50 of the best street foods in Asia – CNN
(CNN) — Bubbling cauldrons of noodle soup, flaky flatbreads, kaleidoscopic desserts — when it comes to road food, Asia delivers big on variety and flavor.
This vast region sprawls across equatorial tropics and mountain ranges, volcanic islands and frenetic megacities, so it’s no surprise that diversity abounds.
Yet there are many similarities, too. With centuries of migration plus trade, many recipes have traversed borders only to become a local specialty thousands of miles from their places of origin.
To celebrate the region’s bottomless culinary talent and passion for food, we’ve rounded up 50 must-try, much-loved streets foods in addition to beverages in Asia inside alphabetical order.
Of course , this list is far from exhaustive — it’s just a small sampling of the region’s wonderful food traditions and where to find them.
Let’s dig within.
Achcharu, Sri Lanka
Pickles get a Sri Lankan twist with achcharu — sweet, sour together with spicy pickled fruits and vegetables that make a perfect street-food snack.
Seasoned with local spices, chili, turmeric, sugar and additionally salt, the offerings will differ depending on the region not to mention seasons — it might be Ceylon olives (veralu), wood apple, pineapple, ambarella, mango, jackfruit or eggplant.
Asam laksa, Malaysia
Sometimes, a big, delicious bowl of soup just hits the spot. Sate cravings with a local specialty: asam laksa.
Thought to have originated on the coast, the particular fish-based soup has a sour, tamarind flavor that’s surprisingly refreshing even on hot, humid mornings.
A typical bowl arrives brimming with rice noodles, vegetables, shredded fish and coriander and with a side regarding Malaysian shrimp paste.
Banh mi, Vietnam
The French may have introduced baguettes to Vietnam, but the country’s famed banh mi is an uniquely Vietnamese creation.
Like many foods on this list, the ingredients will vary from north to south and east to west.
Still, a classic combination includes pork, pickled veggies, coriander, chili and a healthy smear involving pâté sandwiched by a crispy, fluffy baguette.
Bubble tea, Taiwan
Now globally famous, bubble tea was invented found in Taiwan.
No trip to Taiwan would be complete without at least one real estate tea. Also known as boba or pearl milk tea, this particular famous Taiwanese export has garnered a worldwide following.
Invented inside of Taiwan in the 1980s, the classic recipe calls for rich, silky, shaken green or black tea along with sizable black tapioca balls, which require a special straw to drink.
These days, numerous imaginative flavors (Oreo! Sweet potato! Matcha! Kumquat! ) just beg to be sampled, and many vendors let diners customize elements like sugar and ice.
Bun kebab, Pakistan
How can you go wrong with a kebab patty between two seared buns?
Easy to find at roadside stalls all over Karachi and Lahore, these delectable Pakistani burgers often come with the potato-lentil patty, although chicken, mutton, beef and chickpea varieties are also common.
Depending on the vendor and area, your bun kebab may also come topped with red onions, tomatoes, raita (a spiced yogurt dip) and also tamarind chutney.
Cheong fun, Hong Kong
Meaning “intestine noodles”, cheong fun is a staple avenue snack as well as dim sum favorite. But contrary to the name, the dish doesn’t actually feature entrails. (The moniker refers to the tubular shape. )
A thin and translucent rice roll is steamed and folded, then filled with char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), dried shrimp, beef or fresh vegetables.
A few sauces — soy, hoisin, peanut and chili — and a crown of sesame seeds complete this must-try dish.
Chili crab, Singapore
Singapore’s soup crab will be messy in all the best ways.
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You can find chili crab in many hawker centers plus specialty restaurants these days but this iconic dish got its start on the streets of 1950s Singapore in a pushcart.
It is messy in all the best ways — and if you don’t get your hands dirty cracking mud crab legs, then you’re not doing it right.
After excavating typically the crab meat, scoop up the rich chili-tomato sauce together with buttery fried mantou buns.
Crab omelets, Thailand
Chef “Pom” Kwantip Devakula connected with “MasterChef Thailand” shows Richard Quest her favorite authentic Thai recipe.
