One way to truly know a local culture is to taste and experience its cuisine. It (cuisine) is an integral part of a nation’s history, heritage, and soul. As such, when I travel, I travel also for the food. Because what better way to experience and explore a place than through one of the basic necessities of mankind – FOOD!
Food ignites all our senses. From the way an entree is artfully plated and served by the chef, the delicious aroma of cinnamon wafting from the freshly-baked buns, the crack and crunch of the pork rind, the bursting of different flavors in your tongue upon that first sip of Thai coconut soup, and to the feeling of eating those finely-crafted sushi using your fingers. Food definitely contributes to our travel memories.
So for the second installment of my Bloggers’ Top 3, here are five travel bloggers with their top three favorite food from their travels, as well as my choices.
- Vivian Lee – Miss Happy Feet
- Baklava (Turkey)
“Baklava is a kind of sweet multi-layered pastry stuffed with finely chopped assorted nuts and honey, topped with more honey or caramel. Just close your eyes and try to imagine how rich would this brilliant sweet tasted! When I first had it in Turkey, I immediately fell in love with it and I hunt this down everywhere I go. I still think that the best is served in Istanbul, in a shop named Hafiz Mustafa 1864.”
- Cendol (Malaysia)
“In Malaysia, visitors will never run out of things to eat. From mouthwatering Malaysian Peranakan Sweets (Kuih) to National dishes like Nasi Lemak to various ethnic food…. the choices can be overwhelming. My personal favorite is Cendol, a bowl of shaved ice and green rice-jelly bathed in a comforting mixture of palm sugar and coconut milk. The best versions of Cendol can be found in Penang and Malacca, the two main historical port in Malaysia. Trust me when I say that it is the perfect dessert to order under the hot sun in Malaysia!”
- Cherry Blossom Bread (Korea)
“Don’t be surprised if you see tons of people queueing up at some roadside stall in Jinhae during the Cherry Blossom festival in early April. And yes, they all are willing to wait for more than 30 minutes, just to get their favorite snacks. Cherry Blossom Bread is a must-eat delicacy in Jinhae, Korea. In fact, it is their specialty in the region. It is filled with sweetened adzuki beans paste mixed with some Cherry Blossom extract (this is what makes it so addictive, I guess).”
Vivian is born and raised in Penang, Malaysia and says that food is pretty much the first thing on her mind everytime she travels abroad.
2. Natalia – My Trip Hack
- Mamaliga (Moldova)
“Mamaliga is a traditional dish in Moldova, Romania and west of Ukraine. Mamaliga itself is a cornmeal mush like polenta. It is served with tocana (pork or chicken stew) and brinza (white sheep cheese). As it is a winter dish, sometimes it comes with muraturi (varieties of pickled veggies) and red wine. I love Eastern European cuisine for its diversity. Historically, many cultures mixed up here that resulted in vast options for foodies. It was quite a challenge to shortlist one dish as I can name at least ten options right away that are super tasty.”
- Dosa (India)
“If someone has traveled to India and has not tried Dosa, then he has missed an essential part of the trip. Just kidding 😀 (but it’s actually one of my favorite dishes and it’s yumm). Dosa is a very thin pancake crisp at its ends rolled on like a cylinder. It has tens varieties of fillings that are sweet, spicy, with vegetables, with fruits. My top choice is paneer (Indian white cheese) & vegetable filling. Dosa is typically served with Sambar (a very dilute vegetable stew with spices) and coconut chutney. Besides the fact it’s a very delicious meal, I started liking Dosa and South Indian cuisine in general because it is moderately spicy. It served a good introduction for me into the land of spices.”
