7 Memorable Dining Experiences from Around the World
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For travelers, food is one of the most interesting aspects of visiting a new country. From souvlaki in Greece, to kebabs in Jordan to pasta in Italy to curry in India, food defines a country as much as the landscape and the people. Good or bad cuisine can make you want to stay forever, just to continue eating, or it can make you want to check out of the country earlier than planned.
We’d just arrived in Fort Kochi in the Kerala Province of India, and one of the things I was most excited about doing, was taking Agri to eat at Dal Roti – one of the town’s restaurants.
This got me thinking about all the amazing food I’ve eaten, in the 50+ countries I’ve visited, and there are definitely a few standouts that I still think about to this day. In fact, I want to go back to Sri Lanka just to eat at One Love Restaurant one more time.
Our most memorable dining experiences worldwide:
Jump to what you want.
Dal Roti: Fort Kochin, India
A Kochi institution (along with the Kashi Art Cafe), Dal Roti serves delicious and creative North Indian cuisine at super reasonable prices.
I’d had but one exquisite meal there 3 years earlier and I still remember it to this day. It was that good. Just try the Lachedar Stuffed paranthas once and you’ll be a Dal Roti convert too. And I dare you not to think of the owner as an Indian Sean Connery.
Located outside Tokyo’s huge Tsukiji Fish Market (where most of Japan’s sushi is bought and sold), Sushi-Dai is where we ate the freshest, most delectable sushi of our lives.
After a 3 hour wait in line, we were finally given one of just 12 seats inside the sushi bar. Go for the Omasake – the “trust the chef” course, where the chef picks the best pieces of sushi for you. He’ll ask you if you eat sea urchin (no for me – it looks too much like brains, yes for Agri) and then start preparing the pieces one by one. There are no plates here. Instead each piece of sushi is placed directly on the bar in front of you. From fatty tuna to salmon to something (a mollusk?) that I couldn’t possibly have eaten anywhere else in the world, this sushi was definitely worth the 3 hour wait.
One Love: Unawatuna Beach, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an incredibly interesting country, and our visit right after the war ended allowed us to experience it before most other tourists. The openness of the locals was truly amazing, but when stumbling into this amazing seaside restaurant in Unawatuna Beach, a real blessing.
One Love is a family restaurant that uses recipes passed down from generation to generation. Their calamari curry was a revelation. Spicy, coconut-y and creamy with huge chunks of fresh seafood, this is another dish that I dream about devouring again.
My only regret about this restaurant? Not signing up for their cooking class.
Disco Volante: Rome, Italy
I’m not gonna lie. There’s so much amazing food all over Italy that the meals kind of blend into one. From pasta to pizza to seafood to gelato, everything is so fresh and so delicious, that it’s difficult to differentiate between all of the good eats. Sometimes though, there’s a dish that rises above the rest. And though we left Italy over 3 months ago, I can’t stop thinking about a certain salmon pasta I had at a simple neighbourhood trattoria near Agri’s uncle’s house in Porta Pia, Rome.
Creamy sauce infused with a subtle fishy flavour, tagliatelle cooked perfectly al dente and crispy bits of fresh salmon kept me consuming this dish long past when my stomach said no.
Fortunately, this is one place I know I’ll be able to eat at again. Thank goodness for family in Rome. 🙂
Ocean Basket: Hermanus, South Africa
After months of meat, meat and more meat in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, our tastebuds were dying for the fresh flavour of seafood. So though we didn’t see any Southern Right Whales in Hermanus, like we’d hoped, we saw plenty of prawns, mussels and fish. On our plates, that is.
Ocean Basket isn’t fine dining and it’s not particularly unique either. In fact, it’s a restaurant chain that can be found all over South Africa. Still, the seafood platters were so yummy and affordably priced, that I wish I could head back there just to get my shrimp on, one last time.
Pani Puri: on the streets of Udaipur, India
We walked by this strange looking Indian street food in the Lake City of Udaipur, and despite our apprehension, decided to give it a go. These light, crispy rice puffs covered with a melange of sauces and spices including chili oil, coconut milk, sweet cake decorations and tastes I couldn’t place, had our tastebuds bursting with fireworks of flavour in seconds. Salty, sour, sweet and crunchy all at the same time, it’s hands down, the best street snack I’ve had on my travels. Ever.
And at just 20 rupees a pop (40 cents), we should’ve ordered about 25 plates of this immediately. We didn’t, and I spent the rest of our time in India (5 weeks!) trying in vain to find the same thing. Pani Puri in Udaipur, I will munch on you again one day.
