From Asian hawker stalls to seaside Mediterranean locales, traveling foodies have chosen their favorite places for the best eats. Based on an open Facebook poll, CNN recently released the top 10 culinary destinations around the world. Travel with an appetite to these countries, which offer exotic flavors and passion for their food.
1) Taiwan took in the most votes for their stinky tofu and beef noodle soups. The capital city, Taipei, has around 20 streets devoted to eating where hungry travelers can find oyster omelets, braised pork rice and gua bao steamed sandwiches. The country’s culinary heritage spans from Min Nan, Teochew and Hokkien Chinese communities to Japanese cuisine
2) The mix between Asian and Hispanic flavor has made the Philippines the second most popular foodie stop. The tropical country of 7,000 islands offers such delicacies as balut (duck embryo) and mole crickets for the adventurous. For a traditional Filipino dish try adobo, made with meat cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices.
3) Italian food has enamored Americans for ages. Head to the homeland for fresh-made pasta, zesty tomato sauces and delicious creaminess, with variations across each region. Sicily offers crunchy seafood arancini, Naples has some of the world’s best pizza and Modena is known for its Parmigiano-Reggiano.
4) Be it red, green or yellow, Thailand knows how to do curry. Influenced by Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Burmese cooking, Thai cuisine is filled with herbs and spices. Spicy, sour, salty, sweet, chewy, crunchy and slippery can often be found in a single dish. For something different than the usual pad Thai or cashew chicken, try som tom (spicy papaya salad) larb moo (minced pork with lime juice, fish sauce, mint and chili) or ko moo yang (grilled pork neck).
5) Japan’s diverse seafood palette is known around the world for its delicate precision and simplicity. Divert from the standard California roll to sample sliced sea urchin roe, abalone, octopus or blowfish, which adds a side of danger to your plate. Aside from sushi and sashimi, other culinary delights include multi-course kaiseki meals and kyodo ryori, a series of regional dishes unique to each city.
6) Malaysia’s ethnic melting pot makes for some of the most flavorful food in Southeast Asia. If your stomach can handle it, try a plate of mie goring (fried noodles) from the bustling hawker stalls sending up smoke from the back alleyways. Roti canai is a national favorite, made with fried Indian-style bread and tender curried chicken. In Malaysia, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian flavors cross over for some of the most delicious cuisine around.
7) Heavily influenced by Cantonese food, Hong Kong could be considered dim sum capital of the world. Cart-style dumplings and rice noodle rolls dominate the lunch-time menu. But this cosmopolitan city with an international population also has a number of standout fusion dishes. Street stalls offer everything from Peking duck pancakes and sweet egg waffles to spicy Chongqing noodles and skewered curry fishballs.
8) Spice is king in Indian cuisine, which should be considered in a category of its own. With the help of saffron, cumin, cardamom and cloves, to name a few, the flavor spectrum runs the gamut. Try Hyderabad’s fragrant mutton biryani, a rice dish made with slow-cooked meat. For seafood, head east to Goa, a former Portuguese colony that left its traces behind in dishes like vindaloo. India also has some of the best vegetarian cuisine, as many citizens do not consume meat for religious purposes.
9) Colorful salads and roasted meats are the hallmark of Greece’s gastronomy. This Mediterranean country has a bountiful supply of lemons, tangy feta cheese and Kalamata olives to thank for its rustic flavor. Sample some well-known dishes such as moussaka with layered meats and cheese, grape leaf-wrapped dolmades or sweet and sticky baklava.
10) Vietnam’s cuisine made the list for its unique, French-inspired local dishes. Perhaps the most widely-recognized dish is pho, a steamy broth of aromatic herbs, noodles, sprouts and meat. Try the open-air markets and single-dish food stalls for more specialties like rice paper-thin ban cuon rolls, barbecued pork cutlets or banh mi, a cold-cut and veggie in a French baguette—not your average sandwich.