Travelling the World in 15 Plates

11 months ago

Humble street dishes from all over the globe take the culinary centerstage

Words by Yllaine Sabenecio

Photos courtesy of World Street Food Congress

In search of your next great food trip? The World Street Food Congress listed down their top 50 world street food masters that has served dishes that became a staple in their community and has become a culinary icons on their own. Here are just some street food staples that made it into the list:


1. Pak Sadi Soto Ambengan, Jakarta, Indonesia

Jl. Wolter Monginsidi No. 28 Petogogan Kebayoran Baru, RT.1/RW.6, Petogogan, Kby. Baru, Kota Jakarta Selatan, Daerah Khusus, Ibukota Jakarta 12170, Indonesia

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7:30am to 9:30pm

Contact No: +62 21 7279 3057

The Americans have chicken noodle soup. Filipinos have mami. For Indonesians, however, their go-to comfort soup is the Soto Ayam Ambengan. And just like any other soups, the essence of the Soto Ayam Ambengan is in its broth—rich and velvety stock is created by simmering the chicken bones and meat, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices while the addition of turmeric gives it its distinct yellowish hue. It is served with rice noodles for added heft and then topped with fried garlic bits and crushed prawn crackers.


2. Pho Phu Vuong, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

339 Lê Văn Sỹ, 1, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 7:00am to 1:00pm & 4:30pm to 9:30pm

Contact no: +84 8 3991 8295

Pho Phu Vuong is a food cart success story. Thanks to their famous bowl of pho, the humble stall that was once parked along the middle of the town was able to convert itself into a restaurant with ample seating. Their pho has a very rich and clear beefy broth that was created by simmering beef bones for hours to get that beefy essence. It has a generous amount of beef slices in each bowl—meat cuts that came from the shin to the tenderloin. If you think that the broth and the amount of beef should make this bowl of pho rich enough, wait until crack the egg yolk that that added to the soup that will give a layer of extra richness to the soup.


3. Yaowarat Xiang Ji Fish Porridge

54 Soi Bamrungrat, Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is known for its bustling street food scene and one of the most recommended places for quality and delicious street food would probably be in Chinatown (Yaowarat). It’s worth scourging the little alleys of the city just to have a taste of this vintage Teochew dish. The freshest chunks of pomfret fish are simmered in a stock that has been flavored with preserved water pickles. For an additional hint of umami, the porridge is then topped with smoky teepo (dried sole fish bones) that contrast the sweetness of the pomfret fish chunks.


4. Selingsing Cepaka Warung Babi Guling

33, Jalan Desa Cepaka, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 6:00pm to 2:00am or until sold out

Contact No: +62 81 337 854 662

Indonesia has their own version of the lechon that’s also downright wicked. It’s called babi guling, which literally means pork roast. Selingsing Cepaka Warung Babi Guling roasts two whole pigs each day that they sell out every night. With its level of savoriness, spice, and saltiness that matches the local palate, it was also able to charm the tourists in the area. For a full experience, don’t forget to order their fluffy and aromatic long-grain rice that goes well with the roasted pig.


5. Zeny’s Pinangat, Philippines

 PNR Rd, Gapo, Camalig, 4502 Albay, in Bicol, Philippines

Contact No: +63 916 288 5491

Zeny’s pinangat is the perfect example of how one good dish can stand on its own. Their orders of pinangats were once sold as a side dish in their carinderia but once they noticed that their pinangat got more attention, they closed down the carinderia and concentrated on making nothing but this delicacy. Don’t expect the usual carinderia din-in setup though, as these lovely parcels are only good for taking out. The pork is wrapped in dry taro leaves and then simmered for at least three hours in seasoned coconut milk. They sell hundreds of pinangats a day and some parcels, if chilled properly, even reach their way on the dining tables in Manila.


6. Martabak Markobar, Jakarta, Indonesia

JL Burangrang No 42, Bandung, Jakarta, Indonesia

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 4:00pm to 12:00am

Contact No: +62 22 7312192

Martabak can either be savory or sweet. The savory version consists of a crepe-like wrap which encases a ground meat and vegetable mix and then folded to create a rectangular parcel. The sweet version, on the other hand, looks a lot different as it looks like a large pancake with the texture of a crumpet and crispy wafer-like sides. It is traditionally topped with condensed milk, chocolate sprinkles, and shredded cheese before being folded to create a sweet sandwich. Markobar’s martabak updates this street food classic with a more modern take. They went crazy with lots of different options for toppings such as Ceres (an Indonesian chocolate) mixed with cheese, Nutella, Green Tea Kitkat, Ovomaltine (a malted chocolate dairy drink) and unlike the street food version in which they are folded to create a sandwich, Markobar’s martabak serves them in slices similar to pizza so you can have a taste of their different flavor offerings on a single plate.


7. Tan’s Kueh Tutu, Singapore

Blk 22B Havelock Road #01-25, Singapore

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:00am to 3:00pm

Contact no: +65 9737 2469

A dessert that instantly brings nostalgia to Singaporeans, kueh tutu is fluffy stuffed steamed rice cake made out of shaggy toasted rice flour “dough” that has been filled with something sweet—traditionally caramelized coconut shreds with gula melaka, or brown sugar and ground peanuts. Tan Yong Fa of Tan’s Kueh Tutu popularized this Chinese snack in Singapore in 1930s and stuffed it with either ground peanuts or caramelized coconut shreds as the original Chinese version lacks filling. Molds are specially made for the kueh tutus to create its distinct design and shape. Just make sure to eat it while still hot as it tends to get hard and dry when cooled.


