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Asean festival of flavors fascinates Filipino foodies

SM Senior Vice President for Marketing Millie Dizon (from left), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and Louie Barcelon-Locsin

VISITORS and guests of SM Aura Premier had a sampling of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine and culture during the recently concluded Asean Food Festival at the SMX Aura Convention Center.

A joint project of the Asean Ladies Foundation (ALF) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in partnership with the embassies of the Asean member-countries and SM, the event featured traditional dishes and exotic flavors from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Kaung Nyin Paung, or steamed sticky rice with salted sesame pounder and scrapped coconut. Mohinga, a rice noodle in fish soup, is Myanmar’s national dish.

The annual cultural event aimed to foster unity and cooperation among the Asean community. It also enabled mall goers and foodies to experience the flavors of Southeast Asia without having to leave the Philippines.

Louie Barcelon-Locsin, wife of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and chairman of the ALF, together with Ambassador of Brunei Hajah Johariah binti Haji Wahab who is the president of the organization, led the opening ceremony. Asean ambassadors and their spouses joined them and took part in the traditional regional handshake as the event commenced.

Guests enjoyed both traditional and modern dishes prepared by the embassies and participating restaurants. These included Brunei’s nasi katok ayam (rice and fried chicken served with sambal or chili sauce wrapped in brown paper) and pulut panggang (rice with a spicy sambal filling), Cambodia’s popular street food delights num krok (coconut rice cake) and num banh chokor (fish curry noodles), and Indonesia’s signature nasi goreng (stir fried rice) and sate ayam (grilled chicken served with peanut sauce).

Asean member-countries’ ambassadors and their spouses take part in the region’s traditional handshake.

Lao’s seen savanh (beef jerky) and khaiphaen or dried green algae, Malaysia’s laksa asam penang (spicy and sour fish noodles) and teh tarik (hot milk tea beverage), as well as Myanmar’s mohinga (rice noodle with fish soup) and kaung nyin paung (steamed glutinous rice seasoned with sesame salt) also delighted guests.

Singapore’s famous laksa (spicy noodle soup) and Hainanese chicken rice were among the crowd favorites. The same went with Thailand’s pad thai (stir-fried rice noodle dish) and chiang rai (Thai milk tea), plus Vietnam’s nemrán (fried spring rolls). 

The Philippines had an updated version of the iconic sisig, which was offered in a makeshift sari-sari store.

The one-day event also highlighted the rich Southeast Asian culture with fun games and performances for the guests. The Cambodians had their traditional lak kansaengor (“hide the scarf”), Indonesia’s bakiak race, Lao’s “crown the seat,” Malaysia’s “coconut shell clogs,” the Philippines’s balut-eating contest, and Singapore’s giant snakes and ladders.

Performers from Indonesia delivered entertainment with their traditional pendet dance. Those from Myanmar rendered their cultural song “Shwe Man Taung Yeik Kho,” while the Thais played their traditional stringed-musical instrument chakhe.

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