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Mind-blowing Mango Pancakes

Mango pancakes in Hong KongYou know you’re in the right city when you can just randomly stumble across a place that’s this delicious.

How delicious, you ask?  Extremely delicious.

Mango pancakes in Hong Kong

I wasn’t even sure what I was ordering.  I held up two fingers (my brother is here on this leg of the trip, so I’m ordering for two), just assuming I’d wind up with waffles.  He asked “mango pancake?” I nodded, and we were off to the races.

Mango pancakes in Hong Kong

Everything about this was shockingly good — from the fresh and fluffy pancake, to the satisfyingly tart sauce, to the chunks of absolutely perfect mango.  The very sweet, creamy mango works great with the pancake, with the slightly sour sauce cutting the sweetness from the fruit.

I wish I knew what this place was called, but trust me — if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, just wander around until you find it.  It’s totally worth it.

Amazing Octopus Balls in the Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, JapanIf heaven exists, it probably looks something like the Nishiki Market in Kyoto: a seemingly endless street market filled with one vendor after another serving up delicious-looking food.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

If it’s food-related, you’ll probably find it here.  Aside from all of the enticing prepared food, there’s a smorgasbord of various meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables  — it’s a one-stop shop for all things food.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

I came here without anything in mind, basically just looking for whatever stall looked the busiest.  And there was no contest: this bustling takoyaki stand was clearly where it was at.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

For the uninitiated, takoyaki is basically a ball of dough with a piece of octopus in the middle, typically served as street food.  They had a few different varieties, including one with cheese, which I had no idea was even a thing.  Obviously that’s what I got.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

I like takoyaki, though it’s never really been my favourite.  Most of the ones I’ve tried have been one-note doughy, with a rubbery piece of octopus inside.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

The ones here, on the other hand, were delightfully crispy on the outside, creamy and a little bit gooey on the inside from the cheese, and contained a surprisingly tender piece of octopus.  The sweet sauce on top does a great job of balancing out the savouriness of the balls.

Takoyaki is an Osaka specialty, so I’ll obviously be getting them again when I go there, but they’re going to have a very, very hard time living up to this.  Takoyaki perfection.

Straight to the Street (Food)

Street food in Busan, South KoreaYou know how I know I like Busan? I hadn’t even checked into my hotel yet, and I had already seen several street food vendors dispensing tasty treats.

I passed one vendor selling these cakey-looking things with an egg on top — it looked good and smelled sweet, and I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t even know what it was, but I knew that I had to eat it.

Street food in Busan, South Korea

I mean, the hotel wasn’t going anywhere, so why not?

It was quite tasty — it’s kind of like a very sweet piece of fresh cornbread, only with an egg on top and a little bit of a ketchup-like sauce.  I could have done without that sauce, though it did add a bit of a savoury kick to cut the sweetness.

What Else can we Stuff with Rice?

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, ChinaI just had a wing that was stuffed with rice, and I need to say that whoever invented this is a goddamned genius.  Wings are good.  Rice is good.  Why not stuff one into the other?

Why not indeed.

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, China

I got this from a street vendor, and it was even more delightful than I had hoped.  I thought I’d have to navigate around bones and cartilage (I love Chinese food, but their insistence on making many dishes a minefield of bones and cartilage can be a bit vexing), but nope: the genius who invented this thought of that.  It’s completely deboned, aside from the very bottom part of the wing, so you can just hold on to that and eat it like a hot dog on a stick.

Stuffed chicken wing in Beijing, China

The skin, which has been glazed and sprinkled with sesame seeds, is crispy and tasty.  The wing is filled with sticky rice with little bits of veggies, which is surprisingly spicy (it’s definitely not just plain rice).   The crispy, sticky-sweet exterior contrasts very nicely with the dense, spicy interior.  It seems like a novelty — like something you might get at the carnival — but it’s surprisingly delicious.

Duck on the Street

Duck wrap on the street in Beijing, ChinaEating Peking duck in Beijing is a no-brainer.  You’ve gotta do it.

However, since it typically involves a whole duck being served over multiple courses, it’s a difficult dish to enjoy solo.

Enter: this place (this was a random discovery, so I don’t know what it was called because it was all in Chinese):

Duck wrap on the street in Beijing, China

They serve individual Peking duck wraps — a perfect street food snack.

Duck wrap on the street in Beijing, China

It was quite tasty, though the ratio of veggies to meat was a bit off, and it wasn’t particularly better than any of the versions of Peking duck I’ve had back home.

Still, if I don’t get a chance to go to a legit Peking duck restaurant (and I haven’t ruled that out — food coma be damned), then at least I’ve checked it off the list.