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Street Food in Asia

Photographer: various


Street food in Asia is a varied fare that delights the palate and comes at a good price. It is colorful, tasty and varied; sometimes sharp, saucy or spicy. There is something for the sweet tooth, or to suit those looking for more of a savory sensation. Drinks and snacks and full meals.


Street food is the original traditional finger and fast food, with a long tradition of cuisine made with fresh local ingredients, immediate on the spot, while-you-watch cooking, and a price most can afford. Some people forsake a kitchen and eat from street food, others supplement their own household regime with the varied fare. Universally, some dishes have caught the world’s attention and appear in almost everyone’s food vocabulary. They also form an important part of a modern travel experience, and eating the local food is an essential element in every tourist trip to a far-off place.


In Thailand, among best known and loved is the stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai, in Hong Kong, it is deep fried curry fish balls, while red bean cakes reign in Taiwan and a bowl of Pho noodle soup is supreme in Vietnam, Vegetarian Masala Dosa’s, Pav Bhaji, Panipuris (fried puris) and sweet snack Malai Kulfi or frozen dairy dessert are among traditional favorites in India. Meat figures in the Philippines, and take away meat snacks and whole roasted suckling pigs are those popular in the Philippines. Sweet traditional Yomari or Nepalese steamed dumplings are well loved in Nepal, and snail soup in Cambodia brings bowls of steaming snails that have been hand collected by farmers in the countryside, into Phnom Penh city.


Scorpions and crickets are among the protein-rich insects deep-fried in oil until crunchy sprinkled with lemongrass slivers and chili that are popularly sold from street vendors carts across Thailand. And betel quid’s, known as Kunya, are very popular in Myanmar, made of tobacco and small pieces of betel nut wrapped in a betel leaf and spread with a lime paste that is placed into the mouth to suck and chew. Baozi, or Chinese steamed meat buns, cooked in bamboo steamers are a breakfast favorite in China. Malatang, a famous type of Chinese street food, originating in Sichuan province, enjoys high popularity in Beijing.


Singapore and Malaysia feature many food hawker centers which offer a variety of traditional food tastes and open eating. Singapore has announced that it will be nominating its hawker culture, comprising over 6000 hawkers who provide street food local dishes, for a Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Hawker centers were started in the 1970s in Singapore by moving street vendors into purpose-built facilities. There are over 110 such hawker centers in the country. But the announcement is reported to have angered some Malaysians, as both nations share a long street food culture heritage with similar dishes creating a rivalry over the origins of the dishes and who offers the most delicious.