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21 Indulgent Cities in Asia That Make America Seem Bland

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Pack your best chopsticks: there’s hardly a continent better for food lovers than Asia. Sizzling street food stalls and chaotic local markets make for just as worthy dining establishments as fine-dining restaurants on the continent.

These flavorful cities in Asia for food put America to shame:

Tokyo, Japan

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Tokyo has long been lauded as one of the world’s top culinary destinations. According to Near+Far, the city boasts a whopping 194 Michelin-starred restaurants—more than any other city in the world.

Despite this, you don’t need to spend Michelin money for an incredible meal. In Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho, tiny izakayas serve up some of Tokyo’s best yakitori. Vendors at the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market serve sushi and sashimi straight from the source. In Toyosu Market, locals gather at Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi for affordable omakase, where the skilled chefs craft nigiri and maki rolls with the day’s catch.

For a taste of the city’s fine dining scene, add Den in Jimbocho to your Tokyo itinerary, where Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa creates playful and inventive dishes that celebrate Japanese ingredients and culinary traditions.

Delhi, India

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Start your culinary journey in Delhi at Chandni Chowk, a hectic, crowded market in Old Delhi. Street vendors and restaurants like Paranthe Wali Gali, Shyam Sweets, and Natraj Dahi Bhalle Wala are must-go stops for Indian snacks like Bedmi Poori, crispy puris are served with spicy potato curry and a side of tangy pickle, and dahi bhallas—soft lentil dumplings bathed in creamy yogurt and topped with tangy tamarind chutney.

For dinner, make a reservation well in advance for Indian Accent. Chef Manish Mehrotra’s innovative fine-dining restaurant is undoubtedly New Delhi’s crown jewel of dining. Splurge on the restaurant’s tasting menu (with the wine pairing, of course) for a modern take on traditional Indian dishes unlike any other.

Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok’s mouthwatering street food scene is so gastronomic and affordable that if you’re not careful, you’ll eat your way through it all. Begin on Yaowarat Road in Chinatown for locally loved dishes like pad Thai, crispy pork belly, and fragrant bowls of tom yum soup at the neighborhood’s food stalls and night market. For even more streetside delicacies, head to Sukhumvit Soi 38 Night Market for khao pad pu, a flavorful crab fried rice, or moo ping, grilled pork skewers marinated in a sweet and savory sauce.

For a nice dinner, get a table at Issaya Siamese Club, where Chef Ian Kittichai puts a modern twist on traditional dishes. Don’t complete your Thailand trip without visiting the city’s floating markets, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and exotic snacks while cruising along picturesque canals.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Skip the fine dining—street food in Saigon is the name of the game. From savory pho, a fragrant noodle soup brimming with tender slices of beef or chicken, to banh mi, a crispy baguette filled with savory meats and fresh herbs, every bite is a celebration of Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage.

Start your morning with a warm bowl of pho. Saigon’s best pho is to be found at Pho Phuong, a sidewalk restaurant recently named one of the country’s first Michelin Bib Gourmand spots. Snails are big business in this city, with dishes like oc len xao dua, snails cooked in coconut milk, or oc buou rang muoi, crispy fried snails seasoned with salt and chili. Those who don’t eat meat aren’t left out either—there are tons of vegetarian restaurants in Saigon serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

Head to Cho Ho Thi Ky for banh trang tron, a tangy salad of rice paper, shredded green mango, herbs, peanuts, and quail eggs tossed in a spicy dressing. Nearby, Che Xanh makes sweet bowls of dessert soup, a must for foodies in Saigon.

Chengdu, China

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Sichuan food has become so popular in recent years that it’s taken over Cantonese as the most popular type of Chinese food in New York City, according to Eater.

While New York City undoubtedly has great restaurants, there’s nowhere better to try Sichuan plates than at the place of origin itself. Chengdu, the largest city in Sichuan, is the indisputable capital of this spicy cuisine. The city offers delicacies like rabbit heads, duck necks, and spicy rabbit offal. Mapo tofu, a spicy tofu dish cooked in a sauce made from fermented black beans, chili paste, and Sichuan peppercorn, is another popular dish in the city.

