Whether on a voyage of cultural discovery, or aiming for the perfect tan on tropical beach, once the pangs of hunger hit it is only a matter of time before you sidle off to a restaurant and indulge in subsequent snooze. But, for the dedicated foodies of the world, who says you cannot plan part of your holiday around the gourmet offerings of the world? From street food vendors to Michelin star restaurants, there are unique cuisines catering to all palettes and budgets.
Tokyo is the city that boasts the most Michelin stars in the world and has an overwhelming array of restaurants specialising in all Japanese cuisine. Sushi and sashimi are cultural classics in the city, along with tofu gracing the menus of many establishments. Tonkatsu pork cutlets and unagi eel are firm city favourites and all Japanese meals are adorned with steaming rice and fresh, seasonal accompaniments.
From the most lavish of sky-scraper restaurants to traditional zakaya (pubs) serving tapas delights washed down with sake, there are eateries to suit all budgets in the city.
Although Ho Chi Minh is a more international hub of Vietnam, it is Hanoi’s old centre that is championed for its cuisine. A flavour smorgasbord of salt, sweet, sour and spice lays the foundation for the majority of Vietnamese dishes.
Street food is at the heart of Hanoi and eating like a local is the truest way to enjoy delights such as banh mi – a baguette loaded with pate, cucumber, herbs crispy onion and chilli.
Pho Gia Truyen is the most famous place for a delicious bowl of pho bo in the old quarte,r and ques are often down the street as locals and tourists alike wait to chow down on the traditional fodder.
Taking delectable nuggets of world cuisine and giving it a British edge has London hailed as one of the most innovative cities and championed for its creative young chefs. The city is awash with high-class gourmet restaurants to pop-up street vendors, and even bars are evolving and becoming epicentres of great food.
Artesian, at London’s Langham Hotel, has received accreditations not just for its superlative cocktails, but also for its beautifully presented gastronomy. In contrast, Kimchinary has been voted London’s number one street food vendor by Timeout magazine. Offering a slow-braised bulgogi ox-cheek burrito for a purse friendly £6, Kimchinary can be found at Dalston food market, Street Feast Dalston and Kerb Kings Cross.
Jaipur is one of the few hubs representing Rajasthani cooking. Hailing from the hunting expeditions of the Rajputs (warrior princes who ruled Rajasthan up until the sixties) chargrilling and barbequing are a part of the traditional way of cooking.
Sweet dishes are never referred to as desert in Jaipur as they are served before, during and after a meal. Traditional favourites include sugar and ghee laden churma and almond based dilkhushaal.
Laal maas is a fiery favourite of the region. A potent goat curry, with 45 chillies to every kilo of goat, is served with either flatbread or plain rice and a yoghurt based raitha for cooling purposes.
New York, USA
Fine dining in New York is electric and menus are forever changing due to new trends and movements gracing the gastronomic world. Innovative chefs create plates with flair, but classics still hold vigour in the city.
Grand Central Oyster Bar, opened in 1913, is a favourite haunt for many in the city. With over 30 varieties of oyster gracing the palettes of diners, the local, fresh and seasonal delights are not to be missed. Similarly, an old favourite in Brooklyn, Peter Luger, opened its doors in 1887. The restaurant is the target for steak aficionados and the porterhouse steak is a highlight of their menu.
Like New York, Mendoza packs a punch with perfectly cooked steaks. Alongside tender cuts of meat, Mendoza’s asados (barbequing techniques) are second to none and produce succulent meaty fare.
Mendoza has a rising number of wine growing estates and a bottle of Malbec, a red wine with plump dark fruit flavours and a smoky finish, is a popular choice to accompany meals in the region.
Azafran and Cava de Cano are much loved establishments, bestowing diners with traditional treats such as Argentine stew and empandas.
Known by nationals as ‘La Grassa’, meaning ‘The Fat One’, Bologna is regarded by Italians themselves as having the country’s best food. The home favourite of bolognese sauce, now known around the world, originates from Bologna. Other known favourites such as salty parma ham and parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese) are enjoyed by many with a glass of wine in many bars.
Bologna is an area packed with traditional trattorias, street markets and fine dining opportunities. All meals are blessed with the most natural and local ingredients due to Bologna’s geographical location.
Hailed as the mecca for French gastronomy, the city of Lyon is favoured for its bouchons; restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine such as sausages, duck pate and roast pork. Offal specialties are considered delicacies of the region. Aux Trois Cochons, a restaurant delivering traditional Lyonnaise fare, serve tablier de sapeur – breaded and fried tripe – which is said to have an acquired taste.
Like most French towns, Lyon is brimming with chocolatiers. A relative new comer compared to some of the oldest purveyors of fine chocolates and confections in Lyon, Bernachon, opened in 1953 and is an essential part of any visit to Lyon; tourists claim their truffles to be unforgettable!
Said to offer a more unique taste than Marrakech, Fez is a labyrinth of tight alleyways adorned with bowls of colourful spices and the aroma of slow-cooked tagines. Aside from the multitude of restaurants available, Fez offers a unique opportunity to get your hands dirty. Cookery lessons are available region wide and can bequeath even the most kitchen-shy individual with the skills to produce harira soup (used to break the fast every night of Ramadan), berber pancakes and of course, the Moroccan favourite, lamb tagine.
La Maison Belue is ranked highly amongst the top restaurants in Fez, with meals of tagine, couscous and salad enhanced by local musicians and dancers.
Fresh seafood and family run tapas bars make Barcelona (and Spain in general) a top choice for travelling foodies. La Mar Salada is one of the leading seafood restaurants in the city and is family run. The family decided that not only was food important in their restaurant, but they take great care in respectfully treating the marine products that are caught a few meters from their door. Their stews and paellas are recommended by all visitors, particularly de senyoret rice, which is laden with fresh razor fish, monk fish and prawns.