In Malaysia, there is nothing quite like roti canai that unites the nation. As a breakfast staple in our youth to late-night supper in our twenties, roti canai is the ultimate comfort food that’s enjoyed by all races and classes in Malaysia. And now it seems that the rest of the world has caught on as well.
Anything revolving around world street food is of great interest to the global gourmands. While everyone has their own pick from various delectable items dished out on the streets across the world, travel guide — Taste Atlas — has come up with a Top 50 list in this category.
It’s not surprising that a seemingly humble yet flavourful dish from the streets of Malaysia — roti canai bags the number one title of best street food followed by lumpiang Shanghai from the Philippines and the Japanese karaage.
More about roti canai and other top dishes
What exactly is roti canai and why is it the best street food?
As the name suggests, roti canai is a flatbread packed with the goodness of eggs and essential fat from the Indian clarified butter, ghee. It has an outer texture of a flaky pastry but is soft and wholesome on the inside.
This can be enjoyed on its own or with a spicy curry of one’s choice. That is how it is usually served on the streets. If you are not a fan of spicy, savoury food, this versatile dish is served with sweet fillings too, by the street vendors commonly known as the mamaks.
The dish was brought to Malaysia by Indian migrants in the 1800s and had a very humble start as it was a staple enjoyed by the labourers. Its versatility, simplicity and wholesomeness makes it popular as a street food.
The top 5 street food dishes are Asian
The Filipino lumpiang Shanghai has been ranked the second best street food in the world for all the right reasons. This deep-fried party snack takes inspiration from Chinese spring rolls but it is prepared by adding flavours from pork, beef or shrimp and is served with a sweet and sour sauce.
The Japanese karaage comes in the top three street food items solely for its technique which involves keeping the outer cover of the chicken (which is the main ingredient of this dish) crispy and juicy, while it is tender on the inside. The Japanese coat bits of chicken in arrowroot powder before frying and serving with a seasoning of ginger and garlic, topped with a generous helping of soy sauce.
Keeping this list in picture, it can be safely said that Asian dishes are amongst the most popular street foods consumed on the go or as a festive, party snack in the world.
Affordable and packed with nutrients, next up on this list is a loaded sandwich from Vietnam, bánh mì. A delectable takeaway from colonialism, the French baguette is used as a base to stuff meat, fresh vegetables, choicest spices and pickles to make this wholesome snack.
Here are the top 10 dishes and the Top 50 list according to Taste Atlas
Roti canai – Malaysia
Lumpiang Shanghai – Philippines
Karaage – Japan
Bánh mì – Vietnam
Paratha – India
Gringas – Mexico
Guotie – China
Carnitas – Mexico
Carne asada tacos – Mexico
Negima yakitori – Japan
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur