One of my favorite ways to understand a place and its people is through food. Over the last year I have experienced many different local dishes: some I will forever crave, and others I would love to forget. Here’s a recap of the best and weirdest foods of 2014.
THE BEST OF 2014
Bourke Street Bakery: Sydney, Australia
While exploring Surry Hills I stumbled upon Bourke Street Bakery. The coffee lived up to the Australian standard and the rhubarb danish was sublime. I could’ve spent the whole day indulging in everything from savory to sweet.
Pancakes On The Street: Yangon, Myanmar(Burma)
These Burmese style pancakes are one of the tastiest treats I encountered on the streets of Yangon. The savory pancake contained chives and chickpeas while the sweet pancake was prepared with coconut, peanut, and poppy seeds. They were cheap, filling, and delicious. Unfortunately, the only place I saw them sold was street side in Yangon.
Momos at Jyoti Eating Place: Kalpa, India
Momos are dumplings popular in Tibetan and Nepali cuisine. Thanks to the prevalence of Tibetans and Nepalis in India, momos became a staple in my diet. After consuming hundreds during my travels in Northern India, the vegetable and cheese momos from Jyoti Eating Place won my heart. These perfect little dumplings were worth the wait.
Shan Noodle Soup on Strand Road: Mawlamyine, Myanmar(Burma)
Walking down Strand Road near Breeze Guest House lies a little eatery on the street. One sunny afternoon I sat at a stool and happily ordered Shan Noodle Soup(my favorite dish in Myanmar). The rice noodle soup was perfectly executed with crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and garlic chips. It was so magnificent I returned for dinner. The best part was it only cost $0.70.
Brothers Dhaba: Amritsar, India
Brother’s Dhaba was so delicious I dined there two consecutive days. The palak paneer was one of the most complex I had tasted, the naan left me speechless, and the thali was a pure flavor explosion. I could even gush over the mango lassi but you would probably start thinking they paid me for this endorsement. If you are in Amritsar, go to Brother’s Dhaba and give your tastebuds some love.
Dyen Sabai Restaurant: Luang Prabang, Laos
Something about Luang Prabang’s sophisticated vibe made me crave a proper dinner. Dyen Sabai Restaurant served up enticing ambience alongside superb Laotian food. From the mekong river weed, to the steamed fish in banana leaf, I was blown away. The fondue was a delicious surprise with its beautiful presentation. Great service, great Lao Lao Mojitos. For a few hours I forgot a was a backpacker and reveled in the affordable luxury.
Scorpion on Khao San Road: Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road is the gateway to backpacking Southeast Asia. The bizarre array of of legged snacks for sale most likely arose from backpackers willing to try anything after a few buckets of booze. In the heart of the debauchery on Khao San Road, I caved and bought a scorpion on a stick. The legs were crunchy and tasted a bit like nori, the abdomen made me never want to chew on an arachnid again. You never know until you try...
Homemade Rice Whiskey in a Laotian Village: Outside of Luang Prabang, Laos
I spent three days hiking to remote villages north of Luang Prabang. The first evening of the trek we stayed in a small Hmong village. After dinner we sipped rice whiskey out of a large clay pot made by one of the Hmong women. The booze was strong and reminiscent of sake. The locals rolled cigarettes with corn husk as we sat illuminated by our headlamps praying we wouldn’t be punished in the morning.
Chicken Foot Soup: The Thakhek Loop, Laos
On the last morning of the Thakhek Loop we struggled to find a place to nourish ourselves. When we finally arrived at a restaurant, it was empty except for a man who had just hopped out of bed. Between our inability to speak Lao, and willingness to be fed just about anything, we knew it was bound to be interesting. Chicken Foot Soup and the world’s most bitter vegetable hit the table. We left with a little nourishment and a lot of laughs.
Hangover Breakfast: Don Det, Laos
Don Det has a bit of a reputation for its party scene so it’s no suprise you can find a Hangover Breakfast Special. Although I didn’t order the house special, I thought it was worth sharing given the creative accompaniment of paracetamol and valium. My hangover breakfast will always be a pile of unadulterated home fries and black coffee.
Avocado Shake on the Street: Yangon
I am a huge fan of avocado but I have always enjoyed it in savory form. I met a woman in Yangon who raved about the avocado shakes so despite my skepticism I tried one. The creaminess of the avocado was perfectly complimented by the shaved ice and sweetened condensed milk. What I originally perceived to be weird (and a bit gross) became one of my favorite afternoon treats.