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Food is an integral part of any travel experience in Asia; it allows us to get out of our comfort zone and close to the communities that we are visiting. It enables us to interact, understand and relish unusual tastes unparalleled back home. We’ve chosen four capital cities where food is king, and we’ve asked some of our experts in country to recommend their favorite places to dine.

 

Tokyo, Japan

 

Tokyo is a city of extremes:  it’s one of the world’s largest and most modern metropolitan cities attracting people from all over Japan and world-wide. The city is brimming with life, vibrancy and it bombards your senses in every possible way. It’s also home to an outstanding collection local eateries and fine dining restaurants, allowing visitors the chance to experience flavors from all over the country. Sushi is quite clearly Japan’s most famous and arguably most revered dishes.  It comes in different forms, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always contain raw fish.  Having said that, Tokyo is home to the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji, and it is here that we find nigiri-sushi which usually takes the form of a morsel of rice with a carefully sliced piece of fish on top of it. Another regional specialty is monjayaki (often known as monja), which is a pan fried batter filled with a variety of ingredients.

 

Peter, our Japan Product Manager recommends some of his favorite restaurants:

 

Tofu-ya Ukai

 

This is easily one of my favorite restaurants in Japan, and is as Japanese as it gets. The restaurant sits just at the foot of Tokyo tower in a glorious old traditional building surrounded by 71,000 square feet of gardens. The restaurant specializes in tofu, and despite being fairly expensive, I feel it is well worth the treat.

 

Kyubey Ginza

 

For sushi this is an incredible, but still an affordable, restaurant. Regarded as the mecca for sushi, there is no doubt this place offers some of the finest and most elegant sushi you will find anywhere in Tokyo, and even Japan. It’s a popular choice and therefore it’s worth getting there before 11.30am if you are planning to visit at lunch time. I’d also recommend splashing out on the ‘chef choice’ lunch course, which is absolutely divine.

 

Sushi rolls made of Tuna
Sushi rolls made of Tuna

 

Exo Suggests: Enlightenment Japan

 

Vientiane, Laos

 

The capital of Laos is a sleepy city of less than a million inhabitants, which sits unnoticed at the side of the Mekong. It’s a charming place, the French occupation clearly evident in its peeling colonial shop houses and mansions which snuggle among shops and restaurants. These seem to be opening weekly as Vientiane catches up with the rest of the word. The harmonious city is a bit of a foodie paradise, there’s a huge plethora of places to choose from, from French bistros to American grills, from Vietnamese road side stalls to Spanish paella houses, however it is the local Laos cuisine which really hits the spot. Sticky rice is prevalent wherever you go; in fact Laos people consume more sticky rice than country. It is traditionally eaten by hand, often with larb, a minced meat salad, often flavored with fish sauce, lime juice and fresh herbs.

 

Solenne, our Inbound Manager in Laos, recommends some of her favorite restaurants in Vientiane:

 

Makphet, Vientiane

 

Makphet means chili in Laos, aptly named as the restaurant is a spicy and sensual affair, located in a characterful old building in the center of Vientiane. The reason I love it so much is not only the incredible contemporary Laos food, but also the fact the restaurant is a social enterprise, supporting the needs of street children in Laos but providing them with training and employment.

 

Laos Kitchen, Vientiane

 

Tucked away close by to the Culture Hall is Laos Kitchen, a clean modern restaurant overlooking the street which offers excellent red curries, larp, and Luang Prabang sausage, another regional delicacy. This is a great place to watch locals as they pass by, as the restaurant is open fronted.

 

Laos Kitchen, Vientiane
Laos Kitchen, Vientiane

 

Exo Recommends: Highlights of Laos

 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Cambodia’s national delicacies, which are often overlooked internationally, are in fact major highlights when travelling through Indochina.  Expect to try dishes such as fish amok, one of the best known Khmer dishes, which is a fish mousse made with fresh coconut milk and a local herb known as kroeung. You’ll often find Khmer red curry, similar to the red curry dishes found in neighboring Thailand but this version is milder and often served with bread, testament to the country’s French colonial past. Phnom Penh is situated at the confluence of four rivers; the Upper Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Bassac, and the magnificent Tonle Sap so it’s hardly surprising that fresh water fish feature in many dishes in the city.

 

Fish Amok
Fish Amok

 

Greg, our Cambodia General Manager, recommends some of his favorite restaurants in Phnom Penh:

 

Romdeng, Phnom Penh

 

Romdeng is a restaurant run by Mith Samlanh, a local organization that works with Friends International to support marginalized children through education and employment. The restaurant is a great place to relax with both indoor and outdoor dining. The food served is truly authentic, so much so that deep fried spiders are on the menu!

 

Tepui at Chinese House, Phnom Penh

 

Tepui at Chinese House offers extraordinary fusion food, creating sumptuous Mediterranean dishes with Asian touches. It’s located in a beautiful atmospheric building and the food is truly excellent. The red tuna tartar with wasabi emulsion comes highly recommended by me.

 

Exo Recommends: Cambodia in Depth

 

Beijing, China

 

Beijing is China’s capital and one of the most populated cities in the world. Attracting migrants from all over China, Beijing has risen as one of Asia’s finest cities for cuisine, with thousands cheap and cheerful restaurants, as well as fine dining establishments.  Beijing Roasted Duck is among the most famous and most popular dishes in China. The duck is cherished due to its long, thin, crisp skin. The meat is often eaten with pancakes, scallion and hoisin sauce.

 

Marina Wu, our China Inbound Manager, recommends her favorite restaurant to try in Beijing:

 

China Lounge, Beijing

 

China Lounge combines classical Chinese elements with a contemporary sleek design to create one of Beijing’s most sophisticated dining establishments. There’s a beautiful terrace which overlooks the surrounding lake, and the food is just incredible.

 

Duck de Chine Jinbaoji, Beijing 

 

This is definitely one of my favorites and a great restaurant, located in the heart of the city. In the evenings it’s dimly lit with candles, creating a wonderful romantic atmosphere. The food is something else. It combines the traditional elements of Beijing duck, but fuses them with fine French cuisine. An absolute must.

 

Beijing Duck
Beijing Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exo Recommends: Beijing City Break

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