What Can $5 Get You in Asia?


In this recent Conde Nast Traveler slideshow, writer Caitlin Morton explores the different treasures five dollars can equate to around the world. And you guessed it, a majority of it is food. Not to mention a stack of beautiful bracelets from India! Here is the round-up, as relayed from Morton:


1. Hanoi, Vietnam
Four bia hoi (a thin draft lager that costs about 40 cents a glass) and two bowls of pho.


Illustration by Louisa Cannell, http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-11/what-5-will-get-you-around-the-world/



2. Kyoto
A dozen soy milk mini-doughnuts and a sweet soy milk soft serve from Fujino Tofu in Nishiki Market.


Illustration by Louisa Cannell, http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-11/what-5-will-get-you-around-the-world/



3. Tokyo
Three limited-edition Kit Kats from the world’s only limited-edition Kit Kat shop, in the Seibu Department store. Recent only-in-Japan flavors include vanilla ice cream and pumpkin pudding.


Illustration by Louisa Cannell, http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-11/what-5-will-get-you-around-the-world/





4. Jaipur, India
An armful of rhinestone-studded glass bangles from one of the vendors at Johari Bazaar.


Illustration by Louisa Cannell, http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-11/what-5-will-get-you-around-the-world/



5. Singapore
A plate of hokkien mee and a Tiger beer at Bukit Timah hawker center.


Illustration by Louisa Cannell, http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-11-11/what-5-will-get-you-around-the-world/



Of course, the possibilities are endless.
My $5 Asia (food) story, for example, is from southern Taiwan. It was raining and my family and I found a small restaurant in the neighborhood that was more like a home kitchen serving meals. A simple plate of chow mein, fried rice and a bottle of Taiwanese beer ended up costing about 154.59 TWD, or $5.00.


Tammy Tarng


What’s your $5 story?


The Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Mixes Our Two Favorites: Hello Kitty and Food


November is finally here! Aside from the countless pies you’ll consume during Thanksgiving, there’s another reason for you to be excited this month: November is Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary!

There have already been multiple ways to celebrate the creation of our beloved Sanrio character. Hello Kitty has collaborated with everyone from Vans to Sephora to bring you limited-edition Hello Kitty items. You also could check out Japanese American National Museum’s newest exhibition, Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty. This is the first large-scale Hello Kitty museum in the United States and it will be up until April 26, 2015. Most exciting of all, some of you celebrated our favorite Sanrio character this past weekend at the world’s first ever Hello Kitty Con.

If you missed the Hello Kitty Con or simply feel the need to celebrate more, don’t you worry. One other way you can celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary is with the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt.



You read that correctly. This event mixes two of our most favorite things: Hello Kitty and food. For a limited time, various restaurants and dessert spots are participating in #HelloKittyHungryHunt .

Each location offers a limited edition Hello Kitty themed food or beverage item as well as a collectible Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt enamel pin exclusive to each location. Locations include Cafe Dulce, Lollicup and Seoul Sausage. For a full list of participating locations, click here.

The Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt began on October 24th, but it’s not too late! The hunt will continue until November 21st. Be sure to take part in the hunt will supplies last!


Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Collectible Pins.

Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Collectible Pins.



Feature image courtesy of sprudge.com.

Top 5 Feel-Good Snack Combos


Looking for a nice pick-me-up after four midterms, two papers and 3 a.m. muffin crumbs in your hair? We can only think of one thing to make all this better: Food. Specifically, an easy-to-make snack that will make you feel balanced and satisfied.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make or put together my most favorite, quick snacks. My leaf-bordered plate is reserved for feel-good snacks and because of that, good vibes are attached to it.

Here are five instances this plate, with the right ingredients, has served me well.



1. Spring Rollsalad

What you need:
2 sheets of dry rice paper
1/2 cup of diced chicken
1/4 cup of diced cucumber
1 tablespoon of goat cheese
1 handful of spring mix

What you need to do:
-Dip the rice paper evenly in water.
-While waiting for it to soften, heat and season chicken (I’m a fan of spritzing some lemon and then layering a little bit of Sriracha).
-Put spring mix on top of one of the rice paper sheets (about 1/5 of the circle).
-Spread the diced chicken on top of the bed of spring mix.
-Top with cucumbers.
-Roll up the spring rolls.
-With any leftover spring mix, combine with goat cheese and cucumber for a side salad.



2. Sunshine Trio

What to put together:
Half a cup of blueberries, half a cup of raw almonds*, 3/4 cup of strawberries. The combination creates a perfect amount of crunch. You’ll feel re-energized in no time.

*If you have extra time, throw the almonds into a toaster oven for 5 minutes!



