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4 Favorite Eateries of a Food Network Host

Food Network Asia host Michele Lean cracks open her little black book of delectable dishes and guides you through a tasting tour of Asia. By MONSICHA HOONSUWAN.

Published on Feb 2, 2016


MICHELE LEAN SCOURS THE EARTH in search of amazing food. The Food Network Asia host has been table-hopping Southeast Asia's best restaurants and taste-testing their signature dishes in Food Wars and before that, she was traveling across China, meeting ethnic minorities and sampling local delicacies for CCTV's Travelogue. Although this Beijing-based journalist has lived in the Middle Kingdom for the past eight years, she travels the world for work and play: "Aren't all vacations food-driven?" In 2015 alone, the Le Cordon Bleu-trained personality has already visited Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, so she's well qualified to weigh in on food trends. She can tell you all about the burgers, brownies and craft beers that are making waves in this part of the world but her favorite development is the reinvention and modernization of regional signature dishes, whether it's in the city of origin or in another. "I love the movement of these different cuisines," Lean says, "as it brings so much more variety to a city." Here Lean calls out the restaurants that best embody this trend in four of her top food capitals.

Michele Lean
Food Network Asia host Michele Lean. Courtesy of Michele Lean.



High-quality ingredients, like the organic young chicken sourced exclusively for the koushuiji, or "saliva chicken," make Transit Lean's go-to restaurant in Beijing. The koushuiji here is a balanced mix of tender meat and spicy sesameand-peanut sauce, which Lean says is "rich, creamy and spiced to perfection."

Transit restaurant. Courtesy of Transit.



"Everyone loves a good papaya salad," Lean says. Her top pick is the guacamole-bar-style Somtum Der both for its unusually cool, modern wood-finished setting and for its 15 versions of Thailand's beloved bite. "Best part is," Lean says, "the rest of their menu is absolutely delicious too."

Somtum Der
Guacamole-bar-style Somtum Der. Courtesy of Somtum Der.



Lean is obsessed with the mohinga fish soup served at Rangoon Tea House. "It's commonly a streetfood but they've spruced it up, loaded the bowl and made it one of the most heavenly treats you'll ever encounter," Lean says. The restaurant, set in a colonial building, reflects the golden days of Burma.

Rangoon Tea House
Rangoon Tea Spoon's interior. Courtesy of Rangoon Tea Spoon.



Sabah's staple breakfast ngiu chap beef noodles is given a new twist by Lean's uncle at Ngiu Chap Wong. Lean says the ngiu chap taste like home since it is her grandma's recipe and the result is "just slow-cooked, homemade beef goodness."

Ngiu Chap Wong
Ngiu chap beef noodles. Courtesy of Ngiu Chap Wong.



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Food Network Asia host Michele Lean. Courtesy of Michele Lean.
  • Tea time at Rangoon Tea House. Courtesy of Rangoon Tea House.
  • Courtesy of Rangoon Tea House.
  • Guacamole-bar-style Somtum Der. Courtesy of Somtum Der.
  • Super spicy chicken wing soup. Courtesy of Somtum Der.
  • Tum Suo Sakonakorn, papaya salad. Courtesy of Somtum Der.
  •  Koushuiji  at Transit. Courtesy of Transit.
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