Asia is a dream destination for foodies, as each country provides its own unique dishes, culinary traditions and fresh ingredients that are hard to resist. From sushi perfection in Japan and spicy dishes Thailand to the diverse flavors in Malaysia, you’re spoiled for choice in creating the ultimate food adventure. Here are our top picks as the top 12 foodie destinations in Asia.
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Tokyo not only has some of the best food in Asia, but also in the entire world with over 200 Michelin-starred restaurants. Ramen is a staple in Japanese cuisine and sampling the different varieties is all a part of the fun, where you can sit in cozy restaurants with just eight or 10 seats. Wander down alleyways to discover noodle shops, dine on fresh sushi and sample okonomiyaki savory pancakes and yakitori grilled chicken skewers.
Thailand is known for its delicious street food, where every plate is bursting with flavor and a combination of spices and sauces such as ginger, lemongrass and fish sauce. Cuisines here blend sweet and spicy with ingredients such as coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. While pad Thai is the most popular dish, you can’t go wrong with tom yum goong (a spicy hot and sour soup) and a dessert of mango sticky rice.
Hong Kong is the perfect place for a dim sum adventure, as it is a quintessential dining experience here and can be eaten at any time of day. Served in bamboo baskets, you can indulge in charsiew bao (roasted pork bun), peking duck pancakes and siew mai (shrimp and pork dumpling). You’ll also find the cheapest Michelin star restaurant, Tim Ho Wan, that is popular for its barbecue pork buns and steamed pork dumplings.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is the bustling capital of Malaysia and boasts a diverse array of food options. A blend of Chinese, Indian, Thai and Malay influences, the city boasts a long list of must-try cuisines. Make sure to try the curry laksa, a curried coconut broth filled with deep-fried tofu, cockles and egg noodles, which is topped by spicy sambal. Nasi lemak is considered a national dish, while char kuey teow has Chinese origins with flat rice noodles.
Considered a one-stop shop for food enthusiasts, Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Thai, Malay and Indian cuisine. Visit the city’s hawker centers to sample more than one platter, which should include the iconic chicken rice and char kway teow stir-fried rice noodles. This multicultural hub is also a great place to enjoy chili crab, which is served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce and best served with soft mantou buns.
A food lover’s paradise, Osaka has been dubbed “the country’s kitchen” due to its delicious street food an abundance of highly-rated restaurants. Born and bred, you can’t leave the city without trying the famous okonomiyaki cabbage pancakes and the takoyaki octopus balls, which are found both on the street and in restaurants. Other highlights include kitsune udon, a broth with thick noodles and deep-fried tofu, and kushi-katsu, which is meat or vegetables that are deep-fried and skewered.
Food is at the very heart of the Vietnamese culture. Markets are on every corner and almost every aspect of life in Vietnam revolves around the preparation and shared experience of eating. Indulge in a banh mi sandwich, fresh spring roll or a steaming bowl of pho at any time of day, while Hanoians typically wash it down with a strong Vietnamese-style coffee that is thick and topped with condensed milk.
The only Hindu island in Indonesia, Bali has a unique cultural and food landscape that lures you in. Start with a classic Indonesian staple mie goreng, which is fried noodles served with chicken, shrimp or pork, then wash it down with pisang goreng, a dessert with fried bananas, honey and can include coconut flakes or ice cream. Nasi goreng is another favorite with fried rice, while sate is chicken with spices on a stick.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The biggest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a foodie destination that is famous for its spicy Khao soi, which is a noodle dish that contains boiled then deep-fried egg noodles that are drenched in a thick chicken or beef coconut curry broth and then garnished with lime, roasted chili and shallots. It’s a favorite with both locals and visitors alike, while the city’s grilled chicken, papaya salad and sai oua grilled herb sausage are also worthy of sampling.
Seoul, South Korea
Kimchi, bibimbap and Korean barbecue are some of most iconic cuisines to sample in Seoul and definitely a must-try when there, but the city also has more to offer. Visit one of the famous markets like Gwangjang, Namdaemun and Myeong-dong and sample teokbokki rice cake rolls in chili sauce, kimbap seaweed rice rolls and dakkochi grilled chicken skewers. Korea is known for its banchan side dishes, while gogigui is all things grilled meat.
A foodie heaven with delicious dishes being served around the clock, Taipei boasts a booming night market scene. Check out the trendy Ximending in search of succulent pork sandwiches and chunks of fried chicken, while milk tea and cheesy baked potatoes are just as enticing. Sample lu rou fan (minced pork rice), niu rou mian (beef noodle soup), hujiao bing pepper buns and Taiwanese-style hot pot.
New Delhi, India
While India boasts an incredible lineup of food choices, New India is the perfect place to indulge in Northern Indian cuisine. A popular spot for food enthusiasts who enjoy spicy flavors, it typically includes influences from neighboring Punjab and Rajasthan. You’ll find plenty of dairy products incorporated into the meals here, such as curd cheese, while tikka masala is a vegetarian dish that includes a creamy tomato-based sauce served with warm naan or roti. Try a flaky samosa on the go, or indulge in paneer butter masala and lamb skewers with dahl.