Reader Recs: World’s Best Street Food
In a nod to the Society’s yearlong focus on food, we asked our National Geographic Travel Facebook fans to share the best lip-smacking street eats they’ve sampled around the globe. Their answers left us hungry for more (and wanting to book a ticket to Southeast Asia).
So grab a snack and join us on a tour of the world’s most crave-able street foods:
Jake L. kicks us off in Nepal for drool-worthy steamed dumplings known as momos. These delicious doughy pockets are typically stuffed with minced meat, and often vegetables or traditional Himalayan cheese known as chhurpi, and served with a dipping sauce. Jake suggests grabbing a plate to share with your travel companions, as this street food is, happily, both tasty and cheap.
Speaking of dumplings, Antony O. recommends heading to Chengdu, China, for the “breakfast baozi.” These “spicy dumplings make a great change from the relatively bland dumplings of the rest of China, and are a great food to wake up to on a cold morning,” he writes.
Trinidad and Tobago makes the list thanks to Safia H., who gushed about the “doubles.” This popular grab-and-go sandwich, or “culinary explosion” as Safia calls it, is composed of two slabs of fried flatbread filled with curried chick peas (channa) and often topped with mango chutney, cucumber, coconut, and a spicy pepper sauce.
Unsurprisingly, Thailand ranked high among our fans for its delicious street food. Aaron F. recommends trekking to northern Thailand for the Chiang Rai’s night bazaar, where you can “build your meal from a variety of stalls selling everything from Thai green curry to crickets.” Julie S. agreed that the night market was a must-visit, citing the fresh fruit smoothies on offer there as a highlight.
Not surprisingly, India got consistent love from our Facebook fans. Rajesh S. suggests a trip to Chandni Chowk in Delhi if you’re looking for the best street food in the country. This popular market offers a wide array of chaats (snacks)—from dahi vada (deep fried fritters soaked in savory yogurt) to flatbreads known as parantha.
It seems that every time we ask about local cuisine, one dish from the Philippines rears its head: balut. Spacey J. raves about the “hard-boiled duck egg embryo,” which derives its name from the Malay word for “wrapped,” and suggests washing down the delicacy with a bottle of beer. Though it might turn some stomachs, Jomar B. shared Spacey J.’s love for balut, calling the street food “tasty and healthy.”
Ana F. had a hard time picking her favorite street food in Porto, Portugal, so she suggested starting off by trying bacalhau (codfish) with some fresh bread and cheese. To round things out, move on to francesinha, a sandwich made with ham, sausage, roasted meat, and a beer sauce. Need we say more?
Have a hankering for pork and noodles? Head to Hanoi, Vietnam, for Erin F.’s favorite street food: bún chả.”We came across a lady in the old quarter grilling the most delicious-smelling pork patties over a charcoal grill,” she writes, which led to her discovery of the grilled delight.
We round out our list with a visit to Malaysia for a taste of nasi lemak, which Agnes O. says “hits all the right notes.” If the “fragrant rice dish” that’s cooked in coconut milk and served with all manner of accoutrements doesn’t hit the spot, Agnes says the Southeast Asian nation will still have you covered. “From sweet to savory, spicy to soothing, [the country has] all sorts of street food to suit your palate.”
What’s the best street food you’ve ever tried and where can we try it? Leave your answer in the comment sections for a chance to appear on Intelligent Travel.