Eat & Drink

The 10 Best Destinations For Eating Holidays

Wait, there are other types of trips?

Travellers love food. It sounds obvious, because it is. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love sampling new cuisines as they traverse the globe, and dedicated ‘eating holidays’ are definitely a thing to champion. No shame.

Here are 10 cities where stuffing your face isn’t just okay – it’s expected.

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong is teeming with eateries to suit any budget. The city has everything from splurge-worthy fine dining to informal dai pai dong (street food stalls). Plump wontons with translucent skin bobbing in a bowl of salty soup can be sourced at chains Mak’s and Tsim Chai Kee – the two are old rivals, and for good reason.

Dim sum restaurants are ubiquitous, but the ever-busy Tim Ho Wan still takes the cake for its baked char siu bao (barbecue pork buns). Tender pork in a sweet marinade is wrapped in soft dough and baked to achieve a slight crust on the outer layer. Plus it’s one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants you’ll come across – worth waiting in line for.

Photo: Joanne Wan/Flickr

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Copenhagen

Speaking of Michelin stars, Copenhagen is home to more restaurants with these babies than any other Scandinavian city.

Pre-plan a trip to Noma for modern Danish fare in a cosy yet contemporary setting. It’s often booked out months in advance – not one for spontaneous travellers. Bistro Boheme is a great place to stop off for a meal between sights (it’s near the Kastellet, Designmuseum Danmark and the overhyped Little Mermaid).

To hark back to Copenhagen’s roots, try sild (herring) at Café Petersborg, in any fashion: pickled, cured, smoked or fried. Another traditional favourite among Danes is smørrebrød, an open sandwich on rye bread. Aamanns lives up to its rep for serving some damn good smørrebrød, with fresh ingredients and pretty plating to boot.

Photo: Aamanns

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London

Among many other things, London is a hub of gastronomic delights.

It’s home to the humble pub, where you can tuck into many favourites: pie, fish and chips, or Cornish pasty, all with a side of chunky chips and peas. Or even try the classic ploughman’s lunch. Some of the greatest pub grub is at The Water Poet, The Greenwich Union or Earl Ferrers. Head in to pretty much any pub on a Sunday for a traditional end-of-week roast.

Head to Borough Market for fresh food that won’t break the bank. The lunch stalls sell everything from pies to steak sandwiches to paella. On the other end of the financial spectrum are the innumerable celebrity chef restaurants. Head to Dinner by Heston or any of Ottolenghi’s many restaurants and you’ll find these greats live up to their names.

Photo: The Water Poet

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Paris

This is Parisian life: buying fresh bread every day from a bakery like La Grenier à Pain or sitting outside café like Le Comptoir du Panthéon for a marathon tête-à-tête. Prepare yourself for rich meals like croque monsieur (the ultra rich ham and cheese toastie) or madame (an egg is added on top). Le Petit Cler does them well.

And make sure you save room for the treats you’ll nibble on between meals: pâté de foie gras, cheeses of every variety. Sweet tooths will also revel in the vast number of patisseries (Stohrer makes some beautiful sweet treats), and crêperies (try La Crêperie Bretonne) dotted around the city.

Photo: Le Grenier à Pain

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Istanbul

In the city where East meets West, food combines flavours from both sides of the world. Turkey is known for meze, where what goes on around you is as important as what goes on inside your mouth. Meze refers to a selection of small dishes, but it’s so much more. Meant for sharing, the meal is a ‘the more the merrier’ type-thing; get a group together and head to Meze by Lemon Tree or Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi.

During the day, duck under the Galata Bridge to any of the stalls for balık ekmek (fish sandwiches), made with fresh caught fish, salad and lemon. Sefa serves cheap kebaps as well as a selection of ready-made meals. And head to Otantik Anadolu Yemekleri for fresh gozleme made right in front of you.

In the afternoon, stop off at a café for apple tea and Turkish delight (what else?) over a game of backgammon – most have boards on hand that you can use.

