Eating our way around Asia – Our favourites

With such a choice of cheap & tasty food available in Asia, it’s easy to become a foodie overnight.
Here are our favourite dishes from each country we visited over the 6 months; focused on the more ‘unusual’ or local ‘speciality’ dishes.

Updated: May 2016

I’ve added a link for each, to a recipe site, so that I can cook them when I get back (& you can give them a go too, if you fancy).

Sri Lanka
Breakfast was by far the best meal of the day & here is a list of our favourites:

String Hoppers with Dhal & Coconut Sambol

Recipe: String Hoppers

Egg Hoppers
With of without fried egg & served with coconut sambol or onion sambol

Recipe: Egg Hoppers

Pol Roti (coconut flatbread)
Recipe: Pol Roti

Of course, dinner is almost as amazing! Order a chicken or fish curry & be prepared as they come automatically with 3-4 vegetable side dishes plus tons of rice!

imageTraditional dinner
Traditional dinner

The other filling but cheap meal we liked is:
Kottu Roti
Like PadThai but instead of noodles made with strips of roti bread. This is really easy to make & has become one of our favourite recipes to cook at home (we cannot buy Roti bread in Spain, but Tortilla Wraps work just as well).

Recipe: Kottu Roti

Bali, Indonesia

Nasi Campur
Again a mixed rice based dish which will be slightly different each time you order it. The one below arrived for breakfast at our Ubud homestay & included: satay chicken, satay tofu, sticky sweet chili crispy tempeh, corn cakes & chili fried greens with beansprouts.

Gado Gado (Vegetable salad with a peanut sauce)

Al dente vegetables, served with rice crackers, egg & sometimes tofu/tempeh.
Recipe: Gado Gado

Nasi Goreng or Mee Goreng
Nasi – rice or Mee – noodles a classic cheap but wholesome fried dish based on the Goreng paste of blended spices.
Recipe: Nasi Goreng

Beef Rendang
Beef braised for hours in coconut milk, then subtle spices added. Is a key dish in Rijsttafel below.
Recipe: Beef Rendang

Rijsttafel (Rice table)

imageCourtesy of:
Courtesy of:

This is a meal made up of small portions of various Indonesian dishes, but an example recipe is shown here


Iced tea is again big here, this time green tea or a weak black tea. We liked ours with a mix of one of more of following: lemon juice, mint, honey or just on its own, but plenty of ice!


Panang Curry
Taken from the Malaysian City by the same name.
Similar to a Thai Red Curry, but creamier & thicker. It appears on quite a lot of Thai menus.
Recipe: Panang Curry

Curry Mee

imageCourtesy of:
Courtesy of:

Recipe: Curry Mee

Hariyali Green Chicken Curry
Ok I know it’s not ‘traditional’, but Malaysia is so greatly influenced by Indian/Bangladeshi food its got to go in here.
Recipe: Recipe: Hariyali Murg Curry


Our favourite drink is based on the Indian influence here: lassi. A milkshake made with yoghurt & available in good curry houses in the UK.

Iced tea is also popular here, based on green tea or a Malaysian black tea. Mint & lemon juice our favourites.

2nd Visit to Thailand
As we visited a 2nd time during the trip (& Thai food is amazing) I’ve taken the liberty of adding some more favourites:

Som Tom – Spicy Green Papaya Salad
Recipe: Papaya Salad

Massaman Curry
Recipe: Massaman Curry

Thai Galangal Chicken Soup ( Tom Ka Gai)
I’ve had this twice, once red coloured & killer hot, & once white & more subtle. I guess it depends whether you use red chilli paste or chopped chillis. Similar flavours to Tom Yum soup but supposedly milder.

Recipe:Chicken Coconut Soup

Iced Thai tea. A milky tea which has a pink colour & tastes like Rooibos tea. Like most Thai shakes & smoothies, its made with condensed milk, so incredibly sweet.

Laap or Larph
Laos food is strongly influenced by Thai food & Laap is the Laos equivalent of Larb mentioned earlier.

imageLarp/b on right. Chicken with chilli & cashew on left
Larp/b on right. Chicken with chilli & cashew on left

Phat Lao
A mixture of crispy & soft noodles, vegetables & meat with curry spices (a bit like Kao Soi but dry).

My favourite drink yet is found in Laos. Blitz lemon/lime juice, water, mint & honey/sugar syrup in a blender. Absolutely amazing on a hot day. Although similar drinks available in other countries, they haven’t been able to match the Laos blend.

Cao lầu
A regional Vietnamese dish made with noodles, pork/chicken,and local herbs,that is only found in the town of Hội An. If you love the famous Pho noodles, you’ll love this regional adaptation.


Recipe: Cau Lau Noodle

Claypot Chicken & Ginger
Caserole based meals that are traditionally cooked in a clay pot, hence the name.

Recipe: Chicken Claypot

The secret to Vietnamese food is the use of fresh herbs & here are some I hope to find when we are back in Europe.

Our favourite drink in Vietnam besides the ‘Drip Coffee’ was hot or cold ginger ‘tea’. Made with shredded or powdered ginger, lemon & honey.

We had great time cooking a 3 course meal with our host Ben & his mum at WithLocals. We asked him especially if we could cook Amok (a rich curry) which was our favourite whilst in Cambodia.

Recipe: Seafood Amok

Beef Lok Lak

Recipe: Traditional Lok Lak

I haven’t bothered to list the most common favourites of Thai cuisine, as we are all very familiar with those we like & their recipes. Instead, here are two of our personal favourites which are less known (which we came across in Chang Mai, Northern Thailand).

Khao Soi
A coconut based curry speciality of Northern Thailand with both soft & crispy noodles.
Recipe: Khao Soi

Ground Pork/Chicken Larb, Jin Larb
This dish is from the northeast of Thailand and is easy to eat with sticky rice and fresh herbs/salad leaves. Larb is made from ground meat e.g. beef, chicken or pork then mixed with spices and fresh herbs inc mint. We only ate the chicken version as not big meat eaters.

Recipe: Larb

I prefer this recipe for larp/larb with an additional tablespoon of tomato puree/ketchup
My favorite Larp recipe


  1. U’mmm, yummy. Food looks delightful. Better than the ‘Giggling Squid’ in Brighton!! Need to get over to this part of the world. Jo and I were originally inspired to visit Vietnam after seeing Mr Stein’s cooking programme, but these photos strengthen the desire to visit.

    • Definitely visit, all three counties so far have very different cuisine. Vietnam food is less spicy but packed with fresh herbs & leaves. We’re loving it, but keeping a careful eye on our waistbands 😉 Love to you both Colin & Dawn xx

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