3. I Made Breakfast…And it’s Happy to See You!  #Mulan

One Plate, Five Snacks

What you need:
1 English muffin
1/2 cup of diced avocado
Sliced carrots
Garlic hummus
1 cup of strawberries

What you need to do:
-Cut English muffin in half.
-Spread garlic hummus on both flat sides.
-Put generous amounts of avocado on the hummus.
-Sprinkle with sliced carrot and pepper.
-Arrange muffin into emoticon of your choosing.



4. The Magical Make-You-Love Carrots Trio

What to put together:
Half a cup of blackberries, a handful of carrots, a dab of hummus, and 12 Trader Joe’s multi-grain pita crackers



5. Green Eggs Sandwich

What you need: 
2 slices of bread
1/2 avocado
1 egg
1/2 cup(s) of diced chicken

What you need to do:
-Toast bread.
-While bread is toasting, put a little bit of olive oil on the pan, then start by making the egg as sunny side up as possible. Toss in the diced chicken, and then crack the yolk right when it’s done. This makes a scramble/sunny hybrid!
-Take bread out.
-Put avocado with sprinkled pepper on one side, the eggs with chicken on the other.
*This tastes delicious both as a sandwich and as two pieces of toast.



Here’s to hoping you find your lucky plate too!

KTOWN Night Market: More Than Korean BBQ


At last weekend’s KTOWN Night Market Halloween Food Fest, Seoul Sausage, season 3 winners of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, curated a special line-up of 13 food trucks known for the quality of their food. And while the street market shut down four blocks in the heart of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the fare ranged from halal chicken roasted on a vertical rotisserie at Chicken & Rice, oozing grilled cheese at The Grilled Cheese Truck, to Filipino fusion at White Rabbit, and shaved snow by Fluff Ice.


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White Rabbit’s tacos with chicken adobo, pork sisig and pork tocino.


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Mac & grilled cheese.



Of course, there was also no shortage of local restaurant representation (the original Ramen Burger, Taiwanese baos and the perpetually packed Ham Ji Park, renown for its Korean pork ribs, to name a few), as well as plenty of fruit-infused drinks served in reusable Mason jars and reinvented ice cream sandwiches and churros. Street market favorite Wolf & Flock, known for their 100% grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised Australian bone in lamb chops with a yuzu glaze, offered a somewhat pricey but succulent piece of lamb. (Who wants to overeat at one stall anyway? It’s all about getting a taste of everything, right?)


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But in our humble opinion, the standout was The Pho Burger, which was only making its second appearance at a street market. And thank goodness we stopped by. Their juicy, fragrant, crunchy, gooey burger, embellished with all the mint, sprouts, chilies, onions and cilantro you expect in a steaming bowl of pho, but topped with crispy uncooked pho noodles … it was the best thing we ate all day.


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The Pho Burger.


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Americans Taste Japanese Kit Kats and Immediately Fall In Love


When we saw the title to one of Buzzfeed‘s latest videos, we admit, we were a bit apprehensive. You can’t blame us though. Their new video “Americans Try Exotic Japanese Kit Kats” sounds awfully familiar to another video they made earlier this year titled “Americans Taste Exotic Asian Food.” Although exposure to Asian food is always appreciated, we were definitely left feeling uncomfortable with the reactions (or rather, overreactions) to Asian food. We basically watched four minutes of gagging and food spitting.

In their defense, these taste testers were given dishes such as chicken feet and developing duck embryo. Many commenters angrily pointed out that Buzzfeed chose Asia’s scariest dishes just to get a bad reaction.

Well, it seems Buzzfeed definitely listened to their viewers! Instead of scavenging Asia for the most unpleasant looking food, they instead turned to something many of us are familiar with and even love: Kit Kats.

Of course, these are no ordinary Kit Kats. We’re accustomed to a Kit Kat’s crunchy wafer covered in milk chocolate, but Japanese Kit Kats come in countless flavors. The taste testers tried everything from apple to tea-flavored Kit Kats.

Sure enough, the taste-testers had no hesitation when it came to trying the sweets. They reacted with absolute delight and proved that yes, Asian food and snacks can be delicious.


How School Lunch in America Compares to Japan, Philippines, India and Korea


Yesterday, Buzzfeed released a video called “School Lunches Around The World” which (as the title suggests) shows the average school lunch of children from various countries.  Most interesting of all was the difference in size, nutritional value and of course, content.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.25.31 PMAccording to the video, a typical school lunch in the United States consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some chips, a Go-gurt, an apple and some milk. Although many comments argued that a more typical American school lunch consists of a slice of pizza instead of a PB&J, we have to admit that this combination pretty much hits the mark when it comes to average lunches.


But does the video accurately show the average school lunch in Asian countries?


  Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.37.59 PMAlthough the image shows Japan’s lunch consisting of rice, mackerel and pickled spinach, it’s safe to assume that the vegetables and fish can be substituted with other ingredients. The main essence of a Japanese lunch is clear: food is made from scratch and made to be healthy. In fact, Japan’s child obesity rate, which is always among the world’s lowest, has declined for each of the past six years.        


Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.49.14 PMFor the Philippines, the video shows rice and lechon kawali (pork) on a banana leaf rather than a plate. Admittedly, the banana leaf gave quite a few people a chuckle. Viewers recognized this as the tradition in many rural areas of the Philippines. The main issue some had with this image is that it did not feature seafood, a staple of Philippine cuisine. That aside, this simple combination is more than common. Unfortunately, a diet rich in meats like Lechon may be the reason for high rates of hypertension.          



Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 5.13.50 PMIndia’s school lunch consists of rice and saag paneer (a classic Indian dish consisting of cooked spinach and fried paneer cheese with thickened cream or coconut milk) and dal makhani (another Indian staple consisting of whole black lentil and red kidney beans). The meal has become an average school lunch thanks to a massive school feeding program which aims to improve nutritional levels among children.          



  Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 1.55.19 PM Korea’s average school lunch consists of purple rice, soup, kimchi, radish and bulgogi (grilled, marinated beef). While some viewers commented that this plate is inaccurate because it should be flipped to have the rice closer to us, we can go ahead and agree with the plate. Anyone who has dined at a Korean restaurant is accustomed to the colorful meal and the numerous side dishes.  

As viewers watched this video, they couldn’t help but notice that the American meal lacked vegetables and more importantly, it contained quite a large amount of processed and sugary foods. Many have linked this to the high obesity rates in the U.S. which have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s.    


Check out more school lunches with the complete video below.

Craving Asian Snacks From Your Childhood? Check Out This Homemade Choco Pie Recipe


When I was young, I spent most of my Saturdays at my grandmother’s house, secretly picking flowers off her houseplants, overfeeding her goldfish and eating up all her snacks that she would get from Chinatown. I say “all her snacks,” but my grandma really only had two snack foods in her cupboard — one was the family pack lemon puff biscuits, which always tasted dry and slightly artificial, and the other was Garden coconut wafers, which I knew had been laying around for a while. See, to save money, my grandma would buy the wafers in these big metal tins, which would take forever to finish. And for that reason, all the Garden wafers I’ve ever eaten at my grandmother’s house always tasted a bit stale. Still, I opted for the wafers over the biscuits.

I had a very specific method of eating the wafers. Because I was only allowed to have a few per visit, I would split the wafers into individual layers, so that it would seem like I had a whole lot more to eat than there actually was. As a kid, I would do this to all of my snacks, just to prolong my time with them. Sounds kind of silly, right?

But it’s funny how when I share these stories with my Asian friends, nearly all of them reciprocate with their own stories. My friend Timmy from Taiwan would freeze his lychee before eating them like little frozen popsicle balls. And my college classmate Grace, who grew up in Brooklyn, would take Haitai French Pie cookies, eat everything except the middle, and save the center apple pie filling for her last bites. “Always the last two bites because that was how the center fit perfectly into my mouth,” she says.


Of course, my love of Asian snacks didn’t end as a child. As a college student, the Japanese fruit gummy candies — you know, the ones that come in apple, kiwi, strawberry and lychee — were my ultimate companions for late night studying. A small confession is that I would bring them into the library as well. (An even bigger confession is I’ve prob- ably brought a snack into every library I’ve ever been in — and the culprit snack was usually Asian. I know, I know, but it’s hard to walk away once you’re in the studying groove.) Anyway, any “library snacker” can tell you that the hard part is not sneaking the snacks into the library, but eating them in silence. That takes skill, especially when you’re eating those crunchy rice crackers.

Now as an adult, I still find myself watching TV and curled up next to a bag of prawn crackers or snacking on the latest red bean, green tea and sesame Pocky. To this day, Asian snacks remain a comfort food for me. So here’s my own attempt at recreating that magic with a homemade Choco Pie recipe.

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– 1 1/4 cup cake flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– splash of vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff pr marshmallow creme

Chocolate Ganache Coating:
– 8 oz chocolate chips
– 1 cup heavy cream



1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make batter by mixing dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Fill whoopie pie pan or muffin tin with 1/4 inch of batter.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cakes turn golden brown on the underside. Let cool. (Tops may still look pale.)
5. Meanwhile, prepare ganache by bringing a cup of heavy cream to a boil.
6. Immediately remove from heat and pour on top of chocolate.
7. Whisk till smooth. Set aside.



