When it comes to Asian cuisine, most people immediately think of Chinese, but the foods are as varied and exciting as the many regions themselves. As the largest continent in the world, the culture-inspired cuisine shares several common denominators – authenticity, diversity, rice and noodle-based foods and an exotic range of flavors found at the bustling restaurant and local street market scenes. Here are a few items just waiting to be sampled on the various stops of Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner or Seven Seas Voyager excursion to Asia. And if can’t master chopsticks, it’s okay to do as the locals do and use your hands.
Steeped in French influence with pho (noodles), rice, fish sauce and savory sweet/salty/sweet/bitter flavors a common staple, Vietnamese food is fragrant, unique and must be experienced. And with street vendors offering unique delicacies on literally every corner, it is a true foodie’s paradise.
Pho Noodles are synonymous with Vietnamese cooking and the rice noodles made in a salty broth are often accompanied by the addition of chicken, beef, tofu or seafood and fresh herbs with a sprinkle of chili sauce or lime.
Banh Xèo a.k.a. sizzling cakes are giant fragrant pancakes (similar to a crepe) and filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and herbs. They are also coined “Vietnamese happy pancakes” for good reason and earned their name due to the sizzling noise made when cooking.
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese baguette sandwich that pays a nod to the country’s French colonization in the mid 1800’s. The light, airy baguette contains a mixture of herbs (cilantro), pickled vegetables and chicken, sardines or pork.
Thai food is certainly the most popular cuisine in the capital city of Thailand. Both aromatic and spicy, the country’s national food satisfies your taste buds – salty, sweet, spicy and sour – and has gained an international presence over the years.
Pia Pao is a fish stuffed with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, covered in a salty crust and grilled with a spicy garlic sauce.
Boo Pad Pongari is a Thai yellow curry made creamy with eggs, crab or chicken.
The thinly fried Chocolate and Banana Roti is a delight, topped with sugar, condensed milk and sinfully drizzled with chocolate sauce.
And while you are in Bangkok, be adventurous and try Thai crispy crepes, quail eggs and vegetables and rice with Nam Prik Kapi (Thai Chili dipping sauce) at one of the many local street stalls.
A confluence of the best of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian, this cuisine is also similar to Indonesian food with cream, curry, noodles and herbs being the predominant ingredients.
Curry Laksa (Curry Mee) is a staple with locals and tourists alike as the soft soup noodles based in a spicy coconut cream base made with tofu, prawns and bean sprouts are sheer comfort food.
Nasi Kerabu is a quirky blue rice from the state of Kelantan and gets its beautiful aquamarine blue color from crushed telang flowers mixed with flour. The colorful dish is topped with fried coconut and bean sprouts.
The national dish of Nasi Lemak is a simple coconut rice with peanuts, fried anchovies, hard-boiled eggs and sambal paste (spicy shrimp). You can also add fried chicken for a meatier version.
It’s not uncommon to eat up to five or six meals a day in this popular travel destination. Singaporean cuisine is symbolic of the city-state at a cultural crossroads with its infusion of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese influences.
Chilli Crab (yes, that is the way they spell chili) is a Singapore crab dressed in spicy tomato and black pepper sauce. This is one savory dish where you will need to dig in and have plenty of napkins on hand.
Bak Chor Mee is minced meat noodle dish with eggs (known as Mee Pok) and cooked in a concoction of chili and soy sauce and accompanied by fishcakes or pork liver.
Hokkien Mee are egg and rice noodles made delicious with beansprouts, prawns, squid and a spritz of citrus known as calamansi (similar to limes).
The cuisine of Hong Kong is a virtual melting pot and the diversity can be found everywhere from the local fishball joints (the fried delicacy is as popular in Hong Kong as French fries are in the United States) to high-end cosmopolitan eateries.
Dim Sum are small bite-sized dishes (think dumplings filled with meat, seafood and even chicken feet) and should be declared the national food of Hong Kong.
Originating from Guangdong, the delicious poultry dish with a funny name known as Wind Sand Chicken is one you must try. Garlic is added to the roasted chicken and resembles wind-blown sand, hence the name.
Wontons are an item almost everyone has sampled but needs to be enjoyed in its native region. Translated as “crossed hands,” the dumplings are filled with fish, chicken, duck or pork and added to a clear soup.
Get to know the exquisite flavors of Asia on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises Asia Voyages