A culinary tour around Southeast Asia

Walking around crowded streets bustled with sidewalk vendors and motorbikes across Southeast Asia, visitors will immerse themselves into quintessential food paradise with a plethora of options. Under the overarching theme of a spicy punch and herbs, the culinary background throughout this subcontinent is based on the use of fresh indigenous ingredients and native cooking methods, making its own unique characteristics in each country.

1. Cambodia

Fish Amok

What: A fish mousse with fresh coconut milk and kroeung, a type of Khmer curry paste made from lemongrass, turmeric root, garlic, shallots, galangal and finger root, or Chinese ginger.

Where: The Sugar Palm restaurant, Taphul Road, Siem Reap

How much: US $7.5

Nom Banh Chok

What: Noodles laboriously pounded out of rice, topped with a fish-based green curry gravy made from lemongrass, turmeric root and kaffir lime, topped with fresh mint leaves, bean sprouts, green beans, banana flower, cucumbers and other greens.

Where: Russian market, Phnom Penh

How much: less than US $1

2. Indonesia

Bakso

What: A savory soup of meatballs and noodles often garnished with bok choy, wontons, tofu, crisp fried shallots and hard-boiled egg with endless variations.

Where: Bakso Lapangan Tembak Senayan, near Senayan City Mall, Jakarta,

How much: IDR 22,500-IDR 24,000 (US $1.6-US $1.7) 

Satay

What: Meat skewers made of chicken, goat, mutton or rabbit, marinated in turmeric, barbecued and then eaten with hearty dose of peanut sauce.

Where: In front of Ragusa Es Italia, Jalan Veteran I, No. 10, Gambir, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10110

How much: IDR 23,000 ($2.3)/10 skewers

3. Laos

Or Lam

What: A stew comprising bean, eggplant, lemongrass, basil, chili, wood ear, mushroom, cilantro, green onion and locally grown vine called ‘sa kaan’ with optional meat (classically prepared with water buffalo meat).

Where: Khaiphaen Restaurant – 100 Rue Sisavang Vatana, Ban Wat Nong

How much: LAK 46,000 (US $5.6)

Larb (Laab)

What: A salad of any kind of minced meat, flavoured with lime, garlic, fish sauce, mint leaves, spring onion and served with sticky rice.

Where: Lao Kitchen, 140/01, Unit 15, Rue Hengboun, Baan Anou, Vientiane

How much: LAK 36,000-LAK 65,000 (US $4.4-US $7.9)

4. Malaysia

Penang assam laksa

What: Thick rice noodles, vegetables, spicy mackerel based soup and a generous amount of shrimp paste, garnished with fresh mint, shallots, cilantro, cucumbers and sweet pineapple.

Where: Air Itam Market, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang

How much: Below RM4 (US $0.9)

Nasi Lemak

What: A fragrant coconut-milk rice mixture, served with sambal sauce, fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts, and cucumber and cooked with screw pine (pandan) leaves. Depending on where you are in Malaysia, it comes with a variety of accompaniments such as hard-boiled egg, vegetables, lamb/chicken/or beef curry or seafood.

Where: Nasi Lemak Mak Wanjor, 8 Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kuala Lumpur 50300

How much: RM3 (US $0.7)

Apam Balik (Apom Balik)

What: A pancake-style snack with a sufficient amount of sugar, peanuts and the occasional sprinkle of corn.

Where: Wilson Teoh’s street food stall, Gat Lebuh Cecil 1, Penang

How much: RM0.7-RM 1.5 (US $0.15-US $0.33)

5. Philippines

Adobo

What: Meat (often chicken and pork) cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices

Where: Abe, Serendra Plaza, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Manila

How much: PHP 390 (US $8.2)

Sinigang

What: A stew of fish, prawns, pork or beef soured by fruits like tamarind, kamias or tomatoes, accompanied by vegetables like kangkong, string beans and taro, and served with rice.

Where: Sentro 1771’s, Greenbelt 3, Paseo de Roxas cor. Legaspi Street, Ayala Center Makati, Manila

How much: PHP 200 for 100 gram (US $4.2)

Lechon

What: An entire pig spit-roasted over coals, with the crisp, golden-brown skin served with liver sauce.

Where: Elar’s Lechon, 151 Quezon Ave., corner Speaker Perez Street, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City, Metro Manila

How much: PHP 200-PHP 720 for 1 kg (US $4.2-US $15.1)

6. Singapore

Chili Crab

What: Fresh crab simmered in a base of a rich and spicy sambal with meat stock, lime and delicate ribbons of egg, eaten with mantou breads.

Where: Roland Restaurant, Block 89 Marine Parade Central #06-750, Singapore

How much: From US $388-US $488 per a set menu for 10 people including Chili Crab and other 7 dishes

Hainanese Chicken Rice

What: Steamed or boiled chicken served with atop fragrant oily rice and sliced cucumber as the token vegetable

Where: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore

How much: US $3

7. Thailand

Tom Yum Gung

What: A soup packed with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

Where: P’Aor, 68/51 Soi Petchaburi 5, Between Soi 5 – 7, Phaya Thai, Ratchathewi, Bangkok

How much: THB100 (US $2.7)

Pad Thai

What: Stir fried rice noodles mixed with an egg, tofu, peanuts, shrimp, green onions, bean sprouts, garlic, pepper, fish sauce and lime juice.

Where: Pad Thai Thip Samai (Pad Thai Pratu Pi), 313 Thanon Mahachai, Phra Nakorn, Bangkok

How much: THB 80 (US $2.2)

Khao Niew Ma Muang (Mango sticky rice)

What: Glutinous sticky rice paired with fresh sweet mango and drizzled with rich coconut cream, sometimes topped with peanuts, toasted sesame seeds or fried salty mung beans.

Where: Thonglor Night Market, Sukhumvit Soi 38, Bangkok

How much: THB 60 (US $1.6)

8. Vietnam

Pho (Rice Noodles)

What: A salty broth with fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and some slice of chicken or beef.

Where: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi, Vietnam

How much: VND 50,000 (US $2.2)

Banh xeo

What: A crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and rolled up in rice paper with fresh herbs and lettuce leaves.

Where: Banh Xeo, 46A Dinh Cong Trang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

How much: VND 70,000-VND 110,000 (US $3.1-US $4.9)

Pho cuon

What: Fresh spring rolls using sheets of uncut noodles to encase fried beef, herbs and lettuce or cucumber.

Where: Huong Mai, 27 Ngu Xa, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

How much: US $2.2/ 10 rolls

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