I may or may not have drooled all over my laptop writing this list! But it was worth it to go down culinary memory lane and relive the best meals I’ve had all over the world.
One of my favourite parts of going to a new place (and coming home) is indulging in the local food. I’ve been lucky enough to try some amazing dishes around the world, and in my own backyard. Before I dive into the list, I have to share a few caveats:
- These are the best meals that I personally have had. I can’t say they’re the best meals out there or that you’re going to like every one of them.
- I haven’t been everywhere, so there’s a lot of amazing meals missing from this list.
- I’ve forgotten a lot of great meals too…sorry!
- I don’t have photos of all of these meals. Sometimes I’m too hungry to stop for a snap first!
All right, without further ado, the 29 best meals I’ve eaten in 29 years of travel (in no particular order!):
1. Malaysian food in Vancouver, Canada
I have to start by representing my hometown! Banana Leaf is a Malaysian restaurant in Vancouver and they have some of the best dishes. It was one of the first places Colin and I ordered from when we got back from Prague and we even served their famous chicken skewers at our wedding. In addition to the skewers, don’t miss out on the roti canai, sambal green beans and caramelized fish.
2. Chinese food in Toronto, Canada
And now a little love for my childhood home: New Sky restaurant in Toronto’s Chinatown. Not only do I have amazing memories of going to this restaurant with my family, and always getting special treatment because my grandfather was a VIP, but the food was incredible too. You must order the General Tsao’s chicken and scallop fried rice.
3. Sushi in Tokyo, Japan
I spent a month working in Tokyo back in 2014 and a few days there in 2019 and one of the highlights on both trips was the FOOD. Japanese food is awesome! You can’t go wrong with almost any of the dishes in Tokyo but there’s something about fresh sushi made by the experts!
4. Korean food in San Francisco, USA
When we visited San Francisco in 2017, Colin and I stumbled into this amazing Korean fusion restaurant, Surisan, and loved every bite of it. We went again when we were back in SF later that year, and convinced my mom to go when she visited. So suffice to say, we’re all fans!
5. Seafood pasta in Paris, France
Seafood pasta in Paris? You better believe it! When my dad and I visited Paris, he randomly chose a place for us to eat near our hotel one night, La Villa Andrea. I went for the seafood pasta. And it was so delicious we went back the next night! Then when Colin and I were in Paris the next year, we also ate at Villa Andrea two nights in a row.
6. Mango shakes in Siem Reap, Cambodia
There’s nothing I love more than a fresh mango milkshake. Which is why I had about three a day while we were in Siem Reap. They were always tasty, so fresh and usually about $1. Even Colin, who we think is allergic to mangoes, couldn’t help but try a few sips.
7. Pastries in Madrid, Spain
On our visit to Madrid in February 2020, we found this incredible pastry shop, La Mallorquina, that serves the most life-changing delicious chocolate creations I have ever had. Seriously, I still dream about these things! Napolitana Chocolate are like danishes, mixed with croissants, with a full, creamy chocolate bar in the middle. They are so indulgent and you can’t help but go back for more!
8. Pizza in Naples, Italy
I could hardly write about the best meals I’ve had and not talk about the main thing to eat in Naples, Italy! Of course, pizza made my list. I’ve tried a few different pizzerias in Naples and they’ve all been amazing. Nothing beats fresh, traditional Napoli pizza.
9. Gelato in San Gimignano, Italy
When we visited Tuscany in 2019, we took a day trip into San Gimignano and, of course, had to try the best gelato in the world at Dondoli. The sign didn’t lie – this really was some of the best gelato I have ever had! I tried Blueberry Ricotta and Chocolate Grand Marnier and they were both delicious.
10. Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand
One of my favourite meals in the entire world is a bowl of Khao Soi from Northern Thailand. While we were in Chiang Mai, we feasted on their famous dish at least once a day. Khao Soi is a yellow curry traditionally served with noodles and chicken. I can’t even begin to describe the flavour, other than to say that it’s addictive!
