What to Eat in Asia: Delicious Dishes You Need to Try While Traveling the Continent

Beautiful landscaping of Vietnamese village, woman rowing the row boat to pick lotus flower on waterlilly pond, large aquatic flora lake in green leaf, pink flower make amazing scene at Mekong Delta

Delicious Dishes You Need to Try While Traveling the Continent

There are so many reasons to spend some time traveling through Asia, including the bracing hikes, epic temples, and uniques cultures. However, there is one draw that many travelers state is one of their main reasons for touring this part of the world – the food! 

There are so many countries in Asia, all of which have a completely distinct personality and culture, that you can be sure you’ll find a wide range of foods. From hearty soup dumplings in China to spicy noodle soups in Thailand. Your tastebuds will never get bored with all the wonderful dishes and specialties that you’ll see on Asian menus, no matter which country you are in.

If you are traveling around and only spend a couple of nights in each location, you need to make sure that you find the best food that the destination has to offer. To help you out, here are some delicious dishes that you need to try while traveling this fantastic continent!

a bowl of laksa

What to Eat in Asia

Malaysia – Nasi Kerabu

Malaysia is a brilliant place to travel as it is a very affordable destination. Thanks to all the cheap houses for rent, you will find that there is a wide range of travelers, from backpackers to well-heeled tourists. It’s not just the accommodation that is super affordable – food is also reasonably priced. You’ll be able to find one of the country’s most famous dishes, nasi kerabu, in most eateries and the price tag won’t send you into shock. This is a popular dish that is very distinctive because of its blue rice. Choose from fried chicken or fish to go with it. This dish is particularly popular on Peninsular Malaysia on the east coast, but you’ll be able to find it throughout the entire country.

Vietnam – Banh Mi

Another country that attracts a lot of travelers because of its affordability is Vietnam. It’s a country that is rich in history, and you’ll certainly find a lot to discover during your travels through the various regions. There’s also a lot of tasty local specialties to eat! Be sure to seek out the world-famous banh mi. Sure, this is a dish that is regularly served in Vietnamese restaurants in America, but for a super tasty and authentic banh mi, you have to try it in its home country. The baguettes are filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and juicy pork or cured ham. It’s a great dish to try when you are on the go!

India – Biryani

Of course, if you are going to be visiting India on your travels, you will no doubt want to try as many curries as you possibly can. There is one curry that should be right at the top of your to-eat list: the biryani. Again, this is a dish that is often served in many western Indian restaurants, but there is no better biryani than one that is eaten in India. For something a little different to the usual biryanis that are served up in western restaurants, you should try the Hyderabadi biryani. It’s a rice curry that has its influences in Iranian cuisine. You’ll be able to try this with a choice of meat or veggies. Be sure to wash it down with a warming cup of chai tea.

overhead photo of camel meat biryani in a dish

China – Ma Po Tofu

China is such a huge country and each of its regions has a very distinct and individual feel. That’s why most travelers choose to visit at least two or three different areas. That way they can experience as much of Chinese culture as possible. Not only do these regions have different cultures, but they also have their own local dishes. One dish that is popular throughout most of the country has to be ma po tofu. It dates back over a hundred years and has been popular throughout the past century –  so you know it must be good! It’s a spicy mix of ground beef or pork and tofu. Chilies and green peppers are usually added to the sauce as well. This dish is a great example of mixing different textures and adding just the right amount of spice – a culinary art that the Chinese do exceptionally well.

Ma Po Tofu in Chinese Food style

Japan – Okonomiyaki

There are so many great dishes to try in Japan including sushi, ramen, and tempura. But one dish that you shouldn’t overlook is okonomiyaki. This is a Japanese-style pancake that, in many restaurants, you make yourself. Don’t worry, though; it’s not as difficult as you might think! You will be given a bowl of the batter that you just need to pour onto a hot plate that will be in the middle of your table. You will also be given a bowl of mixed cabbage and meat that you then add on top of the batter. There will be some sauces that you can top your finished okonomiyaki with, such as mayo and soy. Cooking this pancake yourself makes for a really fun dining experience!

(For another fun dining experience, check out airKitchen where you can book an authentic cooking class by a Japanese host in their home.)

Two Japanese chefs in the kitchen making okonomiyaki

Thailand – Tom Yum Goong

If you plan on visiting Thailand during your Asian vacation, there will be so many delicious noodle soups for you to try. If you ask me, there is none better than the tasty tom yum goong. This is a spicy and sour soup that is usually served with rice rather than noodles. You might be able to find it with pork or chicken, but more often than not this soup will be packed full of fresh shrimp. You’ll also find plenty of chilies, lemongrass, and lime juice in it, which will help to bring all the flavors out. If you aren’t too keen on spicy food, try the version made with coconut cream for a milder, creamier flavor.

A bowl of tom yum goong

There is just so much great food waiting for you to discover on the world’s largest continent, I couldn’t possibly fit it all into this post. But, hopefully, these suggestions give you some great ideas of what to eat in Asia!

This is a contributed post.


  • I am a mom of 2 who travels a lot for work (I work in the event/conference/tradeshow industry). I grew up  and currently live in Northern California.