The best Asian dishes have their origins in the streets. From the hawker centres of Singapore to the bustling night markets of Taipei, street food is ubiquitous to Asian life; and the most exciting and affordable way to explore Asia’s vibrant culture. For a culture enthusiast, there is no better way to know about people & places than to deep dive into authentic local gastronomic experiences thriving at every street corner.
Here we share an insider’s guide to some of the best street food in Asia and what makes them so special. One dish at a time.
Hainanese-style Chicken Rice at Sin Kee, Singapore
Succulent chicken poached in a secret blend of herbs & spices, garnished with dipping sauces, and served in a bed of fragrant rice. Sin Kee’s famous Hainanese-style chicken rice has been the go-to street dish for locals and tourists alike for over 50 years now.
Located in Singapore’s Holland Drive Hawker Centre, this popular food stall also serves roasted pork and char siew – a delicious barbecued pork, and sides such as braised tofu and vegetables. But it’s the authentic time-tested flavour of chicken rice that has loyal fans far and wide.
Okonomiyaki at Mizuno, Osaka
Known as the soul food of Osaka, this Japanese teppanyaki pancake dish is made with cabbage, batter, and a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable toppings. While several street vendors serve the popular dish around Dotonbori and Shinsekai, it is Mizuno in Dotonbori that remains a hot favourite and is highly recommended by locals.
For over 70 years, the family run restaurant (now in its 3rd generation) has been serving Okonomiyaki made with a secret batter recipe cooked on a hot grill (teppan) for a fluffy and crispy texture. Topped with pork, shrimp, cheese, and a dash of konomiyaki sauce, aonori, katsuobushi, Japanese mayonnaise and pickled ginger, it is an explosion of flavours and the ultimate comfort food. Mizuno is listed in The Michelin Guide and represents the best of Osaka’s street food culture in a casual dine-in format brimming with warmth and friendly service, in a traditional setting of wooden tables and antiques.
Nasi Lemak at Village Park Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur
Fragrant coconut rice that is slightly sweet with a creamy texture, crispy fried chicken, fried anchovies, peanuts, cucumber and a spicy sambal sauce made with a blend of chilli peppers, shrimp paste, and other spices – that’s Nasi Lemak for you. Often served with a side of beef or chicken rendang (a slow-cooked meat dish flavoured with spices and coconut milk), this popular Malay dish is considered Malaysia’s national dish.
Village Park Restaurant in Damansara Utama is rated as one of the best places for Nasi Lemak in all of Kuala Lumpur; where quick service, delicious flavours and generous portions make it a wholesome street food experience. Complex in flavours and texture, the dish has cross cultural influences and brings together South, East and West Asia on a platter.