Monday, April 27, 2009

Southeast Asian Private Dining Scene: Lemonade Stand For Grownups?

Even though it still craves for the restaurant industry recognition that it rightfully deserves, is the Southeast Asian private dining scene more than a lemonade stand run by grownups?

By: Ringo Bones

They are probably the most ubiquitous value for money eating-places in major metropolitan areas throughout Southeast Asia, and like the hotdog-vending cart of New York City, a working-class cultural icon. The Southeast Asian private dining scene are more famously known as “nondescript?” secretive restaurants that sprout up almost anywhere, that serve home-cooked meals at value for money prices.

Majority of these private dining establishments can be hard to spot because they are usually setup within the owner’s private residence. So it is always hard to these establishments from a single glance – never mind the entrance. The chefs who set up private dining establishments can be both advantageous and adventurous, especially if the chef is not hindered in preparing and presenting an exotic cuisine the way it should be traditionally served.

Even though foods are served at value for money prices, there is an “air of exclusivity” that surrounds the private dining experience. Not only because they are serving on average to only 5 to 8 people at a time. And usually of the chef’s / owner’s select clients and regular customers. So they are likely to be already acclimated when exposed to the chef’s dishes that are more exotic in comparison to the norm. Though mostly composed of traditional Chinese dishes with tastes from other parts of Southeast Asia like Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, and others.

Given that most of these ad hoc private restaurants are run by second generation family members, the private dining scene serves as a very important source of income. Many families throughout Southeast Asia can attest that they had sent their children through college by the additional income brought by their private restaurant. And ever since the global economic downturn had dampened everyone’s spending patterns, the value for money prices offered by the private dining scene throughout Southeast Asia are simply too low to resist. And this can be also a low-priced way to sample various Asian ethnic cuisines, especially if an overwhelming majority of them serve foods that are magnitudes tastier than the ones offered in multi-national fast food franchises.

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