8. Ibu Weti Nasi Campur

Jl. Segara Ayu, Sanur, Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80227, Indonesia

8:00am to 10:00am

This quaint little stall located in Sanur, Bali has created a name for itself and we have to thank the late Ibu Weti for that. Expect a long line of blue collared workers mingling with tourists for a well-composed dish of Nasi Campur. Literally means “mixed rice,”  Ibu Weti’s nasi campur consists of a steamed rice with toppings like a sambal egg with shredded chicken, a satay skewer, crispy chicken skin strips, and mixed greens that has been doused with sambal and sauce.


9. Sharyn’s Kansi Beef Soup, Bacolod, Philippines

C58, Narra Ave, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Contact No: ++6334 433 1374


Filipinos love their soups—be it sinigang, nilaga, or lugaw, we won’t be able to say no to these dishes even if it’s scorching hot outside. A comforting soup among tourists and Negros locals alike would probably be a bowl of kansi—a sour soup of beef shank and marrow. Its sourness comes from the local batwan fruit that gives a distinct tang and yellowish hue to the broth. An order of Sharyn’s kansi comes in a big bowl with a huge beef shank packed with fatty marrow while the meat that clings to it is fork-tender and practically falls off the bone. Although already good on its own, we suggest eating it with rice, just how the locals would traditionally enjoy this dish.


10.Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice, Singapore

Blk 40 Holland Drive Singapore 270040

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00am to 7:00pm (Closed on Mondays)

Contact No: +65 8428 7865

For Singaporeans, a week can’t pass without having at least a plate of their favorite, chicken rice. A common hawker sight includes a long line of customers patiently waiting to get a fulfilling meal from their favorite chicken rice stall. What separates Sin Kee’s Chicken Rice from other chicken rice stalls or restaurants though, is their expertise, as they already have about half a century of experience under their sleeves. If you happen to pass by their stall, see how they prepare their chicken ricewatch how the cleaver smoothly glides onto the meat when its deboned. It’s still the same way when it first started.


11. Churros Locos Portland, USA

Portland, OR 97205

Contact no: +1 503 318 3037

We all love the smell of freshly cooked churros. Those fried dough smell and sprinkling of cinnamon sugar can instantly bring you back to your childhood. This is how Churros Locos in Portland, USA was conceptualized—through the sweetness and scent of nostalgia. The owners grew up loving this fried pastry and they wanted to share the happiness that they experience to everyone. In order to make it their own, they paired it with their favorite ice cream flavors and assorted fun toppings. Churros Locos was a hit when they participated at the World Street Food Congress Jamboree.


12.Soon Wah Fishball Kway Teow Mee, Singapore

#01-69 Newton Circus Food Centre, 500 Clemenceau Avenue North, 229495

Opening Hours: Thursday to Saturday & Monday to Tuesday (closed on Wednesday & Sunday)

5:30pm to 11:30pm

The fish balls from Soon Wah has never met a food processor. They are made out of just fish meat and salt (without extenders) that were painstakingly hand beaten and mashed until the resulting dough attains a pasty consistency. The balls are formed by closing the fists around a clump of fish paste that will help form a ball between the thumb and forefinger.  They are then boiled and once cooked, the balls will attain a bouncy texture. The accompanying noodles also doesn’t disappoint. Springy, al dente flat noodles are tossed in flavorful soy sauce-based sauce to match with the light fish balls.


13. Doods Ihaw and BBQ, Philippines

Roxas Extension (Rotunda), Davao City, Philippines

Contact no:+6390 9190 9146. 9:00am to 12:00AM

If you happen to cruise along Roxas extension in Davao City, keep a sharp eye and look for this stall. Don’t let your eye fool you—the smoke that you see from the street is probably from the grill tucked in its kitchen and not a manifestation of air pollution. Their dishes are the perfect examples of the harmonious relationship between the freshest ingredients and a proper cooking preparation—fresh tuna from the waters around Davao and the delicious smoky flavors from the sauce that they baste the grilled fish with. Don’t forget to give each fish morsel a quick dip in soy-calamansi dipping sauce with sliced siling labuyo to get the full experience.


14. Nasi Ambeng Dapur Ummi, Singapore

430 Upper Changi Road East Village #01-65, Bedok, Singapore

Opening Hours: Thursday to Tuesday, 12:00pm to 9:00pm & Friday, 3:00pm to 9:00pm

Contact no: +65 6755 4225

To get a taste of nasi ambeng, you have to take someone else with you. There’s no way you would be able to finish it alone or probably you can take this statement as a challenge and finish the whole plate by yourself. A plate of nasi ambeng is what communal food should look like—around 12-15 dishes (depending on your order) surrounding a huge cup of rice.  Ayam kalio, chicken rendang, is served on the side so as not to mix it up with the other dishes. Some of the dishes that can be found on the plate are beef rendang, ikan Bali (a Balinese-style fried fish with a spicy sauce), sambal goreng (vegetarian dish in coconut milk and spices), and paru (fried sliced ox lungs with spices). Just order your drinks and you’re ready for a feast.

1515. DK Litti, Delhi, India

In Front of Harniwas Palace, Exhibition Road, Patna Bihar

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:00am to 10:00pm

Contact no:+91 75448 52640

One of the most recognizable street food vendors in India, DK Litti serves what India would call their comfort food as it’s hearty and represents the humble Indian street food culture. It consists of a toasty and chewy wheat and carom seed bread that are roasted over wood fire and then paired with either vegetable dhal or chicken curry . This bread has a distinct aroma and gives a hint of pungency caused by the carom seeds in the dough. Although the bread and the curry already deserve their own merit, this dish is best enjoyed when you use the bread as the vessel to hold some of the curry sauce and bits of the chicken meat.

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