During his trip to Tokyo, chef Adam Sobel secured a source for Wagyu beef, which he’ll now serve at Bourbon Steak. (Adam Sobel for The Washington Post)

Each city opened my eyes to new ingredients, new flavors and unbelievable experiences.

I started in Singapore where I hit the markets, whether the stalls in Chinatown, the late-night hawker stands in Tiong Bahru or the enormous Tekka Centre in Little India. We also met up with D.C. transplant and former general manager of The Source, Adam Crocini, who fed us incredibly well at Cut and took us on a late-night tour of the city

Many chefs told Sobel to try khao soi when he was in Thailand. The dish features thick egg noodles in a curry-coconut broth. “It’s very spicy with a lot of lime, fish sauce, chicken, bean sprouts and topped with fried egg noodles and scallions,” Sobel writes. “The best version we had was in the Islamic restaurants, and it just blew me away.” (Adam Sobel for The Washington Post)

This night market treat — a crispy crepe filled with a warm coconut meringue — was the “most perfect dessert bite of my life,” Sobel notes. (Adam Sobel)

In Tokyo, we went to the live tuna auction at the world famous Tsukiji market. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such high-quality seafood on such a large scale. It was no surprise that I had the best sushi of my life in this city, but the shock came at Kanesaka where I witnessed the respect with which the chefs prepared sushi, the progression of the courses and the way they cleaned and handled all their incredible fish.

Another once-in-a-lifetime experience in Tokyo was our tour of a Wagyu slaughterhouse. We witnessed the beef auction and actually had the opportunity to participate in the grading process. As a result of the connections we forged during this visit, we will now be offering New York strip Wagyu from Japan at Bourbon Steak. We’ll have it for as long as we can get a steady supply. We present it to the guest in its raw state, cut it, pan sear it and glaze it with soy, sake, red wine jus and butter. This is some of the most incredible beef you’ll ever find in the States.

I think my biggest takeaway from this entire trip was the cooking philosophy I found across Asia. Seeing the way food is cared for and respected, that’s something I would like to carry over and reinforce with my team here. I’ve also learned that if you find yourself in Asia, and someone tells you that you’re eating “crispy rice salad,” chances are quite high that you’re actually scarfing down ant larva.

For the record, it was delicious.

Adam Sobel is the executive chef at Bourbon Steak in Georgetown. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Sobel spent seven years in Las Vegas, first working for chef Bradley Ogden at his eponymous restaurant in Caesar’s Palace, then as chef de cuisine at Restaurant Guy Savoy. Since joining Michael Mina’s team at Bourbon Steak in early 2011, Sobel has worked to develop relationships with farmers and producers to provide guests with unique offerings, including dry-aged pork, Toulouse goose and now Japanese Wagyu beef.

Further reading:

* Building a better brisket