Our favourite Asian food vlogs
21st June 2018 | by Guest author
Between trips to Asia, we love learning how to recreate our favourite Asian dishes at home. When we can’t be there to savour the flavours in person, these vlogs help bring back the tastes, scents and memories of our travels through Asia. Warning: do NOT attempt to watch food vlogs without snacks!
If you can get past the slightly cheesy format of the host wandering through the streets narrating enthusiastically to camera, these vlogs offer an immersive experience of eating Asian food in situ and give tangible insights into the ingredients and cooking methods. The dishes are sometimes very region-specific, so not always easy to recreate at home, but the ‘traveller’s view’ format is easy for an out-of-town audience to relate to. It’s all about the experience of eating vicariously, much like any traditional travel cookery programme, and the best ones cause your mouth to water.
Mark Wiens is a top-class vlogger who gets right to the heart of the cooking, asks pertinent questions, and eats with gusto. He goes to out-of-the-way places to sample food that’s off the usual tourist trail, as well as giving useful tips on getting the best from the big cities. He is super enthusiastic, but knows when to let the food do the talking, and there are sections without voiceover that just hone in on the cooking. Though he travels all over the globe, he’s based in Thailand and frequently focuses on finding lesser-known foodie treats in South-East Asia. Check out his street food tour of Petchaburi Soi 5 in Bangkok.
Luke and Sabrina from ChopstickTravel are young, energetic and well informed, with a relaxed on-camera style. They talk in detail on the Luke Martin and Luke Martin RAW vlogs about different eateries, dishes and ingredients, using honest descriptions to paint a tasty picture. Luke really knows his flavours, giving very specific feedback while being polite and respectful to the chefs. They visit a variety of streetfood stalls and traditional restaurants, as well as markets to get a look at the local raw ingredients, trying a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes that give a broad spectrum of modern Asian eating.
Strictly Dumpling’s Mike Chen is much less earnest, but so much fun to watch, if you can stomach a very high-energy, almost comic book-style delivery – lots of ‘awesome!!!’. He eats BIG food, all-you-can-eat buffets and mountains of meat at night markets around the world. He often shares the vlogging stage with friends who live in each location, allowing them to add their experiences, which is refreshing. Mike and Co. tackling a whole suckling pig in Cebu is guaranteed to make any carnivore salivate, and his tour of a Seoul night market offers a fresh perspective.
‘How to make...’
However detailed the written recipe, it’s often much easier to recreate a dish when you’ve watched it being made. These ‘How to make’ food vlogs - similar in style to traditional celebrity chef TV shows - offer straightforward, easy to follow recipes for some of our favourite Asian foods, with detailed commentary to help you get it just right.
Seonkyoung Longest’s popular blog combines speedy, bite-sized vlogs with a detailed breakdown of the recipe further down the page. Watch her cooking, get hungry, then follow the recipe step-by-step: a winning formula. She talks you through each dish and often suggests alternative ingredients where one may be hard to source. We love her version of creamy chicken ramen and her vegan take on the Korean Chinese noodle dish, Jjajangmyeon.
Two that are always worth a watch are Mama Cheung, who makes home-cooked, Chinese-centred cuisine in a reassuringly ‘home economics’ style, with easy to follow subtitles, and Grace Teo of Nyonya Cooking who prepares a broad range of dishes from Malaysia and across South-East Asia, giving detailed instructions for each one in her warm signature style. Try Mama Cheung’s simple salt and pepper tofu, or celebratory snowy mooncakes, or get hungry watching Grace make - and then delightfully devour - spicy Laksa Lemak.
For sheer captivating food theatre, Karl pointed us in the direction of popular Malaysian celebrity Chef Wan, whose commentary in two languages at the same time is truly impressive. Watch him make Thai seafood curry in front of an enthralled audience, or track down the cheeky East Bites West series where he brought his characterful cooking style on a tour of provincial England.
Check out the equally exuberant Maangchi for a quirky presentation of Korean cooking with a serious love of traditional food.
In a world of constant chatter, sometimes it pays to stop talking, and this is what these narration-free blogs do best. These vloggers focus in the real experience of actually being somewhere, whether at a market, by a busy streetfood stall or in a home kitchen. Without the framework of a narrator to guide you through, they simply let the sounds, sights and ambiance take centre stage. You can hear the sizzle of the pan, the clack of stirring spoons and the chatter of the chef, and see the sheen of the sauces and the finished dishes up close. The true genius is that they can, of course, be enjoyed in any language!
Honeykki’s narration-free cooking vlogs centre on everyday Korean cuisine prepared at home (such as this tutorial for har gow shrimp dumplings). They are a peaceful way to get some dinner inspiration after a busy day, or just a lovely way to relax by watching precise preparation with the gentle soundtrack of birdsong and soft music.
Some wordless vlogs, like Travel Thirsty take a micro-close, real time look at Asian streetfood, such as this video of waffle making Japan-style, while others take you on a visual tour of busy markets, like this Aden Films vlog of Tha Kha Floating Market near Bangkok, giving you a taste of what to expect on your own travels.
Food forms the basis of so much of a country’s history, culture and society. These vlogs focus in on this seemingly standard aspect of everyday life, shining a subtle light on the mix of tradition and change in a destination (or an individual) in bite-sized documentary style.
One of our favourites in the vast sea of food vlogumentaries is Grandma’s Recipes, which is just beautiful. This unassuming little channel takes a gentle look at the lives of women from different parts of Asia who have reached their twilight years, reflecting on their lives through the lens of family and food. Exquisitely shot footage of the women and their family members sourcing ingredients and cooking dishes is overlaid with audio of their memories and experiences, creating a poetic snapshot which gives depth and substance to the story. Watch and fall in love.
Unsurprisingly, the world on online food vlogs has quite a few ‘out there’ examples! Some are at the niche 'explore with caution' end of bizarre, but others combine relevant and interesting food content with a style that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Cooking with Dog is a straightforward ‘How to cook’ vlog showcasing classic Asian dishes, with one key quirk: the narration is provided by the host’s grey poodle, Francis. With a staggering number of videos uploaded since the channel’s inception in 2007, Cooking with Dog achieves a good balance of cute humour and easy-to-follow, practical cookery instruction. Sadly, Francis passed away in 2016, but the vlog lives on with an animated Francis giving the narration in cartoon form from the host’s apron! This recipe for traditional Japanese sweet potato kintsuba sweets shows Francis in happier times.
Dancing Bacons, as its description states, is ‘all about FOOD, FOOD and more FOOD!’, although perhaps not your average noodle. Focusing on the more unusual side of Asian cuisine, there are videos of industrial-sized Japanese ‘jiggly’ Castella cakes, wobbling as they are sliced, a street vendor creating a giant rubber duck from cotton candy in Taiwan and (on the more average side) temptingly overflowing sashimi rice bowls at Sushiro in Singapore. It's a really mesmerising pick and mix.