Anyone who’s been to South East Asia comes back raving about the local food. From classics like the much loved Pad Thai to exotic Laskas and delicious Singapore style noodles, the cuisine in this part of the world takes some beating. But where can you get your hands, or chopsticks, on the best stuff? Where can you hang with the locals and enjoy a right old knees up? Check out a few of our favourite streets and markets and come dine on the very best local dishes!
1. Kuala Lumpur – Jalan Aloor Street
From around about 5pm Jalan Aloor comes alive with street hawkers setting up their makeshift kitchens and restaurants. It’s bustling, exciting, and the colourful lanterns give it an amazingly exotic feel. The numerous Malaysian curry dishes on offer are epic and the Mee Goreng stir fried noodles to die for.
2. Georgetown, Penang – Lebuh Chulia Street
A lively place to grab your evening meal, this small section on Lebuh Chulia fills with locals at night, hungry for fried goodies such as chicken and Popiah (similar to spring rolls), delicious noodle dishes and fresh fruit drinks. The ambience is crammed and buzzing. Earlier on in the day, be sure to try some Penang coffee – Lebuh Gereja Street has some good options.
3. Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang – Jalan Balik Pulau Street
The walk up to the entrance of incredible Kek Lok Si temple is a long and steep one – worth it of course in the end, but the best bit is rewarding yourself with some delicious market food after you’re done. On the main road at the bottom of the temple is a great hawker style market selling particularly good traditional laksas.
4. Bangkok – Tha Chong Ferry Terminal/Maha Rat Road/Na Phr Lan Road
Likely to be your hop-off point if you’re taking the boat to the Royal Palace, Tha Chong leads onto an intersection in the road by the palace. Here you’ll find many stalls whipping up delicious Thai snacks and meals, from tempting satays and firey Pad Thais to cool drinks perfect for the heat – and for taking away the sting from those chillies!
5. Bangkok – Yaowarat Road
Located in Bangkok’s Chinatown, Yaowarat Road is noisy and jostling with never-ending flashing lights and rickshaw horns. But amidst all of this is some incredible street food. Squeeze in at one of the many roadside tables and dine on an array of different options, slightly different from your traditional Thai classics. Seafood is particularly popular here so perfect for fish lovers.
6. Hanoi – Dinh Tien Hoang Street/Cau Go Street
Located just off the top of Hanoi’s central lake en-route to the Old Town, you’ll see a building a few storeys high with some open balconies. Head to Highlands Coffee for some amazing traditional Vietnamese coffee and sit outside on the terrace for great views of the buzzing city life below.
7. Hanoi – Ta Hien Road/Luong Ngoc Quyen Road
Often referred to as ‘Beer Corner’ this crossroads in Hanoi’s Old Town is the place to be come nightfall. Grab yourself a plastic stool, cool down with some 30p Bia Hoi beers and dine on tantalising pho and meat cooked on your own charcoal grills.
8. Ho Chi Minh – Behn Tan Market
This is one of Ho Chi Minh’s popular attractions, so not entirely off the beaten track, but certainly home to some sensational Vietnamese dishes that are cooked up before you. From pho and spicy rice dishes to saucy bahn mis, Behn Tan is an excellent intro to the country’s cuisine.
9. Singapore – Maxwell Food Centre
A stone’s throw away from the city’s fascinating Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and in the heart of Chinatown sits this great indoor street-food style market and perfect for a lunch stop mid-sightseeing. There are numerous stalls to choose from and the centre is always busy with locals. The favourite here is the traditional Singapore or Haianese chicken rice – expect queues for this dish, but it won’t disappoint.
10. Singapore Harbour – Makansutra Glutton’s Bay
Located in a prime location on Singapore’s harbour front between the Esplanade and Raffles Avenue, this lively hawker area is a feast for the eyes just as much as for our bellies. Makansutra prides itself on cooking up the very best street food and is filled to the brim every night. Dine on Singapore chilli crab, satays, fried delights and oodles of noodles.
11. Luang Prabang – Sisavangvong Road
After the roundabout as you enter Luang Prabang’s equivalent to a high street you’ll see a welcoming selection of food vendors. At breakfast try the fresh fruit smoothies and warm sandwiches – the latter no doubt a throwback to the days of the French. The noodle soups and rice dishes whipped up by the hosts are great too – the spicy chicken and Thai basil versions especially good – and be sure to try a Beer Lao or two, a large bottle costing around 50p.
12. Siem Reap – Pub Street
Ok, so the locals probably aren’t going to spend much time dining on Siem Reap’s backpacker street, but this is a good place to try some local foods and knock back a few Angkor Beers. It’s cheap, cheerful and an all-round great night out. Grab a table on one of the bars’ upper balconies and watch the world go by below. Be sure to try Temple bar if you fancy catching a traditional Khmer Aspara Dance performance – a bit of culture to balance out the beers!