Why Do Whites Accept Japanese and Thai Cuisine More Than Other Asian Cuisine?

About a month ago I introduce two of my very white colleagues at work the experience of eating Chinese Hot Pot at the Top Gun Hot Pot in Burnaby. In that post, I wrote about my curiosity why despite them being Canadians living in a cities (Vancouver and Toronto) with a lot of visible Asians, that they still have very little experience in enjoying authentic Asian food.


Below is a comment that a reader of Chowtimes wrote in response to my question. Dyn’s comments has to be the mother of all comments for length (Thanks Dyn!). I thought it deserved to be elevated to a post on it’s own and perhaps some of you could also chip in with your two cents on this. Here is Dyn’s comments in its entirety:

I myself love every Asian cuisine I’ve tried (Japanese, Cantonese, Szechuan, Vietnamese, Korean, Shanghai, Punjabi, Pakistani, Lebanese, Syrian, South Indian…) – East and West Asian, that is. However, to answer your questions based on my own experiences and those of friends (and those I’ve tried to convince to try book-tripe!):

First, reasons why people are unnerved:

1. Media scaremongering.
There’s the recall freak-outs all the time, plus every bad comedy involving Asia inevitably has the Asian character eating something uncommon or gross to the western palette.

2. Unfamiliarity.
Organ meats are classically foods of the poor, and since most Westerners have had the privilege of being relatively wealthy (and developing cheap, processed food early on), those foods are not appealing to the young. On a related note, those of us who are the children of the baby-boomers or the grandchildren or children of those who lived through the Great Depression had to hear, growing up, terror stories about organ meats and a number of other things, so that adds to the issue. Also, alot of Northern European cuisine that came over with our ancestors was very, very bland, so to many the pungent smells of Asian cuisine are as offputting to Westerners (at first) as the smell of cooking pork is to alot of Asians (I seem to recall reading that there’s a word in some Chinese dialects for the smell of boiled pork?)

3. Looking Silly
Chopsticks are a bit of a learning curve, and people worry about making a fool of themselves, especially when thinking of…

4. Price
it’s not immediately evident to alot of Westerners that that $20 they see is for a family to share the dish, as Western restaurants (beyond some Amish ones in the Eastern US) are not communal in nature. Most Westerners do not realize that 3 dishes for a family of 4 with rice comes to an economical $10-15 per person most of the time, and possibly much less. Those who do know this will tend to want to go in groups and might not want to look silly per #3.

And now the issues that are not so much the people’s fault:

5. Translations
It can be a bit frightening to have a poorly-translated or badly translated menu, especially for would-be new folks. To their credit, most Asian restaurants do indeed endeavor to provide a translation for at least some of the dishes (see #7), but half the time they seem to be using a dictionary from the 1800s. An example of this would be, let’s say, “Yue Choy with Doufu and Fish Maw In Soup.” Let’s say this is a plausible dish. Some might get “Doufu” is “tofu”, but very few will know “yue choy” (which could easily and correctly be called “mild mustard greens” or “Chinese broccoli”) and even fewer will know what a maw is, and for those that do? Maw gives a very poor idea of what the cut/type of fish actually involved is. Similarly bad are one-off’s like “in sauce” or “in spicy soup with noodle” – what sauce? You have more than one, surely? Which soup base? Enough experiences like this can put someone off, especially if the menu doesn’t try and be descriptive. Worst-case, they’ll order a “safe” western dish, which may very well be poorly cooked and leave a bad taste in their mouths, so to speak – a local Westernized Chinese food place near me has lovely authentic Chinese food available (with names like above!), Westernized Chinese food, and hamburgers – anyone foolish enough to order their hamburgers will never return!

6. Hygiene
This comes down to two issues: first of all, the cleanliness. Asian restaurants seem to have a … (more…)

Continue ReadingWhy Do Whites Accept Japanese and Thai Cuisine More Than Other Asian Cuisine?

How To Make Bento and Get Your Kid Ready For School in 5 Minutes

This is so funny that I just had to share this you.

The Japanese crazy creativity never ceases to amaze me. I came across this YouTube video from the KookyCulinary who in turn actually it from another blog called Just Bento.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu6j9zyw5s8&w=420&h=315]

The video is in …


Continue ReadingHow To Make Bento and Get Your Kid Ready For School in 5 Minutes

Emirates Airbus A380

Here is something about travel and a little about food too. I received this series of pictures from the folks at work of the new Airbus A380 of the Emirates. I think you will enjoy marveling at these pictures as much as I did.

Working in the airline industry we are very well aware of the buzz caused by the Airbus A380 when it was first delivered to Singapore Airlines. With the Airbus A380, the Emirates has taken air travel to new heights.


The Airbus A380 is the worlds largest passenger airliner in the world. Each plan can carry a minimum of 500 passengers. It can even squeeze in over 800 passengers if configured to be all economy class.


The plane is not only wide body but it is also fully double decker. So, not many airports are configured to handle the passenger load that big. For instance, the Airbus A380 require a airport gate with at least three aerobridges to make sure they can move that many passengers without excessive lines.


I get to travel business class on mission if I need to work directly with the airline. I still remember the awesome flight on Singapore Airlines’ Raffles Class which I blogged about here.