Don’t leave without trying dan dan noodles, a spicy and savory noodle dish topped with minced pork, preserved vegetables, and chili oil.


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At the heart of Singapore’s dining scene are the city’s famous hawker centers, where you can savor an eclectic array of affordable street food. These stalls are so renowned that several have been awarded with Michelin stars. Chicken rice, aromatic laksa, crispy roti prata, and succulent satay skewers are among the most frequently ordered plates here.

Singapore also has a plethora of world-class restaurants serving innovative and delectable cuisine. Les Amis, in the heart of Orchard Road, is a Michelin-starred French restaurant renowned for its elegant ambiance and exquisite cuisine. At the same time, Odette, in the National Gallery Singapore, is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by Chef Julien Royer, offering contemporary French cuisine with a focus on seasonal and artisanal ingredients.

Seoul, South Korea

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Seoul has no shortage of culinary adventures for casual foodies and fine-dining enthusiasts alike. For something casual, go to Gwangjang Market for a steaming bowl of bindaetteok, savory mung bean pancakes, at Mayak Bindatteok, a beloved stall known for its addictive crispy texture and savory flavor. Continue to Myeongdong district, where you’ll find Gwanghwamun Jip serving up mouthwatering tteokbokki, spicy rice cakes smothered in a fiery gochujang sauce.

The trendy neighborhood of Itaewon offers upscale dining experiences, including Mingles, a Michelin-starred restaurant by Chef Mingoo Kang. In contrast, Seoul’s street food scene is centered around Hongdae, where you’ll find Mukja Golmok, a lively alleyway lined with food stalls serving up everything from crispy fried chicken to spicy rice cakes. Try Odeng Sikdang’s famous fish cake skewers, a beloved late-night snack among locals and visitors alike.

Kathmandu, Nepal

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Nepal might not be the first city that comes to mind for dining in Asia, but it offers a unique cuisine that is hardly replicated elsewhere. Start at the Newari bazaars for plates of momo, steamed dumplings filled with savory meat or vegetables, and served with a fiery dipping sauce. The most authentic Newari cuisine is at Honacha, a historic restaurant known for its delectable selection of local delicacies such as bara, a savory lentil pancake, and yomari, a sweet dumpling filled with molasses and sesame seeds.

At night, go to Boudhanath Stupa, where you’ll find a myriad of charming cafes and rooftop restaurants offering panoramic views of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Order a traditional Nepali thali, a hearty platter featuring rice, dal, curry, and assorted vegetables, at the well-known Himalayan Java Café.

Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is one of Asia’s top dining destinations, giving home to Tim Ho Wan, one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants known for its barbecue pork buns, and Lung King Heen, the world’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. Also secure a table at T’ang Court, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant that specializes in traditional Cantonese cuisine with a contemporary twist.

Like many cities in Asia, Hong Kong’s dining scene is just as impressive if you’re sticking to street food. Mong Kok Street Food Market is one of the city’s best, where vendors whip up skewered fish balls to stinky tofu. Opened in the evenings, Temple Street Night Market is a food lover’s paradise, offering everything from spicy crab to grilled squid served fresh off the grill. Then there’s Graham Street Market, one of the oldest markets in Hong Kong, offering a diverse selection of street food stalls selling local favorites like cheung fun (rice noodle rolls) and siu mai (pork dumplings).

Lahore, Pakistan

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Lahore is often overlooked on the travel scene overall, but if you’re brave enough to go, you’ll be rewarded with incredible food options. Vendors on Food Street offer sizzling kebabs and succulent tikkas to fragrant biryanis and hearty nihari. While you’re there, try Lahore’s famous roadside delights, like spicy gol gappay and crispy samosas.

On a sweeter note, Hafiz Sweets offers traditional Pakistani sweets, including creamy kulfi, decadent gulab jamun, and delicate jalebis.

