With all the food we’ve eaten on our trip thus far, it’s a wonder there’s any left for the rest of y’all. And, like the hook from any Iggy Azalea song, there are some things that we just cannot get out of our heads. (And, like Iggy tracks, some of these dishes didn’t make us feel good about liking them.) We honor them here; below, a list of the best single items we ate in Asia. We’ve excluded specific dishes from our favorite restaurants (check out Blake’s list of those here) so, for the most part, these skew in the cheap eats direction.
Sea grapes, Okinawa, Japan
The caviar of the sea! …The vegetarian caviar of the sea! We had these at Booten in Naha. Drag them quickly through good soy, done.
Beef Bowl, Ishigaki, Japan
If you are a reader of this blog, you may or may not be sick of hearing us go on about Ishigaki Beef. Well, TOO BAD, because we never knew beef could taste this good and thusly cannot stop reflecting on the perfection in such simple applications, like this beef bowl with white rice and lettuce at a tiny resto on Okawa two blocks east of Misakicho. This was our first taste of the stuff, so it holds a special place in our hearts.
Peanut tofu, Ishigaki, Japan
Is it a dessert? A side dish? Still totally unclear, but we’ll have two. This is tofu the texture of panna cotta topped by a salty/sweet peanut syrup. We had ours at Yaeyama Style noodle house.
Whole fish in delicious unknown sauce, Bangkok, Thailand
Much of our ordering experience in Thailand, especially when at informal eateries, involved obnoxiously casing our neighbors’ tables and then pointing.
This tactic proved extremely fruitful at the Or Tor Kor market food court, where we landed this fish. We successfully fileted it but unsuccessfully left with stains all over our hands and clothes, so we’re assuming there was turmeric in it. And chilis.
Fried chicken, Bangkok, Thailand
We’re so serious about this chicken, we named the Ari fried chicken guy our number one recommendation in a city full of recommendable things.
Khao soi/kao soy, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Any colds we may contract in the future will be made 100x worse by the fact that we won’t be able to order delivery from Kao Soy Nimman. It cures what ails you.
Roast chicken, Chiang Mai, Thailand
SP Chicken serves the platonic ideal of rotisserie chicken. Plus sauces. Look at those sauces.
Pomelo shrimp salad, Koh Lanta, Thailand
The food on Koh Lanta was terrible with the exception of Beautiful Restaurant and this salad at Relax Bay Resort. Pomelo + shrimp + Funyuns = the salad so nice we ordered it twice.
Kaipen with jaew bong, Luang Prabang, Laos
We stuck with the Laotian name on this one because “fried Mekong river weed with chili and buffalo skin jam” potentially sounds unappealing to some folks. Their loss, because this is the ultimate savory snack. The river weed is like a heartier, sesame-studded nori, and the chili jam is sort of like if spicy beef jerky were pureed (gross?). We ordered this everywhere we possibly could, but the best iteration was at the Apsara.
Roti prata, Singapore
At least twice a week, a sad-eyed Blake says to MacKenzie, “I wish I had roti prata.” Will our lives ever be the same after loving and then losing the coin prata with mutton curry at Al Falah Barakah? Is it weird that the most crave-able thing we’ve eaten on this trip is Indian food, and we didn’t go to India?
Black pepper crab, Singapore
It was expensive; it was worth it.
Chicken rice, Singapore
How can something that looks and sounds like food for picky toddlers taste so, so good? Tian Tian, we would get you for take out once a week if we could.
Chicken broth, Singapore
We’re giving the bowl of broth that comes with Tian Tian’s chicken rice its own entry because it is THAT GOOD.
Kaya toast, Singapore
Truth be told, we never found our kaya toast mecca in Singapore. But even the middle-of-the-road toasts we had were good enough to make the list. If groups of brunching friends in New York aren’t ordering two orders of this for the table within six months, New York needs to wake up.