11. Fish tacos in Los Angeles, USA
Colin, his mom and I visited LA in 2015 and spent a few nights in Venice Beach. As we were walking along the boardwalk, we passed this tiny little food stall with a handwritten sign that said, “Best Fish Tacos.” We figured there’s no way this tiny spot would have the best fish tacos, but we were dead wrong. The tacos were amazing! They were so good, we went back the next night and got them again.
12. Burgers in Barcelona, Spain
Was I expecting to have one of the best burgers of my life in Barcelona, Spain? Absolutely not. But I did! Maybe it was the fact that we went in with low expectations or that we were so hungry from spending the morning walking through Guell Parc, but the burgers at Anauco were so good! They were absolutely huge, came out quick and were super tasty.
13. Pancakes in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
While studying abroad in Amsterdam and visiting again in 2018, I managed to eat at The Pancake Bakery more than a dozen times. And it never disappoints! Dutch pancakes are awesome and I love how this shop offers a huge variety of savoury and sweet options. We used to go as a group of six, all order one pancake, eat a sixth of it, and then pass it along so we could all try each other’s. That’s my favourite way to share a meal!
14. Lechon in the Philippines
So this food memory is kind of hazy, but I still think I have to call it one of the best meals of my life. When I was 13, I went with my aunt and cousin to the Philippines and Korea for six weeks. We stayed with family in the Philippines and every time there was a big family event, lechon (a full roast pig) was always the star. I remember lining up to get a piece and sitting around the backyard while it roasted. It was always tasty and always such a fun time with family.
15. Croissants in Paris, France
Yes, Paris is making a second appearance on this list! This time, it’s a sweet option. There’s no doubt Paris has some of the best pastries in the world but my favourite would have to be the plain croissants from Les Gamins du Faubourg. I stumbled upon this bakery while walking Ellie early one morning, the scent of fresh croissants pulling me in. I brought two back to the hotel room and by the time I got there, the croissants had almost soaked through the bag – that’s how buttery they were! They absolutely melted in our mouths and we made sure to get a second helping later that day.
16. Chocolates in Antwerp, Belgium
I visited Antwerp, Belgium for the second time in 2018 on a little solo trip. I was just coming off of a week in Amsterdam and Paris with my dad and had decided to spend a few days in Antwerp before flying home. It rained the entire time I was there (I always seem to visit Belgium in bad weather!) but that didn’t stop me from wandering through the old town. And what did I happen to walk into? The cutest chocolate shop with the best praline chocolates! You better believe I popped in every day of my trip.
17. Donuts in Vancouver, Canada
Are there better donuts out there in the world? Probably. And I will happily taste as many as I can to find the winners. But there’s something so special about the Earl Grey donut from Cartems, a local donut chain here in Vancouver. In fact, Colin and I are such big fans that we served these donuts at our wedding. And they were a hit!
18. Food court lunch in Singapore
One of the best parts of our 2019 trip to Southeast Asia was the food. And nowhere was it better than in Singapore! Before going, I had learned all about Hawker stalls and we definitely loved the food there. But I have to say my favourite meal was actually in the food court of a mall in the middle of busy Singapore. We got an amazing barbecue chicken dish that still makes me salivate thinking about it. I can’t wait to return to Singapore and eat all of these dishes again some day!
19. Vietnamese food in Prague, Czech Republic
I know what you’re thinking but yes, Prague has incredible Vietnamese food! There’s actually a huge Vietnamese population in the Czech Republic, as immigration was very easy between the two countries when they were both under communist rule. And as a result, I was able to survive 10 months living in Prague thanks to easy access to good Asian food. Our go-to place was Chilli & Lime where we loved the duck udon noodles and bun cha.
20. Meatballs in Stockholm, Sweden
I visited Stockholm on a solo trip in 2019. And even though I am usually not a big fan of meatballs, gravy or anything pickled, I knew I had to try the traditional dish while in Sweden. So I lined up with the crowds at Meatballs for the People and was totally blown away. My meal of meatballs, potatoes, gravy, pickled cucumbers and lingonberry jam was so so good! I was converted!
