Rendezvous Cafe in Malacca."

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