There is no doubt that Southeast Asia is known for some amazing cuisine— often sold right by the side of the street.
The vibrant and flavoursome cuisine is often indicative of each country’s unique culture and history and honestly, there is nothing better than visiting each of these countries and basking in the authenticity of all the wonderful food.
Did I mention that it is super cheap? So pack your bags as I take you for a [visual] food journey around Southeast Asia :)
Price: ~ $1 — $2
The fresh vegetables, delicious meat and most importantly, the crunchy fresh bread… need I say more? Bánh mì itself embodies a facet of Vietnam’s history and culture. The dish combines French baguettes (as a result of French Colonialism) with native Vietnamese ingredients, such as coriander, cucumber, and pickled carrots and white radish. The dish tells a story in itself and has become an iconic part of Vietnamese cuisine. I’ll admit, I could eat that bread all day… with or without the filling!
Price: ~60 cents
Mohinga is considered an essential part of Burmese cuisine, it is even deemed the national dish of Myanmar. Whilst it is a breakfast dish, the increasing popularity has made it available as an “all day breakfast dish” with numerous street vendors in each neighbourhood. Although there are various renditions of Mohinga in different states, one thing I noticed is how humble and kind the street vendors were, something that was reflected in the warm and hearty dish.
Price: ~ $2
I would describe Pad thai as an explosion of flavours and textures. The sweet and sour flavours accompanied by the chewy noodles and crunchy peanuts makes the dish so memorable and delicious. Like the above dishes, it is also served as a street food, cooked to order in a giant wok, combining noodles, eggs, tofu, shrimp, lime and peanuts. After visiting a local fresh food market, I realised that Thailand has an abundance of fresh produce which has heavily influenced authentic Thai cooking.
When it comes to Malaysia, you can’t really go past Nasi Lemak, a fragrant coconut rice dish accompanied by cucumber, egg, anchovies and various other side dishes. It is also served with sambal, a hot spicy sauce made from a variety of chilli peppers. It is best enjoyed by getting a bit of each component onto your spoon and eating it all together, combining all the flavours and textures. Nasi Lemak is also considered a breakfast food, but with its growing popularity, it can be enjoyed in various Malaysian restaurants in Australia at any time. According TIME magazine, it is also considered one of the 10 healthy international breakfast foods. Cheap, delicious and healthy… pretty much a triple threat!
Price: ~$1 a kilogram
So you might be thinking… WHY? I admit I flinched when I googled “Cambodian crickets” and I was definitely very scared to try one when I had the opportunity. That being said, I actually thought it was quite delicious. Eating insects is not limited to Cambodia, but is a practice common all over Southeast Asia. It is believed that eating crickets improves health and longevity as they are rich in protein. Try this one at your own discretion!
This is only a small snapshot of all the wonderful and scrumptious food around Southeast Asia. There are many more dishes out there waiting to be uncovered. What cool food experiences will you be having on your next break?