Street food in Asia is a veritable cornucopia of sights and flavors previously unfamiliar to me. Many different species of vegetables and fruits can be found, and several are unknown to those of us in the Western world.
For me, the best and worst thing about the food in Asia is one and the same: it’s different. The most noticeable thing about the food all over Asia is the variety. At each corner I turned, during my trip throughout China, Cambodia, and Thailand, I was presented with a strange new food item.
Click here to see the Unusual and Outrageous Street Food in Asia (Slideshow)
Sometimes I would see picture of a pig, and knew for certain that the dish was pork-related. I was able to recognize a banana with some certainty, and I was fairly sure that I could ascertain a piece of fried chicken when I saw one. However, there were many food items that were completely foreign to me. To quote Forrest Gump, "You never know what you’re gonna get."
For an English-speaking person, unable to read a single letter in Cambodian, Chinese, or Thai, often the best I could hope for was to recognize something familiar about the foods, and then just go for it.
There were times that I was tempted to eat foods upon which the locals were chowing down, and often I did take that risk. But it is a crapshoot, as they say. The best way to order something it to just point and smile, because even if you ask what it is, you will get the answer in a language that you don't understand.
All that being said, my mind was open and I was hungry for adventure.
I hadn’t planned intentionally to eat any snake, insects, or dog, but there was one moment in my journey when I chomped down on something unfamiliar and boney, leading to another Tom Hanks moment (remember the mini corn in Big). When I spied a dog, that had been toasted and grilled, I had to walk away, feeling just a little bit nauseous inside.
Which brings me to the fact that as a Westerner, my stomach wasn’t always ready for street food. I did wake up one morning incapacitated by food poisoning in Cambodia, and spent most of the day praying to the porcelain God. Fortunately, the pharmacists in Siem Reap are prepared for people like me. I was able to get some medication to help the "situation."
To see some of the strange foods, and one or two recognizable street food dishes, from my journey, click here.
6 Unusual Dishes You Need to Try in Cambodia
A visit to Cambodia will reveal some weird and wonderful delicacies that will leave you either licking your lips for more or gagging, because in the Kingdom of Wonder almost anything goes. Here, we throw the spotlight on some of the more unusual dishes you’re likely to come across during your travels.
Yeah, OK, it’s neither a century nor a millennium old, but this egg is pretty rotten. After being preserved in a mixture of clay, ash and quicklime for a few months, the yolk turns a dark green or even black and slimy while the white has turns to a dark brown translucent jelly. Apparently it smells of strongly of sulphur and ammonia, but tastes like a hardboiled egg… until you breathe out that is.
Ga tan den: black chicken in herbal soup
This soup is very common in Vietnamese diets and highly appreciated for its medicinal virtues. The broth is made from Chinese medicinal herbs and dried fruit (including mugwort, dried date and goji berries) and a very bitter rhizome that is not supposed to be eaten, but gives taste to the soup. The soup can be prepared with ordinary light-flesh chicken but the black chicken, from a special Vietnamese breed, is the most unique version of this healthy soup. It is highly recommended by locals, for women in particular.
8 Sheep Penis
If you are looking to boost your libido, the Chinese have a bizarre food that may help. Sheep penis, along with other animal penises and testicles, is served as a remedy for that problem. A restaurant in China, Guolizhuang, is dedicated to serving all types of dishes with animal genitalia, such as sheep gonads on a bed of curry and steamed sheep penis.
The locals enjoy the dish&rsquos flavor, but they also believe it is good for one&rsquos health. Many of the customers at the restaurant are males looking to increase potency and sexual prowess. The Chinese believe that they can replenish parts of their bodies by eating dishes that contain those same body parts, which is why testicles and penises are consumed to improve sexual health. Instead of turning to a pill, try this unique Chinese dish instead. 
A taste of retro-Hong Kong street-food nostalgia. Braised Beef Offal Ho-Fun Noodle from "Beefing with 7", Richmond Hill (Leslie/East Pearce)
This outfit with one weird business name and a number of branches scattering all over town, was first brought to my attention by fellow foodie friend, ex-hound Skyline R33.
Specializing in beef-centric, Hong Kong street style comfort food and snacks, I was dying to give it a try, in the hope that the food they offer would bring back some fond child hood memories! I finally had a chance today and I'm glad to report, the food did not disappoint!
