Street food in Asia is something that supports the development of cities, provides quick snacks for people in a rush, and enables poorer people with fewer cooking tools at home to buy food that is full of flavor and cultural history. Some of the found recipes are those which have gained international popularity, but their origins are rooted deep in Asian culture, as well as disputes between countries claiming to have created them.
Pronounced ‘fuh’, this rice noodle soup originated in Vietnam and following French colonization has since spread across the oceans to become one of the most popular Asian dishes. It is thought to have originated in the 20th century in the northern part of Vietnam, near to Hanoi in the village of Vân Cù and its surrounding villages. It began as street food, and continues today to be one of the most popular street cuisines in Vietnam and across southeast Asia. The most common derivatives are made with chicken or beef broth.
Hailing from the Magadha region of India, panipuri is a delicious snack food which is readily available from vendors here, but it is also very popular in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The dish consists of hollowed puri (unleavened Indian bread that has been deep fried) which is fried until very crisp, then filled with a number of ingredients including potato, chickpeas, coriander, chili and chutney. Pani (flavored water) is then added, giving the filled ball a burst of flavor when eaten. Over the years it has been given a range of different names, many of which refer to the popping noises that it causes when eaten.
Known as the ‘Taiwanese hamburger’, gua bao is made using a steamed bun, which gives a chewy and soft texture, in addition to pork, pickled greens, coriander and ground peanuts. The sweetness of the steamed bun is complemented by the sweet ground peanuts, and both of these flavors enhance the rich fatty pork in a way that has made this street dish popular in Taiwan, so much so that it has even spread to foodies across the borders who have adapted the dish for vegetarians. The burger is often served with chili sauce, and its slightly open front displaying its various fillings makes it a tempting option for those shopping around the night markets of Taiwan looking for a bite to eat.
Som Tam Thai
A popular salad sold from the food stalls of Thailand, som tam is essentially a green papaya salad made from shredded unripened papaya. It usually contains beans, lime, basil, pepper and garlic, with the ingredients being pounded together in a mortar, creating a light spicy meal. It can be found in different forms across Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, but the sweetest version is found in Thailand, as it is here where ground peanuts are added to the salad. Due to its popularity, the Thai version has become international renowned and is easily accessible in cities around the world, however, for the best som tam, Bangkok street vendors merge sweet and spicy flavors perfectly to make the ideal light bite on a humid afternoon.
In Japan, street foods are generally sold from yatai, meaning ‘shop stand’. A common dish found at these is one which is synonymous with Japanese food and gastronomic culture, ramen. This noodle dish is today found virtually anywhere, from upmarket Japanese restaurants to readymade supermarket options. The popularity of this dish is immeasurable. Ramen is actually Chinese in origin, and research will show a conflicted history, rooted in Japanese and Chinese disputes. Initially a street food for laborers, there are now many types of ramen, and relative to the dish’s history, miso ramen is the youngest sibling of the group. It was created in Hokkaido, and its tangy flavor and miso fueled broth make it unique to Japan.
These are some of the best Asian cuisine dishes.