These Are The 7 Best Asian Cities To Go For Good Food

These are places any food fan should visit.

Aside from being the world's largest continent, Asia is where one can grab a wondrous variety of solid bites. Being from an Asian country ourselves, we Pinoys don't have to stray too far to excite our taste buds and enjoy what other Asian cultures have to offer. 

But while the prospect of traveling overseas remains on hold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can start a food tour of Asia's culinary capitals from where you are at home. We'll walk you through some of the best Asian cities for food that you need to visit in your lifetime. We'll also give you some tips on how to cook some of the most iconic dishes from each destination!

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Osaka, Japan

This Japanese city in the Western region of Kansai is rightfully famous for its food, in particular its traditional dishes and its street eats. If you ever go on a trip to Japan in search of gustatory delights, a stop at Osaka is a must. 

You can also summon some of the flavors of Osaka by making well-loved dishes like takoyaki and tempura udon, both of which are common in the Kansai region. Our takoyaki balls recipe entails making a batter out of cake flour, egg, dashi powder, octopus, green onion, cabbage, and pickled red ginger. After forming the balls in the takoyaki griddle, finish them with the quintessential Japanese toppings of seaweed powder and bonito flakes, the latter of which will "dance" from the heat. Alternatively, if you're craving something warm, you can cook Yummy.ph's simple tempura udon recipe with a quick, but authentic-tasting dashi and kombu broth. Top it with crispy prawn tempura, an egg, and some veggies, and you'll be transported to Osaka in the colder months in no time!  

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Photo by Kaboompics

Seoul, South Korea

The mecca of the Hallyu wave and Korean skincare is also a great place to go for popular Korean resto and street food dishes. While watching your favorite idol videos or K-dramas set in Seoul, you probably can't help but crave the spice and heartiness of Korean food. At home, you can make some of these by trying out a few easy recipes.

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First, you can assemble your own Korean BBQ feast by preparing cuts of meat like samgyeopsal (pork belly), galbi (boneless beef short ribs), and bulgogi (marinated sirloin beef strips). Grill these meats and eat them just like you see in your favorite Korean restos-wrapped in lettuce and flavored with ssamjang (soybean paste), garlic slivers, and sesame oil. You can also check out our feature on selected Korean recipes like Korean beef stew, pajeon (savory pancakes), bingsu (shaved ice dessert), and even homemade kimchi. Follow the step-by-step recipes for each item to bring the essence of Seoul into your own kitchen. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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Chengdu, China

It's hard to pin down where to get the best eats in China, given that Filipinos are already well-acquainted with quite a few Chinese dishes. But if you had to choose one city in China to go on a food trip, it should probably be Chengdu. In this city, the flavors of Sichuan cuisine-which heavily incorporate Sichuan pepper, chili pepper, and garlic-reign supreme. 

There are several dishes you can make at home to enjoy Sichuan cuisine while you're still dreaming of an adventure to Chengdu. You can try this kung pao chicken recipe, whose flavorful base sauce incorporates pantry staples like steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato ketchup. Dip some chicken meat into some beaten eggs, dredge with cornstarch, fry until crispy, and then sauté with the sauce and some veggies. It won't be hard to make the Sichuan classic of mapo tofu either. Yummy's step-by-step guide involves making a hearty, spicy sauce of ground pork, spicy fermented bean paste, chili garlic sauce, and five-spice powder. The soft silken tofu will be the last addition to this delectable dish. And for days when you want something other than sinigang, you can cook up this flavorful hot and sour soup that draws its spiciness from chili garlic sauce and its sourness from Chinese black vinegar. This Sichuan feast is sure to satisfy you and make you want to go on a food tour of China's culinary capital. 

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Photo by Aldwin Aspillera

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is yet another Asian city known for its fast-paced urban life and its strong but approachable flavors. Indeed, some of the best street foods in Asia can be found in Bangkok. But while visiting the city is not an option yet for most Filipinos, there are several Bangkok eats that you can easily recreate in your kitchen. 

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No Thai feast is complete without pad thai, and Yummy.ph's recipe for chicken and shrimp pad thai noodles will take you straight to the heart of the City of Angels. Make a savory pad thai sauce out of tamarind paste, patis, and brown sugar, then stir-fry the sauce with cooked chicken, rice noodles, bean sprouts, and a raw egg. Garnish with peanuts, spring onions, and dayap wedges and you're good to go. Other Thai dishes that evoke the essence of Bangkok include this crispy whole fish in an easy Thai sweet chili sauce, these Thai beef skewers with a quick spice rub, and this fragrant Thai basil squid with just a few ingredients. For good measure, wash down your meal with a Bangkok street side staple: sweet and refreshing Thai iced tea

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Hoi An, Vietnam

Healthy and fresh flavors define Vietnamese cuisine, and one of the best places to visit to get to know the country's culinary traditions is the trading port city of Hoi An. Aside from sampling Vietnamese dishes, you can also find opportunities to join cooking classes here and learn how to make them. That's one more thing to look forward to if you ever make the trip! 

If you want to begin learning at home, Yummy.ph has several Vietnamese recipes that you can try. For starters, you can make this bánh mi recipe. The classic Vietnamese combo of grilled pork and pickles on a baguette will make a winning merienda. There's also this bánh xéo recipe for a Vietnamese pancake stuffed with a hearty filling of shrimp and bean sprouts. And for something that's both filling and refreshing, toss this beef salad with a Vietnamese dressing of patis, coconut sugar, calamansi juice, and chopped chili. The combination of thinly sliced pork, vermicelli noodles, and veggies will make a satisfying meal on a hot summer day. 

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Singapore

Though quite small in terms of land area, Singapore is a whole universe unto itself in terms of flavors. A visit to Singapore is not complete without a feast in one of its seafood restaurants or hawker stalls. There's no need to hold the title of a crazy rich Asian to sample Singapore's most iconic seafood and hawker dishes. 

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If you love seafood, Yummy.ph's Singaporean chili crab recipe is a must-try. This recipe will also prove to you that delicious chili crab only involves a few simple ingredients like sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, tomato sauce, and lime juice to go with the freshly caught crab. Nothing overly expensive and out of this world! It's also a good idea to master the hawker staple of Hainanese chicken rice, which takes its flavor from a beautiful combination of chicken broth, ginger, and leeks. You can finish off your meal with one of Singapore's kopitiam specialties, the Milo Dinosaur. Our recipe for Milo Dinosaur gives you the option to add a kick of spice with cayenne pepper and cinnamon. 

Photo by Patrick Martires | Styling by Elaine P. Lim
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George Town, Malaysia

Penang is an important site for the cultural and natural heritage of Malaysia. Aside from hosting some of the country's most beautiful beaches and temples, it is also regarded as Malaysia's food capital. There's a lot to tickle your tastebuds in Penang, especially in its colorful capital city of George Town, where street food reigns supreme. All of these make the Malaysian state a worthy addition to your bucket list for a food tour. 

Some dishes that you can try at home to evoke the flavors of Penang and George Town are laksa and beef rendang. It's actually quite easy to whip up your own seafood laksa with ingredients like ready-made laksa paste, bihon noodles, squid balls, and bean sprouts. For added richness, you can use coconut milk in the broth. Another Malaysian recipe that will have you craving a taste of Penang is beef rendang. The dish's simple ingredients of chili, garlic, galangal, coconut milk, kaffir lime, and curry powder pack a flavorful punch, making it a delightful companion for steaming white rice. 

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Which of these iconic Asian dishes are you most excited to cook up for yourself?

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.

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