The bowl of authentic, traditional Braised beef offal with rice noodle I ordered has all the characteristic of the ones I ate in Hong Kong when I was young. The aromatic, exotic and complex taste profile adhering to age old recipe. Portion was very generous, packed full of all the prerequisite components/ingredients. Tripe, Stomach, Lung, Spleen and Large Intestine. First outfit I came across in the GTA that did not skim on any of the components!
No doubt I will be paying them numerous visits in the future, meticulously going through most of their unique and yummy sounding menu offerings, one by one!
Turtle Jelly: From Shell to Gel
Like Shark Fin Soup, turtle jelly, or gwei ling go in Cantonese, is another naughty delicacy that doesn't impress any environmentalist. Powdered turtle shells and bellies are boiled for up to twelve hours, mixed with herbs and lotions and served up as a type of jelly-like soup.
Turtle jelly enthusiasts in Hong Kong swear by turtle jelly’s medicinal properties – it’s supposed to be a cooling food, helping with coughs, indigestion, and eczema while beautifying the skin. Authentic turtle jelly – made from the ground-up shells of the Cuora trifasciata turtle farmed on the mainland – can be prohibitively expensive, costing about HKD 300 (or about US$40) per cup. Most of the commercially available turtle jelly in Hong Kong actually contains no turtle shell.
Edible rating: 1 out of 10. The medicinal properties are the whole point, certainly not the taste.
It’s a college kid’s dream come true: instant ramen and cheese. It doesn’t get much easier or more delicious than this update to the old elbow macaroni and highlighter-orange, powdered cheese combo. Try out any variation of mac n’ cheese you love with this recipe as the base and you’ll be good to go for lunch, dinner, and desperate 3 am drunchies.
23 Asian Desserts you MUST try before you die!
There is such a wide variety of desserts to be found across Asia. It’s not all about glutinous rice and bananas!
OK, so we’ve taken a look at 23 of the most tantalising European desserts, and 23 of the best American desserts, so now let’s check out 23 of the most delicious Asian desserts, which are listed in alphabetical order. Interestingly, there are 4 desserts included here from both Japan and Thailand! Remember to let me know which of these after-dinner treats tickles your fancy!
Viet Banana Cake
Bánh Chuối Nướng, Vietnam (recipe)
If you think that travelling around Asia means you might encounter a few “dodgy” foods, then fear not, as in Vietnam they have simple banana cakes – known as Bánh Chuối Nướng – that have been baked to perfection. Fresh banana cakes that have been freshly baked? Sounds good to me!
Bubur Cha Cha
Bubur Cha Cha, Malaysia (recipe)
This sweet dessert from Malaysia may look like Cendol, but in fact Bubur Cha Cha is an assorted medley of sweet potatoes, yam, and black-eyed peas that are cooked in a sweet coconut milk base. It is a colourful and sweet dessert, and is generally prepared during festive seasons.
Buko Pie, Philippines (recipe)
Buko Pie is extremely popular with Filipinos, many of whom consider it their “national dessert”. It resembles a coconut cream pie, except that it is made with young coconuts (“buko” in Tagalog) and has neither cream in the coconut custard filling or meringue swirls on top of the baked coconut custard. Instead, the pie uses sweetened condensed milk, making it denser and healthier.
Cendol, Indonesia (recipe)
The basic ingredients of Cendol are coconut milk, jelly noodles made from rice flour with green food colouring (usually derived from the pandan leaf), shaved ice and palm sugar. Other ingredients such as red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, creamed corn, might also be included. Although said to have originated in Indonesia, Cendol is also just as popular in Singapore and Malaysia.
Chè, Vietnam (recipe)
Chè is a Vietnamese term that refers to any traditional Vietnamese sweet beverage, dessert soup or pudding. Varieties of Chè are made with mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, tapioca, jelly, fruit (longan, mango, durian, lychee or jackfruit), and coconut cream.
Douhua is the short form of doufuhua. It is a Chinese snack made with very soft tofu. It is also referred to as tofu pudding and soybean pudding. Also very popular in Taiwan.
These Egg Tarts are famous all over Asia – but nowhere more so than in Hong Kong! The locals here cannot get enough of these small treats, and as well as being as a key component of Dim Sum, they are also enjoyed as after dinner snacks!
This is a popular Filipino dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits. It is served in a tall glass or bowl. You may see some similarity in Halo-Halo with Ais Kacang from Malaysia, as they are both shaved ice desserts.
As if simple mochi wasn’t good enough for you, spring time in Japan sees these glutinous rice cakes pounded into shape with the addition of a whole strawberry (and red bean paste) placed inside. This is a classic Japanese dessert and I am sure you’ll agree that it looks as good as it tastes!
