The Far East boasts some of the most unique and diverse cuisines in the world. From Japan and Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka, the use of spices and aromatics bring flavoursome taste experiences like no other, with everything from fabulous, colourful street food to fine dining on offer. If you’re planning a culinary trip to the Far East, I’d recommend that you arm yourself with the local currency (especially important with the street food), so do your research on travel money providers (there are several companies reviewed here), and make sure that as you switch countries, you exchange your local currency before leaving. With smaller currencies like THB or INR, it can be tricky to get them exchanged after departing the country.
Once you’ve got your currency sorted, it’s time to decide where you want to travel. Here’s my guide to the cuisines on offer in the Far East:
- Japanese Food: Japanese food is some of the best in Asia. Make sure you try Tempura (a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been lightly battered and deep fried) and Yakitori (deliciously savoury grilled chicken). Of course, you can’t visit Japan without experiencing sushi and sake in one of the elegant sushi restaurants. If you’re looking for top sushi in Tokyo, seek out Sukiyabashi Jiro, a casual sushi bar with a very famous local chef.
- Thai Food: Thailand has some of the spiciest foods in Asia, but also the most delicate. I love the Thai way of combining sweet, spicy, salty and sour together (look out for Thai fried rice with pineapple and prawns – it’s served inside a pineapple) This dish, ordered with a Thai iced tea is the ideal combination for an afternoon by a resort pool or ocean front. If you’re in Phuket, try the beautiful Royal Leelawadee Boutique Hotel in Patong Beach.
- Chinese Food: China is truly a diverse country when it comes to cuisine. One of China’s signature dishes has to be the fabulous Hot Pot soup, originating from the city of Chengdu. If you’re travelling to the area and want to experience the soup in its native city, go to Huangcheng Laoma Hot Pot, where they put aprons on you ready for slurping, and let you order as many additions as you would like for your spicy hot pot soup.
- Vietnamese Food: Vietnamese food is another spectacular form of cuisine to enjoy whilst travelling in the Far East. Try the iconic Banh mi (sandwiches made from baguettes stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings), and of course Pho (pronounced fuh – although it sounds more like ‘far’ to me). The best place to try many of these foods is on the streets of large cities such as Ho Chi Minh City. Streets such as Su Van Hanh Street have miniature chairs and food stalls that are ideal for sampling food, teamed with one of Vietnam’s signature 333 beers while watching the locals go by.
- Indian Food: Indian food is so diverse, mainly due to the quite regional uses of the unique spice blends: traditions that have existed in India for centuries. One great dish to enjoy is murgh makhani (butter chicken – nothing like the take-away version here), a spicy curry based dish that comes with naan bread to dip into the sauce once the rice is finished. If you’re travelling in Mumbai, seek out the Butter Chicken Factory Bandra. Here, you really get to dine with locals while savouring this traditional spicy dish.
- Sri Lankan Food: Sri Lanka also offers many different spicy foods. One such dish is Parippu, also known as Chai curry, which delights the tourists that flock to Sri Lanka each year. Nuga Gama is a delightful spot in Colombo to sample Parippu, and it even makes its own ginger beer.
Wherever you head to, and whether you’re exploring ancient temples, or lazing on golden beaches, take the time to get out there and experience the local cuisine. You won’t be disappointed!
This is a guest post