Taipei, Taiwan

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Taipei isn’t just street food or fine dining restaurants—it’s a harmony of both. Order from stalls at the Raohe Night Market for traditional Taiwanese dishes like stinky tofu and oyster omelettes to grilled squid and fried chicken cutlets.

For a more upscale dining experience, venture to the Da’an and Xinyi neighborhoods for a sumptuous meal at Mume. This stylish eatery blends Taiwanese flavors with international influences to create unforgettable dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious.

Mumbai, India

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Cosmopolitan Mumbai embodies the full scope of dining in India—it has incredible street food, but also world-renowned restaurants. For street food, go to Mohammed Ali Road, famous for its bustling night market. Street food stalls here serve kebabs, tikkas, and biryanis.

Even better is Mumbai’s collection of fine-dining restaurants like Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, Bombay Canteen, and Wasabi by Morimoto, located at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. These restaurants range from global fare to modern takes on traditional Maharashtrian cuisine you won’t find elsewhere.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Bangladesh may not be the most well-known cities for foodies, but it isn’t for it’s dining scene, which revolves around street food stalls and markets. Order samosas, kebabs, and puchkas (crispy, hollow puris filled with spicy water). For something more filling, try hearty meals like biryanis, haleem, and tehari (a fragrant rice dish cooked with meat or vegetables).

Dhaka is home to numerous traditional eateries and restaurants that serve authentic Bengali cuisine. These establishments offer a taste of the region’s culinary heritage, with dishes featuring fresh seafood, aromatic spices, and locally sourced ingredients. Must-try dishes include hilsa fish curry, panta bhat (fermented rice), and bhuna khichuri (a spicy rice and lentil dish).

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is best known for its street food culture and night markets. Here, locals order satay skewers and flavorful nasi lemak to aromatic bowls of laksa and crispy roti canai served with spicy curry.

Kuala Lumpur’s food scene reflects the city’s multicultural heritage, with influences from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic cuisines. This fusion is evident in the diverse array of flavors and ingredients used in local dishes, creating a culinary experience that is both rich and dynamic.

Hanoi, Vietnam

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Like Saigon, dining in Hanoi, Vietnam is heavily reliant on street food. Pho in Northern Vietnam is different from Southern Vietnam. Pho Gia Truyen, a humble eatery renowned for its fragrant broth and tender beef slices, is the best example of this. To try Hanoi’s signature dish, bun cha, head to Bun Cha Ta, where succulent grilled pork patties are served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs.

Other dishes to try when visiting include ca phe trung (egg coffee), bun ca Hai Phong (fish soup from Hai Phong), and Vu Dai braised fish.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is quickly becoming a hotspot for digital nomads and solo travelers. Coupled with breathtaking scenery, its food scene helps bolster the argument for visiting. Go to Galle Face Green, a waterfront promenade lined with food stalls selling dishes like kottu roti, a savory dish made with shredded roti, vegetables, and meat or seafood, all stir-fried with aromatic spices on a hot griddle. For Sri Lanka’s famous hoppers, made with steamed rice noodles served with a variety of accompaniments, including dhal curry and coconut sambal, head to a local eatery like Hotel de Pilawoos and savor crispy, bowl-shaped pancakes.

At Negombo Fish Market, fishermen bring in their daily catch from succulent prawns to giant crabs. Dine at Ministry of Crab, a restaurant crafting Sri Lanka’s famous crab dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients and served with mouthwatering sauces. Upali’s by Nawaloka is home to some of Sri Lanka’s most authentic traditional cuisine, like curries, sambols, and pickles that showcase the diverse flavors of Sri Lanka. Wash it all down with a refreshing glass of King Coconut water, a popular local beverage known for its hydrating properties and sweet flavor.

Shanghai, China

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Shanghai is one of the core cities for dining in China. Try steaming bowls of xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and savory Jianbing (Chinese crepes) to spicy Sichuan hot pot and succulent Shanghai-style braised pork belly at spots like Yang’s Fry Dumplings, where you can savor crispy-bottomed pan-fried dumplings filled with succulent pork.

