Asia Eater recently published its first print magazine, with insights into Asia's changing food cultures accompanied by drool-worthy photos. Among indie food magazines, it isn't as edgy as, say, Swallow or as attitudinal-yet-smart as Lucky Peach, but even in its infancy it's no less deserving of a flip-through.
What you'll find are stories from across Asia -- about the egg tarts of Hong Kong bakery Tai Cheong, a rum distiller on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand and the mishti (sweets) business in the suburbs of Dhaka, Bangladesh, for example.
Dhamrai "lies just past the urban sprawl of the country's capital, Dhaka, the fastest-growing city on the planet," writes Joseph Allchin. "Pass the hordes of this city's 'satanic mills' as Blake may have termed them, where your socks come from, and Dhamrai is a first bit of rural Bengal, a township seemingly waiting for the onrushing urbanization engulfing all before it. But Moti Pal & Sons has built a name for itself performing an art that is as old as they come." Its specialty? Rashgulla, cream-colored dumplings of curdled milk suspended in thick syrup.
The cover story is a man-on-the-street pictorial about the pending closure of Tsukiji fish market -- the largest of its kind in the world -- at its central location in Tokyo and its subsequent move to newer facilities. It's a brief survey of Tsukiji's vendors, i.e. the fishmongers, pickle makers and seaweed importers who supply the city's (and the world's) sushi bars. As with many of the other stories in Asia Eater's debut volume, it ended before I wanted to stop reading.
But there is enough information to keep flipping: the artistry behind look chop, the Thai special-occasion dessert of mung bean paste and sugar shaped to look like fruit; the ais kacang (shaved ice) of Penang in Malaysia; Bangkok's burgeoning coffee scene.
By the time you reach the last section -- the recipes -- you might be hungry enough to make pandan tiramisu, Tai Cheong Bakery's egg tarts or Ken Hom's almond cookies.
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