The Emirates is a whole new thing altogether. Too bad I am managing only internal projects these days or else I would want to volunteer to work with the Emirates!


The Emirates even has a shower spa! Can you beat that? That would come in handy for a 12 hour flight from Toronto to Dubai for sure.

BTW, you know how much First Class from Toronto to Dubai and return costs? It is sixteen thousand dollars … $16,000 Canadian. Come to think of it, it is not too expensive considering the same 1st class flight on Air Canada is already $13,000.

Alright, I’ll let you enjoy these pictures. The food images are at the end of this post … (more…)

Continue ReadingEmirates Airbus A380

Seville: Hotels in Spain

We don’t normally post about hotels but we will make it an exception this time. This is because we were so pleased with the hotels in Spain throughout.


We were particularly impressed with the hotel in Seville. Even though it was a last minute booking, we managed to snag a hotel called the Best Western Cervantes Hotel right in the middle of old Seville. It was just €50. We did not expect much especially with a “Best Western” name to it. We selected this primarily because of the low price, location and the reviews we found on Trip Advisor.


The Cervantes Hotel is located right in the old city. Despite the name, the streets were meticulously maintained and kept spotless clean. It was a quiet section with hardly any cars. One thing that struck us is how narrow the streets are here. It is just enough for 1 car.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=seville+spain&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=55.455479,100.986328&ie=UTF8&ll=37.390891,-5.992098&spn=0.013757,0.024655&z=14&output=embed&w=600&h=350]
It is hopeless having a map of Seville. Look at it. We got more lost using the map than not using it. After a while we just threw away the map and just ask for the general direction. It is a good thing that the old city in Seville is small. You can easily walk to all the major tourist sites.


We had come to learn to rely on the blue H signs outside of all hotels. That denotes the star ratings of the hotels in Spain. I learned from our guide book that hotels are highly regulated. When you see a three star, you really get a three star hotel. (US hotels are the worse I find when it comes to ratings).

They have the room rates posted clearly on the check in counter. It is a requirement by law to protect guests.

Regardless, when you book for a room, compare the rates between what is available on the web (expedia, orbitz, hotels and such) and direct with the hotel.

Here is our experience. We started off with 3 nights in Barcelona. When we wanted to extend our stay to 6 nights, we were quoted by our travel agent €150 per night — we said thanks but no thanks. When we got to Barcelona we asked the hotel and was told it is €110 per night. I then checked the web and the lowest quote I found was just €75. So, I booked the additional nights on my notebook (connected to the hotel’s wifi) right there and then at the hotel checkin counter. They were cool about it.

If you care to see, here are some of the shots we took of our hotel in Seville: (more…)

Continue ReadingSeville: Hotels in Spain

Barcelona: Le Tour de France

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the yellow banners in Barcelona.  I knew that the Tour de France is going on but I did not realize that they had chosen Barcelona for the stage outside France.  Not only that … TWO stages were held in Barcelona.


It was Stage 6 (Gerona to Barcelona) and Stage 7 (Barcelona to Andorra) that involved Barcelona.

I love cycling.  I used to cycle 40+ km to work almost every day of the week.  I stopped doing that ever since I had a wipe out two winters ago and ever since then, my Giant TCR-2 road bike had been sitting on the bike stand at home.

When the Tour de France was going on in summer, I would go to work late because I wanted to watch each stage to the end.  That was when Lance Armstrong was reigning supreme.  Guess what … Armstrong is back on the Tour again this year and I am not going to miss this chance of a lifetime.


Look at those toned muscles.  It was a good thing I decided at the last minute to bring along the 70-200L 2.8 lens with us on this trip.  Along with the 1.4x extender and with the crop body of the Canon 40D, I had quite the reach I needed.  The long lens was heavy to carry around on vacation but it sure paid off.


Well, my lens was not nearly as long as the many professional photogs we saw.  This guy’s lens must be 300mm?  400mm?  Must have cost a fortune.  Suanne will never allow me to buy one of those.


Our hotel conceirge was extremely helpful.  He spent 30 minutes helping me find a great spot to watch.  I was so impressed that even though he did know much details of the Tour in Barcelona, he did the research on the internet with me and plotted painstakingly the entire city route where the tour will pass.  So with the custom map he gave us, we went to the foot of the Columbus Monument.

We were there about 1 hour before the scheduled arrival of the leaders.  I like this spot because the cyclists will need to ride through a double curve around the monument and then ride on a straight wide avenue.  For one hour we did not budge from our spot because once we move, it gets filled and it will be impossible to get a railing side spot again.


The wait was not too bad because there are lots of entertainment before the peloton passes by.


The sponsors have floats and throws out freebies.  Suanne was pretty good catching them.  She got a nice keychain from the French Gendarmarie (military police) and a cap from Skoda which she proudly wore through the vacation.

Her trick?  All around her were guys and Spanish guys do not fight with girls.  Suanne literally grabbed the cap from a guy’s hands and he let her have it.  There are advantages being female in Spain.


After an hour of entertainment, things gets more formal.  Security got tighter as they controlled the people from crossing the streets.

And then from the distance we could hear the roar getting closer.  There were a lot of cheering the past hour but this roar was decidedly different.


To a lot of people’s surprise … (more…)

Continue ReadingBarcelona: Le Tour de France