The Success: Paris, France
I’m ending this list with dessert, because every memorable meal should be capped off with a divine sweet. I’m pretty sure that the “Success” might be the greatest confection ever created. It’s so heavenly that the French don’t even bother with a dessert-y name for it. They simply call it Le Success.
A profoundly light and fluffy whipped creme, encased in 2 French macarons, dusted with icing sugar and surrounded in nuts, I really could’ve managed at least a few more of these, despite the super high caloric intake. For me Paris will always be the City of Lights and of, The Success.
What are your most memorable dining experiences? Is there a meal you just can’t forget? Share your tasty travel tales below!
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Omg Shelley, these are all scrumptious!! I am drooling over the seafood platter from South Africa and pani puri (my childhood fav dish!). Great list! 🙂
I still have to find that pain puri again! I was never able to find it in quite the same way, and I can still taste it to this day. Sad thing though – I was just in Rome this past summer and one of the first things I did was go to Disco Volante to get that salmon linguine and it was off the menu. I can’t even explain how incredibly depressed I was about it. 🙁 I guess it will always just have to remain a tasty memory.
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Ah, how I’d love to get as stained as you! Thanks for visiting my blog so I had the chance to find my way here.Okay, next time I visit Sri Lanka I’m going to be looking for One Love! 😀
I need more staining still. 😉 I hope One Love hasn’t changed since we visited! Please eat a calamari curry for me. I’ll have to live vicariously through you!!!
Thanks for liking “In search of unusual destinations”, by the way. Love your blog: excellent photos and enticing text.
The Raby Hunt, Summerhouse, near Darlington, UK. Went a few months back and had an astounding lunch with family members. A month later? The place secures its first Michelin star! I guess I’ll have to break the bank to dine there again. Enjoy 2013! Phil.
Hi Phil, your blog is super unique. Love all the new and surprising travel ideas (for which I’m always looking!) Look forward to reading more…
Love pani puri! The first one I had was actually home made, at a friend’s place. You can place as much or as little spice as you want on each one – I loved the flavour of tamarind juice and masala on mine! 🙂
Oooh, you’re lucky! I didn’t even know pani puri existed until we passed it on the street! I wish I’d known about it when we were in Mumbai, because street food is supposed to be the best there…oh well, next time I guess. 🙂
Yeah, the cuisine of a place has a big impact on how much I enjoy that place (probably why I want to go back to Asia!). One of the best things I’ve eaten was some kind of fried pancake at a food stall in Qingdao; egg, lettuce, something that looked like prawn crackers, and spicy sweet sauce all folded up inside a fried thing. It was so good, we went back each of the three days we had left in Qingdao!
I hear ya about Asia. It’s the food I’ve missed most on our travels. My stomach and tastebuds have been super happy since we got back to this side of the world. 🙂
That pancake actually sounds atrocious, and I bet it looked it too (kinda like our pani puri – that looked like it was NOT meant to be eaten at all), but I’m sure it was delicious!!
Is there any Asian food at all in Bolivia?
Actually, there are tons of Chifa restaurants, but they all serve ‘broaster’ (fried chicken with rice, noodles and fries)! There are a few that have Chinese dishes as well, even tofu, although it’s more like Chinese food from back home than Chinese food in Asia, if you get my meaning. I’ve also found a pretty authentic Korean restaurant and a decent pho place that just opened. They’re expensive though.
Chifa! Broaster!! Wow..it’s amazing how those words brought back memories of traveling in Peru! No broaster ’round these parts (Bali currently). I’m impressed that there’s a Korean restaurant in Bolivia though…I wonder how the kimchi is? 😉
Why am I always looking at your blog whenever I am REALLY hungry?! Loved the food adventure! I miss my mom’s dal and curry now ;(
Heh Heh. Maybe it’s just that we’re always eating? I want your mom’s dal and curry too!!!! 😉
Yum! It’s only breakfast time here and I’m desperate for a curry now. 🙂
You and Raffles’ll have to get cracking in the kitchen!! 😉
This made me hungry! Hahaha.
Me too. I wanna get on a plane and eat that salmon tagliatelle RIGHT NOW! 🙂
Damn, now we have to figure out how to cart baby along to Sri Lanka so we can try that seafood curry!!! 🙂
Have to agree with you on Omasake – it will probably be the only time I ever eat sushi at 6am in the morning after lining up for 1.5 hours. The sushi was beautiful.
Em!! That curry would be worth the trip! And totally agreed…eating sushi at 6am is weird…that is definitely the only place I could do it.
Sarah Loughrin Chevaillier
Loved reading about this; your enthusiasm for food, the world over, is a good thing.
But not so good for the waistline, I’m afraid! 😉