photo by Dave Koch

"It's a Dirty Kitchen!"

I hear them exclaim. All too often I have taken foreign guests to my favorite roadside eating houses in Asia only to have them baulk at the lack of decor let alone matching dishes or cutlery.

"When was the last time they cleaned that pot?"

Believe me when I tell you - it's pot luck. As a veteran of 4 years living and traveling in Asia i can safely say that you could be in as much danger eating at a 5 star restaurant. Forget Michelin stars, sometimes the only stars you will be seeing are inside your eyelids after one too many cases of poisoning.

So be bold! Be brave! What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. You could be saved by having a bowl of Pho soup at a dirty shack beside the train station in Hanoi after enduring the worst food poisoning on the train from hell (that was after a Michelin 5 star meal I will never forget). And anyway, who needs that 3 day intestinal cleaning retreat in Koh Phangan after eating roadside food prepared by a crooked little old lady as shriveled as a preserved Chinese plum outside the temple of the reclining Buddha in Bangkok?

Some of the best meals I've had have been in very obscure places - I will never forget being in Seoul eating barbecue Mackerel and drinking Makgeolli (unrefined fermented rice wine) in what looked like the inside of an old teacher's desk (complete with graffiti). Served to me in a tin bowl that looked like it had been used for football practice.

So my advice is dear travelers, when in Asia, throw caution to the wind, try everything and after being well seasoned (both inside and out) you will find yourself in a roadside shack nonchalantly observing "Wow, that's the biggest rat I've ever seen." And...

"Eating dirty Hor Fun!"


AuthorNatalia Richards