Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A relatively small country with an incredible diversity of cuisines. Remember the Malaysia Truly Asia jingle? I think what they were really talking about was the food. Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur in particular is a great place to get the best of Asian cuisine in one place.
Whether Japanese, Korean, Chinese or Thai, you will find some of the best plates of food anywhere in the world in Malaysia. Then there is incredible local diversity as well - Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures have lived alongside for decades to create a veritable melting pot of flavors.
You will find everything from road-side parathas to Michelin star sushi. KL is also a great city for Middle Eastern food. The best part? Great food at fantastic prices.
Azeri food is terribly under-rated. And many Pakistani tourists will tell you that it is bland and ‘pheeka’. We beg to differ. Azeri food is a rich combination of Russian, Irani, Turkish and wider Central Asian influences. What it lacks in heat, it makes up for in the creative use of nuts, fruits, berries and herbs. The traditional Plov, is a saffron flavored rice often served with tender meats. The soup with tiny dumplings is just a work of art.
The grilled meats often used tomato as a marinade making for a deep, tangy flavor. There is also a rich variety of seafood from the Caspian. Besides these mains, there’s the fantastic street food like qutab - a kind of stuffed crepe or the potato piroshki - a savory pastry.
Baku also has the BEST tandoor or ‘tandir’ as it is called in Azeri bread, I have ever had anywhere in the world! Don’t forget the fruit jams and teas.
New Orleans, USA
While it seems easy to dismiss American cuisine as either ‘borrowed’ foods, versions of originals or just an upsize of a regular meal, the food of New Orleans/Louisiana is it’s saving grace. Southern hospitality combined with its rich Spanish, French,West African and Native American cuisine (Creole) influence, the city presents a rainbow of flavors. Some of it’s most iconic flavors include the Jambalaya - a one pot mix of meats (chicken and seafood, usually), vegetables, rice, spices and herbs. Then there’s the Crawfish Boil - which is not just a meal but a community event.
Another essential on the New Orleans menu is the Gumbo - which could really be a food group of its own. Then there’s the beignets, po’boys, King cake - we could just go on. Do not miss New Orleans on your cross Atlantic trip to the US. It is unlike any other destination in the US.