After you’ve had a kai jeow pu (a Thai crab omelet), it can hard to understand why all egg dishes don’t taste this specific good.
Crab in addition to eggs are a match made in heaven — and the crispy edges, fluffy texture and a drizzle with sweet chili sauce takes this wok-cooked dish to the next level.
Curry seafood balls, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s curry species of fish balls are known for their rich, robust taste.
Fish balls — ping-pong-sized spheres for shredded and even pounded sea food — are among the most beloved street snacks in Hk.
One quintessential range, curry fish balls, will definitely inspire urges long after the first bite.
Simmered at curry sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar together with chili, these kinds of street snacks are known for their rich, robust flavor.
Enjoy them on bamboo skewers or in a cup while exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods.
Ema datshi, Bhutan
You can’t go to Bhutan without having embracing this country’s penchant for all things cheesy, spicy and fresh.
Another local favorite is ema datshi, which just so happens to be often the country’s national dish.
This hot and spicy stew, meaning “chili and additionally cheese”, showcases Bhutan’s glorious local cheese and produce.
Though it’s everywhere, you’ll never get bored: ema datshi comes in several variations, though most are very spicy not to mention served using onion, garlic and red rice.
Egg waffles, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s egg waffles are crispy on the outside, whilst each “bubble” is comfortable on the inside.
An easy, one-handed snack, gai daan jai (egg waffles, egg puffs or eggettes) is the ideal neighborhood food.
A light, slightly sweet batter requires a special waffle maker with round cells to create a puff-like appearance, crispy exterior and airy interior.
Experimentation is usually part of the enjoyable: Enjoy it plain, with fresh fruit, or rolled into a cone and covered with ice cream, syrup and also bananas. Some vendors even go your savory route, serving tastes like salted egg yolk and seaweed.
As delicious as it is photogenic, falooda will keep you cool during Pakistan’s scorching summers.
Akin to an your favorite ice cream sundae, this kind of milk-based drink is made up of goodies or kulfa (a dense, gelato-like snow cream), dairy, condensed whole milk, jelly cubes, noodles, basil seeds and sometimes rose water syrup to achieve a bright, rosy pink hue.
A crown of crushed pistachios as well as dried fruit add more texture, so this dessert is at once smooth and crunchy and both sweet and cooling.
These crispy, hollow spheres are just as delicious as they look.
A little bit sweet, a little sour, a little spicy, fuchka (a Bangladeshi version of what’s known as panipuri, gol gappa, gupchup, among other monikers in India) is one of the most ubiquitous block foods in Bangladesh.
The crispy, hollow spheres commonly come with a filling about mashed potatoes and chickpeas, mixed with freshly chopped onions, cucumber, lime, coriander plus green chillies in a chaat masala blend.
Before serving, suppliers often grate boiled eggs on top as a garnish. Usually, you’ll also receive a small cup of tamarind water spices to pour inside the shells to enhance that sweet, tangy and hot and spicy flavor that will tantalizes all of your taste buds.
Gado gado, Indonesia
Gado gado features a mix of veggies in a thick, peanuty sauce.
Healthy and hearty, gado (meaning “mix-mix”) tosses together a garden of greens and tasty ingredients inside a thick, peanutty sauce.
While the formula varies based on the vendor, is actually common to see green beans, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, tofu, cucumbers, tempeh, potatoes, a new hard-boiled egg, and sides of lontong (rice cakes) and prawn crackers.
It’s impossible to walk by this eye-catching, brightly-hued dessert without stopping for a sample.
There are countless variations in getuk (or gethuk) on offer, from cassava (a nutty, starchy root vegetable) having coconut to yam, potato, banana, taro or cheese.
Halo-halo is famed for its colorful toppings.
A hill of crushed ice and condensed milk with a rainbow from toppings, halo-halo (also haluhalo, meaning “mixed” in Tagalog) is the perfect antidote to the Philippines’ very hot and humid summers.
