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


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

Hot and sour, tom yum is another Thai dish sold by street vendors. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal are essential ingredients.

A popular rice noodle dish, pad Thai is stir fried in a tamarind, fish sauce, chili and palm sugar mix, and commonly offered with shrimp.

Locusts, silkworms and grasshoppers are just some of the edible insects tourists love daring themselves to try elsewhere. Very crunchy!


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

Hu tieu soup is made of round yellow or skinny white rice noodles. Similar to pho, it can be made with beef, prawn, chicken or pork. Local people prefer to put some sugar on their soup, so it normally tastes sweeter than pho.

You can find com tam (broken rice) anywhere, from street stalls to fancy restaurants, at any time of day. Ingredients are strikingly simple - broken rice with grilled pork, pork skin, egg and fish sauce - yet the tastes are unforgettable.


Khao tom is an addictive steamed dessert made with a mixture of sticky rice, black bean and fresh coconut cream that is then steamed in banana leaf parcels. It can also be made with ground rice powder, and other ingredients can be substituted in the mix, such as peanuts.

Kaipen is a Luang Prabang dish made from Mekong River weed that is dried and flattened and may be topped with vegetables, then sprinkled with sesame seeds, and then fried. It’s 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 or, sometimes, sour mangosteen. The hot liquid is thickened with flaked, usually poached fish and the fresh garnish – mint, cucumber, occasionally pineapple – sprinkled on top to round it off. It is often topped with fresh chili.


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

Deep fried and crunchy spiders are for locals and adventurous tourists alike. The abdomen is only for the truly brave and is said to taste like "licking damp cobwebs."

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