30 Asian Street Foods You Need To Try Out
Street food is synonymous with Asian cuisine. An integral part of many country’s ways of living, street food helps keep the hustle and bustle of every city alive.
It’s a way of providing traditional, delicious and cheap food to people who are in a rush as well as people with less money. In fact, some of the best Asian food can be found on the streets!
Let’s get into the top 30 Asian street foods!
1. Takoyaki: Japan
Takoyaki is a staple Japanese street food. Small, steaming hot balls of fried dough stuffed with octopus.
Along with octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion, the dough is fried in a special cast iron pan, helping it mold into a spherical shape. Inside is deliciously soft and the outside is crispy, and it is topped with mayonnaise, a special takoyaki sauce, nori (seaweed), and bonito flakes.
2. Baozi: China
Baozi, or simply Bao, is one of China’s favorite snacks and has been adopted in many Asian countries.
Bao are steamed buns stuffed with a variety of fillings, from savory to sweet. Cantonese-style bao is filled with char siu pork, whereas Shanghai-style contains mincemeat. The fluffy buns pair beautifully with the succulent and umami-packed meat fillings.
For dessert, the bao buns can also be filled with a red bean paste.
3. Sate Ayam (Satay): Indonesia & Malaysia
Sate ayam, also known as satay, is a classic Indonesian street food that is popular throughout South East Asia.
Sate is basically meat, or sometimes offal, that are skewered and grilled. The meat is marinated in ground coriander, kecap manis (an Indonesian sweet dark soy sauce), and a host of other ingredients. Typically it is served with a peanut sauce.
4. Bánh mì: Vietnam
Bánh mì is a popular variety of sandwich from Vietnam made with baguettes. Ever since the colonial period, baguettes have been an integral part of Vietnamese cuisine.
Marinated meat is packed alongside refreshing pickles and cilantro, making a delicious and refreshing sandwich.
5. Sundae: South Korea
Sundae is a Korean delicacy made from filling the intestines of a cow or a pig with dangmyeons (transparent noodles), offal, and pig’s blood. It is then boiled giving the appearance and texture of a regular sausage.
Typically, the sausage is eaten with salt and pepper or in the Busan style, with ssamjang sauce and green chili.
6. Yaki Soba: Japan
Originating from the Chinese chow main, yakisoba is a type of fried noodle dish. Not only is it a popular food stall dish but home cooks serve it up as a quick and delicious meal.
Typical ingredients include fried pork, cabbage, onions, and carrots cooked along with ramen wheat flour noodles. A special yakisoba sauce is added and it is topped with nori and served with pickled ginger, beni shouga.
7. Pad Thai: Thailand
Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s most popular dishes, consisting of rice noodles, tofu, dried shrimp, bean sprouts, and eggs. In some cases, meat is added such as pork or chicken.
It’s often topped with peanuts, making it the perfect combination of sweet and savory with an excellent balance of textures.
8. Doner Kebab: Turkey & Middle East
Doner kebab is one of the many kinds of kebabs (shawarmas) in the world. A mix of marinated lamb and beef is layered onto a vertical rotisserie which slowly rotates, cooking the meat slowly and delicately.
Once cooked, the meat is thinly sliced off the rotisserie and typically served in flatbreads such as lavash or yufka. Other vegetables and sauces accompany the doner meat, such as lettuce, cucumber, and garlic sauce.
9. Cantonese Roast Duck: China
Similar to Peking duck, Cantonese-style roast duck is even more flavorful and juicy. It is typically served whole, just like a roast chicken, stuffed with plenty of aromatics creating succulent and flavorful meat. Prior to roasting, the duck is air-dried, helping the skin become deliciously crispy.
Street vendors will have a display of hanging roast ducks which they cut into bit-sized pieces when ordered.