While it varies across the country, the exact long list of ingredients may include the likes of cubed yam, taro, coconut flakes, tapioca pearls, flan, sweetened beans, plantain, jackfruit, coconut jelly, nuts, sago, parmesan cheese, ice cream, ube (purple yam), toasted rice… the list goes on.
The crunchy, crispy, chewy, creamy textures are just as diverse, making this one meal that lives up to its name.
Hoppers, Ceylon (veraltet)
Wake up in addition to smell the appa (also called aapa or appam) in Sri Lanka!
Thought to have originated over in southern India 2, 000 years ago, appa, or even hoppers, are made from fermented grain flour and even coconut milk batter cooked like a crêpe in a small wok.
This method creates a bowl-like shape that’s slightly thicker and spongier at the bottom although staying crispy on the edges.
Plain hoppers together with egg hoppers (a plain hopper having a soft-boiled egg cell in the middle) typically come with chutney, coconut sambal and often a range of curry dishes.
Iced coffee, Vietnam
Served by street sellers and cafes alike, cà phê, because it’s known in Vietnam, can be enjoyed many ways — drink it black, by using condensed dairy, a touch of sugar or mixed with coconut whole milk.
Sit down and make new friends on a plastic stool or keep exploring with your chilled refreshment in hand.
In Northern India, jalebi — mixture fried into swirling shapes — really are a beloved fairly sweet, especially when paired with condensed milk products and capped with spices or herbs.
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Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for jalebi, a brilliant orange funnel cake dipped in simple syrup and often spiced with saffron.
Best enjoyed new from the fryer or chilled, these concentric swirls associated with deep-fried fermented batter taste crispy, juicy and exceptionally sweet, when a side of rabri (a condensed milk dish) or curd can help cut through the sugars.
And thanks to their own versatility, jalebi make for a delicious breakfast, accompaniment to chai (tea) or perhaps after-dinner treat.
Savory, crispy crepes? Yes, please.
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Chinese street meals vendors have got mastered breakfast with this crepe-like creation.
Perfect for on-the-go snacking, distributors fry the particular pancake then fill this with a variety of savory flavors — think eggs, spring onions, radishes, chili marinade and sausage or chicken.
The best part? The crispy bao cui, or deep-fried crackers. Having originated in northeastern China, jiangbing have spread across the country with different variations according to the region.
Dumpling fans will love Chinese jiaozi.
Whether steamed, boiled or maybe pan-fried in order to perfection, all these delightful crescent-shaped morsels are usually most commonly filled up with minced pig, ginger, scallions and Chinese language cabbage, although many combinations exist.
In the Maldives capital Male, look for a popular street foods called kavaabu (or kavab).
Essentially a deep-fried fish fritter, kavaabu has a super crispy exterior encasing a delicious combination of smoked tuna, shredded coconut, peppers, onions, lentils, turmeric, rice and additionally curry leaves.
Kaya toast, Singapore/Malaysia
Kaya toast: A breakfast sandwich with aromatic jam.
Singapore Tourism Board
Can’t decide between some sort of sweet as well as savory breakfast time? Enter kaya toast: a good charcoal-kissed breakfast sandwich which nothing short of a daily ritual in both Singapore and Malaysia.
It’s insanely delicious thanks to the kaya — an aromatic jam made from coconut milk, eggs, sugar not to mention pandan.
Enjoy it through soft-boiled eggs for dipping or eating separately using a dash regarding dark soya sauce, along with a cup involving thick kopi (Nanyang coffee) or dairy products tea will complete that quintessential experience.
Kerak telor, Indonesia
If you think you know omelets, think again.
Cooked over charcoal, kerak telor (meaning “egg crust”) is really a traditional Betawi dish of which bursts utilizing flavor and also texture thanks to ingredients like duck ovum, glutinous hemp, grated coconut, fried shallots, dried prawn and Indonesian spices.
Khao jee, Laos
Khao jee: Sticky rice coated with ova and grilled over a charcoal stove.
It looks simple — your grilled sticky rice patty on a stick — yet there’s a lot more to this lane food staple than meets the eye.