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Tokyo

Contrary to popular belief, Japan does not have sushi on every corner. Tokyo is actually one of the only cities where raw fish and vinegared rice abound. Wake up before the crack of dawn and head to Tsukiji Fish Market to see fishmongers at their most intense. Sushi with a side of miso soup for breakfast is the go here.

But there’s so much more to this city than sushi. Between rāmen (there’s no one best location, but Tokyo Rāmen Street has gathered eight and put them in one easy location!), gyōza (dumplings; it’s hard to beat the ones at Harajuku Gyōza Rō), and tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets; Maisen has them in every way, shape and form) you won’t leave disappointed. Or hungry.

Photo: Jonathan Lin/Flickr

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Auckland

Auckland offers a huge choice when it comes to discerning palates. The city presents international influences with a local twist.

The Culpeper is the perfect spot right on the water at Viaduct Harbour, focusing on fresh seafood and ‘low n slow’ BBQ from around the globe. Ostro is a New Zealand take on an international-style brasserie. Located on level two of the iconic Seafarers Building, the restaurant offers sweeping views of the Waitemata Harbour.

Of course, it’s near impossible to talk about New Zealand’s food without pairing it with wine. Head to Waiheke Island (a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland) for wineries such as Te Motu. Here you can sip on wines from the shed, paired with meals made from local ingredients like the Braised Taupo Farm lamb shoulder.

Photo: The Cuppeper

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Penang

Street food is the name of the game all over this southeast Asian country but George Town, Penang is exceptional. Hawker centres such as Kafe Heng Huat abound, where you can get plates of noodles straight from the wok equal to $3AUD. Char kway teow (rice noodles stir fried with prawns, bean sprouts, chilli and dark soy sauce) and satay (marinated meat on skewers) are favourites among locals. Desserts include ais kacang – shaved ice with coconut milk and other ingredients such as peanuts and jelly. These are sometimes referred to as ‘drinks’ and can come with or even before your main meal – eat it in any order, it’s all good.

Nasi kandar is more a style of eating than a dish. It refers to Indian-Muslim curry dishes, and can be served with roti canai (flaky flatbread). Add them to rice mixed with coconut milk and pandan leaves to make nasi lemak – Malaysia’s national food. You can get it anywhere in Penang, but Hameediyah is said to be the oldest nasi kandar joint in the country.

Locally, however, asam laksa is Penang’s take on the more familiar curry laksa – this one has a sweet and sour broth and is topped with onions and sardines. Slurp down a bowl at Joo Hooi Café.

Photo: farah marzuki/Flickr

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New Orleans

When you’re in NOLA, if you’re not dancing to jazz in the street, you are eating. Here, food is influenced by Native Americans, French settlers, Africans, Southern American culture, as well as Caribbean, Creole, and Cajun spices. Get a po’boy (sandwich stuffed with seafood or roast beef and other various ingredients) at Domilise’s. Feast on hearty gumbo (stew, usually with okra and meat or seafood) and jambalaya (a spicy dish of rice cooked with meat and vegetables) at Coop’s Place.

Finish off with beignets (doughnuts covered in powdered sugar) at Café Beignet. Patient travellers can try waiting in line at Café du Monde for the iconic New Orleans visitor experience.

Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr

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Melbourne

Melbourne is a melting pot of cuisines all served with a side of subtle humblebrag. And if the place you want to visit is full (as is the city’s wont), it’s easy to find another one equally as good a few doors down.

Get brunch and that classic Melbourne coffee first thing in the morning, or the afternoon, at a place with high ceilings and bike parking out front. Higher Ground, Seven Seeds and Archie’s All Day are just some of the good’uns.

Later in the day you could go to the Emporium food court (locals supposedly hate the shopping centre but its food court is next level). If you’re time-poor pick up something quick at Huxtaburger or Sushi Monger. And for good food, good drinks and good vibes, head to Cumulus Inc., MoVida or Tipo 00.

Full disclosure: I’m a born and raised Melburnian so I am kind of biased, but, really, where else can you dine like this?

Photo: Archie’s All Day

(Lead image: The Culpeper)

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