Peumayan’s Door to the Indigenous and Ancestral

I’ve had the pleasure of eating a lot of delicious food around the world this year, but this place struck me as so special because of uniqueness of the food, celebration of heritage, and the fact that if this restaurant were somewhere like LA or NY, the chef could charge 3x as much and be the toast of the town for innovation.

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A badass female chef took us through Peumayan Ancestral Food menu on lovely Sunday. The restaurant concept takes indigenous ingredients and cooking methods from groups like the Mapuche, Rapa Nui, and other indigenous groups in South America and builds a multi-course tasting meal with all those elements, with bonuses.

 

Normally, I loath the concept of elevating “ethnic food.” For an Asian person, that often comes with the baggage and implication that waters down food and plates it in a fancy way to make it more palatable to White people, when 1) the food is good as it is 2) high-end Asian cuisine already exists that isn’t geared toward White audiences.

On the flip side of those politics, why can’t “ethnic food” be just as finely enjoyed as French Food and Italian food, with the same pomp and ritual? Especially when food with seasoning just tastes better? (Haha.)

I don’t think that latter stance was fully clarified for me until going to Peumayan.

An explanatory comma first, traveling to Santiago was my first time truly traveling in Latin America. My stereotypes about Chile mostly came whatever content I absorbed on the internet through time talking about how the southern cone of Latin America is so “European.” Luckily my friend Maria from Santiago complicated those notions and told me the history of her country. Still, I knew so little about complexity of the indigenous history in Chile, and how the Mapuche were the one indigenous group to successfully resist the Spanish conquest.

Peumayan takes the richness of that history and creates a high-end dining experience celebrating the ingredients and cooking of pre-Colombian food, and does so exceptionally well. I’m mad that the dining and food culture locally and globally doesn’t seem to have that on the radar at all.

Most of my travels through Chile and Latin America weeks later all have the same sad undercurrent as the indigenous culture as among the least celebrated heritages in these countries. Although there are exceptions, especially in Peru and I’m assuming Boliva and Paraguay, the present-day living culture, and food culture in particular case of Chile, it isn’t something that seems to pique curiosity, let alone as a part of the rich heritage of the country to cherish and value.

I hope Peumayan and what the chefs are trying to do here gets a lot more famous. A tasting menu for food this quality would easily be triple the price in LA or NY. I put this at the top of the list for a restaurant recommendation in Santiago.

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Exceptional flavors from sweet to savory that I’ve never quite experienced. Everything tasted so earthy yet refined.

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The above is the bread platter and amuse bouche for the first round.

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Main courses.

 

Desert, with a lot of flavors of local Chilean wine.

 

More about the food.

More about Peumayan:

  • Website
  • Providencia Constitución 136 Santiago, Providencia, Región Metropolitana, Chile
  • ~$50-70 USD tasting menu plus drinks

 

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Coffee with a Message at Hidden Gem Coffee in Hanoi

Practically designed for Instagram, Hidden Gem Coffee feels like a whimsical and anime-esque technicolor experience.

The owner wants to raise awareness on reusing, recycling, and reducing waste in a country very much still in the beginning stages of environmental policy and awareness. He gave a talk when I visited that he especially cares since people in his hometown developed higher rates than average of cancer due to industrial waste pollution from nearby factories. In general, he’s concerned about environmental degradation in Vietnam and really there are stories like this all over Asia as a cost of economic development, so it really resonated with me.

The walls are lined with murals of a previous era of Vietnamese life toned with the nostalgic quality that characterize so many of Hanoi’s cafes. He mentioned the paintings of traditional life were inspired by his mother. The cafe was one of the newest and most unique I visited in Hanoi since he decorated the entire place with unwanted items he’d gathered, hence the name Hidden Gem. It also features three levels of seating with good internet so it’s an ideal study and workplace as well.

I enjoyed my egg coffee, though not the best I’ve had, which is an honor I reserve for Cafe Giang. The egg coffee I had was certainly made with love and skill – eggs whipped with their unique use of Bailey’s instead of other liquors, usually a rice wine, typically used in egg coffee. This place is worth a stop to decompress from hectic Hanoi and worth your support. It’s also close to this awesome sticky rice place.

