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5.176 16/11-10/8 Suva: Spicy Lamb + Potatoes & Peas Curries with Roti

-Cycle 5, Item 176-
30 (Mon) June 2014

-Indian-
Spicy Lamb + Potatoes & Peas Curries with Roti

1.0

at Singhs Curry House (MHCC)

-Suva-

solo

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them--though I've already missed 2.

This is Day 10 (see previously 5.173 Small Fries).

Suva is City 8.  I'll be here for 4 days, 4 dinners, through Thursday evening.  Though the 2-day workshop begins on Wednesday, I arrived today due to the odd flight schedules to/from the country.

Staying at Quest Serviced Residences, just around the corner from the WHO office.

 The money that I'm paying for such facilities is wasted, as I don't anticipate cooking during my stay.

In Fiji--where Indians represent the second largest ethnic group, comprising nearly 40% of the population, second only to native Fijians (Melanesians)--Indian food is the predominant cuisine on the streets and constitutes de facto the local fare.  

The traditional local fare--to the extent that anyone anymore eats traditional local fare (e.g., steamed taro root, fish, coconut milk), now increasingly cast aside in favor of imported processed junk food, the main reason for the NCD crisis--is virtually nonexistent outside the home, except at large public feasts on special occasions or at an occasional restaurant featuring some dish in a "traditional" style.

 
As if I don't get enough of shopping malls in Manila, goddamn it.

Curiously, TERRP (see most recently 5.168 Hearty Garlic Roasted Chicken) has yet to feature a single Indian meal. 

My first evening in town, still unfamiliar with the geography, I just went across the street to the shopping mall for dinner.  After 3 laps around the food court, I eventually settled on one of many Indian joints.

The food was salty, almost unbearable, though not too bad otherwise.  So much for my first meal south of the equator.

5.175 16/11-9/7 Somewhere over the Yellow Sea: Prestigious Repast


-Cycle 5, Item 175-
29 (Sun) June 2014

-Korean-
Prestigious Repast

2.0

by Korean Air

on Flight KE 137

-Somewhere over the Yellow Sea-

solo

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them--though I've now missed 2.    

This is Day 9 (see previously 5.173 Small Fries).

Incheon was supposed to be City 7.  Flying out tonight to Fiji through Incheon International Airport*--yes, Incheon is a distinct city, the country's 3rd largest, with a population of 2.9 million--the plan was to have dinner in the business-class lounge, but I got to the airport late and had to board right away, no time for a meal on the ground.

And so, another missed city, Somewhere over the Yellow Sea will have to suffice as the 7th locale in series.

*No direct flights from the Philippines to Fiji, the options are either to go through Incheon or Hong Kong.  Opting for Incheon, I got a free weekend at home, thank you very much.

Smoked salmon (3.5)--quite nice, especially with the Perrier-Jouet Champagne, a very auspicious beginning.

Shrimp with mixed mushrooms (2.75)--light and fresh, but kinda bland, everything downhill from here.

Mushroom rice with soy-chili sauce (1.75)--pretty much as it looks, just steamed rice with bits of chopped mushrooms; better in its simplicity than most of the crap back in coach, but lacking in the sophistication that I'd expect from business.

Side dishes: garlic stems + anchovies & chilies --would've preferred a single plate of good kimchi.

Cheese + fruit--didn't partake.

Carrot cake + ice cream--didn't partake.

According to duty travel protocols for officers of United Nations agencies, one-way flight time in excess of 9 total hours entitles the officer to a business-class ticket.

No direct route, the trip from Manila, Philippines, to Suva, Fiji, consists of approximately 15 hours: 4 hours to Incheon + 10 hours Nadi + 1 hour to Suva--so I get to fly business, thank you very much.

On Korean Air, business class is branded as "Prestige Class."

Ramyeon with bean sprouts (2.5)--actual boiled ramyeon (as opposed to cup ramyeon), available upon request as a midnight snack, pretty good after a few/many drinks.

Bulgogi (2.0)--for breakfast; better than a typical omelette, I guess.

5.174 16/11-8/6 Seoul: Chinese Spread

-Cycle 5, Item 174-
28 (Sat) June 2014

-Chinese-
Chinese Spread

1.5

from Jungguk Seong [delivery]

at Second Ground

-Itaewon, Seoul-

with Family, Cho JH + Kim KH, Lee HS + Yun YH, MtG, et al.

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them--though I've already missed 1.

This is Day 8 (see previously 5.173 Small Fries).

Seoul is City 6.  Having arrived yesterday, I'll be here through tomorrow afternoon.

