79 Asian street foods that you have to try at least once
Asia could very well be the street food capital of the world. Don't believe us? Read on.
The street food culture in Asia is constantly thriving and ever evolving. From sidewalk stalls to hawker centres, the flavours and textures of Asian street eats are practically endless. So it’s no wonder that curbside cuisine in Asia is one of the best in the world. Looking for the best street food in Asia? Here’s where to start.
79 of the Absolute Must-Try Best Street Food in Asia
This grilled dish consists of skewered meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, mutton, or tofu. What makes the marinated meat more flavourful? The tasty soy and peanut sauce.
If you’re craving this street food, you can get it practically anywhere in Southeast Asia, but most commonly in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
2. Hainanese Chicken Rice
This is a must try, as it is one of the most beloved dishes in all of Singapore. You can have Hainanese chicken rice steamed or roasted, but the non-negotiables of this dish are its accompanying sauces and ginger-infused rice.
3. Char Kway Teow
This savoury dish of flat noodles stir fried in vegetables and soy sauces, can also be served with prawns, sausage or lard bursting with rich flavours and pleasant textures. Definitely a must try when you’re in Singapore or Malaysia!
4. Kaya Toast
Though typically a breakfast food, this can be enjoyed at any time of day. This dish consists of kaya (coconut, egg, and sugar) jam spread generously over toasted bread and served with soft boiled eggs drizzled with black sauce.
Like Kaya toast, roti prata (or roti canai) is a popular breakfast street food in Singapore. This traditionally Indian dish is made up of fried, flaky flat bread that can be served plain or with a side of egg, fish, sugar, condensed milk, or mutton curry.
You can also have your roti fill elsewhere in Southeast Asia, like the bustling streets of Bangkok.
The rich and savoury spicy noodle soup is a mingling of flavours, commonly done with a coconut milk and curry base.
There are many delicious types of this spice-filled broth, like Sarawak Laksa, which was dubbed by the late Anthony Bourdain as the ‘Breakfast of the Gods,’ and the more tangy Laksam, which is made with thicker noodles, mackerel, and tamarind.
This popular street food in the Philippines consists of quail eggs coated in a flour-cornstarch batter that’s been deep fried to a crisp. A similar street food, which is fried the same way, is tokneneng, which is made with boiled chicken eggs.
For those who haven’t tried it, isaw can seem unappetising. Sure, skewered chicken intestines might not be for all, but it’s definitely worth a shot, with its meaty and smoky flavour. Don’t forget to dip it in vinegar!
9. Fish balls
This deep fried, skewered dish is made up of fish meat. It’s a staple of practically every street food cart in the streets of the Philippines. You can have it with sweet sauce or spicy sauce. Some even make a full meal out of it by pairing it with rice.
This sweet street eat, which is popular in the Philippines, is made up of bananas and sweet potatoes, deep fried in a brown sugar glaze. Drooling yet?
Another sweet favourite of Filipinos is turon, which is a popular snack made up of wrapped banana fried in a brown sugar. This snack can also be made with jackfruit and is best enjoyed with a cold soda.
12. Chicken Feet
Also known as Adidas, this is another skewered dish that’s a staple of Filipino street food. It’s basically chicken feet barbecued over a charcoal grill.
This popular street food is a staple of mornings in the Philippines, though this caramel-drizzled tofu with tapioca pearls or sago can be enjoyed a snack at any time of day.
Also known as balot, this divisive dish is made up of duck or chicken embryo, boiled and eaten straight from the shell. Have it with salt for maximum flavour.
It’s not just the Philippines that loves this “strange” street food, but other Southeast Asian countries, like Laos and Cambodia.
This Malaysian street food favourite is made up of skewered meat and vegetables, cooked hot pot style, and can be dipped in an array of sauces to suit your taste, like chilli, or sweet and peanut sauce.
Though typically served as a side to rice and noodles, it can also be a one-meal dish.
