Hello everyone. I’ve been in a discussion with some of my readers about the food I had in Tunisia and I said I found it quite disappointing to be honest. It mostly reflected the fact that Tunisia is still pretty much a poor country and a lot of the cuisine is designed for people to fill their bellies up, rather than tease one’s taste buds with flavours. I found the same thing in Indonesia – the food there was terrible, despite the proximity to Singapore and Malaysia where food is awesome. I swear I never one to see another bakso in my life ever again – that thing contains so little meat it should be called “dodgy grey rubber ball” rather than bakso.
|Dining in Tunisia|
However, not all rich countries have cuisines that are particularly good either – a good example is Germany: one of the richest countries in Europe. German cuisine isn’t popular outside Germany – heck, rich Germans consume a lot of non-German food too. Britain is another good example – British people tend to consume a lot more Italian, Indian and Chinese food than British food. So what countries do have the right combination of a delicious cuisine and a willingness to spend time and money making food delicious? Here is my list.
Malaysian cuisine draws upon a range of regional influences: Thai, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and the result is a kind of Asian fusion cuisine that reflects the multi-cultural nature of Malaysian society. I just love walking into any outdoor hawker centre in Malaysia – which are similar to those in Singapore, just a little more down to earth without the smell of bleach and allowing the smells to guide me. Jonker Street in Melaka and Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur just blew my mind with the endless variety available.
A curry laksa – I love laksa!
My favourite Malaysian dishes: Satay, curry laksa, nasi lemak, Penang hae mee (prawn noodles), bak kut teh (pork rib soup), Penang char kway teow, rojak, kangkung belachan, ais kachang, cendol, Ramly burger
The French just don’t do bad food – they will not tolerate it. Bad food is what foreigners eat and standards are extremely high in France, even in the most basic of cafes. Like the Portuguese, they also draw influences from their former colonies like Vietnam, Morocco, Mauritius and Cote d’Ivoire.
France is famous for excellent wines, cheese, bread and pastries/cakes. Whether you’re having a basic set meal ‘menu du jour’ (which consists of a starter, main course and desert for a fixed price) or pushing the boat out to have a Michelin star experience, you can taste the pride the French take in their cooking.
Escargots au beurre d’ail – snails in garlic butter
My favourite French dishes: Escargots au beurre d’ail (snails in garlic butter), Bouillabaisse (French fish soup), boudin noir (French black pudding), andouillette (French tripe sausage), confit de canard (duck cured in salt then roasted), mille-feuille (a cake with alternating layers of puff pastry and vanilla cream), crème brûlée and virtually all kinds of French cheeses, along with any kind of freshly baked French bread. I am being greedy. This list can go on forever.
8. Hong Kong
I love Chinese food but there is so much variety available in a country as big as China, I have decided just to focus on Hong Kong since Hong Kong-style Cantonese cuisine is extremely popular around the world and this is the kind of Chinese food that most people in the West have become acquainted with. HKers love good food and the best Hong Kong dining experience must be going for a traditional dim sum lunch, where waiters wheel their dishes around the restaurant from table to table and you simply pick out what you like from their dim sum carts. There is also a great street food culture in HK so you can keep on snacking between meals.
Chinese chicken feet – a dim sum favourite
My favourite HK dishes: Cheong Fun (the authentic HK version is so much finer and better than what you get in Singapore and Malaysia), wonton noodles, all dim sum varieties, roast duck, pork century egg congee, bubble tea, ginger milk curd
Thai food is popular all over the world for a good reason: the signature Thai flavours are pungent and strong, they use a variety of spices like lime, lemon grass, lime leaves, tamarind, galangal, basil and tumeric to create these flavours. Such strong flavours may not appeal to everyone but they certainly do to me. Furthermore, Thai food not only appeals to the taste buds but also to the eyes as the Thais take great pride when it comes to aesthetic presentation in the kitchen.
I love Thai salads with papaya and mango!
My favourite Thai dishes: Tomyam soup, Khao phat kaphrao mu (fried rice with basil and pork), pad thai, all forms of Thai curries, Tom kha kai (a milder, creamier version of Tomyam soup with coconut milk), Phla mu (grilled pork salad), any kind of Thai salad with papaya and mango
Italian cuisine is better known for a few signature dishes like pizza and pasta – but there is so much more to Italian cuisine than that and more to the point, when you go to Italy, an authentic Italian pizza or pasta dish will taste so much better than the version you get in Asia or America. Italian bread like ciabatta and focaccia are stunning – I enjoy them with just a bit of olive oil drizzled on to. Simple things like balsamic vinegar give Italian dishes that distinctive zing and when it comes to quality cheeses, only the French can rival the Italians.
