Top 10 food cities in Asia beyond Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong

Eating your way through South Korea

Ben Groundwater samples a wide and wild variety of Korean food on a foodies tour of South Korea with Intrepid Travel. Video: Ben McNamara/Intrepid Travel

We all know Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong are great food cities, but here are 10 other Asian destinations to satisfy the tastebuds.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN

Taipei, Taiwan - July 12th 2016 - Locals and tourists enjoying the street market of Taipei downtown in Taiwan, Asia
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

It's hard to beat Taiwan for street food, especially in night markets such as Jao Ho Street or Shilin Market, which offer endless choices of bargain-priced braised-beef noodles, grilled fish, dumplings, seafood and omelettes amid an agreeably raucous atmosphere. But Taipei also has great small eateries, teahouses and food courts, plus an exploding fine-dining scene that combines the best of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and European influences. See travel.taipei

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - AUGUST 11, 2015: Customers eat lunch in the Russian market in Phnom Penh.
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Customers eat lunch in the Russian market in Phnom Penh. Photo: Shutterstock

You can't stop a Cambodian snacking and, at any time of the day or night, roaming food sellers, street stalls or market stalls are there to supply great Khmer eats such as fried noodles of every variation, tropical fruit, and rice dumplings with caramelised sugar and coconut. Even breakfast-time is busy for baguette sandwiches (num pang) and the national dish of fried rice noodles topped with fish curry. See tourismcambodia.org

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

Chiang Mai Curried noodle soup with Pork spare ribs (Thai name is Khao Soi or Khao Sawy) Northern Thai food menu.
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Chiang Mai curried noodle soup with pork spare ribs (Khao Soi or Khao Sawy). Photo: Shutterstock

Bangkok hogs the limelight, but Chiang Mai provides the chance to try northern dishes such spicy sausage, Burmese curry, fish curry, sticky rice in banana leaf and lovely salads of green mango and soft-shell crab. There's less emphasis on chilli, making northern dishes kinder on the tongue. Markets supply all the fruit you could ever name (and a few you can't) and there are good restaurants galore. See tourismchiangmai.org

HO CHI MINH CITY

street food Vietnam Banh mi
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Banh mi: Street food in Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock

The city's street stalls, especially around Ben Thanh Market, are famous: just point and tuck in. Dishes to try include chicken and mushroom soup, pancakes, and seasoned beef with peanut sauce wrapped in leaves, all washed down with freshly sugarcane juice or cold beer. Baguettes stuffed with salted pork or pickled vegetables and national obsession pho (soup noodles) are other local favourites. See vietnamtourism.com

MELAKA, MALAYSIA

Nasi kerabu is a Malay rice dish, a type of nasi ulam, in which blue-coloured rice is eaten with dried fish, fried chicken, crackers, salted egg, pickles and other salads. SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

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For a small city, Melaka packs a big flavour punch combining Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Dutch influences. Expect pork stews, fish soups, coconut-based curries, stir-fried noodles, and soup noodles such as laksa. Meanwhile you can tuck into pan-Malaysian dishes too, such as rojak (spicy seafood and fruit salad), curries with rice, and rojak pasembur (potato, cucumber, tofu and prawns smothered in peanut sauce). See malaysia.travel

MUMBAI, INDIA

MUMBAI,INDIA-APRIL 04:Indian street vendor make fast food at Juhu beach in Mumbai,India on April 04,2015.
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Dining in Mumbai offers all the varied pan-Indian cuisines of its urban immigrants. Local coastal Konkani cuisine emphasises seafood such as seafood curries, clams, crab, and fish in coconut sauce or spicy marinades. Evening food stalls along Chowpatti Beach tempt with snacks such as bhel puri (spicy puffed rice with condiments), fried vegetables in banana leaf and ice-creams flavoured with mango, mulberry or custard apple. See incredibleindia.org

KYOTO, JAPAN

The vendors is preparing the chestnuts for sell at Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan on 22 November 2016
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

The vendors is preparing the chestnuts for sell at Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Shutterstock

Whether you're experiencing an elaborate kaiseki meal – the gorgeously plated Japanese equivalent of haute cuisine – or plundering the fabulous food halls found in department store basements, dining in Kyoto is a treat for the tastebuds and eyes. A highlight is centuries-old Nishikikoji-dori alley, where tiny specialty restaurants and food stalls sell grilled fish and octopus, bean-paste buns, glutinous rice sweets, fresh wasabi and more. See kyoto.travel

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

Few things beat a Korean barbecue, in which you grill meat at your restaurant table. Try galbi (beef or pork ribs) and bulgogi (marinated beef), accompanied by an amazing variety of pickled kimchi dishes. You'll find whole alleys of cupboard-size restaurants where locals sit cross-legged on the floor, wolfing down sizzling meats. Try the traditional restaurants of Insadong Street or trendy dining joints of Itaewon. See visitseoul.net

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Local, Spanish, Chinese and American influences are felt on eclectic Filipino cuisine and there's more choice in Manila than anywhere else. Locals love snacking at street stalls or in food halls, especially on the heat-beating, ice-filled dessert halo-halo, which contains ice-cream, condensed milk, beans and jellied fruit. Pork spare ribs, barbecue chicken, spicy crab and arroz caldo (rice porridge with ginger and chicken) are other must-tries. See tourismphilippines.com.au

CHENGDU, CHINA

Chengdu, China - September 21, 2014: tea ceremony in Du Fu thatched Cottage in Chengdu Sichuan China
 SunSep2Trav10 - TRAVELLER 10 Asian food cities - Brian Johnston
Credit: Shutterstock

Tea ceremony in Du Fu thatched Cottage in Chengdu Sichuan, China. Photo: Shutterstock

Few cities are as food-obsessed as the capital of Sichuan Province, famous for its spicy food flavoured with abundant chilli and mouth-numbing pepper, and one of the four great cuisines of China. Every street intersection has a restaurant (and often four) tempting with double-cooked pork, noodles and fiery hotpots. Teahouses are a regional institution where you can while away hours over fragrant green tea and nibbles. See gochengdu.cn

Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of tourism offices and at his own expense.

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