16. Chee cheong fun
This Chinese rice noodle dish is prepared by steaming and it can be enjoyed as a breakfast dish or a midday snack. It’s typically garnished with sesame seeds, fried shallots and drizzled with a soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil sauce mixture.
17. Apam Balik
Also known as martabak manis, this pancake turnover is made up of sweet corn, sugar, and crushed peanuts. You can get your Apam Balik fix in street food stalls in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, cendol is a cold and creamy dessert made up of rice flour jelly, red beans, and jackfruit or sometimes durian.
19. Fried bee hoon noodles
Bee hoon noodles, are thin, tasty noodles that, when stir fried with soy sauce, vegetables and meat, can be whipped up into a delightful one meal dish that’s flavourful, filling, and quite healthy.
This savoury meat and fruit salad is a spicy hawker favourite. Often served with fruit, vegetables, and fritters in a prawn-chilli paste, you can have your fill of this roadside snack in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia as well.
The best street food in Asia are not just for meat lovers. Gado-gado, a popular street food in Indonesia, includes tofu, vegetables, and tempeh (deep-fried fermented soybeans), drizzled with a nutty sauce, and toped with boiled egg and onions.
22. Nasi Gila
Also known as “crazy rice,” this popular Indonesian street food is a fun mix of flavours and textures, thanks to a variety of meat toppings sausage, meatballs, lamb, and chicken.
This spicy street snack is much like gado-gado, with its peanut sauce, but instead of tofu and veggies, ketoprak is made up of noodles and lontong (rice cakes) and topped with bean sprouts, garlic, tofu, shallots, and chili as well as boiled eggs and cucumber.
24. Ayam Goreng
Also known as Malaysian braised chicken, ayam goreng is a popular street food that’s fragrant and spicy, which can be served with slices of lime.
This iconic Indonesian street food is of Chinese origin. Bakmi ayam is a hearty noodle broth with chicken meat and wonton, served with sambal and shallots on the side. But bakmi also has a fried variety, with chicken breast, mushrooms, broccoli and cabbage.
This meatball noodle soup, which is a staple of Indonesian street food culture, is a tasty broth that can be garnished with Chinese dumplings, tofu, shallots, bok choy, and hardboiled eggs.
27. Nasi Uduk
This Indonesian rice dish bears similarities with nasi lemak, but instead of infusing rice with coconut milk, nasi uduk makes use of water, along with a variety of flavourful spices, such as lemongrass.
28. Pisang Roa
This makes the list of the best street food in Asia, if only for its uniqueness. Who knew bananas could be even more tasty with chilli sauce? You can find this fried street food in Indonesia.
29. Soto Tangkar
This Indonesian-style beef brisket soup consists of a coconut milk base infused with a variety of spices. This street food is made even more interesting by its rich history. Locals believe that this soup was first served as a spicy soup to a king who fell ill.
30. Kerak Telor
This is one of the most iconic street foods in Indonesia. Kerak telor, when translated into Bahasa, means “egg crust” and it’s commonly sold in popular tourist spots in Jakarta.
31. Bánh mì (banh mi)
This baguette sandwich is now popular the world over and is one of the most iconic Vietnamese dishes. Though there are several variations of the dish, it generally consists of shredded pork, luncheon meat, pâté, radish, cucumbers, coriander, mayonnaise and sometimes pounded chillies.
32. Phở (pho)
Though you have most likely tried this popular noodle dish, nothing beats trying it where it first originated—Vietnam. This consists of tender rice noodles with beef or chicken in a flavourful broth. It can also be garnished with finely chopped green onions. This street food is often served with a side of herbs, like mint and coriander or chilli sauce for that extra kick.
33. Bún riêu (bun rieu)
This is one of the most popular street food noodle dishes in Vietnam. What sets this apart is that this rice noodle soup has a crab and tomato base. It also consists of rice noodles, tofu, meatballs, pork, pig’s blood, and shrimp or crab paste.
