Eating my way through 5 South East Asian Countries.
This was an extremely difficult exercise. I ate my way through South East Asia for 5 weeks and oh boy! My tummy was surely happy! Almost everything I had in S.E.A was mind-blowing! Unlike any take out or restaurant I’ve tried before. Surprisingly, the best dishes I’ve ever had in my life were from during this trip and shockingly from someone’s random makeshift food stall outside their home or on the busy streets.
Originally, I wanted to write an entirely different post with robust details of each and every dish I’ve tried but instead I wanted to focus on the best dishes I’ve had and I had plenty! Why do I love these dishes so much? Well, these rein supreme in each country for me. Although, there were some great contenders and dishes I would consider #1 as well, these just left a long lasting impression on my mind, body and soul. These are dishes I will likely remake at home just to remind me of such an amazing time in my life.
So without further delay, here they are:
(I promise, it won’t disappoint)
My 5 top dishes from South East Asia.
Chiang Mai, Thailand – Beef Khao Soi (Khao Soi Khun Yai)
I made it a mission to find the BEST Khao Soi in Northern Thailand. Khao Soi was a dish I was most excited to try during my trip Thailand. I’ve only really tried this dish in Toronto at a restaurant called Pai. Chef Nuit is the head chef of Pai. She uses her Northern Thai cooking background and developed a beautiful and silky dish called Khao Soi. I instantly fell in love with it and set a goal for myself to find the very best in North Thailand. Although I came across plenty of Khao Soi bowls from different stands and restaurants, this one took the crown.
A hidden gem, tucked away in an unseeingly alley between two temples in the heart of Chiang Mai is Khun Yai. Every golden bowl of Khao Soi is made by a lovely grand mother who comes to greet you and ensure you order exactly what you want. In each bowl has copious amount of golden lava. Each spoonful of this curry soup strikes your tongue with a fiery hug, as you slurp the succulent egg noodles and press the impossibly tender beef against the roof of your mouth. If this isn’t food porn, the I’m in the wrong business. Drive or walk by too fast you may miss this must-try place. Each steaming hot bowl of spicy soup cost 30 baht (less than $2.00 CAD).
Siem Reap, Cambodia – Fish Amok (Khmer Kitchen)
My goal for each country I visit is to try traditional or national dishes. I had trouble figuring out what Cambodia’s national dish was. Even after asking a few people, no one seems to come to a consensus on what is THE national dish. However, Fish Amok came up absolutely everywhere! I’ve never actually tried anything Cambodian/Khmer before so I was extremely excited to try this dish and a few others. Cambodia had its troubles and turmoil so a lot of traditional Khmer dishes have been lost throughout the years of hardship in the early 70s. Fish Amok is one of the dishes that stuck around and remained popular among locals and avid foodies.
This delicate Khmer dish from Khmer Kitchen is composed of tender chunks of white fish swimming in delicious coconut curry using traditional Khmer spices. It’s super creamy yet soft and light. Each spoonful was a comforting hug of flavour. If there’s only one dish to try in Siem Reap, it’s Fish Amok. $7.00 CAD
Singapore – The Famous Chili Crab (Jumbo Seafood)
I’m not going to lie – I was pretty much waiting for this moment during my entire trip. I was recovering from a slight food poisoning from Cambodia but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from eating my way through Singapore. I’m going to write more about my lustful gastronomic adventure in Singapore in a separate post but for now – Chili Crab! I know there were plenty of other hawker centers and restaurants all around Singapore that serves this dish for a few Singaporean dollars cheaper but I needed to go to THE BEST in town.
If there’s one dish you need to splurge on, it’s this. Our crab was just under 1kg and cost about $70 CAD, cooked to your liking – worth every penny! I even validated my expensive choice with our pulp-looking Uber driver who highly recommended going to Jumbo Seafood as well, for the best Chili Crab. The 10 minutes drive to the restaurant was one of there more exciting Uber rides we’ve had. The driver was obviously been around and knows his way through the food scene. He gave us a few tips on how to order and eat this dish. You MUST order it with the Chinese buns and you must order a side of Cereal Prawns (Prawns coated in cornflake cereal and deep fried).
This Chili Crab tested like heaven on earth. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like it before. The dish and sauce looked so simple yet ever mouthful was an explosion of flavour and dreamy texture. It was spicy and creamy. Ever bite of succulent crab did not lack any saucy goodness.
Bali, Indonesia – Asian Chili Crab Pasta (Sisterfield)
Bali – my favourite place to eat. Everything that entered my mouth in Bali did not disappoint. Balinese cuisine is just on a whole other level of awesome. I don’t understand how it isn’t more popular?! Again, more for another post but for not I must talk about this dish I had in Sisterfields located in Seminyak, Bali – Asian Chili Crab Pasta. Now, I know you’re probably thinking “what! that is SO NOT Balinese!” and I agree. But if I were to pick one dish from the plates of dishes I’ve had, this is it.
This perfect cooked pappardelle was tossed together with chunks of fresh crab, chili peppers, sprouts, fresh herbs and dressed with a light Asian dressing. Sisterfield offered a variety of dishes from mouth-watering brunch to acai smoothie bowls to loaded salads to mains using only fresh local ingredients. While you’re there treat yourself to a cup of amazing brew from the coffee shop next door – Expat Roasters
Malaysia – Beef Noodle Soup (Unknown Street Food Stall)
You can’t go wrong with street eats from a Hawker stall. Especially if you only have less than a couple dollars to spare. I wish I knew where I got this from but I’m sure you’ll be able to find this in a few stalls in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Beef Noodle Soup is quite a staple soupy dish in these parts of South East Asia. You can definitely find different versions of this soup anywhere. All that matters is that needs to have an amazing soup base.
I must say, I probably didn’t even eat the best one out there but this dish was one of my top dishes I tried in KL. KL lacked options when it came to enticing restaurants or stalls. Meaning, I wasn’t able to find plenty that I haven’t already tried in the other countries I previously visited. Yes, I should have probably put Nasi Lemak here or Laksa but I kept comparing it to Bali’s Nasi Goreng and Singapore’s Laksa. I just didn’t want to except that I could have better than the ones I’ve tasted – call me snobby…sure.
But if it’s gritty, no fuss, simple street food is what you’re looking for in KL then you will not be disappointed as KL offers an abundance of this.