South-east Asia's best (and worst) street food


Som Tam is a salad of green papaya and dried shrimp. It is deliciously fresh, crunchy, and spicy. Palm sugar adds sweetness, while fish sauce adds the sour element.

Tom Yum is a hot and sour Thai dish sold by street vendors. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal are essential ingredients.

A popular rice noodle dish called Pad Thai is stir-fried in tamarind, fish sauce, and chili.

Crunchy locusts, silkworms and grasshoppers are just some of the edible insects that tourists dare to try.


Pho is the most famous Vietnamese street food. The dish is made using fresh flat rice noodles, with a broth made from oxtail or marrow bones. It contains beef, anise, and ginger. You can serve this soup with toppings of beef, chicken, and pork, adding spring onions, bean sprouts, basil, and lemon.

Hu Tieu soup is made of yellow or white rice noodles. Similar to pho, it can be made with beef, prawn, chicken, or pork. Locals like to put sugar on their soup.

You can find Com Tam (broken rice) anywhere, from street stalls to fancy restaurants. The ingredients are simple, for example, broken rice with grilled pork, pork skin, or egg and fish sauce.


Khao Tom is a steamed dessert made from sticky rice, black beans, and fresh coconut cream. It is then steamed in banana leaf parcels. It can also be made with ground rice powder. Other ingredients can be substituted into the mix, such as peanuts.

Kaipen is a Luang Prabang dish made from Mekong River weed that is dried and flattened. It may be topped with vegetables, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and then fried. It is as thin as rice paper and as crunchy as a light crisp.


Assam laksa, the delicious fish noodle soup, has a sourness that comes from tamarind. The hot liquid is thickened with flaked, poached fish, and the fresh garnish of mint, cucumber, chili, or pineapple is sprinkled on top.


On Som Ang are sweet bananas encased in sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar. The whole package is then roasted inside a banana leaf on a mobile, open-air grill. The rice caramelizes and forms a hard crust while the banana melts inside.

Locals and adventurous tourists alike eat deep fried spiders. They say the abdomen tastes like licking damp cobwebs.

Source: South-east Asia's best (and worst) street food
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2020

Back to top