10 Must-Try Foods Around Asia
A few weeks ago, I took you on a foodie tour of Europe. We dined on raclette, drooled over waffles, tucked into traditional Austrian schnitzels, and munched on Portuguese tarts. Now, it's time to move on from pastries and cheese as we head to the vibrant, tastebud-tantalising Asian continent. Shall we?
1. Indonesia - Rendang
If you've ever been to Bali (let's face it, 80% of Australia's population practically lives there), you've probably tried rendang - but if you haven't, it's time to put it on the bucket list. This iconic dish features beef, lamb, goat, or chicken, cooked in coconut milk and all the spices you could ever want. It might not look the most appetising, but trust us, it more than makes up for its appearance with rich flavours.
Want to try an Aussie take on this drool-worthy dish? Check out Tosaria in Melbourne!
2. Hong Kong - Egg Tarts
Just as Portugal has the pastel de nata, Hong Kong has its own sweet, eggy icon. You've probably tried it at yum cha, but nothing can compare to one fresh from the streets of HK. Unlike the flaky-crusted, creme brulee-topped Portuguese tart, this tasty treat, which is popular all throughout China, the Hong Kong egg tart uses crumbly short crust and no caramelisation - but that doesn't mean it's any less delicious.
3. Japan - Takoyaki
You love sushi. You're already a ramen convert. It's time for a new Japanese foodie obsession - takoyaki. This street food staple is huge in the land of the rising sun but it's only begun gaining popularity down under in recent years. So, what is takoyaki? Think diced octopus, tempura scraps, green onion and ginger, rolled into a ball and fried. It's basically like arancini and calamari had a beautiful Japanese love child.
Get your hands on some takoyaki at Loui Sushi in Perth!
4. Philippines - Adobo
If you've visited the Philippines without trying adobo, you've made a huge mistake. Time to book those flights back to Manila, because trust me, this dish is worth it. Adobo has plenty of variations, but it always involves meat, seafood, and/or veggies marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, garlic, and black pepper and served with rice. One taste of this Philippine fave and you'll be hooked.
5. Malaysia/Singapore - Sambal Stingray
If you've never tried stingray before, we don't recommend it. That is, until you find yourself in Malaysia or Singapore. After all, why not start with the best? Sambal stingray is a street food staple widely available in both countries and consists of stingray marinated in paste of spices, Indian walnuts, and shallots, wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. Sounds a little strange, but it's an essential culinary experience for any visitor.
6. South Korea - Bulgogi
Fans of Korean BBQ are likely already acquainted with this mouth-watering meat dish, which literally translates to "fire meat". Think thin strips of beef or pork, marinated, then grilled or stir-fried in a pan with onion, ginger, mushroom, and other veg. It's one of the nation's most popular dishes, and for good reason - it's incredible.
Try bulgogi for yourself in Sydney's Chinatown at Basax Korean Chicken and Dining!
7. Laos - Larb
It's likely you've seen larb on your nearby Thai restaurant's menu, but this fresh, flavoursome salad actually originates from Laos and is a little different to the one you can get at your local. Laotian larb is made with meat, seafood, or mushrooms, then flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, padaek (a traditional condiment), and served with veg, roasted ground rice, chilli, and fresh herbs. It's a little sourer and uses fewer spices than the Thai version, but it's just as good and well worth a try.
8. Myanmar - Mohinga
Fish. Noodles. Egg. Soup. Need we say more? Myanmar's unofficial national dish is actually traditionally eaten for breakfast, but thanks to its popularity, you can pretty much get it any time of the day over there. If ever you visit this troubled yet beautiful country, you won't find it difficult to get your hands on some mohinga - they sell it from roadside stalls, in restaurants, and you'll often see street hawkers carrying buckets of it around their necks!
9. Vietnam - Banh Xeo
Pho may be Vietnam's national dish (and rightly so), but I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce you to one of the country's lesser-known yet equally amazing dishes, banh xeo. Translating to "sizzling pancake", it consists of a savoury fried pancake stuffed with the meat or seafood of your choice (or just vegetables) and bean sprouts. Dip it in some chilli sauce and you're set!
Can't afford flights to Vietnam? You can try banh xeo at Le Saigon in Sydney!
10. Cambodia - Amok Trey
This dish will send your tastebuds running amok! Ok, sorry, I had to. But seriously, amok trey is amazing. Popular all throughout Southeast Asia, this Cambodian curry is traditionally made with catfish, coated in a thick coconut milk with a mixture of Khmer spices, then steamed or baked in a bowl made from banana leaves. It looks good and tastes even better. Book those flights to Phnom Penh ASAP.