Shakshuka, Tel Aviv
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Poached eggs served in spicy tomato sauce can be eaten in the Israeli capital at any time of the day or night. Each cook adds their own twist with goat’s cheese, sausage, lamb or vegetables. Mop up the last of the sauce with pita or crusty bread. Shakshukia at Ben Yehuda St 94, Tel Aviv-Yafo uses an old family recipe that’s been passed down the generations.
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These small, puffy pancakes have been eaten in The Netherlands for 300 years. A traditional fair food, they’re most delicious hot off the iron with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar and a cube of melting butter. Head for Boerenmarkt op de Noordermarkt or Albert Cuypmarkt.
Sate Lilit, Bali
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A minced meat, (usually pork or fish) is prepared with a combination of grated coconut, coconut milk, caramelised palm sugar, lemon juice, shallots and chilli pepper then wound around a bamboo, sugar cane or lemongrass stick and grilled. Often spicy, but worth the pain, Warung Lesehan Sari Baruna has an excellent reputation.
Mango sticky rice, Bangkok
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Glutinous sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, topped with salted and sweetened coconut milk and served with mango makes for the ultimate summer dessert. Sor Boonprakob on Charoenkrung Rd in Bangrak is near-legendary.
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The Breton have a different language and culture from the rest of France. They also have their own crepes. Galettes are made with a slightly bitter, gluten-free buckwheat flour that complements savoury fillings such as egg, smoked meat, seafood, vegetables, and of course, cheese. Creperie Saint Melanie in the centre of Rennes uses the best ingredients and organic buckwheat.
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If you haven’t eaten poutine, you haven’t been to Québec. Fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy, this dish is equal parts mouth-watering and artery-constricting. Find it everywhere from street carts to diners in Canada’s French-speaking province. Skip the fancy places and head straight for Snack Bar St-Jean which is open until 5am.
Xiao Long Bao, Shanghai
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These northern Chinese dumplings are filled with meat and a rich, stew-like soup. You’ll spot them steaming in bamboo baskets on street carts and in upmarket restaurants. Eat with caution; they’re explosive and very hot. Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou in Shanghai’s old town is more than 100 years old and was recently profiled by CNN.
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Souvlaki has been popular in Greece since the time of Aristotle, but the Athenian incarnation involves marinating meat in lemon juice, olive oil and a mix of herbs and spices overnight for extra flavour. O Kostas has been in business since 1950, but don’t wait until dinner to visit – there’s always a queue and they close each day when they run out of meat.
Halo-Halo, everywhere in Philippines
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Fun to say and even more fun to eat, few Filipino desserts are as ubiquitous as halo-halo. Shaved ice, fruits, sweet beans, coconut, sweet milk, syrups, and jellies make for a cold and colourful sugar hit. Lana’s Halo-Halo in Legaspi City public market makes an Instagram-worthy concoction that sticks to the classic ingredients.
Banh Mi, Hoi An
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Vietnam’s national sandwich is taking over the world but the best one is reportedly found in Hoi An. Anthony Bourdain called the famous Madam Phuong version a “symphony sandwich”. A French bread roll filled with pate, coriander, pork cold cuts, roasted pork, pickled daikon, carrot, chilli and sauces makes for a hearty, inexpensive lunch. Try Madam Phuong or her arch rival, Madam Khanh.
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Fermented flat bread is made from rice and black lentil, then served with curry or stuffed with onion, potato, cheese or a combination of all three. They’re common all throughout India but originally hail from the south, where coconut oil, sambhar and coconut chutney give a distinct regional flavour. Pai Dosa on Padma Mg Road, Ernakulam, Kochi comes highly recommended.
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This centuries-old salad is quintessential Hawaii. It’s made from raw, cubed seafood and traditional styles are flavoured with native limu (sea algae) and kukui nuts. It’s everywhere, from strip malls to Oahu’s thriving food truck scene. Fresh Ahi Off The Boat does Japanese style bowls using fresh market produce.
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Takoyaki literally means “octopus fried” and is made from fried batter balls stuffed with octopus, green onion and ginger then topped with mayonnaise, bonito, and a thick, sweet sauce. They’re popular all over Japan but especially prevalent in their hometown of Osaka. Kougaryu in Amerikamura is one of the better known places.
Tamales with mole, Oaxaca
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Mexico was the first country to have its cuisine listed by UNESCO, but even here, Oaxacan food stands out. Often called “The Land of Seven Moles” for the rich, spicy-sweet sauce that goes on nearly everything, you can spot the authentic tamales Oaxaqueños because they’re steamed in banana leaves instead of corn husks. Look for any stand that’s busy or find them at Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
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Sicily’s twist on pizza is more hot bread than topping. The simplest varieties are garnished with just onion and tomato, then sprinkled with more bread. Grab one from the side of a van for a Euro or less at an open-air market or head for the bakery inside Palermo staple Caffè Spinnato.
Po’Boy, New Orleans
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In Bayou country, Po’Boy is king. The crispy French baguette was originally filled with southern seafood like breaded fried oysters, crab, catfish or crawfish but nowadays you can get any meat you like. Dress with mayonnaise, hot sauce, a drizzle of melted butter and pickles. The Cochon de Lait Po’ Boy at Walker’s BBQ is famous for its sweet mustard.
Pizza, New York
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If you want to start a fight between New Yorkers, just ask where to find the best slice. Despite having a vendor on nearly every corner, the Big Apple’s residents remain fiercely loyal to their “guy”. Grab a classic cheese the size of your head for as little as 99c. Head for Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village or Williamsburg for a good, thin slice with traditional toppings.
Midye dolma, Istanbul
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There’s no shortage of delicious food in Istanbul but don’t leave without trying midye dolma - steamed mussels with spicy rice and a squeeze of lemon. Eat as much as you want straight from the tray and then pay per shell at the end. Consume it standing around Taksim Square with the other late-night revellers.
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This Ugandan snack can be found all over East Africa and makes a great breakfast on the go. Eggs are cooked with cabbage, onion, tomato, and capsicum, and then wrapped in a chapatti. Unlike the other Rolex you might buy on the street, you won’t walk away feeling ripped off. Buy one from a vendor downtown who’s using a Musana cart, which keeps food hygienic and fresh.
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While outsiders consider paella a Spanish dish, within Spain it’s regarded as a regional specialty of Valencia. The original recipe consists of white rice, green beans, white beans, and snails seasoned with saffron and rosemary. Family-run La Matandeta got the tick of approval from Mario Batali.