Street food is a core staple of Asian food culture, more so than diners and restaurants. Every culture has its marvellous array of quick and delicious goodies at the markets and sidewalks, for easy takeaways or to savour on the spot. In Southeast Asia, you might even find food all day and all night. In Japan, China and Korea, the types of street food may also change according to the seasons. While most of the dishes can be easily cooked with the right ingredients and recipes, some street food experiences are only available in Asia. So, go try these on your next holiday!
Super budget buffet of veggies, eggs, seafood and meats in a variety of dishes, to go with a single portion of rice. Probably most common in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The best way to enjoy a combination of flavours in one fulfilling meal, and you can revisit the next day to taste even more! In Malaysia, the mixed rice is popular across all local cultures, so you can sample Malay, Chinese, and Indian dishes in any of these stalls – typically found at food streets, food courts, coffee shops, hawker centres, and night markets. But in their own dedicated diners, you can get up to 50 dishes to choose from!
Durian is the ‘King of Fruits’ in Thailand and Malaysia. To enjoy it is often a wholesome affair with friends and family. Thus, the durian buffet, where you can savour the pungent but sweet and creamy flavour to your heart’s delight. Durians of all grades are often on display for you to pick. Prices are usually by weight, and the vendor will cut open the thorny fruit for you - some may also show off their quick skills at your table.
Thai Boat Noodles
In Malaysia, the cities don’t really sleep. Nighttime has its own hangouts for locals and tourists alike. Some clubs and pubs may even open to the wee hours past midnight. Thus, there are always hawker streets that serve freshly cooked food. But the Luk Luk truck is one of its kind – basically, hotpot on wheels. Choose from the wide selection of skewered meats and seafood, then dip in the boiling soup to cook, and savour with sweet sauce or chilli sauce. There’s also the satay soup and clear soup to cook with. Whether you want a light supper or a hot meal with a mix of fish and meat, just look out for a Lok Lok truck near a convenience store or drinking spot. Lok Lok literally means ‘boil boil’ in Malaysian Cantonese.
Izakaya is where the Japanese go to unwind after work, an informal bar with alcoholic drinks and food. Traditional Izakaya-s have tatami mats to sit at low tables. What’s the difference between Izakaya and a typical tavern? The service. First, an oshibori wet towel to clean your hands with – cold during summer, and warm in colder seasons. Next, an appetizer snack called Otoshi is served with your drink – simmered veggies, tsukemono pickles or a light salad. Food is usually ordered as the drinks are refilled. For the Japanese, it can become a slow full-course meal to share among colleagues and friends, which lasts the whole night with lots of chitchat and drinks. Simple snacks to start, then grilled and fried goodies, ending with a rice bowl dish or noodles.
Yatai (Night Version)
Yatai is the Japanese hawker stall, serving many quick and tasty foods that are cooked on the spot. But besides the market and festival versions, there’s also the night-style yatai that serve simple meal dishes such as ramen and sushi. Pretty, too. Night-style yatai are usually of delicate and elaborate design. Like a mini restaurant with a roof. You sit on the bench with other patrons and watch the chef cook your food behind a bar counter. A popular way for quick, cosy dinners in Japan.