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Asian Food: 40+ culinary masterpieces for the ultimate foodie bucket list

05/01/2024 5.694

Indulging in the flavors of Asian food is like embarking on a journey through a culinary wonderland. Each Asian food is a celebration of the region's history, culture, and traditions, passed down through generations of skilled chefs and home cooks.

Asian food

As you step foot in Asia, you will be surrounded by a whirlwind of flavors and aromas that will tantalize your senses. In this article, we will take a deep dive into Asian food, from the spicy curries of India to the delicate sushi of Japan. Let’s get ready to embark on a culinary adventure during your Asia travel that will leave your taste buds tingling and your stomach full.

1. TOP 11 mouthwatering Southeast Asian foods to treat your taste buds

If you are planning your Southeast Asia travel, make sure to prioritize exploring the incredible Southeast Asian food scene. Get ready to indulge in a symphony of flavors with these 11 top Southeast Asian foods!

1.1. Pad Thai

Made with stir-fried rice noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, and an array of vegetables, Pad Thai is typically seasoned with a combination of fish sauce, tamarind, chili, and palm sugar.

Asian food

1.2. Vietnamese rice noodles with grilled pork (Bun thit nuong)

Vietnamese rice noodles with grilled pork is a beloved dish that perfectly embodies the vibrant and fresh flavors of Vietnamese food. The dish is often garnished with crushed peanuts, chopped herbs, and a drizzle of tangy fish sauce, which adds a deliciously savory and slightly sweet flavor to the dish.

1.3. Banh mi

Banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwich, has taken the culinary world by storm with its delicious blend of flavors and textures.

Traditionally made with a crispy French baguette, banh mi is filled with a variety of savory ingredients such as grilled pork, pate, or tofu, along with pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a spicy chili sauce.

The combination of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors, along with the crunchy bread and tender fillings, creates a taste explosion that is both satisfying and addictive.

Asian food

1.4. Pho

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup that has gained international popularity for its rich and complex flavors.

The dish consists of a flavorful broth made by simmering beef bones with aromatic spices such as star anise, cinnamon, and clove. Thinly sliced beef, rice noodles, and a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables are then added to the broth, creating a symphony of textures and flavors.

One of the secrets to making a truly great bowl of pho is the careful balance of flavors in the broth. Each component of the broth, from the bones to the spices, must be carefully selected and cooked to perfection to achieve the desired taste.

Asian food

Vietnam is a country that is not only famous for its delicious cuisine but also for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty.

From the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the tranquil waters of Ha Long and the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, there is no shortage of amazing destinations to explore in Vietnam. The charming town of Hoi An is famous for its ancient architecture and colorful lanterns, while the coastal city of Da Nang is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia.

Asian food

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Asian food

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1.5. Tom Yum Goong

In Thailand, Tom Yum Goong is a popular dish that can be enjoyed both as a soup and a main course. The soup is made with a variety of ingredients including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chili pepper, and shrimp.

1.6. Asam Laksa

This Malaysian dish is known for its mouth-watering combination of sour and spicy flavors. Asam Laksa is made with a variety of aromatic herbs and spices, along with thick rice noodles and fish-based broth. Topped with an array of fresh vegetables, it is a vibrant and healthy meal that will leave you feeling satisfied and energized.

1.7. Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is a hearty and flavorful soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Its primary ingredients are pork ribs and a variety of herbs and spices. 

The soup is typically brewed for hours, allowing the flavors of the herbs and spices to infuse into the broth and tenderize the meat. It is often served with rice, fried dough fritters, and vegetables.

Asian food

1.8. Adobo

Adobo, a popular Filipino dish, is known for its tangy and savory flavors. It is typically made with a combination of meat (usually chicken or pork), soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and other aromatic spices.

The dish is slowly cooked in a flavorful sauce, allowing the flavors to meld together and the meat to become tender and juicy. Adobo is a versatile Asian food that can be served as a main course with rice or as a topping for noodles or salads.

1.9. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is often referred to as Malaysia's national dish. The name "Nasi Lemak" translates to "coconut rice" in Malay, which is the main component of the dish. The rice is cooked in coconut milk, which gives it a rich and creamy texture and a subtle coconut flavor. 

Nasi Lemak is typically served with a variety of toppings, such as fried chicken, beef rendang, or sambal (a spicy chili sauce).