Shoutout to OK Ryan in Flushing

This is a Love Letterdisclaimer a place I haven’t visited in awhile (possibly months or a year) but still exists in a place I love dearly but no longer live full-time at the moment – check latest reviews on other sites accordingly as some items might be out of date.

Crosspost from ViewingNYC

Thought of OK Ryan recently as some of best Taiwanese food I’ve in NYC, including special order dishes for Lunar New Year – actually remembering what a comfort the place was since I was in Taiwan for Lunar New Year a week or so ago. Also, this is one of the few places in NYC to get legit Taiwanese breakfast. It’s in pretty far out Flushing and quite a hike even from the last subway stop into the part of Queens where there are actually strip malls with parking lots, but for me was always worth it to ride out all the way on the 7-Train from where I live in Murray Hill.

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I unabashedly love Taiwanese food, a food category that is surprisingly difficult to find in New York City, let alone at a high quality. After trekking across boroughs to the end of the 7 Line, I’ve finally found a favorite destination for this elusive cuisine. Ok Ryan shines in signature Taiwanese dishes, such as oyster omelettes and stinky tofu along with traditional breakfasts…. read more

 

The Best Foie Gras Experience at Au Pied de Cochon

This is a Love Letter: disclaimer a place I haven’t visited in awhile (possibly months or a year) but still exists in a place I love dearly but no longer live full-time at the moment – check latest reviews on other sites accordingly as some items might be out of date.

I had one of the best dining experiences traveling alone at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal in the super cool Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood. It’s not a fancy pants white table cloth place, feels more like an upscale bistro/French brassiere that is unpretentious yet refined. Definitely fine dining although hipster beards and tattoos would not be out-of-place here.

I didn’t get a chance to try the famed foie gras poutine since I dined alone, but I definitely will if I have the opportunity to return to Montreal. Instead I had apps of a fresh baguette with butter, definitely above average. I do think it’s the sign of a good restaurant when items that are sometimes throwaway are given a lot of care.

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Then I felt adventurous and had the foie gras nigiri. I had something similar awhile back at A Plus Sushi in Taipei. Not the most pretty, but holy crap, it tasted amazing and genuinely like nothing I had ever before. Fusion food tends to be crap, but this combo of big ole hunks of high quality foie gras, good nigiri rice, topped with the slightest bit of soy sauce made this trip worth it alone.

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Of course, I had have what Anthony Bourdain had, the Canard en Conserve or Duck in a Can – literally a pound of duck and foie gras cooked in a can with vegetables and thyme so all the fatty juices melange. I rarely can’t finish a dish, but the richness and how tasty it was almost nasty. I kept trying to shovel more bites of the fatty duck, foie gras, and lard-glazed veggies but couldn’t especially after the plate of nigiri and bread. I ended up taking half it back with me. I joke around about eating heart attacks in a can, but very little hyperbole here. Perhaps kind of an abomination to French Canadian chefs, but it was bomb the next day reheated with sriracha sauce.

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Eating at Au Pied de Cochon and Jean Talon Market were definitely the highlights of my trip to Montreal. For solo travelers, it’s a fantastic place to dine alone with a long bar in front of friendly chatty kitchen staff. I was far from the only one enjoying a foie gras feast on a solo trip.

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Ironically, I’m writing this love letter I mentioned I had been there to an older Canadian couple on the same bus I was traveling on from Croatia to Bosnia, who I thought were surely French tourists at first but then turned out to be awesome friendly Canadians whom I talked food and politics all day after we bonded after I mentioned I had been there. Nothing brings together people like food.

  • Website
  • 536 Duluth Est, Montreal, QC, H2L 1A9
  • $30+ Canadian Dollars or so for entrees and $12 for apps 

The Original Yogurt Coffee at Cafe Duy Tri in Hanoi

Vietnamese Yogurt Coffee originated Hanoi’s Cafe Duy Tri. Cafe Duy Tri represents one of the atmospheric, what I call old school coffee places in Hanoi, but ups it a notch with its own roaster, selling beans out front and three low floors/crawl spaces to hang out in with free Wi-Fi. It’s a bit hot and can smell a bit cigarette-smoky but worth coming through for the experience and for the yogurt coffee.

Real talk, the yogurt coffee I’ve had here is second-to-none in Hanoi, and I’ve had a lot of yogurt coffee in Hanoi. The key difference is instead of the regular tart yogurt used by most places, they freeze theirs so it has a frozen soft serve quality that balances the stronger notes of the coffee differently than other place I’d been to. Really good. It’s a little out of the way of the old quarter area, but I enjoyed walking around the lake in this area. Much more calm, leafy, and residential. Stop by if you’re planning on checking out the One Pillar Pagoda, Chua Kim Lien, or Maison de Tet Decor nearby.

Coffee Master and Craft Beer at Vagabond Hanoi

One of my favorite parts of visiting Hanoi was chilling with one of the owners of Vagabond, a craft beer and coffee bar near the 24h street and train tracks that many tourists enjoy going to. We talked about the Lakers, Celtics, my thoughts on Hanoi as a Taiwanese-American, childcare, etc. Just a good time.

Vagabond has a variety of coffees, including traditional Vietnamese and Aeropress expresso, two draft beers on tap, cold-pressed juices, and more bottled craft beers. I personally preferred the blonde even though I’m normally an IPA-drinker, but both are worth stopping in for.

This place definitely represents a new wave of shops in Hanoi that might be taken as worldwide hipster generic if not for its showcase of indie Vietnamese brands as well as warm and very hip locals. It’s a good stop for people who need a little taste of home and to pick up some more upscale and unique gifts. I’m so happy I saw it and stopped in.

  • Facebook
  • Address:7 Tôn Thất Thiệp, Hanoi, Vietnam 100000
  • Price Range: $1-$3 USD

Chang 1989 Coffee Shop: Hipster Hanoi Communist Glamour Nostalgia

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I was walking back from the Obama/Bourdain Bun Cha place (verdict: solid family restaurant Bun Cha eg. like your local diner you’ll eat at a few times per month not the best Bun Cha in Hanoi. Was worth the fangirl experience for me) to my lodgings and discovered this place: Chang 1989 

It seems like kind of akin to Cong Ca Phe and maybe ripping off the aesthetics, maybe a bit more upscale.

I really enjoyed the yogurt coffee I had there, and the overall good vibes. It’s off from the tourist and general madness that is the Old Quarter in a much more normal and also nicer residential neigborhood with clientele that reflected that. Definitely felt like a relief since I stayed near the “24h” street so my days often had too much close proximity to asshole-acting dirty Australian backpackers, weird hippie white people from the North America constantly wearing logo t-shirts and bandanas, and of course your random European vacationers as well.

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So yes, it was kind of a nice relief to be in a more upscale location with cheaper than average coffee (~1 USD) at better quality compared to the busier part of town sitting with locals.

The yogurt in the coffee tasted fresh with the that right amount of subtle Asian yogurt sweet and tart mixed with Vietnamese coffee, which they brewed quite delicately rather than just intense dark roast. Considering I’ve been trying a new coffee shop a day everyday at this point in my time in Hanoi, it stood out.

What I admire about the brand new place, so new that kid had a nailgun putting up more of the nostalgic wood paneling, is that it had a lot more attention to detail and shine than a lot of places I’ve seen trying to replicate the same feel. Unlike a lot of places where nostalgia is faded and sometimes even unintentionally dreary because of that or looks too artificially hipster, this place pops with color, like a technicolor film coming to life, a youthful exuberance. It does the old world glamor of a time that probably didn’t exist right. I lingered longer than I normally would alone and took more pictures than I normally would – like I think I was being creepy.

The friendly young people running it are definitely step above the hipster hive and after months on the road, that’s appreciated. If you’re going to Obama/Bourdain fan-girl, stop by here after your Bun Cha.

  • Foody.vn Page
  • Facebook 
  • Address: 30 Hàm Long, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
  • Price: ~1 USD per cup of coffee