- Paratha, Shahi Paneer and Raita (India)
“I generally like North Indian combos. They include several dishes thus giving a chance to get acquainted with Indian cuisine faster. Though Paratha, Shahi Paneer, and Raita are one of the most standard meals ordered in the evenings by the local population in North India, it was a new discovery for me. Shahi Paneer is a rich tomato gravy with paneer (Indian white cheese). It has a mind-blowing combination of sweet, bitter, spicy and sour. This gravy is served with an Indian bread – in this case, it’s lachha paratha (plain bread with many layers made of wheat flour). Though I love other varieties of Indian bread (stuffed parathas, naans, puri) much more than lachha ones, I have to admit that shahi paneer gravy tastes the best with plain bread. To make the entire meal a bit lighter raita (mixed curd) acts as a savior, providing blandness to the spicy yet super tasty food.”
Natalia (Taya) is a world traveler who prefers to live among locals to experience their way of life. India was one of her dream destinations.
3. Kanika and Shayan – Dose of Life
- Cape Malay Chicken Curry (South Africa)
“In 2015, when we went on our honeymoon to Africa, our first stop was South Africa. Although we stayed at Sun City, where food was mostly westernized, we found a cultural village nearby where they served local delicacies. Here we tried our very first African dish, which was the Cape Malay chicken curry. It is no wonder we loved it so much because the dish is a product of various cuisines such as Indonesia, India, and Malaysia. The aromatic flavors from the spices (we love spicy food) such as chili, cinnamon, and cumin, made this one of our favorite dish ever.”
- Basil Chicken (Thailand)
“Whenever I don’t know what to eat, this is the ultimate dish to order wherever I go. If I can’t find it, then I’ll make it because it is so versatile and epically delicious. It is a staple food in Thailand, especially in the central region (Bangkok) and it is just so easy to make. The blend of flavors from the garlic, chili and the fragrance of the basil leaf makes this dish so enjoyable. The best way to eat it is with a plate of rice and don’t forget to top it off with a fried egg.”
- Khao Soi and Sai Ua (Thailand)
“We had one of the best meals while traveling through Chiang Mai last year. The food up in the north of Thailand is quite different from what we get in Bangkok so it was a nice change. The weather was cooler so having hot soup noodles was just what we needed when we tried their famous Khao Soi, which is basically a set of yellow noodles perched in a shallow pool of thick coconut milk curry, topped off with crispy fried noodles and served with wedges of lime, pickled cabbage, and shallots.
Together with this, we had a plate of stir fry mixed mushrooms and Northern-style” or “Chiang Mai” sausages called Sai Ua. An unforgettable meal up in the mountains.”
Shayan & Kanika are a married couple from opposite yet similar walks of life, living and working in Thailand, and sharing their expertise on Bangkok.
4. Jolene and Andrzej Ejmont – Wanderlust Storytellers
- Grilled Fresh Mozzarella and Lemon Leaves (Italy)
“Whilst traveling through Italy, we fell in love with a few of the entrée courses. Andrzej totally enjoyed and loved the Melon and Prosciutto combo, whilst I fell in love with the dishes that featured fresh handmade Mozzarella! During our stay in Positano on the Amalfi Coast, I tried out the grilled fresh mozzarella and lemon leaves! A truly delicious combination!! The lemon leave gives the cheese a fresh zesty flavor, whilst the grilling of the cheese gives it a delicious crunchy exterior with a gooey cheesy centre! What is not to love about that!!”
- Deep Fried Spring Rolls (Vietnam)
“We tend to enjoy most things deep fried and whilst we do enjoy spring rolls in Australia, it is most definitely nothing in comparison to the Vietnamese deep fried spring roll! Made from the thinnest of thin rice papers, that goes crispy and brown on the outside whilst deep frying. A combination of the freshest recently made fillings. Not even to mention the yummy sweet but slightly spicy hand-made dipping sauces! A true explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth! We loved them so much that we tried to make them in Australia, but somehow it just never really is the same!”
