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Best Street Foods in Asia

Updated on November 6, 2013

Why to Taste Street Foods while Travelling?

Whenever I am in a new city, I head straight to the street food carts in the vicinity. I believe that street food gives a wonderful chance to step outside of your tourist perspective and look at the city through a local's lens. Plus, and this might be a psychological thing, I have noticed that the locals tend to be friendlier and more inclined to make a conversation with a foreigner who is enjoying the local food. I assume their thought process would be something akin to “Hey here is a guy who is having our food for the first time and he seem to like it”. And I guess due to the cultural aspect of local food, they are usually held in high regard and anyone who likes them is seen as respecting the local customs.

Anyway so here are some of the best street foods from Asia. I understand people's apprehension about street food, but the one mantra that always worked for me was 'Follow the crowd'. However, I tend to avoid stalls which have a crowd of young – less cautious customers and look for ones with a mix of workmen and slightly older crowd.

Top Street Foods in Thailand

You will be hard-pressed to find a sidewalk in Thailand without a street food stall of some kind - Bangkok alone is home to more than 12, 000 vendors. The culture of street food is so deeply ingrained into Thai culture that it is heresy to leave the country without sampling their street-food.

Head to Bangkok's Chinatown, Yaowarat located in Soi 38 night market, Khao San Road, Soi Rambutri near the Vientai Hotel and Aw Taw Kaw, across the Chatuchak weekend market near the Hua Lamphong MRT stop. Order the Som tum gai yang, a delicious raw papaya salad made with chicken, bamee ped – egg noodles tossed with crispy duck and the phat kaphrao – stir fried chicken or sea food with chopped garlic, seasoned with fish sauce and a served over rice.

Street Foods from Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

Fast Foods in Vietnam

Hanoi is a street food lovers dream come true. The twisting maze like alleys of the Old Quarter and Tru Bach are home to hundreds of stalls and carts serving Pho bò,Com tom, Bánh mỳ Sài Gòn and Rice noodles.

Head to Ben Thanh Market and Binh Tay Market in Chinatown. Order the Banh mi - a baguette toasted over coal and smeared with mayonnaise and the shell is filled with pickled veggies, meat and herbs. It is the epitome of Vietnamese street food and is an example of a fusion food as it is obviously influenced by the French, who ruled Vietnam in the 20th century. Other popular treats include

bún thịt nướng (rice noodles with grilled pork), bún riêu (rice noodles with sour crab soup), bún chả giò (rice noodles with deep fried spring rolls).

Special Foods from Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Location

Street Foods from Istanbul

Street food is a major part of Turkish culture and you wont be able to walk a kilometer on the streets of Istanbul without coming across a cart or stall selling street food. Head to Corner of Recaizade Sokak and Rıhtım Caddesi.

The quintessential Turkish street food is the Döner Kebab – tender lamb, salt and spices are tightly packed around a skewer and roasted over coal fire. As the meat browns, the chef slices of thin strips of the meat. Döner Kebab is generally served with rice pilaf, stuffed inside white bread or stuffed inside a tortilla like wrap. Other must try street foods in Turkey are Pide – a flat, leavened pizza like bread that with sausage and melted cheese filling, kumpir – baked potato that is served with pickled veggies, salami, mayonnaise and crusty bread.

Turkish Street Foods

Istanbul, Turkey

Singapore Top Rated Street Foods

Singapore is famed for its vibrant street food culture with numerous hawkers serving up delicious but affordable dishes, sometimes as low as $3 for a bowl of ramen. As like other south Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, street food in Singapore is delicious. The advantage is that hygiene levels are strictly enforced and you can happily feed it to your child. The stalls are graded (A to D) and is prominently displayed at the front.

Head to Chinatown, and onto Maxwell Market to visit some of the best hawkers in the city. Another popular street food neighborhood is Old Airport Road in the Geylang suburb. If you are looking to gorge on Chinese then Ellenborough Market is your best bet. Order the Hainanese chicken rice, Hokkien mee- stir fried noodles and the min chiang kueh – peanut pancake.

Singapore Street Foods


Street Food Stalls, Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Dai Pai Dongs of Hong Kong

Hong Kong's dai pai dongs (street food stalls) are a dying breed with only 27 of them remaining after strict clamp down in the 80s's. However, there are still plenty of markets, barbeque shops, noodle joints where you can drop in for an assortment of noodles, tofu, curry fish balls and dim sums.

Head to the Jardine's Crescent Market located in Causeway Bay. In Kowloon, head to the Yiu Tung Street which has the highest number of dai pai dongs in the entire city. Try the roasted ducks, wonton noodles and roast goose.

Street Foods in Mumbai

Mumbai has a long and passionate history with street food; stroll around its streets and you are guaranteed to stumble into a food cart at every major square. Most of the dishes are vegetarian and the popular treats include chaat- a spicy mix of puffed rice, tangy sauces, veggies and roasted chickpeas, paani puri - round, hollow crisp puri that are filled with a mixture of flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, potato and chickpeas and the famed vada pav - fried potato patties served with green chutneys and fried green chillies in a bun.

Head to the Fort area and near any major sightseeing spots in the evening. Chowpatty Beach has a massive number of stalls that serve the vada pav and paani puri. Also try Bade Miya on Tulloch Road, close to Colaba Causeway in downtown Churchgate. The other popular street foods in Mumbai are misal pav,pav bhaji, dabeli and kande pohe and paani puri.

Mumbai Special Street Foods

Mumbai, India

Food of Your Thought:

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Why you should try out street foods?

You don't need to dine in Michelin-star restaurants to experience the local cuisine. Some of the best local delicacies are found in street corner, hole in the wall shops. If you ever find yourself in one of the following cities, make sure you try out these local delicacies.

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    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 4 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Thanks for a delicious tour of best street food in Asia. This makes me want to quit my job, grab my backpack, hop on a plane and eat my way around the world! Excellent hub.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Singapore is the best bet when it comes to street food! Cos I can be sure it's safe to eat, as well as delicious and cheap. :)

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yumm, this hub makes me hungry. I enjoy many different types of cuisine but especially like Thai food. Great photos, voted up and interesting.

    • Mary Cimeni profile image

      Mary Cimeni 4 years ago from Philippines

      Looks great and delicious. I agree to this. I'm from Asia, and one thing that makes Asian food unique is that they are always best serve with rice. ;-) Great hub!