Thanks to a thin egg coating and a light char from the grill, khao jee includes a radiant golden hue, some sweet as well as nutty flavour, and a delightfully chewy texture.
As a happy coincidence, another fantastic street foodstuff shares the same name: khao jee pâté (a Lao-style baguette meal, similar to a Vietnamese banh mi) filled with chicken liver pâté, pickled celery, cucumber, papaya and a local chili paste called jeow bong.
Khao soi, Thailand
Warning: This particular northern Asia dish is definitely insanely addictive.
The staple present in Northern Thailand, khao soi — curry noodle soups topped with the help of deep-fried ovum noodles — hits the location.
Vendors ladle gorgeously golden bowls of delicious, creamy, chili-laced coconut broth over a bed of for ones noodles with chicken hip and legs or meat.
On the side, you will often find mustard greens, newly chopped shallots, lime wedges and soup paste.
Exploring the Mongolian steppes will surely work up an appetite, but luckily khuushuur, Mongolia’s beloved highway snack, provides a hearty, filling meal.
Enjoy the large, deep-fried meats pastry (usually filled with minced mutton or beef, onion and garlic) with a cup of Mongolian tea.
Kimbap, South Korea
Kimbap are filled with all sorts of ingredients.
Kimbap, or even gimbap, seems like it was designed to be portable.
Not unlike Japan’s makizushi (rolled sushi), these kind of rice rolls wrapped here in seaweed sheets are reduce into easy-to-devour slices the fact that hawkers fill with a wide assortment of ingredients.
Spinach, lotus root, offspring, cucumbers, bulgogi and crab sticks all make regular appearances, as do pickled daikon radish, kimchi and roasted sesame seeds.
Kuih cincin, Brunei
In Brunei, kuih cincin (meaning “ring cakes”) makes for an excellant after-dinner deal with.
This specific photogenic, cookie-like dessert is easily identifiable because of its flower-like appearance. It tastes as good as it looks, which has a sweet, nutty flavor and also a satisfying crunch.
Kwek kwek, Philippines
Next time you’re in the Philippines, try kwek — deep-fried quail eggs. They owe their particular radiant orange hue to be able to annatto powder in the batter.
Slightly peppery, nice and crazy, the citrus-hued powder comes from the prickly fruits from the achiote tree, though some vendors use orange food items coloring for any similar effect.
After a bath within the orange crepe mixture, the hard-boiled eggs dive into the deep fryer before landing on the plate along with a sour and spicy sinking sauce.
Laping, Tibet, The far east
A summer specialty inside Tibet, laping (or laphing) is a spicy noodle plate that’s served chilled.
The soup explodes along with flavors plus textures thanks in part for you to thick, jelly-like noodles made from mung coffee beans and a fiery sauce made with lots of red pepper.
Lahpet thoke, Myanmar
Tea leaf salad, recognized locally while lahpet thoke, has an earthy, sour in addition to slightly bitter taste, owing to the star ingredient: fermented or pickled Assam green tea leaves.
The teas leaves are then combined with cabbage, tomato vegetables, beans, roasting nuts, toasted seeds, dried out shrimp and even fried garlic clove for a salad that’s loaded with textures together with aromas.
Lort cha, Cambodia
Nothing hits the spot like a stir-fried noodle food, and Cambodia’s go-to variety is no exception.
Typically prepared inside street carts and markets, lort cha features short and squat rice pin noodles tossed with springtime onions, Chinese broccoli, crunchy bean seedlings, chives, garlic herb and meat then lead with a fried egg plus a special sauce.
Generous lashings connected with Cambodian fermented red chili paste enhance the spice level, which vendors are all too happy to dial up for you.
Snag a seat at a street food stall bright and additionally early — or really, any time with day — to enjoy a fabulous steaming plate of mohinga (fish noodle soup).
The country’s de facto nationwide dish combines a beautiful balance of refreshing catfish not to mention lemongrass, done rice, ginger, garlic and also springy rice noodles prepared to purchase with a range of optional toppings.