- Egg Coffee (Vietnam)
“Vietnamese Egg Coffee or Cà Phê Trứng is a style of coffee found predominately in the North of Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. A coffee that was created out of necessity in the days when milk was scarce and an egg was used a ‘creamer’ for the coffee. This Vietnamese Egg Coffee is basically made by whipping raw egg yolks with sweetened condensed milk. Yumm!!! This creamy topping is then placed on top of the more traditional strong Vietnamese drip coffee. You can have this coffee in either a hot or cold version. And for those who aren’t keen on coffee, why not try the chocolate version for a super naughty treat!”
Wanderlust Storytellers is a crazy, fun-loving family of 4 traveling the world.
5. Kris White – Monkey on a Bus
- Amok (Cambodia)
“Count me among the millions of people who have dreamt of Angkor Wat since childhood. But memories of the millennium-old ruins were not the only treasures I came away with. Somewhat surprisingly, I found Cambodian cuisine to be delicious! Amok came to be my daily go-to meal. The fish is my favorite. Covered with onions, garlic, lemongrass, and the like, smothered with coconut milk and then wrapped in banana leaves. It’s steamed until it achieves a somewhat firm consistency. And my goodness… it is amazing. Cheap, flavorful, and filling. That’s a great combination anywhere in the world!”
- Bulalo (Philippines)
“There’s a lot to love about Filipino cuisine. While many travelers cringe in disgust as visions of balut and tamilok dance in their heads, they miss out on some of the more tame menu options. Bulalo is rich and savory soup dish that’s prepared by boiling beef shanks and marrow bones in a big pot of water. Toss in some onions, corn, and potatoes along with the eternally bland-tasting gourd, sayote. Add some garlic and cabbage and you’re all set! Incredibly simple and seriously tasty. I especially loved it during those cold evenings high up in the mountains. It’s perfect with a hot cup of ginger tea (or two).”
- Lao Niow Mamuang – Mango Sticky Rice (Thailand)
“No list of travel blogger favorite foods can be complete without mentioning this sweet, sticky, heavenly (okay, enough with the adjectives already) gift to humanity. Although I’m not exactly sure how to prepare it, I’m a specialist when it comes to devouring it. All I know is that it involves sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar, a bit of salt, and MANGOES! This classic Thai summer dessert is served warm or at room temperature. In other words, warm or hot. Thailand. Summer… yeah. Best eaten any time of the day or night. *now checking HNL-BKK flight prices*”
Image Source: Pixabay | CC0 by cegoh
Kris is a solo backpacker who quit his job in 2013 to travel the world. Having lived and studied in Hawaii, he’s an expert on the Aloha state.
Here are my top 3 choices:
- Wantan Mee (Malaysia)
Getting a hostel along Love Lane was a good move for me because the hawkers along Lebuh Chulia are so accessible. They set up near night time and are so popular you won’t miss them.
This memorable dish had slices of tender pork, noodles that were cooked just right, bok choy, fried wantan, and that dark delicious sauce. I read somewhere that Anthony Bourdain also tried it on the same stall that I got it.
But the best part, aside from eating this very tasty dish, was sharing a table with a Penang local who graciously told me stories of Georgetown as he remembered it when growing up. Good times indeed!
- Pad Thai (Thailand)
Who doesn’t know this iconic dish of Thailand? I have eaten a LOT of Pad Thai in my travels and at home but the one Pad Thai that ruled them all is the one from Thip Samai. I first saw it in a NatGeo episode of Street Food Around the World. I failed to find it in my first time in Bangkok but finally searched for it when I came back. I was prepared to be disappointed but no, this one I still miss up until now. Thip Samai’s Pad Thai Haw Kai Goong Sot is definitely a must-try! 🙂
- Mohinga (Myanmar)
A typical Burmese breakfast consisting of rice noodles, catfish, chickpea flour, fish paste, ginger and lemongrass among others. It is considered to be the national dish. It is readily available everywhere, all day but more so during breakfast.
It is typically Asian in taste and I must say it’s definitely my favorite dish I ate the whole time I was there. We had this in Yangon before heading to Bagan that night.
Check out my other FOODSCAPADES.
What’s your favorite food that you have tried during your travels?