TV | Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure – An aesthetic delight for eyes and ears alike

This series sees the return of the Hairy Biker duo, Dave Myers and Si King, as they explore the culinary delights of Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The array of settings is nothing short of sensational, ranging from mountain tops to forest groves, heaving markets to coastal Edens. The soundtrack is equally extensive, with tracks from Bonobo and some rather questionable Asian pop bands. The journey is an aesthetic delight for eyes and ears alike.

It’s a pity that ‘smell lenses’ have not yet been invented, as Si puts it, given that the food looks equally exquisite. The Hairy Bikers experiment with dim sum and lotus leaves in China, gai how bi towey in the central plains of Thailand, and a plethora of fish in Japan.They reap inspiration from every source, and enlighten the viewers to the reality of Asia’s cuisine. The recipes concocted by Dave and Si are fresh, healthy and low in calories; quite the reverse of British fast food.

The series also avoids those all-too-common, generic references to ‘Chinese’ or ‘Thai’ food, and highlights the variations in local diet across the continent. The north of Thailand, for example, has limited access to coconut milk compared to the south, and specialises instead in beef and pork dishes. Dave and Si also make sure to experience the cooking of ordinary citizens. The first episode sees the two of them crammed into a humble abode, learning the art of sweet and sour sauce from an elderly woman. This is honest food from the heart: just like Dave and Si’s.

The episodes, then, are culturally engaged, although somewhat controversial at times. The sumo suits in particular are disturbingly compromising… Some have criticised the chefs for their loutish behaviour, deemed ‘hard to stomach’ by the Telegraph. For my part, I find their desire to talk to all and sundry quite charming, and their unerring enthusiasm endearing. I’ve been inspired to ditch my hand blender for a pestle and mortar, and I shall always remember the unbreakable rule of four: sweet, sour, salty and hot.

The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure is on Thursdays at 9pm and available on iPlayer now

Polly Galis

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