On the street

Neil Moody

Illustration: Oslo Davis

In Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia, the renowned Vietnamese Australian chef explores the corners and dark alleys in four of Southeast Asia’s popular street food destinations — Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta — to discover mouth-watering recipes in their native setting. The book captures in excellent form the vitality that is so indicative of this kind of food. Unfortunately, with recent changes throughout Southeast Asia, street food may not have quite the longevity the author, as well as many others, have imagined. Over the course of March and April, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Bangkok have taken action to clear the footpaths of street food and street vendors, in an attempt to reclaim the cities’ walking spaces. Expats living in those cities took to the social media, lamenting that such action may have the unintended side effect of destroying the culture of street food. But could that really happen?

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