Southeast Asia is one of the top food destinations in the world, with each country having a wide range of unique delicacies. There has been no lack of coverage on how popular the region’s cuisine has become over the years, with culinary giants such as Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern praising the local specialties. The recent documentary, Street Food, among many others, have also put Southeast Asian cuisine on the gastronomical map.
The best part about Southeast Asian cuisine is that each dish has a story and most of these dishes are sold by street vendors. So, even if you’re travelling on a budget, you can easily have a culinary adventure in these countries, along with all the other attractions. In many cases, the food is an experience in itself, so get ready for one-of-a-kind culinary adventure. Here are some of the countries you must put on your culinary travel bucket list.
Vietnamese cuisine is quite distinct and uses a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours. Fresh herbs are used extensively and give Vietnamese dishes a light touch that sets them apart from other Southeast Asian cuisines. Additionally, Vietnam was a French colony until 1954, so the French influence is visible in its cuisine, notably in Banh Mi.
Banh Mi refers to a quintessentially Vietnamese sandwich that is made by slicing a baguette lengthwise and filling it with meat and pickled vegetables, including daikon radish. This is a common street food item and enjoyed by many.
Another dish worth mentioning that has gained global acclaim is Pho. Pho is basically Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles, meat, and a selection of herbs and spices. This dish is surprisingly light, and has become a global phenomenon.
Other dishes worth mentioning are Goi cuon (Translucent spring rolls), Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), Com Tam (Broken rice) and if you’re adventurous, you must try the variety of Quan oc (Snail restaurants) around.
This is one Southeast Asian country that is a major tourist destination for a number of reasons. It is one of the most popular places for bachelor parties and pleasure trips, and is also home to a large number of ancient Buddhist temples.
Thailand is one of the few countries which has seen its cuisine become popular throughout the world. After Chinese food, Thai is the most renowned Pan-Asian option. So, what better place to experience this cuisine than Thailand itself?
Experience truly authentic Thai flavours in Bangkok with dishes such as Tom Yum (Soup), Pad Thai (Fried noodles), Khao Soi (Creamy coconut curry soup), and Som Tam (Papaya salad).
Even though it’s a small island state, Singapore is one of the major financial and business hubs in the world. It developed into a global giant in a very short time, with a skyline famous all over the world. It ranks among the top countries in the world when it comes to living standards and has a strong legal and welfare system in place. It has set the tone for modern property development as well, and websites like Prop.pk promote this technological advancement in real estate.
Singaporeans take their food very seriously and many an argument is started over which hawker is the best option for a certain dish. When you visit Singapore, you’ll get to experience street food in a unique way with huge hawker centres. These centres have a large number of vendors under one roof.
Singaporean cuisine is an amalgamation of Malay, Chinese, Indian and a number of other influences, reflecting the eclectic spirit of this tiny country itself. Quintessential dishes include Singaporean Chilli Crab, Chicken rice, Char Kway Teow (Stir fried noodles), Oyster omelette, Fish head curry, and Ice Kacang (Shaved ice).
Being a multiracial community, Malaysia has a large number of culinary influences. Its cuisine is a distinct mixture of Chinese, Indian, and traditional flavours. In addition, as it is a Muslim country, travellers who eat Halal will have no problem here.
There is a wide range of flavours on offer in Malaysia, so you can find anything from bland to extremely spicy food. In addition, the sites and tourist attractions all over Malaysia are perfect for a vacation, whether you’re with your family or friends.
Essential Malaysian dishes are Nasi Dagang (rice steamed in coconut milk), Bakuteh (pork ribs simmered in broth), Hokkien mee (Yellow noodles), and Nasi Lemak (rice in cream).
Indonesia, with Bali as a major tourist destination, especially for honeymoons, cannot be left out of this list. It offers a variety of foods that is sure to make your mouth water. It was a Dutch colony till 1945, so its food has some distinct European influences as well.
The country is made up of a number of small islands, so you will also be able to find unique takes on individual dishes. As a Muslim country, it also has some Islamic heritage sites. So, it is perfect for tourists of all kinds.
Food worth trying in Indonesia includes Sambal (a condiment), Satay (meat skewers), Bakso (meatball soup), Gudeg (Jackfurit stew), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), and Martabak (sweet stuffed pancake).