1. Be Smart
When walking around a town or a city and looking for some street foods, don’t be nervous about making a judgement and tapping into your common sense, especially in terms of what you eat and where. Overall in Asia, regions with local specialities will advertise them locally, please try to keep an eye for where’s busy on the streets or restaurants or looking at the signs. Pay your attention to the times or the day that stalls are busy because eating with the rush you will be sure to get the fresh serving. The great way to tell when something been out for too long and gone bad is use your nose and sniffing. Remember to keep your eyes peeled and your nostrils open and you are bound to find something that’s is delicious, safe to eat and locally sourced.
2. Bad Hygiene Isn’t Always Where You’d Think
Food poisoning is always a risk with street food taste, and personally, my stomach will revolt at the slightest possible attack. However, it is far more common to get food poisoning from water than from the food itself. For example, as tempting as the fresh lettuce with pork balls under the overpass in Hanoi may be, there may be harmful bacteria in those greens. Lettuce rinsed in tap water has a higher chance of being a disaster for your belly. Despite street food often being very rich, it’s probably a safer alternative to fresh vegetables and pre-cut fruit. Also, a poorly washed cup is guiltier will make you feel sick rather than those freshly grilled BBQ pork skewers, so be aware.
3. Ice Ice Baby
Expanding on street side hygiene, ice is key issue here. Travelling through humid and balmy in Southeast Asia where the sun takes no prisoners and the temperatures rocket is a challenge for all travellers. You will be fuming if avoiding ice to be on the safe side. You definately can still have ice in steamy Asia, even ones set up on the curb with plastic stools, or many cafes, have treated and clean ice. Keep in mind that, if you see someone smashing your ice with a mallet, there’s a good chance it isn’t clean. Generally though, the rule of thumb with ice, is to check for holes, usually purified ice is cylindrical with holes down the centre.
4. Do as the Locals Do
When tasting local food, please try to see how people use it and what’s on the table. In Vietnam, you’ll have fish sauce, sugar, peanuts, and limes laid out on the side. In Northern Vietnam, hot sauce, pickled garlic and limes are standing by to garnish almost anything. It’s completely normal to add somthing extra and you are encourated to customize your plate. Please make sure you taste the dish. Further more you may notice the locals throwing their trash on the curb and there is no bin under your table. As unappealing as this seems, street side business need to keep their service fast and efficient and it’s often easier for them to sweep up the mess under the table and give it a wipe before the next hungry customer pulls up a stool. So don’t be afraid to throw your napkin to the curb! Finally, if you’re eating rice or noodles, don’t ever leave your chopsticks sticking up in it. Throughout most regions of Asia, a bowl of rice with chopsticks stuck in it, is an offering to dead ancestors.
5. Variety is the Spice of Life
Street food offers an adventure in every bite wherever you are travelling in Asia. It’s cheap, fresh and fast and more importantly it’s local. Please keep in mind the regulations thoughout the region change. Vietnam have recently seen a surge in efforts to clear out the street food however for the time being it remains a cultural staple. The local markets are always a good place to taste local food in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Wherever you go in Asia, there’s a street food stall that awaits you.
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