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The Best Asian Food: 5 Dishes You Need to Try in Asia

We’ve lived the majority of our lives in Asia so naturally, it’s the region of the world we’re most familiar with. Southeast Asia is our backyard and East Asia is our closest neighbor so we’re very familiar with the Asian food in the region.

Like anyone who enjoys traveling for food, we ipnuippnupati love experiencing different cuisines but for me personally, I think the food in Asia is the best. I love it for its diversity, its color, its bold flavors, and its heavy use of different spices, herbs, and condiments.

Asian cuisine is what I’m most passionate about which is why I decided to compile this list of the best food in Asia. Represented in this guide are must-try food experiences in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia.


Asian cuisine pertains to the cooking practices and culinary traditions of countries located in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, and North Asia.

Because Asia is the largest and most populous continent on the planet, it’s home to an incredibly diverse range of cuisines, each boasting ingredients and cooking methods that can vary greatly from region to region.

East Asia

East Asian cuisine describes the cuisines of China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, and Mongolia. Stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying are popular cooking methods while rice, noodles, soybeans, beef, pork, chicken, and seafood are common staple ingredients.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian cuisine encompasses the cuisines of eleven countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, and Timor Leste.

Broadly speaking, common ingredients include rice, vinegar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili, and fresh herbs. The most popular proteins include pork, chicken, beef, fish, and shrimp.

South Asia

South Asian cuisine describes the cuisines of the countries within the Indian subcontinent – India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the Maldives.

Generally speaking, ghee, chili, lentils, chickpeas, and a multitude of spices make up a large part of South Asian cuisine. Curries, biryanis, and flatbreads are common dishes while chicken, lamb, goat, and fish are the most popular proteins. Due to religious and cultural reasons, beef and pork are less common.

West Asia

West Asian cuisine describes the cuisines of the countries within the Middle East – Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Armenia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt (only Sinai Peninsula), Oman, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

While the cuisines of West Asian countries are diverse, they share a degree of homogeneity as well. Olives, olive oil, pita bread, dates, sumac, and chickpeas are common ingredients while kibbeh and shawarma are among the most popular Asian dishes.

Central Asia

Central Asian cuisine describes the cuisines of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It takes on many of the characteristics of its neighboring Asian cuisines, most notably Mongolia.

Horse meat and mutton are the most common proteins in a cuisine that’s evolved to meet the needs of a largely nomadic lifestyle. Yogurt is said to have been invented in the region.

North Asia

North Asian cuisine pertains to the cuisine of Siberia. Being part of the Russian Federation, North Asian cuisine is synonymous with Russian cuisine, with one of its most popular dishes being pelmeni or Russian dumplings.


To be clear, we haven’t visited every country in Asia so this list includes some of our favorite food experiences from thirteen countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. You can click on a country to jump to that section.


Japanese food is my favorite Asian cuisine so it’s only fitting that I start this list with unforgettable food experiences in Japan. Not only is Japan home to some of the best food in Asia, it’s one of the world’s best countries to visit for food.

1. Kaiseki in Kyoto

Kaiseki doesn’t refer to a specific dish, but to a Japanese dining experience. It refers to a traditional multi-course dinner consisting of several small artfully prepared dishes. You can think of it as the Japanese equivalent to western haute cuisine.

Traditional kaiseki meals typically consist of appetizers, a soup course (suimono), seasonal courses, cooked dishes, a rice course (shokuji), and dessert and tea. Each course is meticulously prepared using fresh seasonal and mostly local ingredients that are carefully plated and arranged to enhance both the appearance and seasonal theme of the meal.

2. Hitsumabushi in Nagoya

If you like unagi, then you’re going to love hitsumabushi. It’s a specialty of Nagoya which is considered one of the best food cities in Japan.

Unagi donburi refers to a beloved Japanese dish of grilled freshwater eel served over a bed of steamed rice. Hitsumabushi is similar to unagi donburi and in my opinion, a more interesting version of the dish.

The eel is cooked in the Nagoya-style of preparing eel, by slitting it open along the belly and grilling it whole without steaming. It’s also sliced in narrower strips to make it easier to eat.

Unlike unagi donburi which is pretty much just grilled eel over rice, hitsumabushi is served with a variety of condiments like wasabi, grated radish, nori, and Japanese pepper. You’re meant to eat the eel in three stages – the first on its own with rice, the second with the condiments mixed in, and the third with some dashi broth poured into your bowl.

3. Hida Beef Sushi in Takayama

You’ve probably heard of Kobe Beef. It’s one of the most prized and famous wagyu beef brands in Japan. But ask the Japanese and some may tell you that Kobe Beef isn’t the best brand of Japanese wagyu. That distinction may go to Hida Beef.

Hida beef refers to wagyu produced from black-haired Japanese cattle raised in Gifu prefecture. Like Kobe Beef, it’s known for its intense marbling and juiciness. But unlike Kobe Beef that tends to be more balanced in its meat and fat distribution, Hida Beef has more fat, giving you a truer melt-in-your-mouth experience.


Thanks in part to its hugely successful music and film industries, South Korea is booming. Many people are obsessed with K-Pop, K-Dramas, Korean electronics and cosmetics.

Personally, we enjoy all things Korean but what we love most is Korean food. For me, South Korea is home to some of the best food in Asia. Thanks to universally appealing dishes like Korean barbecue, Korean food is easy to like and great for people who are just starting to explore Asian food.

4. Ganjang Gejang

Ok, so this dish may not be as universally appealing as Korean barbecue but ask Koreans what their favorite Korean dish is and many may tell you that its ganjang gejang. In fact, this supremely delicious and interesting raw crab dish is often referred to as the ultimate South Korean food.

Ganjang gejang refers to a Korean dish of raw crab marinated in soy sauce. To prepare, crabs are cleaned thoroughly before being placed in an earthenware crock where they’re salted for a period of about six hours.

5. Jajangmyeon

When I asked my Korean sister-in-law what dishes we should try on a previous trip to Seoul, one of the first dishes she recommended was jajangmyeon. It’s one of the tastiest and most popular examples of Korean-Chinese food. In fact, it’s a dish that’s often mentioned in Korean dramas and television shows.

Jajangmyeon refers to a dish of thick, handmade (or machine-pulled) wheat noodles topped with a heavy sauce made from fried chunjang (sweet bean sauce), soy sauce, diced pork, and vegetables. It dates back to the early 20th century, to a Korean-Chinese restaurant in Incheon’s Chinatown that now functions as a Jajangmyeon museum.


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