The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure: Dave Myers talks travelling and food

Former Strictly contestant Dave Myers chats about sumo wrestling in Japan and filming in bathhouses – then recommends some great dishes to try on a trip to the region


In their new cooking and travel show, Si King and Dave Myers (aka the Hairy Bikers) get to go on the trip they’ve always wanted – to Asia. “We both love Asian food. I’d say it’s our favourite food,” explains Myers. The hairy duo start in Hong Kong – the place UK Chinese food originates from. From there they travel to Thailand, and do the length of the country on their bikes. Next they visit Japan and Korea, and import a different bike for each four countries. Dave Myers tells us more…


Why did you choose the places you visited during the show?

We started out in Hong Kong because that’s the root of the Chinese food that we grew up with, which was on every street corner in the UK. Hong Kong is really the gateway to the East. But now, we see it as China’s gateway to the West. From there, we went to Thailand, north to south. You forget when you’re eating your Thai food that Thailand is as big as France. French food is diverse from the Mediterranean to the East Channel, just as Thai food is diverse from the north to the south. Southern Thailand has the seafood and the coconuts, and the north has all the produce and dry foods like jungle curry. Japan was just a dream really. There’s one episode in Tokyo where we go to the Tsukiji fish market. You know, it’s the most famous fish market in the world. Around 63,000 people work there. Having a sushi breakfast there is one of the things you have to do before you die. Then we headed off to Korea, which is one of the fastest emerging economies. It was really good and really interesting.


Visit Asia with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

Which was your favourite cuisine, from the four countries you visited?

I think it’s got to be Thai food for me. It’s impossible to eat badly in Thailand. The Thai people have this enormous love of food, and it’s a bit of a melting pot as well, with mixtures of sweet, sour, savoury and hot. They’ve really got a handle on how you balance the food on your plate. It’s really exciting, but then again, Japan’s one of my favourites too. I absolutely adore sushi.

Which dishes should people try in Asia?

Oh, thousands. One of the most mental things is Korean fried chicken – the alternative to KFC. The Koreans have gone bonkers for it. You’ll see these fried chicken joints on a lot of corners, and indeed in America there’s a lot too. Korean fried chicken is really crispy, so they will double fry the chicken to get it really crispy and spicy. Korean fried chicken is brilliant. We’ve got a book to go with the series, and we’ve done our version of Korean fried chicken that needs warm frying. What we do is dump vodka in the batter and the dressing, and the vodka tends to evaporate, and it makes the skin really crispy. You cook it with the skin on. People should also try Thai food – the curry. [In the series] went to a back street restaurant in Bangkok, not very fancy, and we cooked curry, green chicken curry, which you can do with pork or prawns. We’ve got that recipe, and we’ve put it online so anybody can try it. It’s the best green curry recipe – it’s pretty straightforward, but it really works.

How did you find the riding in Asia, and what did the locals make of you two roaring in with your entourage?

The riding was great. [In the show] we attempt to take a huge bite out of Asia. There’s a colossal distance between Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Thailand. So there are four different bikes to suit each country. In Japan, we had these wonderful Honda CVR 1300s; big, touring road bikes. Riding outside of Tokyo, was like riding through Blade Runner. Then riding through Kyoto, you see some of the most amazing service stations you’ll see in your life.You can buy octopus balls and wonderful freshly cooked food – the food there puts others places to shame. In Hong Kong, we rode Kawasaki custom bikes, which were great for scratching around one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. In Thailand, we had Honda 500s, which were lighter and better suited to the roads. The road from Bangkok to Chang Mai is a long way, but once you get there, oh my god, it’s beautiful. It’s just heaven. It’s a motorcyclist’s dream. Meanwhile, Korea’s roads were just bonkers. They had quite aggressive drivers. But we had these two Korean choppers that were a bit glitzy and new. We rode up to the border, and we went to a squid festival on these big bruiser choppers. 

What was the most culturally different thing you experienced on your travels?

The Japanese were very reserved. The only time we got in trouble was when we wanted to film a scene in a bathhouse. I mean, we’ve lost a bit of weight, but we’re still not there, you know? The huge problem was I’ve got two tattoos and [Si King’s] got one tattoo. And tattoos are an absolute cultural no-no. You are forbidden from showing a tattoo in a public place like a swimming pool. It’s considered a gangster thing. When we filmed, they had to close the bathhouse so nobody could go in. I felt like a  tattooed thug. We also spent a day as a sumo wrestler. They eat 20,000 calories a day to be ready to fight. Bigger the better. We were fighting against guys who were 35 stone. You have to wear a mawashi. It’s kind of a canvas loincloth that holds everything in. It’s really uncomfortable.

Watch The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure on Thursdays on BBC2

Visit Asia with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details