A snack guide for when you’re watching Netflix’s ‘Street Food’

Photos courtesy of Netflix

 

Food is universal. Food is as communal as it is nourishing, as welcoming as it is comforting. Whatever geography or language, it brings a sense of community. We all cook, consume, even enjoy food differently but at the end of the day, we prepare, we set a place, and we share. It’s what brings us together to a table and — with histories and traditions tied to food as proof — to something so much more.

That reality is exactly why Netflix’s Street Food succeeds. From the creators of Chef’s Table, the new documentary series treats the food scene as what it is: a historical, humbling shared human experience. Along with that, Street Food puts a spotlight on the unsung heroes of the culinary scene — chefs who serve the best street food in the world. Keeping the spirit and stunning visuals of Chef’s Table but with more focus on societal context and tradition, Street Food is as delectable as any watch can be. It’s every bit compelling, with storytelling as sincere, passionate, and electric as the culinary masters featured. And with Street Food featuring Asia in their first season, you can’t help but swell with pride to see the culture of your side of the world represented — not just the food aspect, but also values like perseverance, hard work, and family.

But it goes without saying that there’s no way you won’t get hungry while watching Street Food — so we’re suggesting (readily and locally available, budget friendly) snack or beverage picks while you binge this delight of a show. So sit back, relax, and mangaon ta (Bisaya for “let’s eat”)!

Bangkok, Thailand

The pilot episode takes us in a day of the life of one Jay Fai: a legendary street food chef who, after learning to cook when she lost everything to a fire, earned a Michelin star.

Best streamed with: Aside from pad thai and tom yum, Thailand’s home to another local favorite: Thai tea. Thai tea shouldn’t even be lumped with other milk teas — it’s its own thing. With places like Cha Tuk Chak and even Nestea releasing a Thai Milk tea powdered drink, there’s no excuse to not have it while watching this episode.

Osaka, Japan

Initially running his izakaya (small Japanese bar serving inexpensive dishes to go with alcohol) in a truck, Toyo found success in his broiled tuna cheek — he uses a blow torch and his bare hands to cook it quickly.

Best streamed with: Nothing quite says Japanese cuisine like sushi. It’s almost available everywhere, too — from groceries, specialty places like Ta Ke Ho Me, to convenience stores (Family Mart, obviously). While it may not be of Jiro Dreams of Sushi quality, it’s enough to bring the land of the rising sun closer to home.

Delhi, India

When Dalchand Kashyap’s father closed shop due to an illness, Dalchand decided to start his own chaat (a potato-based dish with yogurt, chutney, and vegetables) business to keep his family — and their legacy — alive.

Best streamed with: A mix of yogurt, water, spices, and fruit, lassi is a perfect cool-down beverage — refreshing, creamy, and definitely could rival your smoothies and frappes. Look up lassi on your favorite food delivery app and get some gulab jamun (fried dough balls) while you’re at it.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

A jajan pasar (sweet assorted rice cakes) master — the former president of Indonesia is her regular customer — Mbah Satinem continues to make her famed bite-sized dessert the way her mother used to.

Best streamed with: Two words: mie goreng. Mie goreng simply means fried noodles, and an Indonesia brand called Indofoods turns this street food favorite to grocery staple Indomie. You may have seen Indomie Mi Goreng in your friendly neighborhood supermarket, and trust me, no going back to other instant noodles after trying this one.

Chiayi, Taiwan

Third-generation chef Grace Chia Hui Lin sticks to the exact fish stew recipe created 65 years ago, while bringing their once-small food stall Smart Fish to the modern age — bringing a lot more customers in with it.

Best streamed with: While Taiwan’s the home of bubble tea, it seems like the drink found a second home in the Philippines — long lines in Taiwanese imports like Coco and Tiger Sugar definitely make a case for it. If you’re not into waiting in line for hours, you can get something as good as the other Taiwanese milk teas, if not better: fruit tea, from another Taiwan favorite Yi Fang.

Seoul, South Korea

Saving her husband from debt, Yoonsun Cho opens her own stall in the highly-competitive Gwangjang Market and becomes known for the dish she loves making the most at home: knife-cut noodles.

Best streamed with: Inspired by classic Korean street food bungeo-ppang (fish-shaped pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste), fish-shaped ice cream sandwiches are readily available locally. Get the Samanco one if you want a red bean filling, or pick up Melona when you’re craving for fruit flavors. Also: this episode runs as long as your typical waiting time at KBBQ places. Just so you know.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Trouc, living an impoverished life and a fond memory of her father’s snail recipe, puts up a snail stand that enables her to put her son through college.

Best streamed with: Let’s get that banh mi, which means bread in Vietnamese. Outside Vietnamese-specialty restaurants, the famed sandwich is slowly becoming a food cart staple thanks to places like BONBanhmi and Banh Mi Kitchen. This Vietnamese and French cuisine hybrid usually comes in three flavors: chicken, pork, and beef.

Singapore

Aisha Hashim left Singapore in hopes to become a pastry chef — and returns home to realize that she has always been one, as she continues and innovates the family business of putu puring (rice cake with melted palm sugar)

Best streamed with: Not a snack per se, but any excuse to have chicken rice am I right? While other Southeast Asian countries have their own version of Hainanese chicken rice, it’s considered a national dish in Singapore — there’s no hawker center or train station eatery without it. I find it best paired with an iced Milo, which is found everywhere in Singapore too.

Cebu City, Philippines

With a goal to provide not only for his family but also to his community, Entoy Escabas creates nilarang bakasi: a reef eel stew that makes use of his area’s abundance of eels.

Best streamed with: Depending on the time you get to this episode, two concoctions come to mind. If you catch the season finale in the afternoon, the best company in the sweltering summer heat is halo-halo (crushed ice, with evaporated milk, ube, beans, gulaman, and a lot more). But if you stayed up all night and woke up to this episode, the brown sugar drink OG taho (soft tofu, arnibal, and pearls) is the best way to start the day.

Street Food is now streaming on Netflix.

Tags:
#culture #food #tv

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