Ponsonby chef Che Barrington shares his favourite spots for food around the world.
I'm all about flavours, tastes, herbs, broths, and bases.
No matter where you travel in the world we are becoming a melting pot of flavours and it is exciting.
Vietnamese is my pick for the freshest, tastiest food. It's all about the fresh herbs and how they cook their meat: chargrilled. Even the breed of pork. In Vietnam, do as the locals, "eating off the street". Try to move as far away from your hotel as possible to get authentic, fresh local tastes and flavours Look for the busiest stalls and order the noodles and buns (bun cha), minced pork wrapped in leaves, served in a soup with chillies coriander, mint, thai basil, and rice noodles, with even more chillies and ginger.
With complexity, spice and a broad array of regional cuisine, Thailand is one of my favourite places.
Thai food has the perfect balance of flavours. My secret spot: Sangaa Beef Noodles, in NueaKhet, Bangkok — seek it out. It's authentic with hand-me-down family recipes and ingredients straight from the family farm. It's owned by DJ Maft Sai and sits next to the Zudrangma Records store — it's cool, with hand-painted signs and incredible food. Grab a beer and enjoy.
Walk around the block in LA and you can experience authentic food from all over the globe, truly a multicultural experience.
My top picks: Gorilla Taco — chef Wes Avila and his wife Brittney have created a bit of a cult following in downtown LA, with tacos inspired by "the tastes of the city". Multi-level eatery E.P & L.P — E.P for the Thai flavours with Chinese, Fijian and Vietnamese influences designed to be shared, L.P is the rooftop bar. At Night + Market Song, chef Kris Yenbamroong's restaurant is set in a bright, colourful space and concentrates on bright, colourful flavours of Thailand and Southeast Asia — dried fish, bitter Thai herbs and all sorts of chillis.
You don't have to travel far for all these flavours. Hop across the Ditch to Sydney. It's my favourite place and the food is why I spent so many years living there.
Then there's the geography of the north — the tropics, the soil and climae bringing in all the Asian ingredients — through to Tasmania, with a cooler climate and water. In Tasmania they don't import, they grow or manufacture everything from fruits and veges, wasabi, whiskey, oysters, mussels and cheese to the buckwheat for their soba noodles.
Want lunch? Go to Mr Wong, Cantonese food that is larger than life, or David Thomson's Long Chim for fabulous hot food — Thai hot as well as "right now" hot. You'll sweat.
Dinner? Head to chef Kylie Kwong's restaurant Billy Kwong for "economically friendly" meat — identifiably Cantonese tastes with an Australian accent. And head along for the exquisite fine dining and the sexy interior of Hubert or the smoky flavours of Firedoor, both raved-about restaurants in Sydney's dining scene.
In the opposite of street food culture, Singapore has rounded up all its incredible street-food stalls and markets and put them under one roof, the Hawker Halls. Think giant food halls.
There are many and they vary but they are all inevitably the best places to go in Singapore for cheap Chinese food. Must-try dishes include classic Hainanese chicken rice, as well as the fried oyster omelette, and hearty fish broth.
Che Barrington is head chef of Ponsonby Central's Blue Breeze Inn, Chop Chop and Go Go Daddy. He has been working with Ponsonby Central on a collaborative project, Feast Ponsonby, challenging the best foodie joints along Ponsonby Rd to create brand new, great-value dishes, running to the end of August.