Burma

Mogok Rice Noodles with Stewed Chicken, topped with Shan Preserved Mustard Leaves, or 'Burmese Kimchi.'


I just had the most amazing bowl of noodles in a long, long time. A bowl of noodles that’s actually timely and relevant, given that the country it hails from is now ‘unclenching its iron fist.’ Yes, I’m talking about Burma, that storied country of nascent political and economic reforms, and home to a legendary democratic activist whose house arrest has paved the way for today.

This food experience comes at the heels of a boat tour I took this past winter of Tonle Sap, Cambodia. Along the way I enjoyed a bowl of Khmer noodles, topped with cilantro and other indescribable deliciousness that has had me in sort of a daze.

Noodle vendor at Tonle Sap. Best noodles ever!


Certainly New York is a long way from Tonle Sap, and Burma too, for that matter. But one of the great perks of living in this megapolis is the sheer human diversity and the accessibility of wonderful cultures, especially culinary cultures, from Asia and otherwise.

Every year the Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation holds an annual Burmese Food Fair in Queens, the details of which I mined via the prolific Dave Cook of Eating in Translation. The weather has been lovely, so I ventured out to try Burmese food, not because I wanted to duplicate my Tonle Sap food experience, but I wanted to try something new, yet familiar.

It was my first time trying Burmese food, and under the friendly gaze of Burmese vendors, volunteers from the local community raising funds for humanitarian aid, I managed to make some very fine choices.

The very colorful Mogok Rice Noodles with Stewed Chicken (pictured way above) hit the spot. This was excellent, excellent stuff. The rice noodles were subtly chewy, and served as the neutral backdrop to the protein-rich flavors of the stewed chicken, the refreshing bites of cilantro, crushed nuts, and my favorite, the Shan Preserved Mustard Leaves, which the smiling lady who ladled my soup explained as “Burmese kimchi.” And like kimchi it was memorably spicy.

Upper Burmese Style Stewed Pork at Moegyo Burmese Food Fair New York


Next was the Upper Burmese Style Stewed Pork. I was starting to get the feeling the Burmese like their meat stewed, cooked until so soft the meat starts falling off the bone. We’re talking tender flesh braised in a barbecue sauce that I can best describe as possessing the flavors of the Thai sauce Nam Prik Pao. Sweet yet savory. And slightly addictive.

I know New York has more upscale food affairs than those to be found at the civic food fairs that enrich its local communities. But at 5 dollars per dish (at most!), and with a far-ranging array of Burmese, Vietnamese and Thai desserts to satisfy everyone, I have to say – I really look forward to next year’s food fair, and perhaps even having a go at the karaoke stage, that is if I learn some Burmese songs first. (And if do go on stage, I’m thinking some jungle wine wouldn’t hurt either.)

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(From L to R, top to bottom) ART HK 12, Seoul Diagonal Tower by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Chan-Zuckerbergs, China's War for Talent, Vintage Viet Cong Posters


@The Diplomat reports the Obama Administration has appointed its first Ambassador to Burma. Derek Mitchell, an inside-the-Beltway native, will be America’s ambassador to Burma, the first in 22 years. Or as President Obama put it poetically: “As an iron fist has unclenched in Burma, we have extended our hand.”

@TIME Magazine reports there’s a war for tech and engineering talent taking hold in China. Expect massages, foosball tables and other perks if they really want you.

@Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. The Korea Times reports a survey of 3,600 people in nine countries shows K-pop Inc. will probably not see lasting success. Too much hypersexual dancing perhaps?

@Art sold well for an impressive swath of galleries represented at the Hong Kong Art Fair (ART HK 12). Even Arario Gallery reported selling an “undisclosed number of smaller pieces, ranging from USD 10,000-50,000.”

@Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan tied the knot at the end of a very eventful week: Chan earned her medical degree, Zuckerberg’s Facebook IPO was the largest in tech history, although it did disappoint a bit by closing 9.5 percent down from its opening price. It’s also something of a fairy tale ending for Mr. Zuckerberg.

@Looking to vacation in Southeast Asia? Know your fruits before you go.

@And if you are Southeast Asia-bound, you might want to rethink fish pedicures.

@On the other hand, if you’re headed to Beijing and looking for some bizarre eats, be sure to get your sneak preview here. (via Fili Nation)

@Are the Norks getting soft? I’m talking about their agreement to release 3 Chinese fishermen, who were detained for 12 days and at one point were held for ransom.

@And for South Korea, Dezeen has done a very nice job of rounding up the future of Seoul’s positively 22nd century skyline.

and…

@Child of the Sixties Forever has a collection of Viet Cong posters from that decade. Which makes me wonder. Will we be looking back at today’s North Korean propaganda with equal bemusement?

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