ASEAN Noodle Festival showcases diverse cultures and influences of five Southeast Asian countries through their noodle dishes.

ASEAN is the acronym for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The 10 member states include: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The first ASEAN Noodle Festival was held at Vancouver Community College, downtown campus on Wednesday.   The festival featured mouthwatering noodle dishes and desserts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Silk Road Today - ASEAN Noodle Festival Brings Cultures and Community Together

Malaysian noodle dish of Chinese egg noodles in thick, spicy sauce. (Nikao Media)

ASEAN is a community of over 600 million people, says Consul General Maria Andrelita S. Austria of the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver.   The goal, she said, is to highlight the different cultures and influences of each country through their noodle dishes.

“There are five countries from the ASEAN region represented here in Vancouver.  Our population here continues to grow,” said Austria who is also the Festival Chair.

“We believe that there is not much awareness about ASEAN as a community.  So we wanted to make sure that more people know about us as a community.”

Silk Road Today - ASEAN Noodle Festival Brings Cultures and Community Together

Vancouver Community college culinary student preparing Vietnamese Pho. A rice noodle soup dish served with meat (usually beef) and fragrant herbs.  (Nikao Media)

Gastrodiplomacy: Malaysia and Thailand

Governments are increasing engaging gastrodiplomacy or culinary diplomacy to promote their countries’ diplomacy and brand.

Malaysia and Thailand were the first two ASEAN countries to successful engage gastrodiplomacy in their branding strategies. Their efforts have helped globalize their cuisines and boost their food exports.  Thai food is voted as one of the world’s most loved cuisines.

Austria cited that although cuisines of the five countries are similar, they are “presented differently”. Noodle is the regional staple.

Silk Road Today - ASEAN Noodle Festival Brings Cultures and Community Together

Pancit Palabok is a traditional Filipino noodle dish of thin rice noodles topped with creamy shrimp gravy. Garnishing ingredients include hard-boiled eggs, pork, pork cracklings, shrimps, fish flakes and scallions. (Nikao Media)

“Our cuisine is very reflective of the culture of our people.  This is also a good occasion for friends of the ASEAN community to get together,” she added.

The event “helps us to integrate our community and cultures” said President Ajay Patel of the Vancouver Community College.