5 Must-Try Asian Dishes You’ve Never Heard of + Where to Find Them


by TheHipmunk

Contributed by: Traveling Spoon

Spoiler Alert: There is more to Asian cooking than Pad See Ew or Fried Rice from your local take out joint. As we traveled throughout Southeast Asia and China, something magical happened in the homes of our local hosts;  we’d never heard of most, if not all, of our favorite dishes.

Read on to learn about our five favorite dishes you haven’t heard of, the home cooks who make them, and about how you can try them on your next travels by visiting a local home and sharing authentic, home-cooked recipes passed down through generations.



Dahi Wada are airy lentil dumplings drenched in a cool yoghurt sauce drizzled over with tangy tamarind chutney, green mint chutney and sev, crispy lentil vermicelli that you find in Indian homes. Our host Pallavi in Mumbai artfully prepares dahi wada and serves it to you in her Mumbai home.


Nikujaga is a traditional Japanese meat and potato stew simmered in sake, Mirin, soy sauce and sugar. Our host Keiko specializes in Obanzai cooking (loosely translated as “mother’s cooking”, a method of comfort food cooking distinct to Kyoto that relies heavily on vegetables and meat, prepared simply, with ingredients that are seasonal and local to the Kyoto region.


Bangkok_FishLimeSauce (1)

Pla neung manao, whole fish delicately steamed in lemongrass, galangal and fresh Thai herbs and finished in a spicy lime sauce will make you wish for it every time you eat Thai food. Visit Pia in her home in the central Sukhumvit neighborhood of Bangkok and learn to cook authentic Thai dishes that you won’t find in restaurants, and share a private experience and meal together.


Karniyarik, stuffed eggplant with mincemeat and tomatoes served with rice or pasta over wine is the perfect way to enjoy one of Turkey’s most delicious ingredients. Ipek and Nuray are a mother-daughter team who truly enjoy feeding people and sharing their Turkish culture and cuisine in their modern Istanbul apartment.
Seoul_Ssam Bulgogi
Bulgogi, slivers of pork marinated in Asian pear, soy sauce, gochujang and sesame oil, stir fried and wrapped in fresh greens, is an addictive Korean dish. Jessie, a young food blogger, will treat you to bulgogi made with Jessie’s mom’s homemade gochujang, red chili paste in her modern apartment in the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul.
Visit Traveling Spoon to learn to cook and share delicious homemade dishes with the best cooks in their homes around the world!
This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 4, 2015.

Where to Find the Best Cheesecake in New York City

by TheHipmunk

July 13 is National Cheesecake Day, and there’s no better place to celebrate than the Big Apple. From famous bakeries to hidden gems, these are the best places to get a slice of cheesecake in New York City.


Junior’s is one of the most famous cheesecake spots in New York, and it lives up to the hype. They serve classic cheesecake and unique flavors like red velvet, sea salt caramel and chocolate mousse. Junior’s has branches in Brooklyn and Grand Central Station. They also have a branch in Midtown, close to many famous New York hotels, including the New York Marriott Marquis.

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake is a small SoHo bakery loved by both locals and tourists. The bakery offers a variety of smooth and creamy cheesecake slices. If you’re lucky, you may even get served your dessert by Eileen herself.

Dessert Club ChikaLicious

If you want to try a unique cheesecake, Dessert Club ChikaLicious is for you. This East Village bakery serves inverted cheesecake, covering its creamy filling with graham cracker crumbles and strawberries. You can get small individually sized portions of this cake, or order a full cake to share with your friends.

Two Little Red Hens

Another East Villiage favorite, Two Little Red Hens serves generous portions of its graham cracker-encrusted cheesecake. Stay at nearby The Franklin Hotel to be close to the best the East Villiage has to offer.

Gian Piero Bakery

Manhattan isn’t the only borough that makes great cheesecake. Gian Piero Bakery is an Astoria institution. No matter what time of day you visit, it’s sure to be packed. If it’s a nice day, sit at one of the bakery’s outside tables and enjoy a latte and a slice of cheesecake.

