In the same way my family would have celebrated any birthday back home in Singapore, I took Juan out for his 29th birthday to dinner at an Asian restaurant.
At Cocina Sunae – a puerta cerrada restaurant that requires reservations and is practically hidden from the outside – a closed garage door hid the delicious smells and ingredients of the dishes that were being produced in its amazing kitchen.
There are few things that can make me happier than a feast of authentic Asian food, particularly when I’m 30 hours by plane away from home, and even fewer things make me gladder than seeing Juan enjoy the meal with almost as much gusto as I do.
We had deep-fried shrimp and pork wantons to kick off our dinner, followed by a Thai mushroom and cabbage salad that was dressed in a refreshingly sour vinaigrette.
But what really blew my mind was the steaming hot bowl of beef pho that our friend Christina Sunae brought to our table, and between the rich beef stock that took a full five hours to brew, the smooth rice noodles and the exquisitely Asian taste of cilantro, lemongrass and coriander, I found myself floating to culinary heaven.