For people across the world, food isn’t just for sustenance – our food rituals and eating habits say a lot about the cultures we live in and our values.
Getting a taste of traditional foods when you go on holiday teaches you the personal taste preferences, popular crops, and etiquette of that culture, giving you insight into the day-to-day lives of the residents of that country.
And it’s not just about tradition either: travelling and eating in new countries is a unique opportunity to discover how the food industry is developing worldwide: from trendy and delicate Scandi cuisine to the rising popularity of punchy African stews, or new approaches to traditional high-end French cuisine, there really is something for everyone.
Here are 3 great holiday destinations for foodies or roadtrippers, complete with the restaurants and chefs that you must explore while you’re travelling.
Holiday Destinations For Foodies #1: Tokyo, Japan
Japanese food influences modern haute-cuisine to a great extent, offering a restrained and precise attitude toward food.
Japanese haute-cuisine is known as Kaiseki Ryori, which is a multi-course tasting of small and elegant dishes. The art of a good Kaiseki Ryori is to keep everything in balance, and to use fruits and vegetables at the moment when they are most ripe and flavourful.
Kaiseki Ryori emphasises minimalism, and these exquisite dishes are constructed with simplicity and precision, while paying attention to aesthetics such as shape, design, and colour.
Fast & Fabulous
In contrast to this meticulous and healthy approach, street food and fast food are also booming in popularity in Japan, and in Okinawa, many Japanese locals are ditching their traditionally healthy diets in favour of fast food.
Japan is rapidly becoming the new King of fast food: with everything from instant ramen to Katsu curry available in vending machines, and the worldwide craze for the Japanese sweet treat Pocky (a biscuit stick dipped in a coating, available in a wide variety of flavours), Japan brings innovation to all their cuisine, healthy and fast-food alike.
Tokyo – Japan’s capital city – is home to an enormous 230 restaurants with one Michelin star or more, making it one of the most influential cities in high-end cuisine.
But lost in a big – well, ok, enormous – city without knowing where to start can be just a little daunting. Thankfully, Japan’s rich food scene ensures that you are never far from a gem.
Why not head down to Ginza Corridor Street for fresh oysters, meat dishes and beer, or try a traditional Japanese dish in one of the local bars, such as teppanyaki or yakitori? Or head over to Yotsuya Arakicho for high-end dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, in the picturesque location of an old Geisha town.
Holiday Destinations For Foodies #2: Sao Paolo, Brazil
Brazil is a melting pot of cultural influences, from its indigenous culinary roots to colonisation by Portugal, and the lasting culinary legacy of the West African people who have since made the country their own.
In recent years, there has also been an influx of immigration from Lebanon and Syria, adding a distinct Middle-Eastern flavour to the cuisine. The large Japanese population have also brought their subtle flavours and delicate craftsmanship to the food scene.
The Brazilian food capital of Sao Paolo showcases this spectacular merging of culinary cultures in all its glory.
Sao Paolo’s culinary fame has made it a popular destination for foodies, and has over 12,500 restaurants serving food from all over the globe.
Whether you’re looking for fine dining, street food or intimate local restaurants, Sao Paolo has it all to oﬀer, with a distinct emphasis on traditional Brazilian dishes such as Coxinha – a fried bread, and the ever-popular Feijoada – a comforting meat stew with cuts of pork and beef complimented by hearty black beans.
If you’ve got some money in the bank, make sure to book into the two Michelin-starred restaurant D.O.M., run by renowned chef Alex Atala.
The waitlist is long, and it is an expensive, once-in-a-lifetime treat, but Atala’s deep exploration of the cultural roots of Brazilian cuisine is an experience not to be missed, with flavours informed by rare indigenous herbs and pre-colonial cooking methods, and subtle African and European influences.
The price may be high, but if you can aﬀord it, D.O.M. rightfully deserves its spot on your restaurant bucket list.
Holiday Destinations For Foodies #3: Hong Kong
From its colourful array of dainty Dim Sum dishes to comforting Lo Mai Gai and a diverse range of meat-based dishes – including the national dish of Roast Goose – Hong Kong has been a leading influence in Chinese and Asian cuisine.
Hong Kong is home to over 86 restaurants with Michelin star ratings, including an incredible 7 restaurants with 3 Michelin stars.
The city’s flourishing street food scene also offers an equally high-quality of food while allowing you to take in the sights and sounds of the city.
In fact, the food stalls in Hong Kong are so popular that the Michelin Guide contains an entire section on Hong Kong Street food; the first ever street food featured in the Michelin Guide, helping to elevate the status of street food and recognise the quality of the food available from stalls and individual vendors.
Delicious Drinks & Fine Dining
Visiting the local street food market is a fun and dynamic approach to food, and lets you meet new people that you may not have met otherwise. Enjoying a bottle (or two) of Tsingtao beer in a local bar makes a lovely prelude to your food adventure, and helps you to kick back and relax with the locals.
Not a drinker? Hong Kong has a colourful variety of tea and fruit-based dishes: from bubble tea to Red Bean or Pineapple Ice, so why not try something new with your next meal?
While you’re here, don’t forget to visit Fa Yue Street Food Market, which has an abundance of aromatic street food stalls and a thriving customer base.
Don’t forget to visit the reasonably priced grocery stalls while you’re here, too – the colourful variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats on oﬀer makes for a tasty treat with incredible freshness and diversity.
And why not try out one of Hong Kong’s many Michelin-starred restaurants?
Lung King Been, at the Four Seasons Hotel, has mastered the craft of Chinese cuisine, using high-end quality ingredients such as abalone, lobster, and Wagyu beef, and innovative herbal ingredients including chrysanthemum and lotus seeds to create a unique menu that inspires the imagination of diners from across the globe.
Travels, Treats, And Great Things To Eat
If you’re a foodie, the great news is there are delights on offer for you in almost every part of the world. So if you have the chance to visit other countries and other cultures, you can sample some of the best food on Earth.
However, with many parts of the world still emerging from the Covid-19 related lockdowns, be sure to check the entry requirements for each nation you intend to visit before travelling there. Meanwhile, for UK travellers, Brexit may have presented some additional challenges that will need to be navigated too.’
Be aware too that indulging in the finest foods the world has to offer can be an expensive undertaking, with Michelin star quality dining not coming cheap! Therefore, ensure you have the adequate finances arranged in advance.