This week, we interview Will Meyrick , a budding chef who has found his way to Southeast Asia and falls in love with the vast array of Asian spices and flavours we have here. He currently owns two restaurants in Bali, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. Find out more about Will’s palate and his views on Asian cuisines and future gastronomic trends.
AP: Asian Palate WM: Will Meyrick
AP: Which Asian spices/seasonings do you love to use the most? Why?
WM: I love to use Sichuan pepper because they a very different to other pepper. It has a perfumed scent with a numbing sensation from the spices. You have to be careful when you use it as it is very powerful.
AP: What are some of the flavours and textures that you think are uniquely Southeast Asian, after traveling extensively through South East Asia? What are the differences with North East Asia?
WM: Well of course in Asian food esspecially those from the Southeast parts you always a balance among sweetness, saltiness, sourness and hotness. You have the same flavours from the North but the ingredients change. They use less coconut, less saltwater fish and more freshwater stock. You get a lot influences from Yunnan. In the northern regions such as Burma, Chiang Rai, Laos, China, Sappa in Vietnam, you can find a lot of Chinese influences and there are more braised dishes than curries among their daily offerings. In the south of Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, they don’t use that much dried chillies, its more refreshing compared to the North.
AP: When customers ask for wine recommendations at your balinese restaurant, what would you usually recommend and why?
WM: None of the restaurants are Balinese but we do have a lot of Indonesian dishes especially in Sarong.
So I find it funny how they try to pair wine with food, as we do shared dining. You need to choose one bottle that goes well with everything. So my advice to them is to choose wine like Shiraz, dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc. And I would often recommend wines from New World regions.
AP: You have “explored the professional landscape” of Bali, Thailand and Hong Kong – how have they influenced your culinary directions? How do you think these three foodie destinations will evolve in future?
WM: I have worked and lived in all of the above. They have influenced me through ingredients and cooking technique. I learn through my grandmother, my mother and people that I’ve come across in daily life. I think all three places have already evolved but the places to watch are Cambodia, Burma and Sri Lanka.
AP: Where’s your next foodie destination?
WM: I’m really keen to just go on a health retreat. Given the amount of obscure food I have eaten from bats, dogs, to rats, I think I need a detox. But I am seriously keen to check Yunnan out.
AP: What is your favourite Balinese dish?
WM: Serapah and jukut undis
Serapah uses pork or beef, and mix that with coconut cream, spices and seasoning with lemon juice.
Jukut undis is a black kara bean vegetable cooked with chicken stock, garlic, shallot and galangal.
Serapah and jukut undis (Courtesy: WillMeyrick.com)