Top it off with a hard-boiled egg, toast onions, cilantro and a squeeze or two for lime to get a rich yet bright meal.
Momos are usually among Nepal’s most popular dishes.
If you’ve tried just one food from Nepal, really most likely momos.
Region to region, family to help family, no two recipes will be identical.
Generally speaking, these delicate dumplings enclose different types of minced meat — buffalo, poultry, mutton, yak, or pork — together with seasonings, want cabbage, red onion, spring onion, ginger, garlic oil, tamarind, coriander and spices.
Nam khao, Laos
While nam khao (crispy grain salad) can also be found in Asia, the bright and refreshing dish can be thought to possess originated in Vientiane, the Laos capital.
It’s a balancing act about brilliant tastes, aromas as well as textures starring crispy deep-fried rice balls made with a base of red-colored curry insert, coconut flakes and for the.
The particular fried rice is then crumbled up and mixed with chicken, tempura, peanuts, onion, soup and more, plus served using fresh lettuce leaves.
Nasi lemak, Malaysia
Nasi lemak includes a variety of components set on an important bed in coconut hemp.
For Asian meal lovers, nasi lemak needs no introduction.
It can Malaysia’s countrywide dish for the good reason: the following delicious pass on tantalizes taste buds with a bed of coconut rice topped with salty anchovies, roasted peanuts, boiled eggs, cucumbers, and sambal served warm and steamy in a fragrant banana leaf.
Variations abound, with some vendors adding fried poultry or a part of curry, fish or perhaps fried ovum.
Few street foods can compete with the international fame from pho.
Roadside stores and coffee shops, bookstores serve up bowl after bowl of this satisfying noodle soups, which is known for its fragrant and nuanced broth, springy rice noodles and tender protein (usually beef or maybe chicken).
It’s typically served alongside a selection of clean garnishes, like herbs, bean sprouts, lime green, chili spices and chili slices so you can tailor typically the noodle soup to your liking.
Rojak is a traditional fruit in addition to vegetable salad dish.
Rojak (or rujak), which usually originated in Java, Indonesia, can be found all over Malaysia and Singapore, too.
The tangy and spicy salad embodies the Southeast Asian sunshine, bringing together a jumbled mix of fresh fruit such as pineapple and even mangoes, jicama (a root vegetable), veggie sprouts, cucumbers, fried tofu, and other additions — almost all tossed within a thick, lovely and hot and spicy dressing (almost like the consistency of caramel or mole sauce) as well as a sprinkle of crushed nuts.
Roti prata, Southeast Asian countries
It’s always a good time for some roti tala.
Tracing its roots to India, this golden-brown, flaky flatbread is a staple in Singapore, Malaysia and many other countries throughout Southeast Parts of asia.
Available in abundance in hawker centers, food courts, coffee shops together with restaurants, ghee-flavored roti prata is perfect in its traditional iteration of plain or egg cell with seafood or mutton curry, nevertheless can also serve as the canvas for dozens of creative and additionally modern mixtures — believe flatbread having fish as well as mutton curry, ham, ovum, cheese, chocolate, bananas, creamy ice cream or even durian.
Rou jia mo, Tiongkok
Take a thick, chewy mo (bun), add a mountain associated with pork belly braised around soy marinade, rock glucose, herbs, plus a dozen or so spices (think cardamom, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, bay tea leaf, and star anise), not to mention you’ve got yourself a rou jia mo (also known as a Chinese hamburger).
It’s said that the bread dates towards the Qin dynasty followed by this meat inside the Zhou empire, so this menu has obviously stood the test of time.
Sai krok Isan, Thailand
Although from the northeast, sai krok isan are available all over Asia.
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Sai krok Isan — short and also plump pig sausage — is one of the most commonly devoured st foods using northeastern Thailand.
Sour and garlicky, it’s usually produced from pork, gross rice as well as garlic, then hung up to ferment and dry.
Herbs and spices vary from vendor in order to vendor, even though condiments just like ginger, chillies and cabbage typically round out the perfect bite.
