Asia’s Best Lunches – Affordable Local Traditional Dishes

in Japan, Vietnam

During a busy day sightseeing in Asia, lunch often tends to be an afterthought. Too many of us resort to Western-style junk food and overpriced meals at tourist attractions. They’re not just costly; they’re also unsatisfying. A much better option is to eat like the locals do and enjoy some of the Eastern continent’s best meals on the go.

Singapore’s chili crab doesn’t sound like the best meal to eat on the run, but this Asian delicacy is not to be missed. The mud crab is cooked in a thick tomato chili sauce. This certainly gives the dish some heat, but the sweet crab meat ensures it’s not overpoweringly spicy. The sauce makes the dish a bit messy, but it’s so good that most tourists won’t mind a stained shirt. Crab is generally an expensive meat, but the competition between hawkers and kopi tiam at the East Coast Seafood Center keeps the prices reasonable.

While in Vietnam make sure you try the country’s famous noodle soup, pho. The rice noodles are traditionally served in a broth with beef or chicken, and a variety of traditional Asian vegetables and spices. Most Vietnamese restaurants serve pho, but you’ll save money buying it from street vendors or market stalls.

Japan’s bento boxes have come a long way over the last century, with the original lacquered lunch boxes giving way to more modern, disposable versions. The philosophy remains the same though, with each one containing an organized meal of rice, meat or seafood, and vegetables. You’ll find this balanced and affordable Japanese lunch at the country’s convenience stores, bento outlets, and train stations.

Pho noodle soup

Pho noodle soup

And finally in Bali they have padang, a traditional curry sold at local market stalls. You’ll find a variety of padang in Bali, from classics like beef and tapioca leaves to the more adventurous fish head variety. Each one is served wrapped up in a banana leaf to help you eat it on the run.

So next time you’re thinking of settling for a burger and fries in Asia, why not be a bit more adventurous and sample some of the local cuisine? Your stomach and wallet will thank you!

[Image Source: Rob Sinclair/Flickr]

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