As you travel the world you will encounter many foods, including street food. But what is street food you ask? Well street food is just that, food that is made on a street. It is sold by portable vendors in a food booth, food cart or food truck on a street in a public area or at a market. This food is freshly cooked, cheap and in many cases, something you may or may not have heard of before. Many countries have street food, so I have asked some fellow travel bloggers what is their favourite street food from around the world. Without further ado, here they are.
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Sfogliatella, Naples, Italy
Contributed by Danila Caputo
Naples is a lovely seaside city in Southern Italy. My hometown tends to be addictive, especially if you love food. And I’m not just talking about the world-famous Neapolitan pizza.Street food in Naples is in fact cheap, delicious and unique! One of the things you can’t miss in Naples, aside from pizza, is our Sfogliatella.
This yummy pastry is prepared in two ways: Sfogliatella Riccia or Sfogliatella Frolla. Both are stuffed with a creamy mixture of semolina, ricotta cheese, eggs, candied citrus peels and a pinch of cinnamon. While Sfogliatella Riccia is particularly crunchy, Sfogliatella Frolla is made with a delicious shortcrust pastry. On the Amalfi Coast they make a different kind of Sfogliatella that we know as “Santa Rosa”. Think of Sfogliatella Riccia, but with custard and black cherries: it’s mouth-watering! Sfogliatella in Naples is generally pretty cheap. Prices go from 1 to 2 Euros. That makes it the perfect sweet street food that you can eat also if you are visiting on a budget.
Fries in Belgium
Contributed by Paulina Rubia
Paulina enjoying her fries
If you are looking for a laid-back city with famous street food in the world, look no further than the UNESCO heritage, Bruges. Only a few know that Bruges makes the best fries in the world other than its popular waffles and bagels.
Bruges is a city famous for its food and the best Belgian atmosphere. It is majorly popular among the ones with a sweet tooth. Who hasn’t heard of Belgian waffles? Bruges will serve you with enough sweet, and enough beer. But one thing that nobody would want to miss is fries. Do not let the name “French” fries fool you, it was the Belgians who first fried potatoes in the 1600s. Fries from Bruges are unique because they have a historic significance.
People like fries from Bruges the most because Belgians are the ones to originate the dish and they have mastered this moreish snack. Plus, Bruges is the best city to try a popular Belgian dish with scenic views. The best restaurants in Bruges serve fries in many variations like cheese, crispy onions, and bacon.
Contributed by Joel Marrinan
Seoul, the bustling Korean capital, is a city stocked with a plethora of traditional Korean foods for all tastes. From spicy snacks, to succulent seafood and sweet treats, there’s so much to try and a lot of it is really cheap. Seoul’s traditional markets, as well as in the popular shopping streets, are where you’ll find the best Korean street foods.
My favourite of these is definitely tteokbokki, a truly Korean experience that packs in loads of traditional Korean goodies including tteok (rice cakes), eomuk (fish cakes), spicy chilli pepper sauce, and ramyeon noodles. The whole lot is smashed together in a large pan, covered in a fiery sauce, and heated up with roaring flames for extra fire.
The result is a stir-fried dish that’s both sweet and spicy at the same time and full of different ingredients that offer their own sensations as you eat through them. From the chewy, soft rice cakes, to the slithers of fish cake, and wriggly ramyeon noodles, they all go down so well coated in the rich tteokbokki sauce.
Each tteokbokki vendor in Seoul creates their own sauce, which means that you will want to try them all and find out which one is your favourite. Like a lot of Korean food, this dish can be spicy, so make sure you first bite is a slow, cautious one!
Xi’an Chinese Pie
Contributed by Bec from Wyld Family Travel
Xi’an Chinese Pies
Tourists flock to Xian China for mainly one thing…The Terracotta Warriors. It’s what the large Chinese city is known for but there is another thing it is becoming just as well known for is food.
There are so many things to do in Xi’an during your stay but one activity that will have you talking for years to come is the street food. If you are looking for a place to stay in Xi’an with the best access to all of this delicious food is the Muslim Quarter, a destination in itself. The Muslim Quarter is known for amazing markets, tiny food stalls and amazing street food available all through the day. One of the favourite dishes of locals and tourists alike is the Xi’an Chinese Pie, Niu Rou Xian Bing. Normally on sale as a breakfast food, you can pick one up in the morning and have it with you to snack on through the day as you explore Xian. These are all handmade with a recipe that is passed down through the generations. Small stalls sell them out the front and some even have seats where you can watch them being made. The inside is meat with plenty of herbs and spices. They are then deep-fried and ready to go. This makes the outer pastry nice and crunchy.