21. Breakfast in Bratislava, Slovakia
We only spent two days in Bratislava but both mornings we had the yummiest breakfasts. The first was at a chain restaurant called Mondieu where I had such a delicious Eggs Benedict. There wasn’t anything fancy about it, but it was just so tasty and fresh. The next morning we went to a place called Pán Cakes that, surprisingly, served pancakes. They had a huge variety of flavours and fillings, and each was only a couple of dollars so you could load up on a few.
22. Tagine in Morocco
Tagine (also spelled tajine) is a Berber dish found almost everywhere in Morocco. It’s called tagine after the clay pot the dish is cooked and served in, and can be filled with vegetables, starches and/or meats. During our 10 days in Morocco, we had tagines usually once a day, and they were always so delicious. I loved how aromatic and tender the meats and vegetables were. And of course, washing it down with sweet mint tea was the perfect accompaniment!
23. Hotel dinner in Bohinj, Slovenia
One of our last trips before we left Prague was to Slovenia and our first stop was a few nights at Lake Bohinj. We booked the cutest hotel (Aparthotel Triglav) with a beautiful view of the mountains and, much to our surprise, and incredible restaurant. We were totally blown away by the meal we had there – especially the roast beef and chocolate mousse!
24. Banh xeo in Hanoi, Vietnam
I visited Vietnam for about a month in 2016 and absolutely loved the food. I’ve always been a fan of Vietnamese food but it was so much fun to discover dishes beyond pho, bun and spring rolls. One dish I really loved was banh xeo, or crispy Vietnamese pancakes. We found a restaurant in Hanoi where you could make your own and loved it so much we ate there twice!
25. Udon in Honolulu, USA
One of the best meals I’ve ever had was at Marukame Udon in Honolulu, Hawaii. I visited Honolulu with a friend a few years ago and we kept seeing a restaurant near our Airbnb that was lined up every night. Finally, we decided to get in line and I’m so glad we did. Not only did the line move quickly but the food was incredible: hand-pulled noodles and a huge selection of fresh tempura. I highly recommend it!
26. Fresh seafood in the Maritimes, Canada
This is a recent addition to my best meals list as we just enjoyed these on our October 2021 honeymoon to the Maritimes, Canada’s Atlantic provinces. We feasted on the freshest and most delicious scallops, lobster, mussels, clams, shrimp and more. If you’re headed that way, don’t miss The Canteen in Dartmouth, Bicycle Thief in Halifax, The Salt Shaker in Lunenburg, Sim’s Steakhouse in Charlottetown and local donair (not seafood, but still incredible!).
27. Dim sum in Toronto, Canada
I have to give another shoutout to my childhood home of Toronto and the delicious dim sum I would eat there practically every weekend. I’m a huge dim sum fan and have still not found an affordable and local place in Vancouver I love half as much as Rol San in Toronto’s Chinatown. I can’t wait to have Toronto dim sum again when we’re there this Christmas!
28. Chicken wraps in Swaziland
I interned in Swaziland for three months and strangely enough, one of my favourite meals was a chicken wrap served at the local mall. When my roommate, another UBC student who was interning with me, and I had a tough day at work, missed our bus, had something to celebrate or just needed a pick me up, we’d head to the mall and treat ourselves to these delicious chicken wraps.
29. Borough Market in London, England
Last but not least, I have to shout out London’s Borough Market. London is one of my favourite cities in the world and every time I visit, I always stop by the Borough Market. It’s such a fun place to try new foods and is central to a lot of London’s top attractions. Definitely add it to your London itinerary!
And there you have it: The 29 best meals I’ve had in 29 years of travel! Of course, there were many honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the list. And so many more delicious foods out there I can’t wait to try when we get to travel again.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had and where did you have it?
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