“Rendang hints of influences from India and Portugal but stays uniquely Malay while sawtooth coriander which features heavily in Vietnamese and Malaysian cooking, is integral to Caribbean kitchens,” says Nithiya Laila, founder of culture-themed supper club in Singapore, Brunch Bandits.
Laila continues the trend of using ingredients from all over Southeast Asia in her menu. There’s both “traditional flavours and native edible plants,” including tempeh grilled burgers and a corn tortilla tacos stuffed with rendang made of green jackfruit.
And she’s not the only one.
Top chef Ivan Brehms describes his menu as “crossroads cuisine”. The chef and owner of Michelin-starred fusion restaurant, Nouri says, “many of today’s popular dishes such as nonya laksa, Thai yellow curry and gohu ikan are a result of multiculturalism where the region’s food traditions are by default the product of human trade and interaction over time.”
That’s perhaps how satay was born. Now did you know that the sweet grilled meat stick, which first came from Indonesia, was actually influenced by the shish kebab? That smoky, chunky meat slab is a staple in Turkey and Lebanon.