1.10. Satay

Satay is a must-try Asian food for any food enthusiast traveling to the region. It is made up of succulent pieces of meat that are marinated in a blend of aromatic spices and then grilled to perfection over an open flame.

Satay is often served with a creamy and nutty peanut sauce that perfectly complements the savory taste of the meat. This Asian food is a favorite among locals and tourists alike and is found in many night markets, food courts, and street stalls throughout Southeast Asia.

Asian food

1.11. Lechon

Lechon is a succulent and flavorful roasted pig dish that is a staple of Filipino cuisine and a must-try for any food lover visiting the Philippines. 

The dish is prepared by slow-roasting a whole pig over an open flame, resulting in crispy skin and tender and juicy meat that is packed with flavor. 

This iconic Southeast Asian food can be found in many local restaurants and street food stalls throughout the Philippines, and is a dish that you will not want to miss on your Asian food list.

>>> Read more: Vietnam travel 2023: A list of things you need to know before traveling!

2. Amazing North Asian foods you need to try at least once

2.1. Pelmeni

Pelmeni is a comfort food that is popular in Russia and neighboring countries, and is often enjoyed during cold winter months. 

This traditional Russian dish consists of small, dumpling-like pasta shells filled with a savory mixture of minced meat, onions, and spices. The dumplings are typically boiled in salted water and served hot with a dollop of sour cream or butter.

Asian food

2.2. Dressed Herring

Dressed herring, also known as "herring under a fur coat", is a traditional Russian salad that is typically served during holidays and special occasions. 

The salad is made by layering boiled potatoes, carrots, beets, and pickles with finely chopped herring and onions. Each layer is then covered with a generous coating of mayonnaise, giving the salad a distinct "fur coat" appearance.

2.3. Blini

Blini, the wheat-based pancake of Russia, is a culinary wonder filled with an array of delectable fillings, ranging from sweet jam to savory caviar.

It is often referred to as the Russian version of crepe and has become an essential item on every restaurant's menu. If you are ever unsure of what to order during your Asian food tour, Blini is always a safe and satisfying choice.

2.4. Borscht

Borscht, the beloved soup of Russia, has its origins in Ukraine but quickly made its way into the heart of Russian cuisine.

This hearty soup is loaded with succulent meat and sauteed vegetables such as cabbage, onions, potatoes, and carrots. It is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed either hot or cold.

For the ultimate flavor experience, a dollop of fresh sour cream on top is a must-have. Once you have tasted this soup, you are sure to add it to your list of favorite comfort Asian foods.

>>> Read more: Vietnamese Drinks: TOP 22+ local beverages to quench your thirst!

3. TOP 7 drool-worthy West Asian foods to satisfy your food cravings

3.1. Kofta Kebab 

Kofta kebab is a delicious Middle Eastern dish made from minced meat, onions, herbs, and spices, all formed into meatballs and then grilled on skewers.

The meatballs can be made from beef, lamb, or chicken, and the dish is often served with a variety of sauces, such as tzatziki or hummus, and flatbread or pita bread.

Asian food

3.2. Hummus

Hummus is a tasty and healthy Middle Eastern dip that is made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The chickpeas are cooked until tender, then blended with the other ingredients to create a creamy and flavorful dip.

3.3. Baklava

Baklava is a sweet pastry that has been enjoyed in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Balkans for centuries.

This delectable dessert is made by layering phyllo dough with chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pistachios, and sweet syrup or honey. The layers are then baked until golden and crispy, and the finished product is cut into diamond-shaped pieces.

Asian food

3.4. Manakeesh

Manakeesh is a popular Lebanese flatbread which is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day. 

The dough is made from a mixture of flour, yeast, water, and salt. It is then flattened and topped with a variety of ingredients such as zaatar (a blend of herbs and spices), cheese, or ground meat. 

The bread is then baked in a wood-fired oven, resulting in a crispy and flavorful crust.

3.5. Falafel

For those looking for a delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal or snack, Falafel is a must-try dish when exploring the Middle East or Mediterranean cuisine. 

Made from ground chickpeas and a blend of spices, Falafel is formed into small balls or patties. It is then fried until crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Falafel is often served in warm pita bread with salad, hummus, and tahini sauce.

3.6. Mansaf

Mansaf is a traditional and highly revered dish in Jordanian cuisine that is a must-try for any foodie traveling to the Middle East.

