Food is one of the most unique elements in one’s travels. It’s the flavour of a nation’s culture and most of the times the strongest memories that we collect as we explore new destinations. Food and cuisine offer insights. And ultimately, eating takes you closer to understanding your travel destination better.
With a variety of different cultures in Asia, it’s a given that one can explore unique treats in each destination. From fresh raw vegetable dishes in Vietnam and spicy curry tastes in Thailand, to delicate fish in Japan, there’s all sorts of delights your tastebuds could explore in this gastronomically rich region of the world.
It’s not just the dishes that are diverse however – there’s also plenty of dining styles in Asia.
The Japanese like their food fresh and therefore their fish raw. It’s often that they actually remove the cooking stage from the whole process to speed things up. Instead, they leave it up to strong and spicy marinades that tenderly flavour the food on the serving table. Sushi, naturally, is an every day dish and not a fancy delicacy as per the western standards. That doesn’t mean that it comes cheap though.
In Thailand, spices and herbs play an essential role in cooking. Thai cuisine blends elements of several South-east Asian traditions and Thai food is known for its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.
One of the classics, the Pad Thai is a mix of stir fried medium size rice noodles (sen lek) with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, ground peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives (kuichai), combined with pork, chicken, seafood, or tofu.
On the other hand, Northern Thailand offers dishes such as Khao Soi: boiled as well as crispy fried egg noodles (bami) served in a curry soup. The version with chicken is called Khao Soi Kai and the one with beef, Khao Soi Nuea. Although it’s not easy to find this outside of Asia, do give it a try when you’re next in places like Chiang Mai. You’ll be amazed!
Vietnamese food on the other hand is strongly influenced by the French Empire and hence considered as one of the top cuisines in the world. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.