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, my friend MtG and a couple partners are opening a fish & chips restaurant (see generally 5.139 Dragon Sukiyaki).

The interior design is slick, maybe too slick, by which I mean that it's been carefully, perhaps overly, crafted to look industrial shabby, with raw concrete walls, exposed beams, bare lightbulbs, and tables fashioned out of cargo container doors and water pipes; generally, I'm cynical of establishments so concerned with decor, concern that I'd rather they channel toward the food itself.

The very first pull of beer--London Pride on tap--which MtG gave to me.

This old school Chinese joint, located 3 doors down, an anachronistic holdout in a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification, probably won't be around for much longer.  

In Korea, at the conclusion of some major physical group undertaking (e.g., move of residence/office, construction project), the meal very often consists of cheap Chinese food delivery, solely on the basis of convenience and cost--these days, pizza might be an alternative, but that would be quite expensive for a large number of people.  

The camping crew gathered to celebrate the completion of the restaurant's construction.  As per tradition, we got Chinese.

Soon, when the kitchen is ready to serve food, the soft opening will follow.

We're looking forward to the roof-top dining.

5.173 16/11-7/6 Seoul: Small Fries

-Cycle 5, Item 173-
27 (Fri) June 2014

-American-
Small Fries

2.0

at Sin Maegju Changgo

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Family, Cho JH + Kim KH, Choi SW + wife, MtG, Yun YH

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them--though I've now missed 1.  

This is Day 7 (see previously 5.172 Hanoi: Pho Ga).

To conclude a 2-part lecture at Ajou University, which I'd started a couple weeks back (see previously 5.159 Maguro Sashimi), I had to be in Korea today.

Otherwise, I would've stayed in Vietnam over the weekend.

Had I eaten dinner in Suwon, the city where the school is located, it would've been City 6.  But I didn't feel like sticking around and instead returned to Seoul.

So, Seoul is City 6.  I'll be here through Sunday afternoon.

Later, the camping crew had a midnight impromptu get-together at our neighborhood beer joint (see generally 3.251 Deep-Fried Smoked Chicken).  And yes, we took the kids--they learned to play darts.

I miss Seoul.

5.172 11/16-5/6 Hanoi: Pho Ga

Local beer 3: Hanoi Beer
-Cycle 5, Item 172-
26 (Thu) June 2014

-Vietnamese-
Pho Ga

2.5

at Sky Café and Restaurant (Hanoi International Airport)

-Hanoi-

solo

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them.  

This is Day 6 (see previously 5.171 Vientiane: Lamb Ribs in Cream Sauce).

Hanoi is City 5.  Just in the airport for a couple hours, on my way to Korea, where I'll spend a few days in between the workshops.

On Vietnam Airlines from Vientiane to Hanoi, the in-flight meal was total crap. 

After the workshop wrapped this afternoon, I flew out of Vientiane and into Hanoi International Airport, where I had a couple hours to have dinner in the transit lounge before my connecting flight to Incheon.  The exact same itinerary as on my previous visit to Lao, same venue, same dish, same beverage (see previously 3.272 Pho Ga), though I didn't enjoy the experience as much this time around.  No problem, still good enough.

5.171 16/11-5/4 Vientiane: Lamb Ribs in Cream Sauce

-Cycle 5, Item 171-
25 (Wed) June 2014

-French-
Lamb Ribs in Cream Sauce

2.5

at La Cave des Chateaux

-Vientiane-

with K Engelhardt, K Mellor, and other members of the workshop organizing committee

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them.

This is Day 5 (see previously 5.170 above).

Vientiane is City 4.  I'll be here for 3 days, but only for 2 dinners, yesterday and tonight, as I'll have to leave for the airport to catch my flight tomorrow, right after the workshop wraps in the afternoon.

Katrin, Heather, and Eunyoung.

The main dining hall was perfectly dim and air-conditioned...

...however, as I mentioned yesterday, white folk just love to sit outdoors under the sun...

...so they insisted on dragging a table out onto the 2nd-floor balcony--"Oh, come now, Ki, you've enjoyed air-conditioning all day long; get some fresh air;" no joke, I left dinner early to go back to my hotel room and enjoy some more air-conditioning.

Many French restaurants are scattered about Vientiane.  Though not necessarily the establishments themselves, the ubiquity of French cuisine is a cultural legacy from over a half-century of colonial rule under French Indochine.  By contrast, the country doesn't yet, as far as I could determine, have a single American fastfood chain.  

La Cave des Chateaux is one such French restaurant.  Indeed, the restaurant occupies a former colonial-era residence, architecture being another cultural legacy.  The menu was half classical--meats and sauce--and modern bistro--pastas and pizzas.  

