The crew here at Serious Eats HQ has long been a fan of Aun Koh's food blog. If you don't recognize the name, that's because you might know him as Chubby Hubby. If you don't, now's as good a time as any to meet him. Singapore Day here in New York City had us rereading his site to bone up on the street food we'll be eating tomorrow, so we thought we'd sit down with him for this week's Meet & Eat.
Name: Aun Koh
Location: Based in Singapore but constantly traveling
Occupation: Lifestyle, media and F&B consultant; author
Favorite comfort food? I have two actually. One is a rather sick-sounding combination of (beef) bovril, mixed with steamed rice and butter, topped with a fried egg. I used to eat this as a child and still love the flavors today. The other dish would be a steamed egg custard, made with homemade chicken stock, minced pork, and some salted ducks' egg yolks. This is a wonderful, smooth yet satisfying dish.
Guilty pleasures? I am a hopeless foie gras addict. However, I much prefer pâté de foie gras to the pan-fried stuff. There's nothing more decadent than a platter of toast and some high-quality foie gras (with truffles, of course) from either Strasbourg or Perigord. My wife and I also splurge annually on white truffles. We've been lucky enough to have gotten to know one of Italy's top producer-suppliers over the year, and every November we bite the bullet and shell out big bucks for some gorgeous white truffles, which we only occasionally share with friends.
Describe your perfect meal.
First amuse-bouche: one perfect piece of toro-sushi and one piece of kobe beef sushi
Second amuse-bouche: one small steamer with two perfectly made xiao long bao dumplings
First course: a small plate of frito misto from Ostaria Boccadoro in Venice, Italy
Second course: a small portion of the truffled egg pasta from Buon Ricordo in Sydney, Australia
Third course: Thomas Keller's 'Mac & Cheese' (butter poached lobster with orzo in a mascarpone-enriched lobster broth)
Fourth course: one of Joël Robuchon's mini burgers
Fifth course: the iga beef millefeuille served at Kahala restaurant in Osaka, Japan
Sixth course: a simple scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream
Post-meal: a plate of Pierre Herme's macarons
What food won't you eat? Sperm. Seriously, have you ever had shirako or the other fish and whale sperms that the Japanese enjoy? I've tried them a few times, thanks, and while they're considered a delicacy by some, no thanks!
What's an unexplored food you'd like to try? Not so much a food but a cuisine. Very embarrassingly, I still haven't been to Spain yet and I am dying to try all the wonderful "nouvelle" Basque food that I've heard and read about for so many years.
Favorite food person? Tough question. My wife, who is a professional cookbook author and editor, as well as a food and beverage consultant, would top my list. She has an amazing palate. In second place would have been the late, great Johnny Apple, who I was lucky enough to have gotten to know quite well in the years preceding his passing.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I think I've always known. I think my parents knew--and were appalled by the knowledge--when I was 8 years old. They had brought me to a friend's Christmas party. That was the day I discovered (pâté de) foie gras. After one bite, I was hooked and proceeded to stuff as much of it into my face as possible. I literally ate everything in sight, clearing off several trays' worth of the stuff.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They're pretty amused but also find my wife and me convenient resources. Whenever friends travel, we usually get emails or phone calls asking us to recommend places to eat in--and sometimes we even get asked to make the reservations for them.
Favorite food sites or blogs? I love, love, love Matt Bites. It's a gorgeous, well-written site. I also like Traveler's Lunchbox. I think Melisa is really able to evoke emotional responses from her readers. I am addicted to Little Cream Life, written by a friend of mine from Hong Kong. It's not really only a food blog, but it is a fantastic resource for cool travel info, including some of the sexiest restaurants around the world.
Last but not least, what makes the street food in Singapore the best in the world? Would I lose my citizenship if I admitted the quality of the street food is actually better in Malaysia? Seriously, Singapore (and Malaysia) has benefited from the interplay of cultures from around Asia, as well as from its colonial past. There is wonderful food that is representative of our mixed-up population, i.e. there's great Chinese, Malay, and Indian food. But there is also food that is the result of mixtures of Chinese and Indian for example (or like in the case with fish head curry the result of one ethnic group creating foods to appeal to another), or that are reflective of Dutch and British tastes. This polyglot gastronomic dialogue that took place not in highbrow kitchens but on the street has given us an amazing local cuisine that is in actuality several cuisines that have become intertwined.