By Casey Hynes
One of the greatest things about visiting Asia is, hands down, the food. This isn’t Wok n’ Roll slop from your local food cart or rubbery overpriced pad Thai delivery – it’s the real deal. The cuisine varies widely, and deliciously, across the region but these five cities are great jumping off points for getting … ahem… a taste of the local fare.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
As an up-and-coming city and the Thai capital, Bangkok is home to everything from sizzling meat skewers eaten street side to high-end restaurants. Indeed, Bangkok ranked high on the recently released list of the top 50 restaurants in Asia, with progressive Indian restaurant Gaggan coming in at number 10. Three other Bangkok restaurants also made the list. When it comes to cheap street foods, you’re spoiled for choice in Bangkok. From savory soups to roasted duck to spicy noodles, you will find all manner of Thai and fusion foods to satisfy your cravings.
2. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a traveler’s dream in many ways, not least of which is the food. Sampling traditional dim sum is practically mandatory upon landing, but there’s so much more as well. Gather with friends over a steaming meal of hot pot, indulge in creamy egg tarts and if you’re feeling brave, gnaw on some chicken feet. Hong Kong made a strong showing on the 50 best restaurants in Asia list, with nine of those listed found in the city.
3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Foodies love Malaysia for its sheer variety in cuisines, including Indian, Chinese and Malay. Chinatown is home to a number of restaurants serving up cheap and delicious foods, and the variety of Indian cuisine is out of this world. A must-try in Kuala Lumpur is nasi lemak, a rice and coconut milk dish served in a pandan leaf.
Nine of this year’s best restaurants in Asia are found in Singapore, and no wonder. This modern, clean and traveler-friendly city caters to those looking to splash out and enjoy their time here. Must-try dishes include rojak, a funky fruit salad dish made with prawn paste and crush peanuts that is surprisingly delicious; spiced satay skewers; and Indian mee goreng, a spicy noodle dish.
5. Beijing, China
If there is one thing you can count on in China, it’s a wealth of tasty street foods at all times of the year. Beijing is developing an increasingly diverse restaurant scene, with ethnic and fusion eateries that offer an alternative to traditional Chinese cuisine. However, the street food offers a culinary experience all its own. Sample chuan’r, spiced meat skewers, and naan, fat dumplings filled with leeks and pork, roasted sweet potatoes and grilled vegetables slathered in five spice. The Beijing street food scene is at its best in the summer months, when crowds of locals and foreigners gather outside until the wee hours over watery beer and delicious eats.