34. Banh xeo
This savoury, sizzling crepe is made by mixing fried pork fat in a rice flour-turmeric batter and prawns and bean sprouts. This Vietnamese street food is often serve with a side of sweet chilli fish sauce and lettuce.
35. Goi cuon
This Vietnamese take on fresh spring rolls is made up of prawns, lettuce, pork, and noodles enveloped by translucent rice paper and slathered with peanut sauce.
36. Banh Trang Nuong
Also known as Vietnamese pizza, this street food can commonly be found in Ho Chi Minh City. This crispy snack is made by grilling riced paper and topping it with minced pork, eggs, spring onions, prawns, and delicious herbs.
37. Cang cua and oc
This seafood street dish of barbecued crab claws (cang cua) and snails (oc), which can be found in Ho Chi Minh city, is often sprinkled with sea salt, lime, and chilli flakes.
38. Com Tam
If you find yourself searching for a filling meal when wandering the streets of Vietnam, this rice dish with sticky pork chop or fish is a good choice. Com tam can also be served with a fried egg, cucumber, spring onions, and pickles.
Best enjoyed with a hot cup of teh tarik, this Indian dish is also served in other parts of Asia, like Malaysia. This street food can be enjoyed at breakfast and dinnertime. There are different kinds of dosa—egg, onion, masala, cheese, or vegetable—but generally, it is made using a rice and lentil fermented pancake. Once cooked it can either be rolled or folded. Smaller servings can be filled with chutney.
40. Ice Cream Potong
In Malay, Potong means ‘cut’ ice cream. This cold sweet treat can be found in the streets of Singapore and Malaysia and come in a variety of flavours, like coconut, red bean, yam, and even teh tarik.
41. Ice cream rolls
Another dessert worth trying, specifically if you find yourself in Thailand, are ice cream rolls. Made by up ice cream on a flat surface, this dessert, which is also known as “stir-fried ice cream,” is made by mixing a variety of toppings into a sweet milk base on a cold surface until frozen until scooped and rolled using metal spatulas.
42. Sweet Corn
This beloved street food is tasty and filling. Often served with butter, margarine and cheese powder, sweet corn can be enjoyed as shredded kernels into a cup or directly on the cob.
Traditionally whipped up by the Chinese, this street food has been embraced by Filipinos, too, who love eating it as a fried snack drizzled with sweet and sour sauce. Kikiam is made by wrapping meat in tawpe or bean curds before steaming, then frying.
44. Ice scramble (iskrambol)
This is a childhood favourite street food for many who grew up in the Philippines. Iskrambol is basically frozen condensed milk as well as banana and vanilla flavours drizzled over shaved ice drizzled. Its staple toppings are strawberry-chocolate syrup, tiny marshmallows, sprinkles, or rice crispies.
45. Black Pepper buns
A staple of Taiwan’s world famous night markets, black pepper buns, which are also known as Hu Jiao Bing, racks up quite the queue. But as my experience shows, it’s definitely worth the wait. Imagine biting into a crispy, but chewy piece of bread with a tender, peppery meat filling. Yum!
46. Oyster omelette
This savoury and filling street food, which is of Chinese origin, is a staple of Taiwan’s night markets, Singapore’s Hawker centres, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia.
47. Stinky tofu
This aromatic fermented tofu dish is a must try. Widely available in the food stalls of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, this fermented dish’s scent might be overpowering, but it’s a roadside snack that’s both tasty and filling. This street food is often served as tofu cubes skewered and topped with pickles.
48. Carrot cake
Fondly called Chai Tow Kway 萝卜糕, this fried rice cake can be prepared two ways: black (with sweet dark soy sauce) or the white carrot cake variety. Not to be confused with the popular cream-cheese based dessert, this local Singapore favourite is a savoury dish made up mostly of rice flour and white radish.
