When we travel, we often travel for food. Right before we hop onto that flight or train or cruise to our destination, we often find ourselves checking Google and firing searches like: What are the best street foods in Bangkok? The best local places for food in Shanghai? Which are the best cheap food places in Prague? And the list just goes on.
Don’t worry, you are not alone. I am the same and I in fact take pride in travelling for food because food is just such a huge part of the entire travel experience. I certainly believe that if you have good food on a trip, your trip is successful. I’m sure many of you reading this are also like me, so today, I have a few tips about trying the local food of a place when we travel.
As I mentioned that eating local is such a huge part of the travel experience, but it isn’t always easy. A little bit of planning is always needed. Many travellers often take the easy route and stick to the main tourist strips and have what I would call ‘watered-down versions of the local food of that place. These restaurants will often try to cater to every type of traveller, so food items that are generally spicy, will not be as spicy and so on. So here are some of my planning recommendations.
Don’t always rely on what google tells you on the first page of the results. Find the local Zomato equivalent of that particular city or place. See which are the top places on that. For example, in Japan, I will always make sure that I check a website called Tabelog. Anything above 3.5 on that website, is a sure gem of a place and you can visit it without any apprehensions. So, find the local food websites. Here, you will discover the food wonders of a place. In my opinion, never ever write off a country. There is always something new to find in every place.
Eat where the Locals eat and Try the Authentic Local Food
I can’t stress enough on this. The local food is where the party is at. There is a restaurant in Bangkok called Took Lae Dae which is a quick-service restaurant on Soi/Street 5 of the Sukhumvit area. I happened to find this when I met a local guide in Thailand, and he introduced me to this place. Since then, I have had more than 100 meals here. When you are introduced to the places where the locals eat, you will be in a food paradise.
The smaller the menu, the better the food
I put this to experiment while travelling through Vietnam and this was so true. A small menu ensures that the restaurant has been doing the same thing over and over again and has mastered that, so every diner leaves happy and content. On the other hand, a large menu means the restaurant could be a case of being a Jack of all trades, but a master of none. And come on, the fact that you are reading this Veena World blog means that you don’t want to leave a dining experience disappointed.
Find the local food market
Let’s go to London to discuss this further. In London, there are many local food markets. Take the Borough Market London. This is London’s oldest food market and is more than 250 years old. Most of the week, the market operates as a wholesale market, but from Thursday to Saturday, it delights foodies with its large variety of fine foods from independent suppliers throughout the U.K. and beyond. From the choicest olive oils and cheeses to ostrich burgers and wild boar sausages, you will find all of It here. There’s also the Camden Market in London, be sure to check that too as it is also known as one of London’s Best Food Markets.
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Weekend Markets or Farmer’s Markets
In addition to finding the local food markets, you will also have a chance to visit the Weekend Markets or the Farmer’s Markets in places. In Melbourne, you have Queen Victoria Market that is an example of this. You will find the freshest product, speciality shopping and great eats at places like this.
Lunchtime is the best time
Let’s go back to Japan for this one. There are many restaurants in Tokyo where it will be virtually impossible to get a dinner reservation. This is due to a restaurant being popular, being ‘invite only’, being ‘members only’ or more importantly may be classified as super expensive. Now, these very restaurants, if you visit at lunch, will have a cheaper menu, don’t need reservations and the food will taste just as good. Lunchtime will often also mean that the food arrives faster and you can have a fun and amazing meal and get back onto checking the sights of a city.
Queueing up is fun!
And finally, for this one, let’s go to Taiwan. The land of the Din Tai Fung. This dumpling house which was originally started in Taiwan and is now in more than 14 countries will always have a queue outside. And trust me, that is in fact part of the experience. Without the queue, without the anticipation build-up, it’s no fun. So the next time you are looking for a restaurant and see a long queue outside, go stand in line, that 30 min or an hour-long wait will definitely be worth it.