Are you one of those travelers who plan your trips around your favorite food? Imagine that perfect crusty Italian baguette served alongside a wedge of authentic Italian parmesan cheese. Oh, and don’t forget the perfectly paired aromatic glass of Sancerre. It’s an experience not to be missed.
What is Culinary Tourism
Culinary tourism is becoming increasingly popular as people seek unique cuisines to enjoy on their trips. According to Le Cordon Bleu, travelers are becoming increasingly focused on regional cuisine as an artistic expression of the area.
Just like you might visit a museum to see famous artwork, many want to visit restaurants to try the local seasonal dishes that are unique to the area. It’s not always about eating a fancy, luxurious meal either, and it’s more about eating adventurously and experiencing new cultures through foods.
Top Ten Best Cities for Foodies
Asher & Lyric created a Global Foodie Index that grades cities on five metrics important to foodies when picking a city to visit. The metrics are the number of Michelin-starred restaurants, the number of the world’s best restaurants, cities with the most national cuisines, the cost of a meal for two, and the number of restaurants per capita.
Many of these lists concentrate on bigger cities, so they did their best to dig deep to find the local cuisines and represent all areas. Sometimes the lesser-known destinations offer some of the best cuisines. The Michelin star rating tends to favor Asian and European cities, but it is the gold standard for foodie culture and therefore was used as a ranking factor.
Japan is the leader with three of the best foodie destinations, and Tokyo is top of the list. It boasts 436 Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo alone, and there are 120 different types of cuisines travelers can enjoy.
Tokyo is well known for its Edomae sushi which is bite-sized pieces of fish that are slightly pickled on top of rice that has been soaked in red vinegar. The term Edomae refers to Tokyo Bay, where most of the fish came from originally.
With 423 Michelin-starred restaurants, Paris comes in a close second. If you have ever been to Paris, you know that food is central to its culture. You can’t walk down a Parisian street without being tempted by the smell of fresh pastries and baked baguettes.
Alexandrea Sumuel, from Wander with Alex, says, “The city of Paris proudly flaunts its French culinary heritage with delectable dining options that will satisfy even the most sophisticated bon vivant. Sweet treats like salted butter caramel crepes will make your mouth water, while saucy savory classics such as coq au vin can be relished at hidden gems like La Jacobine.”
Bangkok, Thailand, has a vibrant food scene, from street vendors to high-end restaurants, and is known for its exotic cuisine. Some of the more popular ingredients are fish sauce, chili peppers, lime leaves, shrimp paste, and sour fruits.
If you love Pad Thai in the United States, you must try authentic Pad Thai, as Bangkok is the best place to get this dish. Don't forget the Mango Sticky Rice for dessert.
New York City, United States
Visitors to New York can enjoy 118 different types of cuisine and choose from 452 Michelin-starred restaurants. The Big Apple has long been a city for culinary travel, and for good reason, since it is a hub for some of the best foods in the world.
Whether you are looking to experience a trendy Birria taco from a taco truck or waiting to score a reservation at your favorite Italian spot in the Bronx’s Little Italy, the wait can be very long.
Phuket is Thailand’s second top foodie city, and amazing food is engrained in its culture. The land provides plenty of fresh fish, seafood, and tropical fruits and vegetables. Here you will find Thai food, Malay food, Chinese food, and even Indian food.
Don’t miss Mee Hokkien, a delicious fried wheat noodle dish loaded with seafood, slices of pork, greens, and a savory broth. Topping it with a just-cooked egg really takes it over the top. For dessert, get the Oh eaw, a twist on shaved ice made from banana starch and kidney beans.
Singapore’s food culture is a popular draw for tourists worldwide. Here you can find all types of food, from food stalls, traditional restaurants, and award-winning luxurious eateries to modern fusion spots. There's something for everyone.
Be sure to find some delicious wok-fried dishes like coffee pork ribs or clay pot pork liver. Or you might indulge in an elegant burger made from a combination of black angus beef neck, ribeye, and wagyu. This is quite a splurge but so worth it!
Osaka has been nicknamed the “Nation’s Kitchen,” and eating is a favorite pastime here. It is less stuffy than other cities in Japan yet still very charming. You can enjoy many annual food and drink festivals here, such as the Tenjin festival and the Aizen summer festival, which all showcase the local culinary delicacies.
Make sure you experience the traditional Japanese multi-course meal called Kaiseki. Light dishes, like appetizers, are made with seasonal ingredients and simple seasonings. You can expect soups, noodles, rice, and bite-sized sushi.
Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong’s food reflects its rich heritage with Cantonese, Chinese, and European flavors. Food is heavily reliant on fresh vegetables, fish, and tofu.
Must-try dishes are dim sum, a selection of small plates with classics such as steamed shrimp dumplings, barbecued pork buns, and Chinese dumplings. Don’t miss the fish balls served in a hot curry which can often be found at street food stalls.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has an impressive 171 Michelin-starred restaurants and something to satisfy every taste bud. Korean food relies heavily on fermented foods, so expect to be served kimchi at most meals. Luckily it is healthy and very good for digestion.
If you are a fan of kimchi, be sure to try the kimchi stew called Sundubu Jjigae. This spicy and flavorful soup contains delicious tofu and red chili flakes.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chaing Mai is known for its temples, lush rainforests, and elephant sanctuaries, but the food is not to be missed. The quintessential Thai dish of Khao Soi Khun Yai is made from crispy and soft egg noodles in a curry sauce made from coconut milk. Thailand is not to be missed for its food scene!
If you like donuts, be sure to sample the Pa Thong Ko. These Thai donuts are typically sold as street food and eaten for breakfast.
Whether you are a foodie or not, it makes sense to seek out these culinary experiences when you plan your travel. Don’t just look for the most exclusive fancy meals; seek out the street food and local fare, which is often just as good or better. Who knows, it might change your travel plans altogether.
This article was produced and syndicated by Seasonal Cravings and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.