10. Chicken Tikka: India
Chicken tikka is one of the most delicious ways to pack huge flavor into an ordinary chicken breast. First, the chicken is marinated in a yoghurt mixture containing various spices, including cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
The yoghurt helps tenderize the meat, while the turmeric stains it a beautiful yellow/orange color. The chicken is then grilled over charcoal, adding a beautiful barbecue and charred flavor.
Commonly, it is served with yoghurt, lemon and flatbreads.
11. Kothu Roti: Sri Lanka
Kothu roti consists of diced flatbread which is stir-fried with scrambled egg, onions, chilies, spices, and various vegetables or meat such as beef, chicken or mutton.
Food vendors serve kothu roti into the late evening, filling the streets with sizzling sounds and tantalizing aromas.
12. Gado-gado: Indonesia
A simple salad dish that is irresistibly delicious is hard to come by, but gado-gado is just that. A variety of vegetables including potatoes, spinach, and beansprouts are blanched and served with an indulgent peanut sauce.
Prawn crackers and an Indonesian fermented soybean product called tempeh are often included, adding more Imai and savouriness to the dish.
13. Gỏi Cuốn: Vietnam
Gỏi Cuốn, or Vietnamese rice paper rolls, are packed with bright and refreshing flavors. There are a mixture of lettuce, bean sprouts, noodles, basil and shrimp, delicately rolled in thin rice paper, and served alongside a peanut dipping sauce.
The vivid pink and orange of the prawns lining the rice paper rolls make a stunning pattern with intertwining mint leaves. It is the perfect umami-packed yet refreshing dish.
14. Yakitori: Japan
Yakitori are typically small pieces of chicken that have been skewered and cooked over a charcoal fire. Whilst chicken is typically used, many other ingredients can also be enjoyed such as wagyu beef, various vegetables, and even animal organs.
The ingredients are seasoned beforehand, either with salt or a special sauce that glazes over as it cooks over the charcoal.
15. Cong You Bing: China
Cong you bing, or scallion pancakes, are a staple in Chinese cuisine. You can find them anywhere from high-end restaurants to food stalls. Scallions are folded into a simple dough and rolled out into a log shape.
The dough is shaped into a pinwheel and flattened, creating a very thin scallion pancake. These are fried, becoming golden brown and crispy on the outside and flaky yet fluffy on the inside.
16. Tteokbokki: South Korea
Tteokbokki is a spicy stir-fried dish containing cylindrical rice cakes and fish cakes coated in a sweet chili sauce. It is one of South Korea’s most popular street foods and can be bought from street vendors known as pojangmacha.
Tteobokki comes in a host of variations, with ingredients such as cheese and ramen noodles commonly added.
17. Samosa: India
Perfectly crispy, flaky, and spicy samosas are the perfect snack in Indian cuisine. Small parcels of deep-fried pastry are stuffed with potatoes, spices, herbs, and sometimes a keema (minced meat) filling.
Samosas are typically served with yoghurt and Indian chutney to help balance the richness of the pastry and the spiciness of the filling. Sweet samosas are also popular, using ingredients such as pomegranate, mango, and raisins.
18. Tantuni: Turkey
Tantuni is a famous street food in Mersin. There are two versions of tantuni, one where beef is cooked with tomatoes and another where the beef is cooked on its own.
The former is served with parsley and a raw onion sumac mix, while the latter has the addition of fresh tomatoes. Both are absolutely delicious and served with lavish bread, making it the perfect street food snack.
19. Okonomiyaki: Japan
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that mainly consists of cabbage and pork. The dough is mixed with chopped cabbage and fried on teppanyaki, similar to a regular pancake.
Pork is laid on top and then flipped, making it deliciously crispy. For serving, a special okonomiyaki sauce is added, along with mayonnaise, scallions, nori, and katsuobushi.
Whilst pork is typically used, seafood such as prawns and squid are also very common.
20. Hainanese Chicken Rice: China
Popular throughout southeast Asia, Hainanese chicken is delicately poached, becoming perfectly moist and silky. The rice is cooked with chicken fat and stock, adding plenty of umami.
