With its rich culture, historic sites, and incredible low prices Southeast Asia is one region definitely worth exploring. Even better is the delicious food you’ll find in each country. Be sure to try out these native delicacies that are sure to satisfy the foodie in you!
Vietnamese cuisine prides itself in its freshness, with each dish flavoured with ingredients and herbs picked just hours earlier from the market. Their street food is no exception, especially with their famous Pho (READ: 5 Native Delicacies to Try on Your First Trip to Vietnam). The rice noodle dish, served with chicken or beef broth, herb sprigs, and a scoop of chili paste, can be found on virtually any street of the country. Depending on whether you’re in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, your pho can differ in noodle width, broth sweetness, and choice of herbs.
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This popular dish is Cambodia’s take on curry. The specialty is made with fish (or trei) that’s cooked in banana leaves, sweetened with coconut milk, and sweetened with coconut milk, and heavily seasoned with kroweng spices. It’s then typically served with rice and chilli sauce.
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Thailand: Thai Curry, Pad Thai
With the country’s name appended to the dish, it’s no surprise that Pad Thai is the national delicacy. And a heaping plate of this popular dish goes for less than a dollar in the streets of Bangkok. Pad Thai is made with flat rice noodles stir-fried with egg and meat or shrimp, with tamarind paste and fish sauce. Often topped with peanuts and lime juice, the dish is bursting in flavour and texture and highly addictive even among the locals.
If you find yourself getting rained on during your trip to the Philippines, order a piping hot bowl of sinigang. The sour stew dish is made with meat and vegetables, and is stewed in tamarinds and tomatoes for its distinct sour flavour. Like most Southeast Asian dishes, there are variations of sinigang across the country and is a staple dish in every Filipino home.
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Indonesia: Nasi Goreng
With over 17,000 islands, it’s difficult to pinpoint a national dish for Indonesia. Nasi Goreng, a take on fried rice, has variations across the country but consistently uses egg, chives, and shredded meat. But all households across the country use the same kind of rise: leftovers, from the night before.
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Try this rich seafood-noodle soup on your next trip to Singapore, and choose from either of its popular variations: asam laksa and curry laksa. For sweet yet spicy, try the curry laksa which uses sweet coconut milk for its base. For more bite, try the asam laksa, which instead uses a sour tamarind paste. Both are filling and seasoned with lemongrass and lime juice for a flavourful kick.
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Malaysia: Nasi Lemak
Malaysia’s national dish is on the sinful side, literally translating to ‘fatty rice.’ The name stems from its cooking process, where the rice is soaked in coconut cream before being steamed, and then served with fried chicken, egg, and a spicy Malay sauce. Messy, fragrant, and served on a large banana leaf, nasi lemak is often eaten for breakfast.
Start your adventure in Burma with a piping hot bowl of mohinga, the way all the Burmese do. Made with catfish stock and rice noodles, and topped with deep fried fritters and hard-boiled eggs, the dish is wonderfully filling—and cheap. From the common market vendor to the President himself, there is no other way to greet the working day.