Discover contemporary Chinese cuisine at Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet or test your spice tolerance with Sichuan cuisine at South Beauty. For a taste of authentic Shanghainese fare, head to Old Jesse, a beloved local institution serving up classic dishes like braised pork belly and drunken chicken.

Penang, Malaysia

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If one thing is certain, it’s that you won’t leave Penang hungry. Try char kway teow, a stir-fried noodle dish infused with smoky wok hei flavor, by heading to hawker centers like Gurney Drive or New Lane Hawker Center.

Order Assam Laksa before you leave the country, a tangy and spicy noodle soup. Make your way to Air Itam Day Market or Ayer Itam Laksa for a bowl of this aromatic delight, brimming with fish broth, tamarind, and fragrant herbs.

Cendol a refreshing concoction of shaved ice, coconut milk, palm sugar, and green rice flour jelly makes for a phenomenal dessert. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul is a sweet finale to your culinary adventure.

Kyoto, Japan

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In Kyoto, Japan, dining is elevated to an art form. Kyoto’s culinary scene is renowned for its quality and diversity, from traditional kaiseki ryori to innovative fusion dishes.

One of the city’s most popular spots is Kikunoi, a Michelin-starred restaurant that specializes in kaiseki cuisine. Led by Chef Yoshihiro Murata, the restaurant is known for its meticulously crafted multi-course meals that showcase the seasonal flavors of Japan. Roan Kikunoi in the scenic Higashiyama district is a must-visit. This cozy restaurant, also affiliated with Kikunoi, serves innovative kaiseki-inspired dishes that highlight the bounty of Kyoto’s seasons.

Finally, near Yasaka Shrine, Tempura Endo Yasaka is known for its namesake. Using only the freshest seafood and seasonal vegetables, the restaurant specializes in the art of tempura, serving crispy, light-air delicacies alongside traditional accompaniments and dipping sauces.

Jakarta, Indonesia

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Finding authentic Indonesian food in the United States isn’t just tricky, it’s nearly impossible. This makes Jakarta, Indonesia even more enticing. Go to Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih for a taste of their signature goat meat fried rice, cooked to perfection with aromatic spices and served with a side of pickles and fried shallots. Meanwhile, Soto Betawi Haji Mamat is the place to go for soup. Their specialty is soto betawi, a creamy beef soup simmered with coconut milk, spices, and tender chunks of beef, served with rice cakes and crispy emping crackers for a satisfying meal.

Seafood aficionados will delight in the offerings at Bandar Djakarta, a popular seafood restaurant located by the sea. Feast on fresh catches of the day, from succulent crabs and prawns to grilled fish and shellfish, all prepared to perfection and served with a variety of dipping sauces. End your day with martabak manis at Martabak Boss. This sweet pancake is filled with a variety of delicious fillings such as chocolate, cheese, or peanuts, then topped with generous drizzles of condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles for the ultimate indulgence.

Manila, Philippines

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Manila reflects the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage and diverse cultural influences. Locals praise Abe’s Farm for its adobo, which features tender pieces of meat marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic and then braised to perfection.

For street food, go to Escolta Street in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. Vendors fill the area with an array of delectable snacks such as lumpia (spring rolls), kwek-kwek (battered quail eggs), and fish balls, all served with a variety of dipping sauces for a flavorful experience. Another local favorite is Dampa Seafood Market in Pasay City. Choose your fresh seafood from the market stalls, then have it cooked to your liking at one of the nearby restaurants.

Don’t leave Manila without trying its most well-known dessert, halo-halo. This colorful concoction is a delightful mix of shaved ice, sweet beans, jellies, and fruits and topped with a scoop of creamy ice cream. Razon’s of Guagua is the place to be in Manila for the Filipino dessert, which is known for its simplicity and perfect balance of flavors.

Eat Your Heart Out: 15 Indulgent Destinations for Food Lovers

Best vacations for foodies.
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Craving a taste of the world’s most diverse flavors? There are tons of gastronomic cities waiting to be discovered, from Ho Chi Minh City to Bologna.

We’ve narrowed them down to the 15 best.

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