Where to find the best street food in East Asia
The variety and quality of street food found in East Asia is hard to beat. From the delicate flavours of Vietnamese street food through to spicy, intense seasoning in China, here are the best East Asian cities for street food, as chosen by travellers like you. *
Yongkang, Tainan City, Taiwan
Golden, sizzling spring onion pancakes in Tainan City
Yong Kang Street in the centre of Tainan City is a foodies paradise; brimming with traditional Taiwanese restaurants, new cafes, and enough mouthwatering street food to feed an army of gourmets. Keep an eye out for the spring onion pancake vendors and make sure to grab a bubble tea of mango shaved ice for an impromptu picnic in the small Yongkang Park. Stay within easy reach of all these fine flavours by checking into the Friendly Inn.
Douliu, Yunlin, Taiwan
Watch vendors steam your dim sum in baskets as you wait, in Yunlin, Taiwan
Located between the favourite tourists cities of Taichung and Tainan, Yunlin is often overlooked but the quality of the region’s street food more than justifies a trip. The Douliu Night Market is a large open air market, packed with fragrant food stalls selling fresh dim sum, purple yam pancakes, candied sweet potato, and sugar roasted chestnuts. Eat your fill there, or pack up a small hamper (the staff at Metro Hotel are happy to help you with this) of local delicacies and head up to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
Changsha, Hunan, China
A tub of fresh, black deep-fried ‘stinky tofu’ with red chili is a Hunan speciality
The riverside city of Changsha is justifiably proud of it’s seafood and many food vendors offer large metal mixing bowls full of fresh crayfish, seasoned with chilli and spices. Another must-try local delicacy is chou dofu ‘stinky tofu’, visit Snake Alley for a plate of this unusual treat, as well as a thousand other cheap yet flavoursome meals served in the point-and-eat style. Visitors looking to recreate some of the dishes they’ve tried should check into the self-catered Modena by Fraser Changsha.
Hai Phong, Vietnam
One of Vietnam’s many delicacies, ’em cua be’, consists of fried spring rolls with crab meat
Another coastal city with an impressive array of seafood, Hai Phong in Vietnam is full of street vendors selling Fried Crab Red Noodle Soup, Cat Hai Fish Sauce, and square crab spring rolls. Vietnam street food is known for focusing on fresh, simple flavours and the food in Hai Phong is a great example of that. Most street vendors operate near the coast so stay nearby at the Lac Long Hotel.
Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia
Try some juicy, soy-drenched noodles stir-fried for you on the spot in Penang
Street food is a family business in Bukit Mertajam, with most stalls operated by generations of the same family and combining Malaysian flavours to create Charcoal Fried Duck Eggs, Crab Meat Hor Fun, and the rice based noodle soup, Bee Tai Bak. When you’ve eaten your fill hike up Tokun Hill (it’s a very gentle incline, we’re not sadists) and visit the hilltop tea gardens. After a few hours at this Tea Spa, admiring the views of Penang, roll back down the hill and sleep it off at the Iconic Hotel.
Wuhan, Hubei, China
Two whole chargrilled frogs on a platter of basil is a local favourite in Hubei
The street food of Wuhan is praised throughout the Hubei region and visitors are best served by going straight to Hubu Alley. Here you’ll find street vendors selling familiar noodle and rice dishes alongside regional specialities like barbequed bullfrogs and Mian Wo (a type of fried pie). Most of Wuhan’s famous landmarks–including the Yellow Crane Tower and Shahu Lake–are within walking distance of the market and visitors can sleep off their gastronomic adventures at the Holiday Inn Wuhan Riverside.
Jeonju, Jeollabuk-Do, South Korea
A strawberry red bean mochi for the sweet toothed travellers
The South Korean city of Jeonju was named as a UNESCO ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ in 2012 and while we could wax lyrical about the city’s shrimp dumplings and baguette burgers, it really is all about the sweets. Kick things off with a Strawberry Red Bean Mochi or a macaron ice cream or a ball of whipped candy floss or one of the dozens of other delicious treats. Then sleep off the inevitable sugar crash in soothing surroundings at the Ssamok Ssamok Hanok Guesthouse.
** The data analysts at Booking.com looked at endorsements for ‘street food’ by people travelling in East Asia.