Ok this might ruffle some feathers but it’s worth a shot! Here’s a list of what I think are the top 5 cities for food in Asia (in no particular order). If you’re looking for incredible food, this is where it’s at…
I’m starting with my adopted home, Singapore.
The Singapore food scene is a perfect balance between old and new. Starting with the old — street food has moved away from the streets and into hawker centres that are littered across the island. These hawker centres are the lifeblood of Singapore and an integral part to Singaporean’s everyday life.
But aren’t they just foodcourts?
Not quite. They might look like foodcourts, but don’t judge a book by its cover. The food is cheap, delicious, and bloody good. Still don’t believe me? Chan Hon Meng’s “Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle” stall was recently awarded a Michelin star. What’s the price of his dish? $2…
If you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, Singapore is awash with high-end restaurants. From Odette — Asia’s fifth best restaurant — to my personal favourite, Burnt Ends — Asia’s twelfth best restaurant — there’s something for everyone.
The Dish: Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle — Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, #02–126, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, 335 Smith St, Singapore
To my Saigonese friends, I apologise, but hear me out.
Hanoi is the birthplace of many quintessential Vietnamese dishes (bar the bánh mì — my guilty pleasure) such as phở and bún chả and is often cited as one of the best destinations for food in the world. For many people, it was Anthony Bourdain that opened their eyes to the food scene in Vietnam. He described his first visit as,
life-changing for sure; maybe because it was all so new and different to my life before and the world I grew up in. The food, culture, landscape and smell; they’re all inseparable. It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go.
Having lived in Vietnam now for four years I tend to agree. The food is distinctive and somehow makes you forget about the chaos of daily life.
The Dish: Bún Chả —Bún Chả Hương Liên, 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội
It’s hard to dispute the fact that Tokyo’s food scene is the closest thing to a gastronomic Valhalla. With a mind-boggling 234 starred establishments, up 7 from the previous year, the people at the Michelin guide surely agree. Just for reference, the next two most starred cities in the world are Osaka and Paris, each earning 96 and 92, respectively.
For me, the most beautiful thing about Tokyo’s food scene comes down to size. Just because dining spots have a reputation, it doesn’t mean they are big — usually, it’s the opposite, and it’s not uncommon for popular eateries to have as little as eight seats. Many restaurants are family-owned and Tokyo’s culinary stars have a great passion for serving smaller groups of people.
Whatever you’re looking for, Japan’s frantic capital city has something to please even the pickiest of palates.
The Dish: Yuzu-shio Ramen — 恵比寿1–1–7, Tokyo, Tōkyō 150–0013, Japan
If food was an instrument Bangkok would a symphony orchestra.
Food is everywhere here. On street corners or deep within alleys, from mobile metal carts to sixteenth century canals, and inside covered markets in nearly every corner of the city.
Those with experience in the food industry have long hailed Bangkok as a food mecca, and the judges at Michelin have taken notice — telling Thai foodies that the capital city will soon be getting it’s own guide.
The world of Thai food can be an exciting, if occasionally bewildering, place. My tip? Come hungry and remember: Try first, ask questions later.
The home of the panda and the capital of China’s Sichuan province, known around the world for it’s heat and liberal use of fiery chillies.
China loves to eat, a lot. So when a city in a country of 1.3 billion people sits on the epicurean throne, and takes the title of ‘China’s most food-obsessed province’ you know you’re in safe hands.
It’s as simple as this. If you’re fond of Chinese food — Sichuan is the place to be — and after a few meals in Chengdu, you’ll start to understand why pandas are the way they are.
Talk about a hotpot hotspot.
The Dish: Mapo Tofu — 197 W Yulong St, LuoMaShi, Qingyang Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, China, 610000