In the Muslim Quarter, you can also find plenty of small family-run dumpling shops with seating available inside or for dumplings on the go. These are really popular from mid moring all the way through to late at night. Lamb skewers are also popular as well as ice cream rolls at night when it seems that there is nothing but food available from every shop in the area. If you are thirsty and the heat of Xian is getting to you there are large dispensers of purple liquid out the front of shops. This is a traditional plum juice that you can get a serve of very cheap and it will easily rehydrate you for the next culinary delicacy that you are able to tackle!
Grilled Snake from Cambodia
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Snake on a Stick
Snake on a stick is one of the weirdest food eaten in Cambodia. It’s made by simply frying and grilling snake over charcoal. The snake is first to cut into large chunks and then grilled over charcoal with its skin still intact. If the snake is small enough, then the whole snake is stab and grilled on a stick.
Grilled snake on a stick is popular street food in Cambodia that derives from the time of the Khmer Rouge regime. Back then, people were so starved that they would eat anything because of hunger. Like tarantulas, scorpions, larvas and more. We had the opportunity to try all this food while exploring the night market in Siem Reap. And after trying a variety of these, our favourite was a snake on the stick. Grilled snake tastes a bit like chicken. It’s chewy and sometimes a bit hard. The snake meat is, however, very tasty, and the snake bones gave extra crunchiness.
Ais Kacang, Malaysia
Contributed by Sharon Gourlay from Dive into Malaysia
Cool down with an ICE Kachang
One of the top cities in Asia for food, you won’t want to miss a stop in bustling Kuala Lumpur. With some of the country’s best cuisines on offer, you especially won’t want to miss the local Malay, Chinese and Indian options which this city is famous for.
However, when you’re sweating away in the humidity that’s strong year round, soon it won’t be the curry you’re craving but the local dessert, ais kacang. Meaning “ice bean” and pronounced “ice kachang”, this icy dessert can sound all wrong when you first hear about it.
It started off being exactly how it sounds with shaved ice and beans. These days, these are just the base ingredients with many toppings added. Exactly what you’ll get depends on where you buy it which gives you the perfect excuse to try one every day you are in Kuala Lumpur.
Popular toppings are coconut milk, roasted peanuts, fruit, grass jelly, corn and condensed milk. Often colourful syrup is added too and the dessert can be quite striking. Sometimes, ice cream goes on top as well.
While it can sound disgusting, I promise it’s anything but. Somehow the diverse ingredients work well together and it’s the perfect food for the climate. Give it a go!
Cape Malay Street Food, South Africa
Contributed by Katja Samouilhan
Enjoying Cape Malay
With eleven official languages and a melting-pot mix of cultures, South Africa has such a variety of food that it can be difficult to know what to pick. But when you’re visiting Cape Town, the street food you really need to try is Cape Malay. This is a culture and community that exists only in the city because of South Africa’s complex and difficult history. Their cuisine has many different influences, but they’re always rich, hearty, and decadently tasty.
Cape Malay street food, like the giant gatsby and little coconut-covered koeksisters, can be found at the many spaza shops and street vendors around Cape Town. They’re very popular among the locals, as it’s both cheap and delicious, and super convenient! You can grab a few treats and explore the vibrant city on foot.
To really experience Cape Malay culture along with its cuisine, it’s best to explore the Bo Kaap neighbourhood. This lovely area with its brightly coloured houses and its view over Cape Town is the perfect place to stroll through while you snack on your street food.
Pho, Hanoi, Vietnam
By Emily from Wander-Lush
Pho – a must try in Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam’s second-biggest city and undisputed culinary capital, is a mecca for foodies. Street food is a way of life in Hanoi, there are almost too many local specialties to count. Banh cuon, Bun cha, Bun bo nam bo and Banh mi are all must-trys.
But the most famous street food in Hanoi has to be Pho. Vietnam’s national dish, this iconic noodle soup was born in kitchens in the north before it made its way around the country and the world.
Pho is essentially a hearty broth served with thin slices of meat (typically chicken or beef), rice noodles, and loaded with fresh herbs, chilli and other garnishes. In Hanoi, the fragrant soup is traditionally made with beef bones.
Pho is eaten for breakfast in markets and on curb-sides around the city. Sitting down to a steaming bowl of Pho first thing in the morning is one of the most immersive and authentic foodie experiences you can have in Vietnam.