Salt & pepper melted chicken, Taiwan
Popcorn chicken is the ultimate Taiwanese snack.
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Taiwan’s multitude of street foods are famous for their very own flavors plus textures — and salt and pepper fried chicken breast, also known as popcorn chicken, is actually a case in point.
Coated on sweet spud flour then double-fried to add crunch in addition to lock in moisture, this path food is easy to eat though wandering through the island’s famous night markets.
Sofuto kurimu, Japan
Sofuto kurimu is certainly famed for its silky consistency.
Smooth, creamy and even available in the rainbow regarding flavors, Japanese sofuto kurimu (or soft cream, which is akin to smooth serve) is in a league of its own.
Made with fresh cream and milk products, sofuto kurimu has an impossibly silky structure that melts in your mouth. Try a classic chocolates and vanilla swirl, or try special regional flavours like charcoal, ube (purple sweet potato), matcha, reddish bean, melon, sesame, wasabi or even squid ink with respect to the locale.
Stinky tofu, Taiwan
Don’t let the name put you away. Stinky tofu is tasty.
Typically the pungent aroma that stinky tofu (chou dou fu) is known for comes from often the fermentation process.
Basically, vendors soak bean curd in brine, then let it ferment for hours, days, weeks or months at a time.
Once they have ready, roads food hawkers stew, braise, steam, grill, or deep-fry the tofu then dress it up by using tasty improvements like pickled cabbage, soup sauce or even garlic sauce.
Takoyaki, The japanese
Takoyaki being prepared at a foodstall in Osaka, Japan.
Springy, chewy, saline, juicy… there’s much to love about Japan’s famous takoyaki (octopus balls), which hail from Osaka.
To make takoyaki (“tako” means octopus and “yaki” means roast), vendors whip up the player, pour that into a specific iron together with evenly disperse the fillings (diced octopus, spring red onion, tempura flakes).
To ensure they cook evenly and additionally form perfect spheres, cooks skillfully turn them over one by one that has a bamboo skewer. Once ready, a drizzle of Japan mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, ocean weed flakes not to mention bonito (fish flakes) adds texture and also flavor.
Tteokbokki, South Korea
Tteokbokki, stir-fried rice cakes, are a well-known Korean community food.
The humble rice cake is a much-loved comfort food in South Korea — and it’s easy to see why.
Tteokbokki, which means “stir-fried rice cakes, ” are incredibly versatile; the most famous variation stars spicy red chili paste as well as fish bread, but grain cakes can also be prepared by using a milder soy sauce-based dressing, with parmesan cheese, or in various soups and hot pots.
Vada pav, India
Vada pav: Deep-fried potatoes over a fluffy bun.
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You can’t go far during Mumbai without encountering the spiced aroma of a masala excavation or the sound of a bubbling fryer.
For a surefire crowd-pleaser, it could hard to fail with vada pav — deep-fried spiced potatoes through tamarind substance, chili spice up and various chutneys with a fluffy pav (or bun).
Xiao long bao, Cina
Nothing actually compares to your very first xiao long bao (meaning “little basket buns”).
One of the most delicious meals on Earth, most of these tiny bite-sized soup dumplings are a Shanghainese specialty.
Each sensitive, carefully folded away parcel contains piping sizzling broth including a ball involving ground chicken.
Order at least a new half-dozen more than you think you want — they won’t go uneaten — and enjoy it with a dipping spices made of vinegar, soy sauces and fresh ginger.
A crash course appearing in yakitori from your head chef at popular Tokyo restaurant Torikado.
In Japan, you’ll find no shortage of shichirin (small charcoal grills) sizzling up squid, fish, quail eggs plus mushrooms, although one specialized stands out: yakitori, or barbequed chicken (“yaki” meaning grilled or grilled over direct heat, “tori” meaning bird) skewers.
And we’re not just talking about wings: typical menus usually include rooster thighs, breasts, kidneys, gizzards, skins, livers and hearts cooked slowly over binchotan (white charcoal), then sprinkled in salt or glazed with a soy-based sauce called “tare. ”