Netflix launches Street Food, from the makers of Chef’s Table
All nine episodes of the food documentary series now available to stream
Cho Yonsoon’s Korean noodle stall in a Seoul market features on Street Food, a new Netflix series
Street Food, a food documentary series from the makers of Chef’s Table, launches on Netflix today (Friday). The show explores the vibrant street food culture in Asia by following the stories of family run businesses and the local delicacies they sell in hawker markets, modest restaurants and street stalls in nine cities across the continent.
Chef’s Table creator David Gelb, who also made Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is an executive producer on the new show, along with LA based director and producer Brian McGinn. The pair, together with Jason Sterman, are behind the production company Supper Club, which recently signed a two-year deal to provide original content for Disney+, an upcoming on-demand service.
In each of the nine episodes of Street Food, the lens is focussed on one destination, each with a strong street food heritage. As with Chef’s Table, the life stories of the cooks and chefs is a big part of the story, along with their signature dishes, for which customers – Michelin guide inspectors among them – are prepared to queue for hours.
“We wanted each of the vendors to tell their stories in their own voices, so we don’t have a ‘host’ on the series. Instead, a few local food experts and writers help provide context on the food scene and cultural history, and then we interviewed our vendors and had them tell us their life stories,” says Brian McGinn.
Selecting which vendors to feature was a multi-layered process, as McGinn explains: “We wanted to build from a foundation of local knowledge and expertise, so we worked to create a network of local food experts and historians in each country. Those local experts then connected us with writers and critics in some of the local cities we were interested in exploring. From that point, we built a long list of potential vendors, and then, in collaboration with our local fixers and experts, explored the cities and chose vendors.”
The first episode is set in Bangkok, where Jay Fai, a grandmother in her seventies, last year became the first street food vendor in the city to earn a Michelin star. Now with more business than she can handle, and a constant stream of tourists and onlookers visiting her street kitchen which specialises in wok cooked seafood dishes, Fai has said she regards the star as being “a curse”.
In Yogyakarta, in Indonesia, the documentary team meet 100-year-old Mbad Lindu, who has been making gudeg, a jackfruit stew, for sale every day for more than 86 years. In Singapore, 85-year-old Master Tang, another veteran of the street food scene, has been making wanton noodles since he was orphaned as a child.
‘Uncle Goat’ appears in the episode based in Chiayi, Taiwan, where he makes a goat stew that takes three days and three nights to cook, over fierce heat and then ash.
Jo Jungja explains how she created her signature dish, baffle, or leftover rice fried in a waffle maker, on a day when she was unable to leave her work space in Seoul. She now hopes the invention will become a Korean street food staple.
In a hidden alley in Osaka, a street food vendor called Toyo blow-torches tuna to order, the cooking of the fish and his accompanying stories and jokes being as much a part of the experience for customers as eating the finished dish.
All nine episodes of Street Food are available to stream from 8am today.
Here are the destinations the series visits, the street food cooks who feature, and their signature dishes:
Jai Fai (druken noodles, crab omelette, tom yum soup)
Khun Suthep (hand pulled BBQ pork noodles)
Jek Pui (curries)
Toyo (blowtorched tuna)
Mr Kita (takoyaki)
Mohamed Rehan (buffalo stew)
Karim’s (Seekh kebabs)
Sharmender Makkan (chole bhature)
Mbah Satinem (jajan pasar)
Leonarda Tjahjono (jajan pasar)
Mbah Lindu (gudeg)
Yasur Ferry Ismatrada (mie lethek)
Grace Chia Hui Lin (fish head soup)
‘Uncle Goat’ (goat stew)
Li-Hua and Liu-Zhu (chicken rice)
Tsui-Eh (tofu pudding)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
Cho Yonsoon (knife-cut noodles)
Gunsook Jung (soy crab)
Gumsoon Park and Sangmi Chu (mungbean pancakes)
Jo Jungja (rice fried in a waffle maker)
HI CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
Anh Manh (pho soup)
A selection of vendors of Banh Mi (sandwich) and com tam (broken rice)
Aisha Hashim (putu piring)
Master Tang (wanton noodles)
KEK Seafood (chilli crab)
Niven Long (chicken rice)
CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES
Florencio Escabas (reef eel stew)
Leslie Enjambre (lechon cebu)
Ian Secong (tslob-buwa)
Rubilyn Diko Manayon (lumpia)