By: Wei Qing Lim
If moving were a personality trait, it would make up 90% of my personality. While I’ve come to love the thrill of it all, I also enjoy thinking about each move. Each place brings forth a different kind of nostalgia, and with that, a different kind of food. So many of my memories are intertwined with certain dishes, and because I’m feeling sentimental, here’s my life story: food edition.
We’re kicking it off with South Korea! I don’t remember living here-- the only fragmented recollections I have are from my parents, and photo albums. This is what I know: I was an extremely hyperactive toddler who could never sit still. I lived on x-games mode, which I’m sure frustrated my parents to no end. While the times I’ve managed to stay put were miraculous, and few in between, one surefire way to get me to sit still was a Korean kids' show featuring a dinosaur and his friends, whose adventures I would watch with rapt attention. I also managed to calm down around my ajumma, who took care of the house and entertained what seemed to be an over-caffeinated 2-year-old. Our daily routine was filled with a flurry of activities, from walking on the beach to feeding the rabbits downstairs, but most importantly, walking to the wet market to buy yummy treats in addition to my staple, odeng, or fishcake. I wish I remembered more about living in Busan, but from what I have been able to piece together, I loved it.
Next stop: China. I moved into the country as a wide-eyed, curious 3-year-old and I enjoyed a diverse range of cuisines during my time here: from Japanese (we still go to the same restaurant to this day!), Korean, to an assortment of different dim sum restaurants. My love for Cantonese food started here, from braised chicken feet, and siu mai, to the classic, tomato egg stir-fry.
My first meal in Vietnam was a classic: beef pho. While it could have been more authentic, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I still remember walking into Pho 24 with no expectations and leaving with a full tummy and an obsession with pho. Over time, my list of favorite Vietnamese foods grew, with bun bo hue, spring rolls, banh xeo, and more, yet my affinity for pho never wavered at 8 years old and it still reigns supreme today.
Lastly, we’ve made it to where I am now, Malaysia! I have been living in a perpetual state of lockdown, and while I miss the full dine-in experience, Malaysian food never fails to satisfy, even as a takeaway. I have been eating an assortment of curries, like curry chicken and assam fish curry, to the classics like Nasi Lemak, Bak kut teh, Assam Laksa, and kaya toast. I’ve also indulged in fruits that thrive only in tropical environments, like mangosteen, my absolute FAVORITE seasonal fruit, rambutans, and of course, durian. I have gotten used to staying indoors, but I’m hopeful for things to get better so I see my family again.
Thanks for taking the time to reminisce with me -- here’s to more adventures and new favorite foods!