Six dishes best eaten in their country of origin: Foods I won't eat until I can travel overseas again

I'm having food dreams in lockdown. I can order in just about any dish I want right here in Australia, but their full flavours in both experience and taste just aren't the same.

Here are six simple but utterly delicious foods I'm swearing off until I can have the authentic, local versions once more.


I've seldom had as good a croissant in Australia as I've had from almost any local bakery in France: light, flaky, wickedly buttery and probably just baked an hour previously – and all for half the price. France is the lodestar. I don't even bother with croissants across the Swiss border, which are smaller and begrudging with the butter.

WHAT ELSE? It's the whole joy of walking into a French boulangerie with its warm welcome, heady smell of crusty bread and glistening apple and pear tarts. If you emerge with nothing but a croissant, you're a master of self-control.

WHERE? I'll be making a beeline for Laurent Duchêne in Paris and its rustic, barely crescent-shaped croissants with crispy outsides and interiors like clouds.


Steamed pork dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Causeway Bay. 21APR17  SCMP / Xiaomei Chen     [05MAY2017 FEATURES FOOD Xiaolongbao] (Photo by Chen Xiaomei/South China Morning Post via Getty Images) Getty image for Traveller. Single use only.

Photo: Getty Images

Certainly, I can get great dumplings in Sydney, but I'm hankering after Hong Kong's density of dumpling shops, and the variety of their dumplings thanks to influences from Guangdong, Shanghai and Taiwan. Fried pot-stickers, soup-filled xiaolongbao and translucent prawn dumplings are just the beginning.

WHAT ELSE? For me, the joy of the modest dumpling eatery is all about waiting with a numbered ticket in an anticipatory queue, then cramming at a rickety table in a small, chatter-lively space – and nowhere is quite as raucous and convivial as Hong Kong.

WHERE? I'll be riding the tram to Hong Kong's North Point, because Mak Kee Yummy Food delivers on its name. It specialises in Shanghai-style dumplings, but I always squeeze in a scallion pancake too.



A Neapolitan 'pizzaiuoli' (pizza makers) prepares a pizza, in Naples, Italy, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. UNESCO on Thursday added the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker to its list of

Pizza being made in Naples. Photo: AP

Can I really lay off pizza until I get back to Italy? Maybe not, but pizzas baked in a genuine Hansel-and-Gretel-style pizza oven are relatively rare here. I'm thinking of thin, crispy pizzas with a blistered and slightly blackened rim and parsimonious toppings. How do the Italians managed to make the bases both chewy and slightly crunchy?

WHAT ELSE? Wildly gesticulating waiters, an old woman in black loitering behind the counter and fellow customers who look like extras in a Fellini movie are always an added bonus.

WHERE? Naples calls me, and any pizzeria will do; the best pizza I ever had was a five-euro neighbourhood masterpiece. Sorbillo in the old town has clocked up almost a century of sensational pizzas.


vietnamese pho with spicy sriracha sauce shot top down SatMay27covernew Credit: iStock BREAKOUT

Photo: iStock

Soup noodles in general make for great comfort food but can sometimes be heavy. Enter the lighter Vietnamese version, enlivened with fresh herbs and scallions and punches of chilli and lime juice: the perfect stomach-filler without overload.

WHAT ELSE? Pho just isn't pho unless you've enjoyed it with a good side of scooter fumes while squatting on a small plastic stool by the roadside in Ho Chi Minh City, where pho has bolder flavours than its northern Vietnamese counterpart.

WHERE? Regular or large is the only choice of pho I expect at Pho Hoa (206 Pasteur Street). But when it's this good, what else do I need? It's gloriously old-fashioned, though the side of fried breadsticks is unorthodox.


SatJun17sixbest - Six of the Best Vienna Restaurants - Brian Johnston Schnitzel from Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper. ? Plachuttas

A veal schnitzel from Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper in Vienna. Photo: Supplied

I love a pub schnitty as well as anyone but, often made with chicken, topped with cheese and accompanied by chips, it bears scant resemblance to the Austrian version. I'm waiting for a thin, succulent veal schnitzel with a crunchy coating and its perfect side of either potato or cucumber salad.

WHAT ELSE? As a bonus, you don't have to collect your schnitzel from the pub counter in Austria; it will likely be served up by a natty waiter in a long apron in a restaurant that gives due respect to its food traditions.

WHERE? Plachutta Gasthaus zur Oper has one of Vienna's top schnitzels, and I'll be accompanying it with a celebratory beer made specially for the restaurant by the city's Ottakringer brewery.


Female street vendor hands show fresh roasted meat and vegetables taco outdoors. Mexican cuisine snacks, fast food of commercial kitchen. sunnov24cover
LOCAL FLAVOURS (Ben Groundwater)
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Photo: iStock

A worldwide craze has made tacos available everywhere, pimped up with the latest contemporary flavours. But I'm holding out for humble, traditional tacos from a Mexico City handcart. They're a budget treat with juice-oozing meat, sprinkles of onions and pops of chilli, plus perhaps lime juice, salsa verde or unexpected chopped pineapple.

WHAT ELSE? It isn't just the taste. Tacos should be accompanied by Mexican chatter, the honk of old VW Beetles and the dizzying aromas of meat wafting from the oven. Plus, ideally, the manic cacophony of a passing mariachi band.

WHERE? El Villamelón by the bullring has been running for 60 years. The tacos are just two Aussie dollars each; I dream of the one with pork rind, which is naughty but especially nice.

See also: The world's 10 greatest bite-sized meals

See also: The 10 strangest foods I've ever eaten (and three I'll never eat)