A big thank you to the panelists at Feedspot for selecting The Culinary Travel Guide as one of the Top 15 Food Travel Blogs on the web!
Over the past few decades as Asia has opened up and become more accessible, we have enjoyed an explosion in the continent’s cuisine. Asian recipes, flavors, and cooking styles have all been a big hit. However, it would be a mistake to group all of the countries in Asia together. Just as Italian food is totally distinct from French food, no two Asian nations are the same when it comes to their cooking. Each has its own traditions, and these are what we are going to be discussing in this blog post. Obviously, deciding which is the best is very much a subjective job which is based on your palate and tastes. But let’s run through some of the countries which have been lighting up the world stage. If you can visit to enjoy this food first-hand, you will be in for a treat.
Food is like an art form in Japan. You can see it in the years of training that the sushi masters have to go through and the intricately packed little rolls that they produce. Yes, you can get plenty of great sushi in the west, but when the fish is fresh and you know that talented hands have prepared it, you will enjoy a totally different experience. But even the basic over-the-counter ramen noodles taste fantastic when you are traveling around the country. Of course, you are bound to get regional specialties whether you are in Tokyo or Kyoto, but the common theme that runs throughout is careful preparation, fresh ingredients, and beautiful presentation.
If you have only ever eaten Thai curries before, you are missing out on many of the other culinary delights which are commonly enjoyed here. Whether you are sampling some fried rice, noodle soups, chargrilled meat or fish dishes, everything tends to be highly flavored and spiced, but it is all done so with great forethought to achieve a sense of balance in the food. If you are a fan of spicy food, you will be right at home here, but you can equally find plenty of mellower dishes to enjoy.
If you are not a fan of spice, Vietnam will be a better culinary nation for you to travel around than Thailand. Dishes here tend to have more subtle undertones, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t find plenty of delicious food. Obviously, the most famous Vietnamese dish is pho, and this is best enjoyed with a bottle of beer, perched on a stool as you watch the city life of Hanoi whizz by in front of your eyes. But you also have the spring and summer rolls, fried seafood crepes, noodles soups…the list goes on. The common theme that runs throughout Vietnamese dishes is that they are affordable and readily available.
f you have only ever eaten Chinese food in your own country, prepare to be more than a little surprised. If you weren’t already aware, China is huge! And each one of its diverse provinces has their own specialties for you to enjoy. You have the spicy hotpots of Sichuan. The lamb stews of Shaanxi. The roast duck of Beijing. And cross over into Hong Kong, and you will enjoy something else entirely with its famous dim sum. Even the simple dishes of dumplings and noodles are prepared with care and attention. Cooking has been a central part of Chinese life for centuries, and they are a nation that centers their social life around eating. Meet up with a Chinese person and rather than asking ‘how are you?’ they will instead often say ‘have you eaten yet?’ And remember, looks can be deceiving in China. Just because a restaurant looks shabby, it doesn’t mean that the food that they prepare is going to be anything less than world-class.
Indian food is renowned for its high levels of spice and richness. Of course, curry and rice-based dishes play a central role in this country’s cuisine. But just like China, the country is enormous, and you can’t expect everything to be the same everywhere you go. In the south, you will find many coconut-infused dishes with a creamier and milder edge, which contrast totally with the fiery curries of Goa. The major cities of Mumbai and Delhi are full of culinary delights, and you will see that many of the dishes have not yet made the successful transition to the west.
The affordability of the food in Sri Lanka means that you can comfortably sample and enjoy the dishes to your heart’s content. There are hundreds of modest curry restaurants where you can enjoy a high-quality meal for a fraction of what they would cost back home. But if you are only looking for a snack, there are plenty of ‘short eats’ which should comfortably satisfy your appetite. You may well have found your new favorite world cuisine!
One of the main things that will strike you about Malaysian cuisine is the diversity of influences which play a role in the food. Malay, Chinese, Indian and European traditions all combine to wonderful effect. In the south, you can enjoy some banana leaf rice which consists of an assortment of vegetables, meat, fish, and papadums served on a banana leaf. Nasi Lemak is one of the most famous dishes to emerge from the country.
In comparison to some of the other culinary giants which we have discussed so far, Indonesia often gets sadly overlooked. But don’t be fooled into thinking that there is nothing special about the cuisine from this country. You have plenty of simple dishes which are available all over the place from street vendors such as the Indonesian Satay which consists of juicy meat skewers in peanut sauce. And then you have the richer and spicier fare such as Beef Rendang. Of course, you also have the incredible tasty fried rice, which you can enjoy with ingredients of your choosing. And if you have any room left, don’t miss out on enjoying some of the sweet and rich desserts including Indonesian Sweet Martabak – essentially Eastern pancakes. If you are planning on staying a long time to enjoy the food, check out the apartments on https://rumahdijual.com/bandung/. You can certainly afford to take your time in such a delectable destination.
When you think of South Korean food, your mind is likely to immediately drift to barbecues. And this is certainly a celebrated part of the cuisine and one you should enjoy for yourself. You can either have the food cooked for you or go to one of the restaurants which have a grill in the center of the table so that you can prepare your own. And you certainly won’t be able to avoid enjoying some kimchi. There are over 100 different types for you to sample, so you are certainly in no danger of running out!
So far, we have only focused on the eastern part of the continent, but shift your attention to the center, and you will enjoy an entirely different culinary experience. So, if you are planning a trip to Iran, you will be greeted by subtly spiced stews, shish kebabs, and freshly baked bread. Dishes are prepared using a diverse array of ingredients. And just like the food traditions of other parts of the continent, they also go back thousands of years here, so you can be assured that the chefs know what they are doing.
Though it is only a tiny nation, Singapore is also a melting pot of cultures. As such, it has plenty of influences including Chinese, Malay, and Indian which are all vying for attention. Traditions of this city-state are very much focused on street food, so you should take the time to head to one of the markets to sample as many dishes as you can in a short space of time. But there are also plenty of simple and high-end restaurants where you can fill your belly.
No matter which countries in Asia you are planning to visit, food will play a central part of your trip. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t always stick to the fancy-looking restaurants. It is the street vendors and simple eateries where you are likely to find some of the greatest culinary delights. Go in with an open mind and you will find flavor combinations which you would never have thought of putting together and ingredients which you never knew you enjoyed before. Ultimately, a trip to Asia will broaden both your palate and your mind.