This hearty meal is made up of tender pieces of lamb cooked in a rich and fragrant yogurt sauce, served on top of a bed of fluffy rice, and topped with pine nuts and parsley.

What sets mansaf apart is the use of jameed, a type of fermented and dried yogurt that gives the dish its distinct sour flavor.

Asian food

3.7. Shish Barak

Shish Barak consists of tender dumplings filled with spiced ground beef, lamb, or chicken, which are then simmered in a creamy yogurt sauce infused with garlic, lemon, and mint.

The contrast of the soft dumplings and the tangy yogurt sauce creates a perfect balance of flavors and textures. It is often served with a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil, adding a nutty and earthy taste.

>>> Explore: Vietnamese Fruits: List of TOP 20+ exotic fruits you must try in Vietnam!

4. Famous foods in South Asia loved by both locals & foreigners

4.1. Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa hails from the southern part of India. This popular Asian food consists of crispy rice and lentil crepe that is stuffed with spiced potato fillings. The dish is traditionally served with a variety of chutneys and sambar, a flavorful lentil soup. 

What makes masala dosa unique is its combination of textures and flavors - the crispy crepe, the savory potato fillings, and the tangy chutneys and sambar.

Asian food

4.2. Nihari

Nihari is a popular slow-cooked stew that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is traditionally made with beef shanks or other cuts of meat, which are simmered for hours with a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, and clove, until the meat is tender and falls off the bones.

4.3. Biryani

Biryani, a savory Indian dish, is a must-try for any traveler visiting the country. Aromatic spices like cardamom, cumin, and coriander give it a distinctive and complex flavor. 

Biryani is made with layers of basmati rice and meat (usually chicken, lamb, or beef) that have been slow-cooked with the spices to create a rich, flavorful sauce. Top it off with some yogurt sauce or a squeeze of fresh lemon for the perfect balance of flavors.

Asian food

4.4. Sheek kebab with naan

Sheek kebab with naan is a match made in heaven that every foodie should try at least once in their lifetime. The smoky flavor of the kebab and the fluffy texture of the naan create a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that will leave you wanting more.

4.5. Daal

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, Daal is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed by everyone. Made from lentils or other legumes, Daal is a hearty and nutritious dish that can be enjoyed on its own or as a side with other dishes like rice, bread, or vegetables.

4.6. Kottu

Kottu, also known as Kottu Roti, is a Sri Lankan street food that has been gaining popularity worldwide. Kottu consists of shredded roti bread cooked with a variety of ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and spices, all chopped and mixed together.

Asian food

>>> Explore: Vietnamese fried rice: TOP 7 one-pan recipes for lazy weekday cooking!

5. 5 of the best Central Asian foods to soothe your inner foodie soul

5.1. Naryn

Naryn consists of thin noodles made from wheat or rice, served with a variety of toppings such as shredded meat, vegetables, and herbs. This signature Central Asian food is then typically mixed together with sour cream or yogurt, creating a flavor explosion in your mouth.

5.2. Kuurdak

Kuurdak is a delicious and hearty dish from Central Asia, made with tender chunks of lamb or beef, potatoes, and onions, all cooked together in a large cast-iron skillet over an open flame. 

The name "kuurdak" literally means "fried" or "roasted" in Kyrgyz, and the dish is a staple of the nomadic Kyrgyz and Kazakh cuisines. The slow-cooked meat and vegetables are tender and flavorful, and the smoky, charred bits from the cooking process add a unique and irresistible depth of flavor.

Asian food

5.3. Dograma

Dograma is a traditional dish from Kazakhstan that is sure to satisfy any meat lover's cravings. It is a hearty meal made from lamb or beef that is slowly cooked in its own juices with onions, potatoes, and a variety of spices. The result is a flavorful stew with tender chunks of meat and vegetables.

5.4. Pilaf

Pilaf, also known as "plov" or "pilau", is a traditional Central Asian dish that has become a staple in many countries around the world. It consists of rice cooked with various meats, vegetables, and spices. Each region has its own unique twist on the dish, with some using lamb or beef, while others prefer chicken or even vegetarian options.

Asian food

5.5. Batyrma

Batyrma is made with finely chopped meat and onions, mixed with flour and eggs, and then fried until golden brown. It is often served as a hearty breakfast or as a snack throughout the day, and is perfect for those who love savory and filling dishes.

