10 Must-Eats in Southeast Asia

Asian food is up there as one of my favourites, and southeast Asia has lots of delicious dishes to choose from.

Singapore

Kaya Toast

This has to be the best breakfast in southeast Asia. At first, I was sceptical, because it sounds like a weird combination, but being a local favourite, I had to give it a try. Kaya is a kind of coconut jam, which is spread on top of toast, after butter, and can be served with soft-boiled eggs. My favourite is from Toast Box, which you can find in multiple locations around Singapore. They serve Kaya Toast as a set, with 2 eggs and tea/coffee, and you can mix the eggs with soy sauce to dip the toast in to.

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Chicken Satay

It just wouldn’t be right to visit Singapore and not indulge in chicken satay. Hawker centres are my top recommendation for Singapore food, and just behind the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre is ‘Satay Street’, where you will find plenty of stalls selling chicken satay. We got a couple of portions from different stalls, because they are pretty cheap, and they were both delicious. The meat is super succulent and they come with plenty of sauce on the side.

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Chilli Crab

Being a big seafood fan, I was pleased to find this popular seafood dish at the Hawker Centre’s; Old Airport Road and Lau Pa Sat would be my top recommendations. This chilli crab dish is more expensive than many other options at hawker centres, but for me it’s worth the money. It’s great for sharing because it’s a big dish of crab cooked in a tomato-based sauce, which has a good consistency and is perfect for dipping bread in to.

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Thailand

Pad Thai

One of the most famous dishes in Thailand is an easy one to be a fan of – who doesn’t like egg fried noodles? The noodles can be stir-fried with egg, fish sauce, garlic, chilli, palm sugar, lime and peanuts. the traditional recipe didn’t include meat, but nowadays a lot of places offer the choice of adding meat in. All of these ingredients create a filling and tasty meal.

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Phaenang Curry

You can’t visit southeast Asia and not try a Thai curry, and a phaenang curry is my go-to Thai dish because I’m a big fan of a red curry. It’s full of flavour with chilli, lemongrass and coriander among the main ingredients; peanuts are also included, and the curry has a savoury, yet sweet taste.

Massaman Curry

A good massaman curry is hard to beat, especially from P.Oy’s Place in Koh Tao, but it’s also very heavy. Massaman is a relatively mild curry, made with coconut milk and chunks of potato and meat added. It’s usually served with rice, but I don’t normally need it because the potato bulks up the dish. I cannot explain just how good P.Oy’s version was – you need to try it!

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Vietnam

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

When I think of spring rolls, I think of the fried kind that I would order from a western Chinese restaurant, but these ones are very different. Vietnamese spring rolls are made from rice paper and (my favourites) are then filled with vegetables and prawn. They are very light and refreshing, and the different veg gives them a good texture.

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Pho

I find noodle soup is good for the soul and that’s exactly what pho is. Pho is a soup containing broth, bahn pho noodles, herbs and meat, which is normally beef or chicken; a very simple dish, but a scrumptious one. You can grab a bowl as you’re wandering the streets of Vietnam because it’s easy to have on the go, or you can settle in to one of the many great restaurants.

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Banh Mi

This was one of the food items I was most excited to try on our southeast Asia trip last summer. It’s a type of sandwich, with savoury ingredients in a baguette, and we tried a couple of different versions on our trip. My favourite experience was at Huynh Hoa in Ho Chi Minh because the place was packed with locals on their lunch break and we had no idea what we were ordering! It was a lot of fun and we ended up with whatever the locals were having; depending on what you opt for, some banh mi’s will be more unusual than others!

Banh Mi3

Crispy Vietnamese Pancake

These were a pleasant surprise when we were in Vietnam. I had many things I wanted to try when I was in the country, but we stumbled across the crispy pancakes randomly, which made them all the more enjoyable. They are savoury pancake made from rice flour, water and turmeric, they are then fried, and toppings are added before folding in half for serving.

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