The chicken and rice are served alongside refreshing cucumber and various sauces, including ginger and garlic, chili, and a sweet dark soy sauce.
21. Kerak Telor: Indonesia
Kerak tenor is a traditional Indonesian-style omelet made from glutinous rice and egg. It is typically served with fried shredded coconut (serundeng), fried shallots, and dried shrimp on top.
It is considered a snack and has become ubiquitous during the annual Jakarta Fair, making it one of the most popular dishes in Indonesian street food cuisine.
22. Khao Niao Mamuang: Thailand
One of Thailand’s traditional and most popular dishes, this sweet and sticky rice, accompanied with slices of mango, is the perfect way to finish off any meal. Steamed glutinous rice is dressed with sweet coconut milk with refreshing mango to help cleanse the palette.
This simple Thai dessert can be found on food stalls, served in bamboo baskets and is the perfect way to refresh from the heat.
23. Cao Lầu: Vietnam
Originating in Hội An, in central Vietnam’s Quảng Nam Province, this is a traditional noodle dish. Rice noodles are soaked in lye water, giving them a chewy and springy texture.
The noodles are topped with shredded or char siu style pork, along with beansprouts and cilantro. Whilst pork is typically used, shrimp can also be added.
24. Taiyaki: Japan
Taiyaki, known for its fish shape, is filled with azuki sweet red bean paste. The cake batter is baked in a cast-iron tai or sea bream-shaped mold, creating a crispy exterior and a warm, fluffy inside.
Traditionally, red bean paste is used as a filling. However, other variations include custard cream, chocolate, and even sweet potato.
Many street food vendors have glass displays showing the beautifully shaped taiyaki and all their different flavors.
25. Bing Tanghulu: China
These candied trees line the food stall streets in China. Whether it is a neighborhood festival or a high-end restaurant, bing tanghulu can be found everywhere.
They are made from fruit skewered on bamboo sticks and coated in a crispy shell of sugar. Original bing tanghulu uses hawthorn berries but strawberries, apples and grapes are also often used.
26. Karaage: Japan
The crispy batter with the salty, sweet and juicy chicken is a perfect balance. It is also typically enjoyed with some mayonnaise or a squeeze of lemon. Street vendors usually sell karaage in a plastic cup, making it the perfect, easy-to-eat festival food.
27. Rendang: Indonesia
Rendang is a spicy, rich and creamy coconut beef stew that is packed full of flavor. It originated among the Minangkabau people in West Sumatra and is known for its unique spiciness and long cooking time.
A curry-like paste is made by blending a variety of herbs and spices and fried in oil to release all the fragrant aromas. The beef is added along with coconut milk and it is stewed for hours till tender.
28. Tom Yum: Thailand
Tom yum is a sweet and sour soup that is typically cooked with shrimp. Fragrant herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal are added, giving it a wonderful aroma.
The base of the soup is a paste called nam prik pao, which includes roasted chilies, shallots, and garlic grilled over a charcoal fire.
29. Char Kway Teow: China
When visiting Chinese street food vendors, char kway teow will most certainly be available. The dish contains flat rice noodles served with shrimp, bloody cockles, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in a mix of soy sauce.
Cooking the noodles in the intense heat of the wok adds a beautiful char, creating a smoky flavor known as ‘wok hei’.
30. Dondurma: Turkey
Dondurma is the local take on ice cream. Compared to Western ice cream, this Turkish take is sweet, creamy, stretchy, and chewy, caused by a starchy root of wild orchids, called salep. Dondurma comes in many flavors but the most popular are plain, pistachio, and cocoa.
This popular Turkish dessert is often eaten with baklava, making it even more decadent and rich.
Famously, dondurma street vendors entertain their customers and by-standers by swapping the scoop of ice cream from cone to cone while the buyer’s hand tries eagerly catch it.