>>> Explore: Vietnam things to do: 10 MUST-HAVE experiences on a First Visit!

6. Best East Asian foods to enjoy a great explosion of flavors

6.1. Peking Duck

If you are visiting China, trying Peking Duck is an absolute must. The dish is known for its crispy skin, tender meat, and rich flavor. The duck is typically served with thin pancakes, scallions, and a sweet bean sauce, allowing diners to make their own little wraps. 

The preparation of Peking Duck is an art itself, involving a lengthy process of marinating, roasting, and slicing the duck in a particular way to ensure that it is cooked to perfection.

6.2. Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles can be found in many Chinese restaurants around the world. Made with thin wheat noodles and a spicy sauce, the dish is often served with minced pork, pickled vegetables, and peanuts. The sauce is made with chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, and sesame paste, giving it a unique, nutty flavor that is both spicy and savory.

Asian food

6.3. Dumplings

Dumplings are a popular dish found in many different cultures across the world. Whether they are boiled, fried, steamed, or baked, dumplings are a delicious and versatile food that can be enjoyed in many different ways. They can be stuffed with meat, vegetables, cheese, or even sweet fillings like fruits or custard.

6.4. Hot Pot

Hot Pot, also known as Chinese fondue, is a beloved Chinese dish that is perfect for friends and family. It involves cooking various ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, and noodles, in a simmering pot of broth placed in the center of the table.

The broth is infused with various herbs and spices, creating a delicious and aromatic base for the ingredients. Each person then dips their chosen ingredients into the broth, cooking them to their desired level of doneness.

6.5. Sushi & Sashimi

Sushi is a dish made with vinegared rice and can be topped with a variety of ingredients such as fish, seafood, vegetables, or egg. Sashimi, on the other hand, refers to thinly sliced raw fish or meat, often served with a dipping sauce or garnish.

Both dishes are commonly served together in Japanese cuisine, and they offer a unique and delicious culinary experience.

6.6. Ramen

Ramen is more than just a bowl of noodles. It is an art form that requires time, patience, and skill to perfect. Each region of Japan has its own unique take on ramen, with different broths, toppings, and noodle types. Some ramen shops have even become world-renowned for their specialty bowls.

Beyond the flavors and textures, there is a sense of comfort and warmth that comes from a bowl of steaming hot ramen. Whether you are slurping it up on a chilly winter day or sweating over a spicy bowl in the summer, ramen has a way of satisfying both your taste buds and your soul.

Asian food

6.7. Japanese Curry

Japanese Curry, or kare raisu, is a favorite Asian dish that has become a staple comfort food for many. This dish features a thick and hearty sauce made with a blend of curry powder, onions, carrots, and potatoes, served over a bed of steaming white rice. The addition of pickled vegetables, such as fukujinzuke, adds a unique and refreshing crunch to the dish.

6.8. Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish that translates to "mixed rice". It consists of a bowl of warm white rice topped with various vegetables, seasoned meat, and often a fried egg on top. The ingredients are usually arranged colorfully and appealingly, and diners are encouraged to mix everything together before eating.

Asian food

6.9. Jajangmyeon

As another signature Korean dish, Jajangmyeon consists of thick wheat noodles topped with a savory black bean sauce, diced pork, and various vegetables such as zucchini, onions, and potatoes. The sauce is made by stir-frying chunjang (a type of fermented bean paste) with diced pork and vegetables, resulting in a rich, slightly sweet and salty flavor.

6.10. Naengmyeon

The very last Asian food in our suggested list is Naengmyeon, a refreshing and unique Korean dish perfect for hot summer days. It is a cold noodle soup made with thin, chewy noodles that are made from buckwheat and potato starch. The noodles are served in an icy broth that is made with beef, pear, and other ingredients to give it a sweet and tangy flavor.

Asian food is a vast and diverse world of flavors, textures, and aromas that is simply too tantalizing to ignore. From the aromatic, herbaceous broth of Vietnamese pho to the refreshing crunch of Korean naengmyeon, every food in Asia is a testament to the region's culinary creativity, ingenuity, and diversity. Whether you are a curious foodie or a seasoned traveler, make sure to include these Asian delicacies in your culinary bucket list. Who knows? You might discover your new favorite dish and your taste buds might just thank you for the adventure.

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