1. Cut tops off cake so that the surface is flat.
2. Spread about a teaspoon of marshmallow filling on the cake. Top it off with another cake, making sure the golden brown sides are exposed.
3. Place the assembled cakes on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the ganache. Pour a small amount of ganache on top of each of the assembled cakes until the tops and sides are cov- ered. A spatula may be needed.
4. Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.


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– Story and photos by Christina Ng
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Study Shows South Koreans Consume More Coffee Than White Rice


South Koreans now drink more coffee than they eat their staple food rice, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control of 3,805 adults, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

According to the 2013 survey, the average Korean drinks coffee 12.3 times per week, followed by eating kimchi 11.8 times, multigrain rice 9.5 times, and white rice seven times per week.

The proportion of rice in Koreans’ daily diet has steadily declined over the past decade whereas coffee-related calorie intake has quadrupled due to the amount of artificial sweeteners in coffee, reported The Korea Herald.

Over the past few years, coffee culture has been going strong in South Korea. Earlier this year, Seoul was named as the city with the most Starbucks locations, beating New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, it was reported last month that Starbucks in Korea costs twice as much as it does in the U.S.


Image courtesy of The Korea Herald
This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 

Wait, MSG May Not Be So Bad After All?


If you think Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown have bad reputations, think again. They have nothing on the nearly 50-year-old bad reputation of MSG, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. Interestingly enough, most people haven’t actually figured out why MSG has a bad rep.

Ask the average American about the substance and he or she will tell you that it’s bad for one’s health and should be avoided. But if you ask why, the conversation will probably be cut short. We’ve all heard the rumors of MSG being toxic, poisonous, cancerous, and may lead to fatigue and headaches, but where is the research behind it?

Turns out, this may have all been a myth.


There are multiple studies which actually point out that MSG is no more harmful to our health than plain salt. Sure, some people have adverse reactions to MSG and if it is not consumed in moderation, it will lead to discomfort (like most anything else), but as far as consumption is concerned, there’s not too much to worry about.

Reactions, a series which “uncovers the chemistry in everyday life,” recently did some research about MSG. The flavor enhancer was first discovered in 1908 by chemist Kikunae Ikeda. Turns out, the bad rumors began 60 years later when a scientist tried to pinpoint why he was experiencing discomfort after consuming Chinese food, naming his symptoms “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” Because of this, assumptions were made about MSG. Talk about jumping to conclusions.

Find out all the facts in the video below.

NEW STUDY: Instant Ramen Linked With Heart Disease Risk


A recent American study is targeting one beloved South Korean food as a factor in one’s cardiometabolic risk for diabetes, heart disease or stroke: instant ramen noodles.

The Associated Press reports that the study was based on South Korean surveys (the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey IV) that looked at the overall diet patterns of more than 10,000 men and women ages 19 to 64. Two major dietary patterns were identified: the “traditional dietary pattern” (TP) of rice, fish, veggie, and fruit, and the “meat and fast-food pattern” (MP), rich in meat, soda and processed foods.

Those who followed the MP diet, which includes instant noodles on its food chart, were associated with an increase in abdominal obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels — all potential triggers for heart disease and diabetes.


Women, in particular, who ate instant noodles at least twice or more a week were associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. This association was not found in men, and Dr. Frank B. Hu, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology as well as one of the researchers behind the U.S. study, says this might be because women keep a more accurate record of their diet or because postmenopausual women have higher sensitivity to carbohydrates, sodium and saturated fat, according to The New York Times.

Sodium is certainly one of the key ingredients in instant noodle packages and cups, and one serving of instant ramen exceeds South Korea’s recommended daily sodium intake by more than 90 percent, reports the Associated Press.

The results probably don’t come as a completely surprise to most instant ramen noodle-consuming folks. And it would take a superhuman amount of willpower to ban the comfort food from our diets completely.


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South Korean pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers, Ryu Hyun-jin in a commercial for a popular South Korean ramen. (Photo Credit)

For many South Koreans and Korean Americans, instant ramen noodles are a mainstay in their diets, and for myself in particular, the food is a nostalgic reminder of home and childhood. I distinctly remember the joy I felt every time I watched my mother crack an egg over bubbling ramen soup, mesmerized as it disappeared inside the broth, only to resurface in delicious clouds of creamy goodness. My brother and I would take advantage of those 10-for-$1 deals, crushing the noodles inside the packages, and coating the pieces with the seasoning for a delicious, crunchy snack. And, now much older, my brother will never leave California back to the East Coast without packages of ramen tucked snugly inside his suitcase, my mother’s gift symbolizing love and affection.

Needless to say, it may take more than a study to convince ramen-noodle lovers to join the noodle boycott.

Feature photo courtesy of Maangchi.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com