49. Crab omelette
Commonly found in Thailand, and Vietnam, this street food is hearty, sweet, and spicy. It’s so good that it even earned one vendor in Raan Jay Fai in Phra Nakhon, Bangkok a Michelin star back in December 2017. The Japanese have their own take on the crab omelette, or Kanitama-don, where the crab omelette is served on a bed of rice.
50. Moo Ping
Grilled pork skewers along with sticky rice make up this Thai street food favourite. This quick snack owes its flavour to a garlic, soy sauce, and sugar marinade.
51. Sai Ooah
This sausage, commonly found in Chiang Mai and other regions in Thailand, owes its distinct flavour to kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal that’s been mixed into the meat mixture. Some variants of this involve chilli paste, as well.
52. Khao Pad
Also known as Thailand fried rice, this is an excellent choice for when you’re craving a garlicky, fragrant, but filling dish. You can get your fix of this street food practically anywhere in Thailand.
53. Som Tam
Som tam of green papaya salad is a refreshing, savoury and spicy street made up of beans, tomatoes, chilli, crab, fish sauce and lime. Versions of this delicacy are also available in Cambodia as bok l’hong and in Laos as tam som.
Like cotton candy in its consistency but less sweet, you can find dragon beard candy (kkulturae), which is made using strands of honey and cornstarch, filled with chocolate or peanuts, in the street food stalls of Korea and Hong Kong originated from China.
55. Pad Thai Kung
This local Thai favourite that’s now beloved the world over. Why? Mostly because of its delectable rice noodles stir-fried with tofu, tamarind, fish sauce, shrimp, lime, and chilli peppers.
56. Pad Kra Pao Moo
Also known as Basil and Pork Stir-Fry, this street food is one of the local lunch favourites in Bangkok. This tasty dish, which can also include chicken or beef, is made by stir-frying meat in a garlic chilli paste and served with rice on the side and topped with wilted basil as well as a warm, runny egg.
57. Pla Pao
Pla pao is a grilled fish that possesses a lemongrass-lime flavoured stuffing. If you chance upon this Thai street food, make sure to dip it in a sour, fragrant seafood sauce of pounded garlic, lime, fish sauce, sugar, and Thai bird chillies.
Gimbap (or kimbap) is a local favourite that’s also considered as the Korean take on the sushi roll. To make this dish, street food vendors use vegetarian ingredients like tofu or pickles as well as a a variety of meats, like ham or crab, wrapped up in salty nori (seaweed sheets).
This Korean street food is truly a must try! Wondering what it tastes like? Imagine a delectable mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and ground nuts in spongey pancake. This popular streetside snack now also comes in different shapes, like twists and donuts, and flavours, like vegetable, kimchi, or cheese.
This traditional Korean street food dates back to the 1800s. Also known as spicy rice cakes, tteokbokki delights with its flavourful ingredients: boiled eggs, scallions, fish cakes, and seasoned well, with chilli paste (gochujang), a soy sauce type of seasoning (ganjang), or lots and lots of cheese. But nowadays, you can get tteokbokki with chewy noodles and short ribs.
This skewered, spice-filled fish cake is a must try when visiting Korea. It’s really hard to miss because Odeng is typically displayed in street food stalls, ready to eat in a large vat of warm broth.
Easily one of the best street food in Asia, Takoyaki is a quick, delicious Japanese snack. This foodie favourite is made by molding diced octopus, onions, eggs, and other flavourful ingredients into a wheat flour ball. Then, it is grilled until slightly crispy, but still tender on the inside.
63. King crab legs
One the must-try street eats in Osaka, Japan, are king crab legs. This local favourite is prepared over a charcoal grill. King crab legs are also delicacies in Taiwan. It can either be stir fried or cooked with ginger and scallions.
64. Egg waffles
This ubiquitous Hong Kong street food definitely deserves a spot on this list. Also known as egg puffs or eggettes, these fun street eats are made using eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, custard or a variety of other flavours, like chocolate and green tea. Enjoy this with some creamy soft serve or all on its own.