Amuse bouche (2.5)--tomatoes & onions & basil with a baguette slice. 

Actually, the server got my order wrong and initially brought me the lamb in some kind of jam sauce; the only thing that I hate more than fruit in my food is jam; the redo consisted of the same pieces of meat, the jam cleaned off--I didn't mind, why waste the meat??--this time with the cream sauce.

The food was okay.  I would've enjoyed it more with air-conditioning.

5.170 16/11-4/4 Vientiane: A Deep-Fried Cricket

-Cycle 5, Item 170-
24 (Tue) June 2014

-Lao-
A Deep-Fried Cricket

1.0

at Khop Chai Deu

-Vientiane-

with K Engelhardt, K Mellor, and other members of the workshop organizing committee 

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them.

This is Day 4 (see previously 5.169 Bangkok).

Vientiane is City 4.  I'll be here for 3 days, but only for 2 dinners, tonight and tomorrow, as I'll have to leave for the airport to catch my flight the day after tomorrow, right after the workshop wraps in the afternoon.

I'm in Lao to participate in a workshop to assess, and ultimately strengthen, Lao's policy/law framework on food/nutrition.  Like in many developing countries these days, the problem here is the double burden of malnutrition, which means that people are either starving to death due to a lack of food or eating themselves to death with an overabundance of junk food.  The solutions will require multisectoral engagement not only of the health sector but also finance, trade, commerce, agriculture, education, and others.  Just getting them into the same room is a major achievement.

The fanciest hotel in the country--seriously.


Khop Chai Deu is a Lao restaurant.  According to the website, it's the oldest restaurant in Vientiane.  Also touted by the website as "the meeting point for the tourists who arrive in Laos and wish to get a taste of a true Lao restaurant...an afternoon spot for the expats who like to meet after work"--indeed, I was the only non-white customer in the joint.

We sat on the balcony; despite all my years living in the States and amongst the white folk, I still don't understand why they enjoy sitting (a) outdoors (i.e., without air-conditioning) and (b) in the sun.

The food was kinda crappy, for a few reasons.  

First, almost everything ordered was vegetarian.  The spread turned out that way because someone in the party--a lowly intern, incidentally--happens to be a vegetarian--technically, not even a strict vegetarian, she just prefers vegetables.  As I'd mentioned in a recent post, people are so ingratiatingly accommodating to vegetarians these days (see generally 5.150 American-Style Greek Salad).  I'm beginning to feel a growing hostility that may soon explode.  Anyway, as much as I do love veg, I can't stand eating just veg.  

Local beer 2: Beerlao.

Second, I'm beginning to think that Lao food is a bit too extreme and austere for my tastes.  This is based on three meals: dinner on a prior visit (see generally 3.271 Larb Gai), lunch this afternoon, and tonight's dinner.   The cuisine seems to employ many similar herbs and seasonings found in neighboring Thailand and Cambodia, like basil and cilantro and chilies and lemongrass and fish sauce, but here everything is left raw and used on their own as main ingredients, rather in small amounts as accents or garnish.  For example, the spring rolls were filled with pretty much basil and cilantro.  The salad was dressed in what seemed to be unadulterated fish sauce.  I'm not yet ready for such intensity.

Extreme and austere.

And third, my one non-vegetarian contribution, the crickets weren't so great.  Not that I expected them to be, but I wanted to try something completely new.  They--and by "they," I mean the single specimen that I tried--didn't really taste like anything, just the slightly stale oil in which they'd been deep-fried.  And not even very crispy, just a bit soggy and greasy, as if the oil hadn't been hot enough.  Better than ants (see generally 3.269 Fried Beef with Red Ants).  Thanks anyway.

AV Hotel, our rinky-dink accommodations down the street.

5.169 16/11-3/3 Bangkok: Kaeng Phed Ped Yang

-Cycle 5, Item 169-
23 (Mon) June 2014

-Thai-
Kaeng Phed Ped Yang

1.0

at Mango Tree (Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok International) Airport)

-Samut Prakan, Bangkok-

with K Engelhardt

16/11.  For 16 days--a weekend in the Philippines, a 3-day workshop in Lao (see generally 5.170 A Deep-Fried Cricket), a weekend in Korea, a 2-day workshop in Fiji (see generally 5.178 Bibimbab), a few airport layovers in between--my itinerary will ultimately take me through 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them.

This is Day 3 (see previously 5.168 Hearty Garlic Roasted Chicken).

