What’s better than a hearty snack when you’re out exploring that historic neighborhood or admiring the local architecture? Treat your group to the amazing food trucks, stalls and street vendor fare in one of these five international cities known for street food.
The best spot to find street food in Bangkok is Chinatown— the original Thai street food destination. To get here you can take the MRT to Hua Lamphong station and then it’s a short walk, about 10 minutes, to Chinatown. Other favorites are the Charon Krung Road, Bangkok and Wang Lang Market areas all of which are accessible by Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin station.
Pad Thai Kung, or Pad Thai with shrimp, is the signature dish of Thailand and can be found on just about every corner. Som Tam, or Papaya Salad, is another popular dish. Made up of shredded green papaya shrimp, tomatoes, peanuts and chili peppers. This dish will wow with its combination of sweet and salty, sour and spicy flavors. If you don’t care for spicy foods, just ask the vendor to turn down the heat for you to enjoy a milder version.
The favorite dessert of Thailand is Mango Sticky Rice. Street vendors will serve up fresh mango slices over coconut-infused sticky rice, drizzled with coconut syrup and sprinkled with mung bean or sesame seeds.
Street food is a familiar element at Japanese festivals, temples and in just about every busy areas. Japanese cuisine is a mix of taste, texture and presentation, an idea that extends even to the onigiri or bento boxes you can buy at convenience stores abolishing the stereotypes making these foods are as unlike gas station burritos and convenience store sandwich triangles as you can get.
Stop by the Harajuku neighborhood to enjoy some handheld crepes while people-watching and checking out the crazy fashions. These crepes are rolled and served in a paper cone with delicious toppings like strawberries and whipped cream, gelato or brownies. Or, for a short break from sightseeing, stop by a ramen stall, found all over the city, and order up a steaming bowl of ramen. A far cry from the dehydrated packets we’re used to in the west, real ramen is made with springy noodles, bone broth and piled high with toppings like pork belly, scallions, bonito flake and of course a marinated egg.
Vancouver, British Columbia
All you need to know about street food in Vancouver can be summed up in two words— food trucks. Vancouverites have embraced the food truck scene with its wide variety of flavors and easy accessibility. There are over 100 food trucks active regularly according to the city’s food truck webpage. The city’s top food trucks are also invited to serve at Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s food truck event held each January making it a great time to sample the spectrum of offerings.
According to the Vancouver Food Trucks website some of the top food trucks are Roaming Dragon (Asian), El Cartel Food Truck (tacos) and Taters- The Baked Potato Co. (gourmet baked potatoes). Vancouver has also recently added its first food truck run by Chef Paul Natrall of the Squamish nation. The food truck, Mr. Bannock, serves indigenous cuisine with a twist. You can check roaminghunger.com/food-trucks/bc/vancouver/ to find a food truck that strikes your fancy and where they’re set up for the day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When most people think of Rio de Janeiro they think of Carnival and sunny beaches so it’s natural that the best street food is enjoyed on the beach. Travelers can enjoy street fare at the many beach bars or from vendors strolling up and down the sandy shores. The Copacabana and Ipanema Beach neighborhoods are popular with tourists and locals alike.
Tapioca is a staple in Brazilian food and tourists can find these yummies sliced, fried and served up like potato chips all over the country. For a respite from the weather try a Brazilian fresh fruit popsicle called a sacole, made from the fresh juice of local tropical fruits and served up by beach vendors.
Sydney’s street food is best experienced in the markets. The Chinatown Market, Brewery Yard Market near the Central Station and Sydney Fish Market at Blackwattle Bay are favorites, but popup markets are located all over the city so check in beforehand and see if there’s a farmers’ market scheduled for the area you’ll visit. Sydney is also a melting pot city sporting Cantonese, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cuisine, so look for these options as well.
Try the seafood platter or an order of fish and chips from Peter’s Fish Market at the Sydney Fish Market. The Cantonese pork buns and savory pancakes from the Billy Kwong stall at Eveleigh Market also get rave reviews.