Mona Lisa Pastry Shoppe

This Brooklyn bakery still uses an old-fashioned, coal-fired oven to make their cheesecake. They sell both Italian cheesecake with ricotta filling and a New York-style cake made with sour cream. Whichever you choose, it’s guaranteed to be tasty.

After you check into your New York City hotel, head out to one of these bakeries to get a slice or three of cheesecake. You’ll always have a memorable–and delicious–experience at one of these New York bakeries.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 7, 2015.

Carry On with SF Ballet Principal Dancer Luke Ingham

Luke Ingham in Cranko's Onegin. (© Erik Tomasson)

By: Kelly Soderlund, Hipmunk Staff

South Australia-born dancer Luke Ingham trained at the Australian Ballet School and performed with the Australian Ballet and the Houston Ballet before joining theSan Francisco Ballet as a soloist in 2012. Ingham was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2014, and has danced many soloist and principal roles for SF Ballet, including Tomasson’s Nutcracker*. We asked the globe-trotting Ingham to take a quick break from dancing and and chat about his travel habits, tips, his favorite cities to visit, and the items he can’t travel without.

InghramHipmunk: So, tell us. What’s in your carry-on?

Luke Ingham: If I’m on a long-haul flight, I always bring Peanut M&M’s. Definitely a book in case entertainment fails. Other than that, I bring water, my passport, and a massage ball that I use on my feet and ankles because they get so swollen when I fly.

H: Carry-on bag of choice? 

LI: A navy blue Herschel Lonsdale Duffle. I’m not very fancy.

H: How often do you travel?

LI: I travel about 4-5 times a year internationally, plus wherever the SF Ballet tour takes me. I fly back to Australia when I can, and for the last 3 years I have frequently traveled to Amsterdam because my wife was based there.

H:  First, business class or coach?

LI: I have only ever flown coach. I feel like flying business and first would be like tasting caviar: Once tasted, nothing will ever be as good.

H:  Ok, now that we’re warmed up, let’s play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?

LI: I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo on tour with the Australian Ballet in 2008 and 2010. The Japanese audience has a great respect and understanding for ballet. On top of that, Tokyo is an incredible city! The night life is so unique, and it’s always nice to be able to go to areas like the Golden Gai and sing karaoke after a performance.

H: Favorite city for play? Why?

LI: I have to say New York City. It’s still fresh in my mind—I was just there in May. There are so many things to see and do, including restaurants, bars, shows, and awesome live music venues. I saw Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Parisand The Book of Mormon. Both were fantastic. I’ve stayed down in Chelsea a couple of times and prior to that I’d stayed in Williamsburg. I love Brooklyn, especially the Williamsburg area. The Brooklyn Brewery is worth a look. It’s a great place for people-watching because everyone has their own unique and interesting style. 

H: Favorite hotels?

LI: I don’t really have a favorite, but last year SF Ballet toured to Paris. I had an early morning fight to Italy at the end of the tour, so I stayed at the citizenM at Charles de Gaulle Airport. My room overlooked the runways, and the room itself felt like a spaceship with a simple yet futuristic, almost pod-like design. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed it far more than the standard airport Hilton. 

H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?

LI: For nostalgic reasons, Qantas because it means I’m flying back to Australia. Melbourne Tullamarine Airport is my favorite for the same reason.

H: Any travel tips before you take off?

LI: I love to fly, but I’m always anxious about getting to the airport. If I’m not familiar with that particular airport, sometimes I’ll get there three hours before a flight to get checked in and through security. That way I feel much less stressed with time. Plus it means I can enjoy a refreshing beverage before I fly. I’ve never missed a flight. Hopefully in mentioning that I haven’t jinxed myself.

*This year, the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker runs from December 16-31 with the Repertory Season beginning January 24. Highlights from this season include world premieres by Liam Scarlett and Justin Peck, three full-length story ballets, the North American premiere of William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts, and the SF Ballet debut of Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas.

This post was posted by Kelly Soderlund on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on August 31, 2015.