How to taste Cuisine of Southeast Asia in USA
If you’ve searched “cuisine of Southeast Asia near me” you’re in the right place. At Char’d we put Southeast Asian Kitchen right in our title so that you know you’re getting creatively inspired dishes from one of the most popular cuisines among foodies today.
However, before we discuss how we at Char’d can cure your cravings, let’s learn a little more about what Southeast Asian cuisine is.
Southeast Asia and its Diversity
There are various countries that make up the Southeast Asian region and each country has its own unique taste and cooking style. While there are similarities as they are all in Southeast Asia, it really is a melting pot of flavors and textures.
Southeast Asian cuisine consists of the regions that are located east of the Indian continent and south of mainland China. There is a mix of coastal, mountainous, and plains areas so that not only is the language and culture diverse, but so is the geographic landscape.
Some say that Southeast Asia is one of the most culturally diverse areas of the world. There is a wide variety of languages, beliefs, and traditions that span this area.
Not only that, many places in Southeast Asia were significantly influenced by neighboring Indian, Muslim, and Chinese cultures. There is also very strong evidence of influence by the Europeans as they worked to colonize much of this area up until World War II.
What makes Southeast Asian Food so Unique?
Southeast Asian food is unique in its cultural history and the way they prioritize the use of local ingredients. Many of the dishes that came from this area are all about using what they have access to since bartering and trade were generally not established until much later.
Cooking techniques also play an important role in the unique Southeast Asian dining experience. The wok is just one example of how Southeast Asian cuisine is prepared in an entirely different way from its European counterparts.
A wok is a steel pan with a deep round-bottomed originally from China. It is typically used for stir-fries but can be used for steaming, deep frying, making soup, and roasting. Using a chǎn (spatula) or shāo (ladle) with long handles helps to keep the cook protected from the high heat that is typically used.
It is said that when cooking with a wok the original flavors intensify and preserve freshness. Due to its shape, a wok can withstand higher temperatures which makes it perfect for cooking a variety of ingredients including meats, vegetables, and sauces.
How to taste Cuisine of Southeast Asia in USA
The best way to get a taste of Southeast Asia is to visit a fusion restaurant. Here you can get a variety of flavors and textures. Some fusion restaurants add a little flair of European or American influences to better fit our palate. For those that are not all that familiar with Asian food may shy away from strong flavors.
However, for those that grew up on Southeast Asian cuisine, a fusion restaurant allows you to get the best of both worlds. And since every region in Southeast Asia is just a little different in how they prepare their food, you can find a happy medium with fusion food.
Some Asian restaurants focus on just one specific region of food like Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Indian. Unfortunately, you may be overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of some of the traditional dishes or you might miss out on some of your other favorite flavors that aren’t indigenous to that region.
We recommend when looking for an exciting Southeast Asian dining experience that you choose a restaurant that offers more than a one-note menu. A fusion restaurant like Char’d takes inspiration from the best of all worlds so that you get a more rich gastronomic experience.
Examples of Southeast Asian Fusion Foods
Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
The banh mi is a take on the French version of casse-croûte meaning to break crust. In America, we’re familiar with the term sandwich.
The French introduced the baguette to the Vietnamese in the mid-19th century. It quickly became a staple food and by the 1950s the Vietnamese had turned it into a popular street food called the banh mi. After the Vietnam war, we started to versions of the banh mi become available in the US.
Today, the bread that makes up the banh mi is a particular kind of bread that is typically made in Asian bakeries. It still has the same small oblong shape but the taste is somewhere between a traditional French baguette and a hoagie bun.
To fill this delicious bread there are a few variations but traditionally you’re going to need a type of protein along with some vegetables.
Typically, pork was used but today chicken, tofu, or beef are equally as popular for a banh mi. You’re also likely to find the filling stuffed with cucumbers, cilantro, and pickled carrots & daikon.
Like a traditional sandwich, there is usually some kind of sauce like mayonnaise or chili sauce.
At Char’d our banh mi is extra special. We take great care to locally source the bun so that it tastes as authentic and fresh as possible. When you order it, you get your choice of pork, chicken, tofu, or beef.
We also fill ours with the veggies listed above but we add jalapenos and our amazing Firecracker sauce to give it an extra special kick.
Poke Bowl (Hawaiian)
It’s for a very good reason that we bring up Hawaii here even though we’re talking about Southeast Asian cuisine.
Over the years many Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese have immigrated to Hawaii. Much of the culture, traditions and food preferences have been influenced by those who settled on the Hawaiian islands.
One particular example of a culmination of influence is that of the poke bowl. The word poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces” to indicate how the fish was prepared.
The fish is actually the whole key to a great poke bowl. To keep the dish light and flavorful the fish is served raw just like the other ingredients to maximize the flavor.
At Char’d we like to call our poke bowl a Hawaiian fish salad. We use only fresh sushi-grade salmon on top of your choice of rice, noodles, or salad. We then mix it with pineapples, roasted corn, cucumber, edamame seeds, and our signature Firecracker sauce on top.
We also add a splash of spinach, sweet onions, creamy crab salad, seaweed salad, a dash of furikake seasoning, shredded nor, and toasted sesame seeds.
And what poke bowl would be complete with a glaze of unagi sauce?
Perhaps the ultimate in Asian fusion cuisine is when you mix a combination of Southeast Asian flavors with a quintessentially American favorite.
Our Nom Fries are our own creation and we believe you won’t find them anywhere else. In fact, we’ve heard that some people drive across the state or further to get their hands on our Nom Fries.
It all starts with crispy French fries, which is another fusion in and of itself! These fried taters are then topped with a generous heaping of a protein of your choice. You get your pick of chicken, steak, pork, or tofu.
We then add some grilled onions, sweet pineapple, our signature Firecracker sauce, and gochujang sauce. And if that wasn’t enough, we add a perfectly fried egg and a sprinkling of cilantro on top.
You’re going to get a mouth explosion of flavors that creatively blends a little western and eastern fare. From the spicy sweetness of the gochujang sauce and pineapple, to the savoriness of potatoes and meat it’s the best of everything Char’d is about.
Today more and more restaurants are integrating Southeast Asian ingredients into their menu. And for good reason as Asian recipes, especially those from the Southeast, are full of flavor and substance.
Southeast Asian cuisine is also rich in vegetables with very little fat which makes them one of the healthiest dining options. They are also adaptable to all kinds of diets, so whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or going protein-heavy, they fit the bill.
Char’d Southeast Asian Kitchen is dedicated to finding the right mix of Southeast Asian flavors with western influences to create a unique dining experience. We’re not a one-size-fits-all establishment. We believe that you can create your own masterpiece that is suited to your tastes.
As we make everything fresh when you order it you can mix and match your favorite toppings, sauces, and flavors to create a one-of-a-kind dish. Start from scratch with our build-your-own-bowl or take one of our curated bowls and switch it up.
We have three locations across DFW and are ready to serve you! Stop by and check us out, you won’t be sorry.