I’ve been to five countries and countless cities this year, eating my way through the best food as I went. I think with my stomach at all times and when you flip through the photos from my trip, it shows. Since giving up dairy last November, I’ve had more limited options than I did in previous years (2011, 2012, 2013), but thankfully Asia is a great place for those with a restrictive diet. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the occasional piece of cheese. Some photos are better than others since I usually eat first and think later. Prepare to drool on your keyboard.
Haloumi and poached egg with Turkish bread, Blue Mountains, Australia– Haloumi is certainly my Achilles heel, particularly when grilled, added to a piece of crusty Turkish bread and topped with a perfectly poached egg and olive oil. I wish I could remember the name of this cafe, but it was on the main drag in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains walking down the hill from the train station.
Asam Laksa, Choon Hui Cafe, Kuching, Malaysia– After one mediocre laksa and lots of curries on my trip to Malaysia, my friend Arienne sought out a more authentic version of the Malaysian national dish. We woke up early one morning to follow the locals to Choon Hui Cafe in Kuching, where we were the only foreigners there. Our heaping bowls of laksa were paired with cold tea.
Pork Dumplings and Noodles, Shanghai Dumplings, Melbourne, Australia– After going on a coffee tour with Walk Melbourne, my guide recommended Shanghai Street for the city’s authentic and delicious dumplings. Sammi and I met up with our pal Peter and I ordered way too much food!
Khao soi, Chiang Mai, Thailand– Another one I can’t remember where I had. In terms of typical northern Thai fare, this is the dish to have. We stumbled upon this place after getting soaked in Songkran. The bowls are full of a spicy broth and tender roasted chicken with crunchy noodles on top. This is one dish I’m dying to find at home!
Spicy miso ramen, Zutto Japanese American Pub, New York City, New York– I wanted to meet up with my dear friend Lauren while in New York for work, so Sammi found this place in a magazine. The TriBeCa restaurant has delicious sushi, but it’s the spicy bowl of ramen that left me waddling out.
Fried chicken biscuit, Home Grown Restaurant, Atlanta, Georgia– It’s easy to see why this is one of my favorite Atlanta restaurants. The crispy fried chicken biscuit is served all day and you can also get it covered in sausage gravy for extra calories.
Spicy Korean BBQ Sandwich, Heirloom Market BBQ, Atlanta, Georgia– I drove past this place for years before finally stopping. The mini mart adjacent restaurant serves Southern meets Korean barbecue. There’s nowhere to sit, so you stand outside or take it to go. Their fries are crispy and delicious as well.
Snapper, The Optimist, Atlanta, Georgia– I can hardly remember anything else about this dish, but I know it was delicious. It was a celebration of my 26th birthday, so my family and I went out after work. The ambiance was unmatched and I may have gorged on rolls and cocktails before even ordering.
Grits bowl with tomatoes, bacon and a poached egg, Rosebud, Atlanta, Georgia– Brunch spots are aplenty in Atlanta, but I was glad to give this one a try on a girl’s Sunday Funday. I loved seeing Chef Ron Eyester, recently on Top Chef, come out of the kitchen to greet customers. The dish came with cheese, but I opted out and didn’t feel like I missed out at all. And yes, that is a giant mimosa in a mason jar.
Banh mi, Hanoi, Vietnam– I couldn’t go to Vietnam without enjoying one of their most well known dishes, the banh mi, a sandwich filled with any number of ingredients. While this photo was taken at the market in Hanoi while on a food tour with Urban Adventures, and included pork floss, crispy onions and cucumber, I had dozens of other varieties of this sandwich during my month in the country.
Bun cha, Saigon, Vietnam– I found pho to be overrated in terms of best Vietnamese dishes and bun cha to be wayyyy underrated. We ended up at our first bun cha joint back in Hanoi under the recommendation of the fantastic crew at Nova Hotel. On one of our last nights in Saigon, I found myself craving the sweet bits of pork covered in fish sauce with noodles, greens and mangos.
Grouper Mofongo, Cafe Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico– Mofongo is the only dish I knew about before visiting Puerto Rico. Our first night in town, we went to the touristy, but recommended, Cafe Puerto Rico. I ordered the grouper mofongo and was not disappointed.
Tagliatelle bolognese with poached egg, The Pinewood, Decatur, Georgia– I’m terrible at taking food pictures while out at home and this is a prime example. My friend Elizabeth and I visited this Decatur restaurant during Restaurant Week, allowing us to try appetizers, entrees and dessert for a slightly lower price. I was very impressed with the rich pasta and cocktails. Don’t miss out on grit tots and brussels sprouts either!
Shrimp and grits, Lucky Rooster Kitchen & Bar, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina– What kind of former Charlestonian would I be if I didn’t eat shrimp and grits every now and again? This last minute dinner choice was my favorite meal for that entire week. The dish changes seasonally, this time with richly poached shrimps, greens and tomatoes.
Fried chicken, The Pirates House Savannah GA, Savannah, Georgia– On my Savannah food tour, I most loved the first dish of the day, the crispy fried honey pecan chicken from The Pirate’s House, where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island.