Bangkok is City 3. Just in the airport for a few hours, exactly at dinnertime, with colleague Katrin, on our way to Vientiane.


The food was rather disappointing.  While the red curry itself was okay, the duck was a bit off, probably frozen too long.  Oh well.

Local beer 1: Singha.

5.168 16/11-2/2 Manila / TERRP 59(3.16) Tiktilaok: Hearty Garlic Roasted Chicken


-Cycle 5, Item 168-
22 (Sun) June 2014

-Filipino-
Hearty Garlic Roasted Chicken

1.5

from Tiktilaok (Robinsons Place) [takeout]

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-

solo

16/11.  For reasons to be explained in a future post, I'm going to be in 11 cities, more-or-less at dinnertime, providing me the opportunity to have dinner in all of them, within the span of 16 days, starting yesterday.   

This is Day 2 (see previously 5.167 Steamed Lapu Lapu...).

Manila is City 2.

Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (TERRP), Phase 3.  In Manila since January, here through October under the current contract, living above Robinsons Place, I've been eating my way through the mall.  As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like this, my unique contribution to the city's food/blog scene.  I did all the restaurants on the 1st floor (currently 36, down from the initial 40) and the 2nd floor (currently 7, down from the initial 14).  Now, I'm on to the restaurants on the 3rd floor (currently 28, 2 of which were already covered during Phase 1).  Then, once Phase 3 is complete, time permitting, the 4th floor.  Henceforth, however, I'll take them as they come, no more pushing the agenda; if I don't finish, no big deal.


This is the 59th in the series, the 16th on the 3rd floor.  Padre Faure Wing.

All restaurants on the 1st floor:

- 39(1.36) Apr 2 / Cabalen (Filipino) (see 5.087 Buffet Scraps) / 1.5 / $$

All restaurants on the 2nd floor:

- 45(2.07) Apr 30 / Recipes (Filipino) (see 5.115 (Chicken) Gisang Gisang) / 3.0 / $$

Previously covered restaurants on the 3rd floor:

- 12(3.01) Feb 6 / Healthy Shabu Shabu (Japanese) (see 5.032 Fish Fillet Set) / 3.0 / $$$
- 19(3.02) Feb 20 / Shanghai Cuisine (Chinese) (see 5.046 Seafood Chop Suey...) / 2.5 / $$
- 46(3.03) May 7 / Casa Ilongga (Filipino) (see 5.122 Pork BBQ + Ginataang Pusong na Saging) / 2.0 / $
- 47(3.04) May 9 / Yellow Cab (American) (see 5.125 Tribeca Mushroom Pizza) / 3.0 / $$
- 48(3.05) May 12 / Mr. Pares (Filipino) (see 5.127 Pork Caldereta) / 2.5 / $
- 49(3.06) May 14 / Chin's Express (Chinese) (see 5.129 Sio Mai Mami) / 0.5 / $
- 50(3.07) May 15 / Westwood (Filipino) (see 5.130 Chicken Inasal) / 3.5 / $
- 51(3.08) May 19 / Fivestar Family Restaurant (Southeast Asian) (see 5.134 Beef Redang...) (Indonesian) / 3.0 / $
- 52(3.09) May 20 / Idang's Grille (Filipino) (see 5.131 Inihaw na Pusit + Adobong Kangkong) / 1.0 / $
- 53(3.10) May 21 / The Old Spaghetti House (Italian) (see 5.132 Pepper Crusted Fish Fillet...) / 1.5 / $$
- 54(3.11) May 27 / Davao Tuna Grill (Filipino) (see 5.142 Grilled Tuna Belly...) / 1.0 / $
- 55(3.12) June 2 / Mongolian Quick-Stop (Mongolian) (see 5.148 Mongolian Bowl) / 2.0 / $
- 56(3.13) June 8 / Ajisen Ramen (Japanese) (see 5.154 Kakuni Ramen) / 2.5 / $$
- 57(3.14) June 9 / Fiesta Seafoods Foodhaus (Filipino) (see 5.155 Seafood Grill) / 0.5 / $
- 58(3.15) June 17 / Kim n' Chi (Korean) (see 5.163 Bibimbab) / 1.0 / $



Tiktilaok is a Filipino food court stall.  Specializes in roast chicken and pork belly.  

The Hearty Garlic Roasted Chicken was whatever. The texture was juicy, obviously brined, but something in the brine imparted a slight artificial aftertaste that was a bit off-putting.


And yes, I did successfully pass the course, so I am now a certified Open Water Diver.  Yay.

After a couple dives in the morning, we drove back to the city, arrived in the late afternoon, and went our separate ways for dinner.