Skip to main content

Meet locals, eat their food: New Asian dining trend

By Frances Cha, CNN
updated 5:02 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
"I've never met you before, but maybe that's why we get along so well!"
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New travel startup PlateCulture introduces the latest way of eating out -- eating in
  • Website lists 80 home chefs in four Southeast Asian countries
  • Each listing includes detailed menus and reviews

(CNN) -- Eating home-cooked food in a local's house -- it's what great stories are made of.

Thanks to some enterprising minds, dozens of home kitchens and dining tables in Southeast Asia have opened up to travelers wanting a taste of the local cuisines. They're available for booking online, complete with reviews, photos and payment options.

PlateCulture is the latest to gain traction out of Asia, following the likes of mealsharing.com, which we wrote about in our best websites for travelers roundup.

More than 80 home chefs in four Southeast Asian countries -- Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore -- are listed on the PlateCulture site.

Each listing outlines the menu that will be cooked and the hosts' background. Most also include user reviews that range from mild to wild endorsements.

The most popular tried-and-tested kitchens are showcased on the homepage under "Our Picks."

Kala S. serves Indian food out of her kitchen in Kuala Lumpur and is one of the most popular hosts on PlateCulture.
Kala S. serves Indian food out of her kitchen in Kuala Lumpur and is one of the most popular hosts on PlateCulture.

After the booking, customers receive detailed directions to the host's house. Payments are made through PayPal, and the company keeps 16.7% as a commission.

PlateCulture says hosts have been tested and approved by staff or company ambassadors in different countries.

While most listings are standard dinners, some are more creative, such as this Indian cuisine cooking workshop or English afternoon tea.

Travel, eat, share

Founder Reda Stare says she was inspired to start the company by her own experiences of dining in local homes while traveling in India.

The goal of the company is to "help travelers in all countries across Asia to experience being in a local home, eating homemade food and feeling like you've been a part of something authentic and special," Stare says.

One of the most difficult parts of the job has been convincing travelers it'll be a better alternative to a restaurant.

"Mostly the challenges are spreading the idea to travelers, that it is really worth it to step a bit from your comfort zone while traveling and try out this new concept of spending a few hours at local homes in Asia."

While the experience is great for travelers, Stare says the company's impact has also been big for the hosts.

"One of our home chefs received a lot of praise for her recipes so she decided to write and publish her recipe book while another host who makes excellent sweets started cooking and selling various jams as her part-time job," said Stare.

The company pans to expand to Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka in the upcoming year and South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Australia in the near future.

Would you feel comfortable dining in a stranger's kitchen while traveling? Let us know in the comments.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:56 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
updated 10:26 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
updated 9:17 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
updated 3:10 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
updated 9:44 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
updated 3:11 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
updated 3:49 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
updated 5:07 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
updated 11:39 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT