There's something so fulfilling about street food. Think about that time you went away, crammed yourself into a stall, wrangled a few plastic chairs or perhaps queued with the daily grind. Remember the flavours? The stories? The people pouring street-side, the faces, families and friends behind the counters. Well, if you're someone who loves to combine their love for travelling with their love of eating, then this might be the guide for you.
According to the 2017 International Travel Trends of Australians conducted by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), the Top 5 overseas destinations for Aussies include New Zealand, Indonesia, USA, UK and China, with over half saying it was for holiday reasons. The latest data released earlier this year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) saw Asian destinations increase in popularity with Indonesia, China, Thailand, India and Japan all among the most visited by Australian travellers.
Speaking to small group adventure company Intrepid Travel, there has been a recent rise in travellers who set off on what they like to call 'real food adventures' and this year, Intrepid released their first Adventure Travel Index, which saw Sri Lanka, Vietnam and India topping their list of the most popular food-inspired destinations. The Adventure Index combined with further third-party research and Intrepid's own ground guides have wrangled together a few of the street eats that are winning hearts across the globe.
So how many of these snacks have you tasted? #willtravelforfood
The ever-present guo kui (pronounced gwoh-kway) may be found throughout Chengdu and particularly on Sichuan’s street-food-famous Jinli Street. Coming in many subtle variations, the essence of the dish is a meticulously kneaded dough filled with minced meat, Sichuan peppercorns and chillis, stamped into a flatbread and fried, then topped with sesame seeds. The crispness of the fried dough melding with the tongue-numbing effect of the peppercorns and chilis will both tide you over during the day and propel you towards an equally sensory, and spicy, dinner of the local southern cuisine.
Egypt’s national dish and a ubiquitous staple found on street corners and in markets throughout the country and throughout the Middle East. Popular at any time of day, even breakfast, the simplicity of these spiced, slow-cooked fava beans is matched only by the diverse array of accompaniments one can add to create an immaculately personalised street food experience. Typically cooked with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, Egyptian Ful is invariably served with fresh, steaming Pita bread and sides of tomato & onion salad, chopped egg and occasionally fresh cheese. Standing around a ful cart amidst the jovial banter of locals is an experience not to be missed when visiting Egypt.
Leave the cheese and baguettes behind and instead go for what the locals really love to eat on the street. Extra crispy yet soft on the inside, the garlicky fritters from family-run l’As du Falafel in the city’s Jewish district are considered the best in town, and this particular place was voted into this year's Urban Adventures’ Inaugural Street Food 50 awards. Order it with a side hustle of hummus, fried eggplant, red cabbage and an optional dash of hot harissa sauce.
These fried puff pastries are served hot, hot, hot! Traditionally, they're drizzled with honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, although modern versions might include chocolate, caramel, cheese and a side scoop of ice cream. They are said to have been around since ancient times and were even offered to the Gods and the loukoumades near Monastiraki metro stop in Athens were also voted into Urban Adventures' awards. Get our fresh batch right here.
Crisp golden shells (puri) filled with potato, chickpeas, onion and sprouted lentils, doused in a sweet-and-sour liquid mix of tamarind and jaggery and a combination of coriander, mint and garam masala. Tuck in at the Elco Centre on Hill Road in Bandra, where the liquid fillings (pani) are made with filtered water. Although there is an air-conditioned restaurant upstairs, it’s definitely more atmospheric to join the locals outside on the street. Pay for a token at the counter, then hand it to a man standing behind the imposingly huge plate of puris. He’ll give you a plastic tray and serve you pani puri, one at a time until you’re full!
Brioche con gelato
A decadent Sicilian creation that is enjoyed any time of the day (breakfast included), one or more flavours of gelato are tucked inside a freshly baked brioche bun and topped with whipped cream. Gelateria Ciccio Adelfio in Palermo is an institution serving generously sized versions of this ultimate ice cream sandwich!
If you're on the lookout for something a little heftier, then Palermo's frittula encompasses the 'nose-to-tail' dining ethos that is taking off left, right and centre. Essentially the scraps leftover from the processing of beef cattle, the frittula is made from boiling, then frying in lard, these fatty, tasty edges, infused with bay leaf and pepper and then served in a paper cone, or sometimes couched in a focaccia bun. The essence of the economy as a decadent, succulent street-side snack.
Originally reserved for Chinese New Year (Seollal) and other special occasions, you can find this delectable dumpling - stuffed with meat, tofu, vegetables, sweet potato noodles and even kimchi – at many restaurants and food stalls. The kimchi mandu from Daechi Station in Eunma Market is raising eyebrows and look out for a small stall piled high with steamed dumplings.
Found all throughout Mexico, corn on the cob either boiled or grilled over coals are slathered in mayo and dusted with any combination of chilli pepper, cotija cheese, freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, pepper and coriander. El Pasillo de las Carnes Asadas translating to the grilled meats aisle, this section of the Mercado 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca, a mecca for carnivores. Select the raw meat that takes your fancy (keep your eye out for cecina, wafer thin cuts of beef or pork, a Mexican speciality) and it's grilled to order. Served with a plate of guacamole, onions and grilled chile de agua (peppers) marinated in lime, and you are ready to feast! Don’t forget to purchase a tortilla from a nearby stand for the complete DIY-taco experience.
Also called rghaif or melloui, this square-shaped, flaky, buttery flatbread can be found grilling on hotplates all over Marrakech. An absolutely delicious breakfast drizzled with a little honey and served with fresh mint tea. Get our m'smen recipe right here.
Depending on who you ask, pintxo translates to ‘spike' (hence the use of toothpicks through foods), small plates, or the one we subscribe to an excuse to socialise. Not to be confused with tapas, pintxos are small bites that have become quite the art form. From popular standby’s like gilda (a pickled bite of olive, anchovy and pepper) and tortilla de bacalao (salt cod and egg), to creative and often experimental concoctions using local ingredients like sea urchin, farm fresh eggs and garden tomatoes, you can also select your pintxos to taste and then chase the delicacy down with a herb-infused mayo crisp or a liquid shot of salad! #truestory
A freshly shredded mound of multicoloured coconut wrapped in a betel leaf and formed into a cone. This sticky-sweet street dessert can be purchased from sellers along Galle Face Green Promenade in Colombo who tote them on trays suspended from their necks like old-school cinema vendors.
A dessert-snack of sticky rice with sweet red beans and shredded coconut imbued with coconut milk, then wrapped in a bamboo sheath for ease of transport and the ability to be eaten on the go, wherever you are. The fire-roasting of the sweetened bamboo-wrapped contents imparts a deep, earthy flavour which balances out the caramelised sugars in this roadside pick-me-up.
Istanbul's Kariköy Pier at the Kariköy Fish Market is a popular spot for this street food sandwich. Made with soft Turkish bread stuffed with grilled or fried fish (often Mackerel or similar) and topped with lettuce, onion, red peppers and a squeeze of lemon, you won't want to ignore the vendors as they call out to passers-by.
Everyone has heard of pho, but perhaps the most loved street food of Hanoi is actually bun cha - a dish combining marinated grilled meats, rice noodles, dipping sauce and an abundance of fresh herbs. You'll find it on every street corner in Hanoi or in the central markets in Ho Chi Minh – as a lunchtime dish only.