Asian street food: our favourite tastes of the East

Posted on 4 April 2014

Asian street food is as diverse as the continent itself – from the delicious to the bizarre. Here are some recommendations for what you simply have to try – and a few that you’d best walk past.

Street food in Bangkok. Photo by Austronesian Expedition

Must-try Asian street food


1. Bun cha, Vietnam

At lunchtime, the streets of Hanoi come alive with the aromas of barbecued pork rashers and mini meatballs. These are added to a fish-sauce broth swimming with rice noodles, and fresh herbs are piled on top.


2. Wantan Mee, Singapore and Malaysia

You’ll find wonton noodles all over Asia, but it’s the egg noodle and char siu (barbecued pork) with mushroom sauce version sold in hawker centres across Singapore and Malaysia that will get your taste buds excited. These undercover markets are the cheapest places to eat – choose the stall with the longest queue.


3. Ramen, Japan

Ramen-ya restaurants are found throughout Japan, and although the basic concept of Chinese-style noodles in a meaty broth remains unchanged, there are plenty of regional variations. A favourite is tonkotsu ramen, noodles soaked in a delicious pork broth boiled to a creamy consistency.


4. Pad Thai, Thailand

Forget the Western misinterpretations of Thailand’s signature dish; you’ll fall in love with the real thing. The stir-fried noodles in a tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce are as ubiquitous as they are delicious. (Want to experience them for yourself? This two-week Thailand adventure is a great way to do it!)

Read: Top 10 street foods in Stonetown, Zanzibar


Approach with caution


1. Bun Oc, Vietnam

A snail and noodle delicacy that Hanoi locals love. But be warned, the lakes of Hanoi are filthy, and so are the snails that live in them. Matters of hygiene aside, it doesn’t taste that great – chewy and slimy are descriptions that come to mind.


2. Niu Zamian, China

Stew beef tripe, tongue and brisket in a herby broth for hours on end, add hand-rolled noodles and you have offal noodles. Some find it tasty, but the texture is off-putting; the brisket is chewy, the tripe is almost crunchy. For many people just knowing where it all comes from is enough.

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