Food Wars Asia 2 premieres tonight on Food Network

The reality television show, which pits two restaurants serving the same dish against each other, returns for the second season and features locales in Manila, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Words by Elaine Xu

Debbie Wong, host of Food Wars Asia 2, describes the taste of a dish as its voice and shares she has never visited any of the countries she filmed in until she began hosting the show.

"I think food is definitely a reflection of culture and history," she says, adding, "there is a certain common thread between Southeast Asia because of its geographical location."

Showcasing four countries in Southeast Asia in the show's second season, Wong explains that besides trying the food, she interviews the restaurants in each episode.

A taste test is used by the judges to decide on the winning dish. "I visit two restaurants which are making the same dish and those two restaurants are rivals that are pitted against each other."

Image credit: Food Network

Some of the local dishes featured include iconic culinary fares such as kare-kare, an oxtail and peanut stew from Philippines, and nasi padang, a dish of steamed rice with side dishes from Indonesia.

The five judges are blindfolded and can only judge the dish based on its taste, not its presentation. The judges are not the same throughout the episodes and are made of super fans of each featured restaurant and the remaining three are usually celebrities. "I don't think I can say their names but they will be familiar faces."

Asked how Food Wars Asia is different from other food programs,  she notes that the reality show offers both the super fans' perspective about the food and the people who run the restaurants.

Another distinguishing factor is how the 'live' voting for the taste test means that she discovers the winner the same time as the judges. "The votes are often... very close but sometimes they sway one way very dramatically and yeah, it is always unexpected," she reveals.

Dispensing a tip for travelers to foreign countries, she says it is important to stay open and try the local food. "Food is a reflection of the place where the people that cook it is from and I think that it is the most fun and accessible way to experience their culture."

Food Wars Asia 2 will premiere on Food Network (StarHub TV Channel 433) every Monday at 10pm from tonight onwards.

 

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