Memories of Faraway Places

By Miche Genest          Photo by Cathie Archbould


People, let’s hear it for the chefs! For the past two years, under trying conditions, cuisiniers and restauranteurs across the Yukon have transported us up, up, and away from the constraints of our pandemic lives. When we couldn’t travel, their food and drink swept us abroad, to a souvlaki stand in Athens, or a Kathmandu rooftop to dip momos in tomato chutney, or a jetty in Lima where we sipped smoky pisco sours. Their imaginations fired ours; they fast tracked us to our own travel memories and prompted us to take flight in our own kitchens, recreating dishes we loved.

It will surprise no one that these inspiring people are inveterate travellers themselves, racking up culinary experience and building the personal repertoire that makes each chef unique.

Chef Troy King, co-owner of beloved Wood Street Ramen and Night Market restaurants in Whitehorse, spent a year in Shanghai cooking at an exclusive hotel restaurant in the financial district. In his time off he would wander the streets with cue cards bearing the names of dishes in Cantonese and walk into restaurants, looking for a meal. One day, on a smoke break outside the hotel kitchen, everything changed.

“I noticed a small hole-in-the wall shop where the locals would go—the room cleaners, the security guards, the drivers. So, I wandered in there and just never looked back. For $2.50 or $3.00 Canadian I’d get a huge bowl of noodles, nice spicy pork noodles.”

King became such a regular that when the restaurant staff saw him coming they’d push two or three of their flimsy stools together (as King says himself, he is a big guy) and say, “Sit here! Sit here!” helping King to feel at home. “It was nice,” he says.

That welcoming hole in the wall was the inspiration behind the Dan Dan Noodles King serves at Wood Street Ramen and shared with YNoO, adapted for “what works for Whitehorse,” he says.

Chef Brian Ng of Wayfarer Oyster House, selected as an enRoute “Best New Restaurant in 2019,” spent a chunk of his twenties wandering the world.

“I traveled basically to go rock climbing and to eat,” he says.

Vietnam was particularly alluring—a favourite destination of his culinary hero, Anthony Bourdain, and home to the kind of blended cuisine Ng adores. In the port city of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ng roamed streets lined with classic French colonial buildings, skinny, ornate Vietnamese tube houses, and wooden Chinese temples. And he followed his nose.

“In my travels, I will wander down random alleyways [that] might not look the safest, but that’s usually where the best food is,” he says. 

In just such a dimly lit alley, Ng found a crowd of men and women gathered around a table at a tiny restaurant and discovered something “magically delicious”: a dish of Manila clams.

“I still never really knew what was in them,” he says, “so I just tried to reproduce it from my memories.”

For chef Ariel Adams at Bonton and Co. in Dawson City, named “Best New Restaurant in 2021” for “Best Tapas North of 60” by enRoute, it was a magical trip when she was 13 that inspired her cooking. She travelled from Toronto to visit her older sister in Bella Coola, B.C., who organized a boat-camping trip into isolated waters.

“On the first night we stopped at the estuary on Skowquiltz River.… In a matter of minutes our friends had started a fire and set up this incredible cedar bracket [handmade grill basket],” she says. “Someone pulled out a beautiful salmon caught off the boat that day, fileted it, and clamped each side into the cedar brackets, hammered into the ground on an angle, close to the fire. For hours that salmon slowly roasted next to the roaring fire.”

Adams describes herself as a “picky preteen city kid” who insisted she didn’t like fish.

“But I could not stop pulling pieces of that beautiful fish from the bracket.” 

Much as she loved the fish, though, it was the whole joyous, adventure-rich occasion that stays with her.

May these recipes, gifted by three wonderful chefs, bring the world into your kitchen and you into the world.

Wayfarer Oyster House Chef Brian Ng’s Manila Clams with Tamarind Sauce

Chef Ng says extra tamarind water will keep in the fridge for several days, for use in soups and sauces or as a refreshing drink.

  • 4 oz (115 g) tamarind paste
  • 3 cups (720 ml) water
  1. In a medium-sized pot bring water and tamarind paste to a boil over high heat, breaking up the tamarind as it softens. Remove from heat, cover, and let mixture sit until tamarind is very soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Use a whisk or spoon to break up any large clumps of tamarind and strain through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract every ounce of liquid. Make sure to scrape any solids on the underside of the strainer into the liquid.


  • 2.5 oz (70 g) palm sugar (substitute light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  1. Combine sugar and water in a very small pot or pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the sugar as it softens, until it has completely dissolved. If the water begins to bubble before the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and let it finish dissolving in the hot liquid.

Chef Ng says extra tamarind water will keep in the fridge for several days, for use in soups and sauces or as a refreshing drink.

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) tamarind water
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) palm-sugar syrup

Whisk ingredients together.

Chef Ng says extra tamarind water will keep in the fridge for several days, for use in soups and sauces or as a refreshing drink.

  • 1.5 lb (670 g) Manila clams, cleaned and purged in very salty water for 30 minutes
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 lemon-grass stalks, tough outer leaf removed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) tamarind sauce
  • 1–2 red Thai chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) Thai basil leaves (substitute any fresh basil)
  • Fish sauce to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, lemon grass and half the chillies and sauté until aromatic, about 2–3 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add clams. Pour over the tamarind sauce. Cover pan and steam clams for 2–3 minutes or until shells have just opened. Remove clams to a bowl. (Discard any unopened clams.)
  3. Increase heat to high and reduce sauce for about 2 minutes. Add half the basil and a few more chillies and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Return clams to the pan to warm up slightly. Season with fish sauce to taste.
  5. Transfer clams to a serving platter and garnish with remaining basil and chillies. Serve immediately. Best accompanied by a cold beer.

Makes 4 servings.