The thing that makes Pho so special is that every family and street chef has their own special recipe. No two taste exactly alike. With thousands of restaurants and stalls to choose from, the tricky part is trying to find your favourite!
By Monique at Trip Anthropologist
Okonomiyaki, often called ‘Japanese Pizza’
Tokyo street food is unique, exciting, and usually delicious! It uses seafood, lots of vegetables, but it also uses whatever food is the latest craze. There’s nothing ‘traditional’ about it – even very old dishes are made differently in different cities in Japan and according to hip new flavors or ingredients.
Okonomiyaki is often called ‘Japanese pizza’ because the batter is made from wheat, it is flat like a pizza, and because there’s no limit to what you can put on an Okonomiyaki. They are also called ‘Japanese pancakes’ but they are savoury pancakes in Japan.
Okonomikayi is found in street stalls throughout Japan but it is a specialty of the cities of Osaka, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. In Tokyo, Okonomiyaki is made with a wheat pancake-like batter that is ladled onto a hot griddle. Cabbage and other vegetables are then placed on top of the batter and then seafood, meats, and often a fried egg is perched on top of this healthy pile of ingredients.
It’s fast, fun, healthy, and filling as a cheap main meal that you can customize to your heart’s content!
Peru Street Food – Anticuchos
Contributed by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights
Choose your Street Food in Peru
Lima in Peru is one of the best cities for street food in South America. Peruvian cuisine is best known for ceviche, raw fish marinated in lime and served with onions and chilli peppers. However, the city has a lot more to offer. One of the most popular street food dishes is Anticuchos. In the evening, vendors set up their stalls across the city, marinating and grilling meat skewers. Traditionally, Anticuchos consist of beef hearts, though you can sometimes also find other types of meat. Don’t let the description scare you off! The hearts taste surprisingly meaty and not like organs at all. Plus, the delicious marinade will win you over quickly.
Lima is also a great place if you’re looking for sweet street food snacks. Picarones, fried rings similar to doughnuts, are one of the most popular items you can buy. Arroz con Leche, sweet rice pudding, is also delicious. If available, get it with a large serving of Mazamorra Morada. This thick sauce is made of purple corn, seasoned with various spices. Its fruity flavour perfectly matches the rice pudding.
Kottu, Sri Lanka
Recommended by Peta and Jonas of
Egg Kottu – Sri Lanka
There are many traditional Sri Lankan dishes and this rich food tradition has been shaped by many historical and cultural factors. Traditional Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its use of a wide variety of spices, herbs, seafood such as fish, prawns and crab, seasonal vegetables, rice, legumes and fruits.
One of the most popular street foods in Sri Lanka is Kottu, also known as Kottu Roti. You will hear the ‘click, clack’ and ‘chop, chop’ sound of metal on metal of a Kottu vendor well before you see them! Kottu consists of diced roti (flatbread) stir-fried with scrambled egg, onions, chillies, spices, and optional vegetables or meat, such as chicken. There are a number of variations of Kottu, but one of our favourites was the Cheese Kottu (the cheese texture is similar to cottage cheese) and then topped with a spicy curry sauce poured over the top.
There is nothing better than enjoying a fresh Kottu while sitting with your toes in the sand, listening to the waves and watching the moon light up the ocean!
Fartons and Horchata, Valencia, Spain
Contributed by Helen on Her Holidays
Horchata and Fartons
Valencia is an amazing food destination. It’s the home of paella, but for a lighter, anytime-you’re-peckish snack, locals and visitors alike love Valencia’s other speciality, horchata and fartons.
Horchata is a milk-like drink made of chufas, or tiger nuts, water and sugar. It’s usually served cold, in a tall glass or cup, and it’s delicious and refreshing on a hot day. It’s also gluten free and vegan-friendly. You can buy horchata all over Valencia, at horchata stands, at cafes and at horchaterías where you can either sit in or takeaway. The chufas that are used to make horchata are grown in the fields just north of Valencia, making it a truly local snack.
Horchata is often served with a sweet pastry called a farton. Fartons resemble a long, finger-like doughnut and are designed for dipping into the horchata. It’s a bit of a sugar overload, but great for restoring your energy during a day of sightseeing in Valencia.
Two of the most famous horchaterías in Valencia are the historic Horchatería de Santa Catalina with its lovely tiled shop front and interior, and Horchatería Daniel, which has several branches, including one in the art nouveau Mercado Colón.
Now that you have been treated to some local favourite street foods from around the world, I expect you will endeavour to try them yourself when next in that part of the world. If you have tried any of these street foods I would love to hear in the comments following.