Previously - Fall in love with Myanmar's food
Hungry for more from Burma? World-renowned chef, best-selling author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain is the host of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," CNN's new showcase for coverage of food and travel. The series is shot entirely on location and premieres Sunday, April 14, at 9 p.m. ET.
Eating does not usually pose a challenge to me. I’m a food writer by trade, with the appetite of a dozen varsity shot putters combined. It’s my job to eat and to know about what I’m eating, but I was having a hard time in Myanmar.
The problem wasn’t that I found the food unappetizing - far from it. I’m smitten by the flavors of curries, chilies, shallots and seeds, all of which make frequent appearances in Myanmar's cooking. The issue was that I was completely overwhelmed. Standing streetside in an early-morning market on my first day in Yangon, surrounded by vendors hawking strange spices, fantastical vegetables and prehistoric-looking fish, I’d never felt more unfamiliar with a style of food in my life.
So I spent the next two weeks methodically eating my way across the country, prowling produce markets, following the crowds to skilled street vendors and talking to the ultra-friendly locals about everything edible. It was hardly long enough to understand to all of the complexities of the cuisine, but by the end, I’d learned enough to finally feel a tiny bit at home.
Whether you’re planning a trip of your own or just armchair traveling, here’s what you need to know about food in Myanmar.
Taiwan. Home to the first Hello Kitty-themed café, Hello Kitty-themed airplanes and now - taking cute perhaps one step too far - the world's first Barbie-themed restaurant.
Licensed by U.S. toymaker Mattel, Taiwan restaurant company Sinlaku on Wednesday opened the Barbie Café on Zhongxiao road, one of the busiest shopping districts in the capital, Taipei.
The café's decoration, costing TW$50 million (US$1.7 million), is mostly in suitably Barbie-style magenta and pink.
The furniture couldn't be more princess-y - bar tables look like the heel of a stiletto, chair backs resemble bustiers (some with a tutu) and chandeliers are shaped like elegant teapots and teacups with saucers. Barbie dolls and logos adorn walls and tabletops.
Read the full story - Tutus, tiaras and tiramisu: World's first Barbie restaurant opens
iReport above courtesy of hluu410
A trip to Hong Kong is about extreme capitalism - or extreme dining.
A visitor is usually here to cut a deal or, better yet, cut through all the wheeling and dealing and devour a decent meal. Thankfully, you are spoiled for choice in the city.
Among my favorite local delights (and there are many!) is Hee Kee's spicy Typhoon Shelter crab, the long-celebrated egg tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery, and a scoop of "Hong Kong milk tea" gelato at XTC.
A restaurant in Tokyo is crowded with customers, but on the menu isn’t raw fish, but raw meat – chicken, pork, beef and even horse meat.
About half the customers at “Niku Sushi” (Japanese for “raw meat”) are women like Aya Kanazawa, who comes three times a week and proudly calls herself “a carnivore girl.” It’s not just her culinary tastes she’s talking about. In an odd way, the battle between meat and fish parallels the battle of the sexes and Japan’s moribund economy.
In Hong Kong, where factory space is stacked in skyscrapers, the 15th floor of an industrial block houses vast tanks in which thousands of rare fish swim under the eerie, purple glow of UV lights.
Normally found thousands of miles away on the reefs of the tropics, the coral grouper are being bred on land in one of the world's most densely populated metropolises to feed a local population that consumes 3.6 times the global average in seafood.
Sold live, fish like leopard coral grouper are highly valued in China, where ostentatious dining calls for expensive and attractive centerpieces for celebratory or business banquets - last week during the Lunar new Year a single fish could cost around $130.
But even the tons of fish swimming in the tanks of OceanEthix incongruous high rise facility can't sate a growing market for live reef fish in Hong Kong and mainland China that is worth around $1 billion each year.
Say “Chinese wine” to many and images of less-than-loved domestic Chinese wine brands like Dynasty (often pronounced “Dy-Nasty” by those who have tried the RMB 20 bottles of the stuff) and Great Wall come to mind.
This image could be changing though as domestic and international demand of Chinese wine is increasing production to levels never before seen in the country.
A new industry report catalogs the Chinese wine market’s progress. It says that some “analysts believe the country could overtake Australia in the next three years.”
The report, by French wine exhibition organizers Vinexpo, said that China produced 72 million cases of wine in 2009, an increase of 28 percent from 2008.
Read the rest of "Chinese wine production to surpass Australia’s" on CNNGo.
No doubt you once thought that as soon as your skills were honed, you’d become the chopstick-wielding version of Edward Scissorhands, embarking on a masterful two-pronged exploration of China’s culinary culture.
Well, not quite.
Chinese dining etiquette is built on tradition, not dexterity.
We asked Lawrence Lo, founder of LHY Etiquette Consultancy Limited, to explain the enigmatic cultural origins of some common table manners, just in time for your Chinese New Year banquet.
Read the rest of "5 Chinese eating habits explained" on CNNGo.
Christmas in Tokyo yields a special kind of wonder, an unofficial holiday spreading commercial good cheer. Open stores decked with decoration, romantic restaurants booked for Christmas-Eve date night (when reportedly condom vendors enjoy a robust sales spurt) and, of course ... holiday lines at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
A legend is born
KFC (or “kentakkii,” as it’s popularly known) launched its Japan-wide Christmas campaign in 1974 and since then has aggressively marketed its buckets as a holiday essential.
Today, as Public Radio International's Akiko Fujita has reported, "KFC commercials signal the start of the Christmas season in Japan."
According to the company, their holiday campaign was first conceived in 1971, at their Aoyama store. A homesick foreigner wandered in, bemoaned Japan’s lack of turkey, and chose fried chicken as the next-best alternative.
CNNGo has the FULL STORY - McDonald's vs. KFC for Japan's best 'festive feast'
More coverage from i-List Japan