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1. Bangkok, Thailand
Few places in the world are as synonymous with street food as Thailand. For its variety of locations and wealth of options, Bangkok is the number one spot for street food. VirtualTourist members recommended Soi Rambuttri, a lane off of the renowned Khao San Road, as a great spot in the old district of Bangkok. Highly recommended is Soi 38 near Sukumvit, which is like an evening food market, running until about 3am, and very close to much of the city’s best nightlife. Look out for favourites like green papaya salad, mango sticky rice and pad Thai (stir-fried noodles with egg, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chilli and a combination of meat, garnished with crushed peanuts and lime).
Singapore’s cuisine is reflective of the multicultural mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese that intermarried with Malays) citizens who call the island home. The city’s specialties include Hainanese chicken rice with cucumbers, chillies and pounded ginger, chilli crabs, laksa and satay, skewers of marinated and grilled meats served with a peanut sauce. For those a bit dubious about the hygiene aspect of street food, Singaporean authorities forced all street food purveyors to register in the 1960s and comply with public health standards.
3. Penang, Malaysia
Virtual Tourist members were vocal in their support for Malaysia and, in particular, Penang as one of the best street food spots in Asia. The three large ethnic groups in Penang: Malay, Chinese, and Indian have created great variety in the street food and a multicultural influence on the cuisine as a whole. The Little India and Chinatown areas of Georgetown, on Penang Island, are noted for their hawkers and cuisine. Char koay teow (stir-fried rice noodles), assam laksa (hot and sour fish soup), roti and satays of beef or chicken are all suggested.
4. Marrakech, Morocco
Many VirtualTourist members recommended Marrakech’s main square, Djemaa el Fna, as the best spot to find street food snacks while in Morocco. Located in the city’s medina quarter (old city), the square contains close to a hundred food stalls serving a variety of cuisine that can be eaten at nearby wooden tables on the square. The options range from the standard Moroccan fare of roasted lamb and couscous, to more exotic delicacies like sheep’s testicle and escargots and they change as the day goes on. In the morning, stalls serve fresh orange juice, followed by eggplant, kebabs and brochettes later on in the afternoon. As evening rolls around, tuck into some tasty snails or enjoy hearty harira soup (tomato-based spiced chickpea soup) to start, followed by chicken tagine, shawarma or more lamb.
5. Palermo, Sicily
Italian cuisine is world-renowned, but the country’s culture appreciates sitting and lounging over a meal, so pizza and gelato dominate the ‘to-go’ food market. However, one VirtualTourist member was extremely passionate that her best street food experience was in Palermo, Sicily.
She recommended fried delicacies like arancini (fried risotto balls stuffed with ground meat and cheese), crocche (fried potato balls), panelle (fried chickpea pancake) and cardoni (fried cardoon). A typical Palermitano snack is panino con la milza, or spleen sandwiches, available plain or with cheese.