Japan’s take on skewered chicken definitely deserves a spot on the list of best street food in Asia. Cooked over charcoal, yakitori boasts a different array of textures and flavours because of it makes use of different parts of the chicken—skin, tail meat—and seasonings, like Japanese mustard or pickled plum paste.
This savoury Japanese pancake consists of shredded cabbage and meat that’s been cooked into a flour and egg batter. Garnished with Japanese mayonnaise, dried seaweed, pickled ginger, bonito flakes and spring onions, this is definitely one of the best street food in Asia and beyond.
Also known as Japanese rice balls, onigiri can also be stuffed with different types of meat and vegetables before being molded into bite-sized triangles before being wrapped partially in a seaweed sheet.
These tasty dumplings are a staple of Japanese restaurants as well as curbside food stalls. These quick bites, which usually have ground meat or vegetable filling, can either be a midday snack or one meal dish.
A staple of Japanese street food culture, Yakisoba is a beloved stir-fried ramen noodles with vegetables, meat or seafood all bound together by a sauce that gives it a sweet and savoury flavour.
This dessert is a must try when in Japan. What makes it so delicious? The sweet bean paste stuffing and spongey waffle-like batter. You can buy Imagawayaki with a variety of fillings, like meat, vegetables, custard, and curry.
If you’re a fan of grilled squid, then this Japanese street food is right up your alley! Ikayaki is a simple seafood grilled dish, flavoured with generous helpings of soy sauce. In some parts of Japan, however, Ikayaki also comes in pancake form.
This Japanese sweet treat is a different take on shaved ice desserts. Though it comes in a variety of flavours, Kakigori generally made using syrup and condensed or evaporated milk. The most popular flavours of kakigori are cherry, sweet plum, green tea, lemon, and grape.
73. Toffee Fruit
Toffee or candied fruit and vegetables give a whole new meaning to skewered street food! I have tried candy apples and candied cherry tomatoes in Taiwan, but have yet to try Japan’s take on candied fruit on a stick. The most popular ones are apricot, or if they’re in season, strawberries.
74. Crispy chicken cutlet
You can’t go to Taiwan and miss having a bite of this crispy and juicy street food! From popcorn chicken to giant cutlets, fried chicken in Taiwan is truly a must try. I personally love the salt and pepper variety, though the five spice and red pepper flavoured ones are just as amazing.
75. Spring onion pancake
Also known as scallion pancakes, this flaky street food is popular in China as a breakfast food. You can find them in Taiwan’s food stalls. This simple street food resembles pizza pies with savoury flavours, thanks to its salty pork ingredients.
76. Rice sausages
Taiwanese sausage has earned a spot as one of the best street food in Asia despite their simplicity because of their unusual texture and subtle, but satisfying flavour. I’ve had the pleasure of trying rice sausages in Taiwan, and they did not disappoint.
This hearty, filling night market fare takes sausages to a new level! One of the most underrated but best street food in Asia | image: shutterstock
77. Deep fried squid
For Japanese Ikayaki fans, this seafood dish will be a delight. Not only is it juicy and crunchy, the seasoned batter coating this deep fried favourite alone promises a lot of flavour. You can find deep fried squid across Asia, in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
78. Yaki Tomorokoshi
Simple but delicious. Japanese corn on the cob, or yaki tomorokoshi, is a must try. Commonly found in summer festivals, this smokey, sweet, and savoury take on glazed corn is a local favourite.
79. Gua Bao
The last item on the list is definitely not an afterthought. I managed to try Gua Bao, which is also known as Taiwanese burgers, at Shifen old street, and was delighted by the mingling of steamed bread, stewed meat, nuts, pickled mustard, and herbs.
I could just go on and on about the best street food in Asia that I have tried, so far, but I want to hear from you, too! What do you think should be on this list? Share them in the comments below.