Vietnam

Vietnam, known officially as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a Southeast Asian country bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea. Vietnam is a country that has had a long history with war, colonization, and communism. And the influences of its conquerors; notably China and France have left a lasting impact on its culture.

Vietnamese cuisine is widely recognized for being one of the healthiest due to a strong vegetarian tradition brought about by Buddhist and Chinese influences. When cooking, the yin and yang principle of balance is applied in a holistic approach, from selecting the ingredients, to coordinating the dishes of a meal and matching it with the prevailing weather conditions, as well as the current physical well-being of the diners. Fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fruits and vegetables are considered staples of Vietnamese dishes and are commonly used with a variety of herbs.

If you’re in Vietnam and looking to sample its dishes, here are some choice picks:

  • Pho 2000- Pho is a noodle soup that uses a broth made from a long boiling of meat and spices and is usually served with a variety of vegetables and herbs. This restaurant is popular for having former US president, Bill Clinton stop by for a bowl.
  • The V Café- the V Café, located in Dalat has been a favorite among travelers for its cozy interiors and a wide selection of Vietnamese as well as western dishes.

Malaysia

Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country saddled between the peninsula of the Asian mainland and partially on the northern third of the island of Borneo. Malaysian society is multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual. Its original culture comes from the indigenous tribes who have inhabited the country, along with the Malays who later moved in. Chinese and Indian influences are prevalent in Malaysian culture, along with minor influences coming from the Persians, the Arabs and the British.

Malaysian cuisine reflects its country’s multiculturalism, and plenty of its dishes have been derived from a number of ethnic influences, with majority of its dishes reflecting strong Indian and Chinese influences.  Rice is a staple food in Malaysia, as with most Asian countries. One of Malaysia’s most popular dishes includes the Nasi Lemak, often called Malaysia’s national dish,  which is rice steamed with coconut milk, served with peanuts, fried anchovies, hard boiled eggs, sliced cucumber, and a spicy chili paste.

If you‘re in Malaysia and happen to be craving some authentic Malaysian food, here are some restaurants to try:

  • The Night Market in Kota Kinabalu is one of the best places to try affordable hawker-style Malaysian food in the midst of shopping. Seafood dishes are highly recommended.
  • The Jln Alor in Kuala Lumpur is a collection of roadside restaurants that open from 5 PM until late in the evening. You can sample nearly every Malay-Chinese dish in this strip from the grilled fish and satay to more exotic fare like noodles with frog legs.
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