In the world of street foods, Asia has a variety of things to offer. Asians have a reputation to experiment with spices more. The Asian street food on that part of the map often look rushed but you can be sure that the flavors will blow you away.
So if you’re a street food lover, you should definitely plan a trip to Asia. You can avoid the famous monuments and museums but check out the food all you can.
To make things interesting, we have picked 10 different Asian street food from 10 different countries. These will give you an overall idea about the continent and the food habits people have there. Since the countries are different, their cultures are different and the dishes are distinct in every way imaginable.
Talk about the flavors, the ingredients, the serving, the cooking- you can find the touch of culture in every single dish. You don’t have to taste everything on the menu available with the vendors, but be sure to try these 10 Asian street food items at least once in your life.
1. Jiaozi (China)
Have you seen any of the Kung Fu Panda movies? It represents the Chinese culture in a fun way. The cute but fierce panda named Po there is pretty fond of Chinese dumplings. Jiaozi is a kind of Chinese dumpling that you can find on the streets of East Asia, mostly China. It looks pretty plain and simple from the outside but, once you put one in your mouth, you’ll know that it’s nothing less than extraordinary.
The filling inside can be made from ground meat or vegetables. So whether you prefer veg or non-veg dishes, you can certainly try Jiaozi. The dough outside can be cooked by steaming, boiling or frying- whichever you prefer. The traditional serving of Jiaozi can be seen with a dip made from sesame oil and black vinegar. Many people prefer it with soup as well. You’re welcome to try both.
2. Vada Pav (India)
Vada Pav is originated in the Maharashtra state of India but its popularity can be seen all over the country. It’s the go-to snack for every Mumbaian. You can find every other street vendor selling Vada Pav on the side of the road when you visit Mumbai.
The dish is vegetarian, referred to as the “Indian burger” or “Bombay burger” by many. You can find a deep-fried spicy potato dumpling placed inside a bun. The bun is often sliced halfway through the middle and served with some chutney.
It’s one of the most popular street foods in the country but that doesn’t mean its availability is bound to the streets only. You can find it in restaurants, dhabas, and food stalls in whichever state you go.
3. Fried Bee Hoon (Malaysia)
The main ingredients of this dish are rice vermicelli, also known as rice noodles and some meat and vegetables. It’s served with a few different sauces to bring out the flavors. Fried Bee Hoon can be found on almost any road in Malaysia. You can see vendors chopping away onions and preparing the dish as the customer wants.
It’s not just delicious to eat but also quite healthy as well. Breakfast, lunch or dinner- it can be served for anything. You can pick the sauce to your liking but you have to make up your mind while the dish is being cooked. You can also add some chili and garlic sauce for bringing some “Asian touch” to the dish.
4. Kluay Tod (Thailand)
After some good spicy meals, you deserve a sweet treat. Let’s take you all the way to Thailand where you can try Kluay Tod. It’s basically a dessert made from fried bananas. Sliced up ripe bananas are dipped in flour and then deep-fried. They are sweet in taste and the crunch is with every bite is just phenomenal.
The vendors sometimes use shredded coconut to give the dish some extra flavor. You can try it with any sweet dip or sauce like chocolate or caramel. Kluay Tod is simple but extraordinary. It can be made from any bananas.
5. Kimbap (South Korea)
Don’t confuse it with Japanese sushi, they might look similar but they are different in taste. In sushi, the rice is seasoned with vinegar and there is one other ingredient in the filling. But with Kimbap, the rice used inside can vary drastically, it’s seasoned with sesame oil.
You can also find more than one ingredient inside the roll which makes the flavor pop out more. Sushi is made by using raw fish but the fish and other ingredients found in Kimbap are cooked pretty well. When you take a trip to South Korea, why not take a bite of this “Korean Sushi Roll”?
6. Hainanese Chicken Rice (Singapore)
The specialty of this dish can be seen in the name itself. The dish was mainly adapted from a Hainanese dish called the Wenchang chicken. It’s made with poached chicken, seasoned rice and chili sauce. You can try it with other sauces as well. Vendors often use a cucumber garnish with the rice.
The freely roaming chickens from Wenchang town are fed coconut and peanut bran. This type of chicken is popular among the locals since the meat is very tender. The dish is bound to be dripping with flavor when you mix all the ingredients with this specific chicken.
It is one of the national dishes of Singapore. You can find it in almost all parts of Southeast Asia. Many countries prepare and serve their own version of this dish but you should definitely try it in Singapore first.
7. Stinky Tofu (Hong Kong)
As you can guess from the name, the dish is smelly. In fact, many tourists prefer to stay away from the stalls where this dish is made specifically for the smell it gives out. But once you can get past it, the distinct taste is worth it all. Stinky Tofu can be found in many parts of China but we advise you to try the Hong Kong one for the authentic smell and flavor.
It’s made from fermented tofu, hence the smell. The main brine needed for this tofu is made from fermented milk, meat, and vegetables. Vendors also use shrimp, bamboo shoots or mustard greens. Not just the street vendors, many restaurants successfully serve this as a side dish. The process of making this is quite specific.
The process is what adds to the smell and it makes the dish unique. So if you’re really into exploring the street foods in Asia, definitely give this one a try.
8. Yakisoba (Japan)
Yakisoba, you can call it the “Japanese noodles”. This dish has been around Japan since the early 20th century so you can guess how far back it goes. The noodles are made from wheat flour and are prepared for serving with the yakisoba sauce.
The vendors add their own touch to the sauce but the main ingredients remain the same. It’s an icon for Japanese street food and can be seen in almost any festivals and events.
Yakisoba is a complete and healthy dish since a lot of fresh vegetables and chicken breasts are used in preparing it.
9. Achcharu (Sri Lanka)
This can be prepared with both vegetables and fruit but many people prefer the latter one. It might look like a mixed salad when you notice the vendors serving it but the taste is quite distinct.
For Achcharu, fruits like mango, pineapple, kiwi, olive, veralu, etc. are used which makes it look quite colorful. Which fruits and vegetables the vendors use depends on the season since their availability plays a key role.
The pickling is what makes the dish so unique. It’s made from vinegar, white sugar and a lot of different spices. You cannot imagine the heavenly combination unless you try it.
10. Nasi Goreng (Indonesia)
Nasi Goreng, can be referred to as the Indonesian fried rice. It’s made from rice, meat and vegetables. The rice is properly cooked and seasoned with sauce, ground shrimp paste, tamarind, chili and other spices. Usually, it’s made with chicken, prawn, and a fried egg on top. There is another very popular method where Ikan Asin is used in the rice, which is a salted dried fish. You can try either one.
Many forms of Nasi Goreng can be found in other parts of Asia but the Indonesian one is the best in its aroma, earthy flavors and the overall taste. Many even refer to this as the national dish of Indonesia since it can be found almost everywhere, from street vendors to restaurants.
As you can see after going through the list, we picked food items that are completely from each other. Whenever you plan your trip to Asia, make sure to circle these places on the map to visit. Your palate will get the experience of a lifetime with this tour of Asian flavors.