Kakigōri, Japan (recipe)
Kakigōri is a Japanese summertime dessert flavoured with syrup and a sweetener, often condensed milk. Popular flavours include strawberry, green tea (ujikintoki), melon, “Blue Hawaii”, and sweet plum. The texture and presentation of Kakigōri is similar to Baobing and Bingsu from Chinese and Korean cuisines respectively.
Khanom Khrok, Thailand (recipe)
Khanom Khrok are simple coconut cakes that are small enough to be carried in the palm of your hand and eaten on the go. However, Thais enjoy their cakes by the bucket load – and who can blame them with these tantalisingly tasty treats?!
Khao Niao Mamuang
Khao Niao Mamuang, Thailand (recipe)
Famous among tourists in Thailand is Khao Niao Mamuang, which is sweet coconut sticky rice with mango. This has now became one of Thailand’s most popular desserts and is famous all over the globe.
Khao Tom Mat
Khao Tom Mat, Thailand (recipe)
Khao tom is a Thai dessert of seasoned steamed sticky rice and cooked banana that is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves. Also eaten in Laos and Myanmar (under different names).
Lai Wong Bao
An essential component of Dim Sum, the colourful Lai Wong Bao has been delighting the Chinese for many a century. The soft and fluffy bao is filled with fresh creamy custard (usually heated) and it can be difficult to eat with chopsticks!
Mango Pomelo Sago
Mango Pomelo Sago, Hong Kong (recipe)
Mango Pomelo Sago is a Hong Kong dessert that was supposed to have been invented pretty recently, in 1984. It is composed of mango, pomelo, sago, coconut milk, cream and sugar. It has since been exported all over the world – and is eaten on mainland China as well.
Melonpan, Japan (recipe)
These traditional buns from the Land of the Rising Sun are just as popular as pineapple buns from Hong Kong and are devoured in their millions every year!
Mooncakes are traditional all over China
Mooncake, China (recipe)
Mooncakes are Chinese bakery products infamously known as difficult to make authentically. Mooncakes are traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival is for lunar worship and moon watching, when mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy!
Pandan Chiffon, Indonesia (recipe)
Pandan Chiffon cake is a light, fluffy or sponge cake of Indonesian origin that is flavoured with the juice of Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves. The cakes are light green in tone due to the chlorophyll in the leaf juice. Also a favourite snack in Malaysia.
Pisang Goreng is often eaten for dessert with ice cream
Pisang Goreng is a snack food made of banana or plantain being deep fried in hot cooking oil, mostly found throughout Indonesia, but popular all over South East Asia. There are several variants: type of banana used either coated with batter or not. A variant called “Pisang Goreng Pontianak” is widely popular in Indonesia and is one of the main street foods across the archipelago.
Sakuramochi, Japan (recipe)
Mochi is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome (a short-grain japonica glutinous rice) which is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. In Japan, Sakuramochi is known also as “Cherry Blossom Cake” and is traditionally made in a ceremony called “mochitsuki”.
Songkaya Fakthong, Thailand (recipe)
Also eaten wildly in Cambodia, Songkaya Fakthong is basically a scrumptious dessert of pumpkin custard! It is a cheap and cheerful way for the whole family to enjoy dessert!
Shwe Yin Aye
Shwe Yin Aye is a coconut cream sherbet that is traditionally eaten after dinner. Many people in Myanmar will never turn it down – and neither would I! This is often served with a slice of white bread. Unquestionably the tastiest Burmese dessert!
Tang Yuan, China (recipe)
Tang Yuan is a Chinese food made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water. Tang Yuan can be either small or large, and are commonly filled with black sesame paste.
So that concludes my look at 23 of the most tasty Asian desserts! Which of these delicious desserts caught your eye? For me, the Pisang Goreng remains a favourite of mine, although Khao Niao Mamuang is delicious, too!
If you’re looking for MORE Asian desserts, check out my post 23 MORE Asian desserts you MUST try before you die!
Rosette | Norway
Arguably one of the prettier fried foods, rosettes are fried cookies traditionally served around Christmas throughout Scandinavia. What makes rosettes unique is not the ingredients — sugar, salt, milk, vanilla, eggs, and flour — but the fact that they're fried using intricately shaped rosette irons, making them a bit more time consuming to make than your average Christmas cookie. Other countries, from Mexico to Iran, also make rosettes, though they often incorporate different ingredients, like cinnamon, powdered sugar (added after frying), and rose water.