As long-term travellers, we tend to hear the same questions from curious people. One of the most repeated questions was…
What was the best food you ate on your trip?
It’s a natural question. Food is more than just fuel for your body. It’s a cultural experience, it’s a learning experience, it’s an adventure. So we’re more than happy to answer the most common of questions since talking about food is second only to consuming it.
The Best Food We Ate in 2 Years and 22 Countries
Best Food Country Overall
The best food was in a country we chose to travel to specifically because of the food. Our choice won’t be garnering any gasps of surprise from the audience. That’s right, the best food was in Italy, our very first country.
We had so many perfect pizzas and pastas I cannot even recollect them all.
But there were a few dishes that we remember with great fondness.
I am still craving another bowl of the Ceci e Funghi soup we were served at the Vulci Etruscan archeological site, after a day of slogging through the mud.
Stephen will never forget the Zucchini e Tartufo over linguine that he had in a nondescript restaurant in Gubbio.
And then there was that Nutella pizza we had with our friends on the Capalbio coast. It may have been the first non-vegan thing we ate on the trip.
Honourable mentions in the Food Country category go to Poland for having more kinds of pierogies than we could ever try in one lifetime, plus the best variety of potato offerings in the world.
Northern China gets a mention for actually understanding tofu as an ingredient, and being willing to cook up vegetarian versions of almost anything on the menu. Finally, Indonesia gets a nod for inventing tempeh and having it available virtually everywhere.
Best Vegetarian or Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant
This list was exceptionally long when I first wrote it. With much hand-wringing I have narrowed it down to five.
Nishta, Dubrovnik, Croatia
By the time we got to Dubrovnik, we were desperate for some food that wasn’t the second-rate Croatian version of pizza or pasta, the only vegetarian offerings in most of rural Croatia. With their uniquely flavoured Indian, Western, and Croatian dishes, Nishta was so good we ate there several times in our short stay in Dubrovnik.
SUHU – Vegetarian Tiger, Beijing, China
Our first experience of a big, shiny Chinese vegetarian restaurant was also probably our best. We couldn’t believe it when we walked into the cavernous, packed restaurant, filled with couples, families, and students all enjoying vegetarian cuisine.
The service was great, the food was delicious, and thankfully the menu came with full-colour pictures and English translations, so we had some idea of what we were ordering.
Namaste, Ljubliana, Slovenia
Vegetarian food in Central and Eastern Europe tends to revolve around cheese and potatoes. It’s a little, shall we say, bland? Our taste buds almost exploded with delight when we took the first few mouthfuls of the fragrant, spicy curries at Namaste. By the time dinner was over, we were both a little drunk from the glory of supping on such flavourful food.
Epic Arts Cafe, Kampot, Cambodia
This might have been our favourite restaurant of the whole trip. The service was friendly and fast and the food fresh and flavourful. Every meal we had here was spectacular.
If they’d been open for dinner, we wouldn’t have eaten anywhere else during our 5 days in Kampot. One project of the NGO Epic Arts, the cafe is an inclusive work environment, employing deaf and disabled people who run the whole show flawlessly.
Find out more about Epic Arts Cafe in this guest post by NOMADasaurus →
Sandan, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
This is one of those places we could have gone back to again and again, except that would have involved spending more time in tacky Sihanoukville. The service was almost fine-dining quality, without the pretension and pricing that usually go along with fancy food.
Cambodian cuisine, though little known around the world, was one of our favourites of the entire trip, and Sandan provided vegetarian versions (with tofu) for us to try. It’s also an NGO, helping Cambodia kids get off the street and learn to work in the hospitality industry.
Honorable mention in Sihanoukville goes to Dao Of Life, a friendly vegan cafe who also host community events. Also a great place to stop in if you’re in Snooky.
Since we visited bakeries almost every day of our trip through Europe, we have sampled a mountain of baked goods. Unfortunately, Eastern European baking tends to lean towards the heavier side, which is not what we want in a pastry. There ended up being only 3 bakeries that really lit up our tastebuds and two of them weren’t even in Europe.
Házi Sütöde Földvár, Dunaföldvár, Hungary
Though some of our readers would beg to differ, we found Hungary severely lacking in quality bakeries. Much to our surprise, one day just outside the small village of Dunaföldvár, we noticed a bakery with a parking lot abuzz with customers. We had to stop in, and are so glad we did.
If you happen to be in the region, this is where you should buy your baked goods.
La Salsa (Xuan Dieu location), Hanoi
We happened upon this place en route to Zenith Yoga in Hanoi. It is best-known as a Spanish tapas bar, as the name might suggest, but upstairs there is a French bakery and patisserie which might have the best croissants in the Eastern Hemisphere. We’re not sure we’ve had them this good since we last set foot in Paris.
Note from the future: On a recent trip to La Salsa, we found the croissants to be disappointing. Not sure if this was just a bad day, or if their baking has gone downhill.
Po’s Atelier, Hong Kong
Just up the hill from our friend’s flat in Hong Kong is this little local bakery run by a Canadian-born Chinese pastry chef. It was closed the first time we made the trip up there, but we’re happy we had time to try again. The little nests of pastry filled with chocolate were my favourite but the croissants were perfectly light and crunchy as well.
Cacao, Ljubliana, Slovenia
This category is easy. The best cake we’ve ever had in our lives was some kind of pistachio cream concoction from Cacao. We’ve never before or after tasted a cake quite like it. The waiter told us that the fruits of the forest cake is even better, but we didn’t get a chance to try it. Just don’t have it with their coffee – it was awful.
Denmark really does have the best Danishes, bar none. We didn’t have a bad one the entire time we were there. ♥