Vacation time!

I’ll be taking a brief break from Person Place Food while I eat my way through Hanoi and Bangkok! This will be my first time visiting Southeast Asia and I’ll be sure to share my travels, food tips and yummy photos when I get back. See everyone in a few weeks!

Saté Kampar

Before April, I’d only tried Baba Nyonya-style Malaysian cooking one other time, at Kopitiam in Chinatown. That small cafe serves traditional snacks along with Malaysian coffee and tea. Philadelphia’s Saté Kampar also serves their versions of the items in a larger space and with a larger menu.

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Philadelphia’s Cambodian New Year Celebration

The city’s Cambodian food scene is practically nonexistent (outside of the 23514967 Num Pang sandwich shops, said with love because that place is my heaven), but apparently Philadelphia has quite the community. Every April, Cambodians in Philly celebrate the three-day Cambodian New Year, and on weekends they sell skewers at parks or in front of their homes. When my friend invited me down to enjoy the festivities, I jumped at—or rather, took a bus to—the opportunity.

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Elza Fancy Food / Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law

Enter this small restaurant and you’ll witness a largely Korean staff speaking Russian and serving Uzbek, Russian and Korean food. In New York, you can only find such a combination at Elza Fancy Food (or Cafe At Your Mother-In-Law’s). It’s not fusion; you won’t see any kimchi-stuffed samsas (Uzbek meat pastries) on the menu. Instead, you’ll have a range of Uzbek and Russian entrees to choose from, along with several Korean soups and salads.

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Kottu House

Heat. That’s one word to describe the Sri Lankan kottu at Kottu House. You know the kind. It starts at your tongue and lingers for the rest of the meal, building with every bite. Pick your spice level, just don’t make the mistake of overshooting. Kottu, a popular Sri Lankan street dish, is made of curry, eggs and vegetables stir-fried with chopped up godamba roti. I tried the classic chicken and seawater fish kottus over the span of two visits, and while the medium-level spice proved to be too much for me, the mild was just right.

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Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas may be known as Sin City, but unbeknownst to many, it’s also known for its large Hawaiian community. Hawaiian food isn’t as easily accessible in New York City, so when I went to Vegas last month I made sure to check out a few restaurants (something to hold me over until I actually visit the islands). I’m also squeezing a Mexican spot into this roundup, because it may be the outsider of the list, but it A) more than holds its own and B) is open 24/7 to satisfy those wee-hour cravings.

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Brunch is one of my favorite meals of the day. As a not-so-wise character once said, “Hybrid meals are for people too lazy to wake up for a proper breakfast.” Completely true, and luckily I don’t have to go far for Sidecar, which serves up various brunch dishes until 3:30 p.m. I’ve tried a few things, but I usually gravitate toward the hangover soup and steak and eggs.

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Boat House

Seafood boils like those at Boat House don’t have the most elegant presentation, but no one’s there for the appearance anyway. What appeals to people is the flavorful sauces and copious amounts of shellfish. It’s a very casual and messy dining experience, so in order to fully enjoy this, you’ll need to cast your reservations aside and just dig in with your hands.

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Chung Moo Rollrice & Dongas

Chung Moo Rollrice & Dongas is a great spot for Korean comfort food in Flushing. This small restaurant serves up homey fare like stir-fried rice dishes and noodle soups, but I always go for their fresh kimbap. For those who don’t know what that is, think “sushi’s Korean counterpart.” Their namesake choong moo kimbap originated from a South Korean harbor town by the same name (now known as Tongyeong), and consists of plain rice rolls served with spicy squid and spicy pickled radish.

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Nasi lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia, and here at Kopitiam it’s made and served the traditional way. Anchovies and peanuts are mixed together in a spicy sambal, then topped over rice along with cucumber slices and hard-boiled eggs. The ingredients and visual seem simple enough, but the bold, slightly spicy and fishy flavors are quite complex. Halfway through the bowl I was already planning my next trip to get it again.

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