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Where to Find the World’s Best Street Food

by Travelbag on 06 January 2020, 11:01AM

Street food

There’s no denying there’s been a food revolution in the past decade. Reworked versions of street hawker classics, once only found in far-flung destinations and unfamiliar cities, are now served in some of the best restaurants around the world. Columbian arepas, Vietnamese banh mi, Mexican tacos, South African bunny chow, Korean fried chicken, Taiwanese bao… there’s a seemingly endless list of authentic, iconic dishes, many of which can be found on the high street nearest you. So, technically, we don’t have to travel very far to try these regional delicacies anymore. But where’s the fun in that?

For the gourmet traveller, there’s nothing quite like the experience of enjoying an authentic dish in its original habitat. And with street food, as opposed to a regular restaurant, eating in situ can be an altogether different experience. Taking in the sights and sounds while chatting to locals, you realise the simple ways in which the food may be cooked or served – be it on a stick, in a cone or from a banana leaf – doesn’t always reflect the complex process of preparing it, which can involve intricate, ancient spice blends and skills passed down through generations. Street food has rightly become an integral part of the curious traveller’s appetite. Here, Ali Dunworth selects six destinations well worth eating your way around. Bon appétit.

 

Thailand

Thailand is often the first place that springs to mind when you think of authentic street food – and with good reason. From their famous pad thai and chicken satay to the challenging mang pawng (scorpions on a stick), there’s a wealth of kerb, beach and riverside dining to be done here. The seething metropolis of Bangkok can seem overwhelming, so seeking out a food tour is a good way to start. Best Eats Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk combines the experience of seeing the streets go by in one of these tiny taxis, and getting to taste some famous dishes along the way. Fans of the Netflix series Street Food should make the pilgrimage to Bangkok’s first stall to be awarded a Michelin star – Jay Fai – for its famous crab omelette. In Phuket, the khao tom haeng (dry rice porridge) from Go Benz is a must. Fruit vendors line the beaches selling mouthwatering freshly chopped exotic fruits with a little bag of a sugar, salt and chilli mix to dip it in.

Street food Thailand

 

USA

Eating on the hoof is an intrinsic part of the culture in America. Not only is it the home of fast food, it also champions the food cart as a cultural icon. So much of US cuisine is familiar from movies and TV shows and, in New York in particular, hot dogs are a staple. Look out for Feltman’s on Coney Island, the name credited with first serving the long split roll with a frankfurter. In the south, traditional American barbecue reigns supreme, with plenty of regional accents. In Texas, Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ – a permanent trailer set-up on Austin’s southern fringe – ticks a lot of boxes, serving beautiful beef brisket and fresh tacos. While in Memphis – and in fact much of the Deep South – pulled pork and ribs are the big draw. No west coast trip would be complete without a taco or three from the many street-side trucks scattered on roads all over California. In LA, food markets are booming and the downtown landmark of Grand Central Market is a must, as is the weekly open-air market, Smorgasburg.

Texas barbecue

 

Peru

Peruvian food, and particularly the fusion style which evolved in Lima, has captured the attention of food lovers worldwide. This South American gem has become one of the hottest culinary destinations of the last few years. The capital city’s street food plays a big part in this. Rotating hawkers line the streets from morning to evening, changing as the day does. For breakfast, you’ll find stalls serving Emoliente – a kind of local herbal tea believed to have healing and medicinal properties. Throughout the day there will be ceviche al paso, huevos de codorniz (quail eggs), choclo con queso (corn with cheese), and papa rellena is Peru’s equivalent to a twice-baked potato. Anticuchos are a favourite night time snack of sliced meat – traditionally marinated beef heart – served grilled on a stick with potatoes and choclo (giant corn).

Ceviche

 

Australia

So vast it defies definition, Australia is a gastronomic gem thanks to a combination of wonderful fresh ingredients and the mishmash of cuisines that comes with having a predominantly immigrant population. Food markets are one of the best ways to take it all in. In Melbourne, seek out Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market; in Adelaide, Central Market; and in Sydney the Fish Market is an essential stop. In fact fish – particularly, prawns – is a must when you’re Down Under. In Cairns, you’ll find Prawn Star – a little fishing boat moored in the marina that sells the freshest seafood. Australians love to eat on the go and their unofficial national snack, dim sims – or dimmies as they’re affectionately known – are served steamed or deep-fried at gas stations, takeouts and fish and chip shops all over. Meat pies are another favourite, designed to be wolfed down at sports events with a blob of ketchup on top. One of their most famous inventions (although it’s said to have been perfected in New Zealand) is the flat white, and Patricia – a corner coffee bar in Melbourne – is perhaps the epitome of Australian coffee culture.

Meat pies

 

India and Sri Lanka

There are vast regional varieties of street food in India and neighbouring Sri Lanka, all with a wonderful focus on spices. The smells, sights and sounds there are unrivalled. In the north, Kashmir is famous for meat, chickpeas and tujj (barbecue kebabs); Delhi is the home of the tandoor; Chenni’s known for vegetarian food and lots of tamarind; and in Mumbai make sure to join the line behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for the much loved Bademiya food stall, where they serve fresh seekh kebabs, cooked right in front of you. All over India you should look out for pani puri – a traditional snack of deep-fried hollow crisp crepes filled with tamarind chutney, chilli, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas. Sri Lankan street food has been making a name for itself over the last few years thanks to the popularity of hoppers – rice and coconut pancakes served with all manner of fillings.

Pani puri

 

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