A wonderfully thin pizza
My favourite Italian dishes: Crispy thin pizzas, pasta with pesto, cacciucco (Tuscan fish stew), tiramisu, Italian gelato, panna cotta, panettone, a fresh focaccia stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, capuucino,
Iranian food isn’t that well known around the world, but I used to live near Olympia in London which is otherwise known as ‘Little Tehran’ and got to know Iranian cuisine quite well then. Iran sits in the crossroads, midway between Europe and Asia. Iranian cuisine draws on a blend of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and South Asian influences, If you can find an Iranian restaurant near you, this is definitely one cuisine well worth trying!
Iranian lavash bread with Persian salad
My favourite Iranian dishes: lavash bread (a delicate, thin and crispy flat bread, usually freshly made on the premises), Persian salad (similar to a Greek salad but with mint and tarragon), Jujeh kebab (grilled chicken kebab), Koobideh kebab (similar to a Turkish Kofte kebab – marinated minced lamb kebab) and Bastani (rose flavoured Persian ice cream).
Dining in an authentic Korean restaurant is a lovely experience – I just love all the banchan (side dishes) that they bring to your table. I am studying Korean and love K-pop, so I love all things Korean. When you are in Korea, even ordinary street food is of a stunningly high quality – it isn’t just haute cuisine in fine restaurants that are a delight.
|The endless banchan side dishes of Korean cuisine.|
My favourite Korean dishes: Samgyeopsal (Korean table BBQ), bulgogi, LA rib galbi, bibimbap, gimbap, all manners of kimchi, pajeon (Korean pancake), jajungmyeon (black bean noodle), tteok (Korean mochi) hweh (Korean sashimi), Sikhye (a sweet rice drink)
I totally fell in love with Vietnamese food when I was living in France as a student. As a student, I was looking to save money by finding the cheapest options for lunch and there were plenty of Vietnamese restaurants near my university and where I lived. Having since visited Vietnam, I am pleased to report that the Vietnamese food in France is very authentic.
Enjoying Vietnamese food!
My favourite Vietnamese dishes: Nem ran (fried Vietnamese spring rolls), Gỏi cuốn (Vietnamese summer rolls), Beef Pho (well I like all forms of Pho), Bánh cuốn (a finer, Northern Vietnamese version of Cheong Fun), Bánh xèo (seafood pancake), Vietnamese salads with a fish sauce dressing.
Oh Turkish food is some incredible – I have had the good fortune of both visiting Turkey as a tourist and then returning to work there. There are many different kinds of Mediterranean cuisine but Turkish is undoubtedly the best from the region. Turkish food has become very popular in Europe, Australia and America thanks to the Turkish diaspora. As Turkish is strategically located where Europe meets Asia, the cuisine draws on both Middle Eastern and European influences and the result is one of the best cuisines in the world.
My favourite Turkish dishes: Imam Biyaldi (grilled aubergine), Borek (Turkish cheese pastry), Lahmacun (Turkish pizza), gözleme (similar to a Murtabak), Çiğ köfte (raw meat patties), kofte kebab, yaprak sarma (stuffed vine leaves), Kokoreç (grilled sheep intestines), any kind of Turkish bread, Dondurma (Turkish ice cream)
No other nation in the world takes such pride in their food. The Japanese turn everyday meals into fine art – this is evident from the amazing bento lunchboxes that are prepared for young Japanese students. Whether you are having dinner in a fine restaurant or simply snacking on street food, it is hard to have bad food in Japan! Why is Japanese food so stunning?
Sashimi – why bother with the rice?
You must have heard many explanations in praise and celebration of Japanese culture. Here’s an alternative explanation according to my Japanese friend Kenji. “In Japan, we work so very hard – the students spend every free minute studying and your typical salaryman is in the office from morning till night. It is a very stressful society. Some of us enjoy studying or working that hard, others don’t and for them, meal times signify an important break – you’re not just eating because you’re hungry, but the meal is your rest time and you want to enjoy it, make the most of it before getting back to work. That is why we have the desire to make the most of our mealtimes – much time, money and effort is put into the preparations of these meals because they mean so much to us. Over time, this has turned into a ritual and our expectations and standards are raised when it comes to our meals.”
My favourite Japanese dishes: all forms of sushi & sashimi, all forms of tempura, agedeshi tofu, unagi, gyoza, okonomiyaki, chicken yakitori (especially chicken skin and chicken hearts), takoyaki, cold soba, tonkatsu, rice burgers, Japanese curry, ramen, green tea mochi ice cream, Calpis soda, Matcha latte
So there you go, that’s it from me on this topic. Where is your favourite destination for good food? What are your best dining experiences whilst on holiday? So share your tips with us, thank you for reading!