Movie Lover

5 Asian food movies to watch

By Gregory LeowMovies - 21 June 2013 9:36 PM | Updated 24 June 2013

5 Asian food movies to watch

If you live to eat and not eat to live, the next few weeks might prove a little challenging if the haze persists.
Feed your soul (and by default your tummy) with these Asian food films that celebrate everything we love about food – the passion, the rituals, the love.
While we realize it’s cold comfort when you can’t get to your favourite chicken rice, you can at least take pleasure in some gorgeous (and appetising) food shots.  

Chicken Rice War | Photo: IMDB

Chicken Rice War (2000)
How could we not include Singapore’s best food movie involving our default national dish? A Romeo and Juliet story of a boy and a girl from feuding chicken rice stall families, who (spoiler alert!) eventually fall in love. While we are puzzled why the protagonist (Pierre Png) would want to fall in love with an aloof, materialistic Juliet (Lum May Yee), he does.
The message? All we need is love (and chicken rice). While not strictly a food movie, the chicken rice is used as a backdrop for the romance story, there are visually engaging montages of the chicken rice stall holders preparing their chicken rice for the day, including massaging the chicken and preparing the rice and stock.
Best foodie scene: The colourful Singaporean dialect-speaking supporting cast gave the whole movie its flavour, but the show stealer is Zalina Abdul Hamid as the Malay owner (aka fat lady) of a sarabat stall singing Chinese opera throughout the film. It was the most refreshing scene when the film came out in 2000 and we’ve never seen it happen ever again since – CheeK, give us something soon!

Tampopo (1985)
A Japanese comedy about truck driver Goro who helps out a struggling family ramen business helmed by a young widow named Tampopo. The film is interspersed with short food-related scenes and celebrates the fact that food is (for many) the essence of life, and plays many roles as reward, ritual, rite, family and vice.
Masterful food shots are plentiful with the old master waxing lyrical about how to eat a bowl of ramen, the gangster couple using food in their erotic ways, an old woman caressing food in the supermarket, a widow who rises from her deathbed to cook one last meal for her family and of course Goro and Tampopo’s mission to make the perfect ramen.
Best foodie scene: A gangster couple erotically swapping an egg yolk back-and-forth between their mouths. You can’t help but be captivated, and maybe a little shocked. See below:

The God of Cookery (1996)
Ah… Stephen Chow. One of his best roles as a cold-hearted chef who’s life falls apart when he loses his title as “The God of Cookery.” Disgraced and broke, he gets employed by a street hawker and slowly rises back to the top but not before re-learning the true meaning of cooking and simple humble food.
Best foodie scene: Aside from the numerous great food scenes (and of course all the kung fu) the film remains memorable for one particular scene. When Stephen Chow sits down in front of a hawker (Karen Mok) and orders a bowl of noodles and proceeds to criticise the noodles.
“The pig’s colon is the worst. It’s not properly washed, you can find crap inside, how come?” Then he waves the pig’s colon in front of the hawker. “Hey there’s crap. Hey crap, hey. Hey crap.” It doesn’t translate well into English but it’s hilarious in Cantonese.


Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Disclaimer: Don’t watch this movie on an empty stomach.
The movie centers around old master chef Chu who has lost his sense of taste but tries to hold together his family through mandatory lavish Sunday dinners. Throughout the movie, we witness the artistry and intricacy of his mastery in Chinese cuisine. A tip, don’t watch this movie on an empty stomach.
Best foodie scene: When chef and grandfather Yu brings a feast of pork spare ribs, crab with vegetables, shrimp with green peas, bean sprouts with sliced chicken and spareribs and bitter melon soup to school for his grand-daughter Shan Shan at school, and says, “Sorry, I didn’t have time to make you more than a few small dishes,” and her classmates all crowd around her table and gawk at all the food. 

Nasi Lemak 2.0 (2011)
One of Malaysia’s rare movies about food, it traces a young chef who is having a hard time getting his customers to appreciate his refined Chinese cooking. Frustrated, he goes on a road trip to rediscover his Malaysian roots. Along the way, he meets local ethnic communities and rediscovers his love and appreciation for the humble nasi lemak.
In the end, he presents his own multicultural version of nasi lemak, one that celebrates the true spirit of Malaysia. 

Best foodie scene: While there is a lack of appetizing food shots, the Curry Neh song-and-dance sequence mashing Bollywood, Malay and Chinese influences come together elevate the film. Look it up on YouTube