Yeah, it's surprising but Rio (and Brazil in general) isn't cheap! It'll help if I know where you're staying.
A couple quick suggestions:
Toca do Siri in Copacabana is more affordable and also a really cute dining experience. The acarajé there is a specialty (deep fried black-eyed pea fritters with a special shrimp sauce).
Pavao Azul is my absolute favorite boteco/botequim - they have fantastic "bolinho de bacalhau" (deep fried codfish fritters, tastes way better than it sounds) and they also serve more full meals like arroz (a Brazilian style risotto) and escondidinho (like a Brazilian shepherds pie). The weekends especially are good, they'll have rabada (braised oxtail).
Talho Capixaba in Leblon has an upstairs dining room and nice sandwiches (they're known for their bread).
Also, grabbing snacks and food at the many many lanchonette/suco bars (fruit smoothies, açaí) is quick, relatively inexpensive and tasty. They'll have sandwiches or other snacks there too. Some, but not all, have places to sit.
For splurge meals, I highly recommend Espirito Santa!
Yes - the kaya I bought at Ya Kun Kaya Toast - they had small airplane friendly jars, too!
Good tip about the laksa - yes the chili paste is essential (and delicious).
Unfortunately, no idea about the chicken chili sauce - though I agree with you it's definitely a highlight. I had a similar experience with Hainanese chicken rice in Chiang Mai where the soy/chili sauce (almost like a marinade?) really made the dish.
I spent 3 weeks searching high and low for those street food gems and I'd have to agree with both of you - there's much better street food in other countries (Vietnam, Thailand) and the government intervention has perhaps increased convenience but at a cost of the "soul" of the food. I also wonder if there's no real incentive for the vendors to be outstanding since there's that guaranteed worker lunch. If it's easier, why try so hard?
My other theory is that street food benefits from the regional agriculture - a cuisine that's been built on local vegetables/fruits/grains etc. Since these days almost everything is imported, I wonder if that has impacted the food as well - the ingredients are less fresh (from what i heard, even the seafood is imported though Singapore was originally a fishing village).
I had high expectations for Singapore and was left mostly disappointed with lackluster fish head curries, average hawker center food and overly expensive chili crab.
That said, I did have a few stand out experiences - the bak kuh teh at song fa was superb, I loved the murtabak at Zam Zam, the laksa at 328 laksa and ya kun kaya toast - but considering I ate at 70+ places, it's a very small list...
Rio is ridiculously beautiful and fun city, but just to set expectations, it's not as far along in the innovative/creative food scene as São Paulo (or any other European/American city).
That being said, there's still some great food to be had! I spent 3 weeks eating nonstop and the things I absolutely recommend:
Feijoada at Casa da Feijoada
Açaí and sucos at suco bars/lanchonettes
Yummy dinner option - definitely second the recommendation for Espírito Santa in Santa Teresa. Awesome view and really delicious and unique food (Amazonian inspired)
Pavao Azul has hands down the best bolinhos de bacalhau in all of Rio - I tried at least a 15 different places and theirs was the best. They also have other great bar food (pastel) and on the weekends have some really great hearty meals.
If you haven't had brigadeiro before, you should definitely try it as well - it's a chocolate candy/truffle and very Brazilian. I really loved the ones at Colher de Pau (and their torta de brigadeiro is awesome as well).
The other helpful advice I'd give is to NOT go to antiquarius - it's supposed to be fine dining but the food was expensive and literally inedible. Terrible experience.
I put together a whole food guide for Rio on my website (http://firstbite.tv/rio) that has a map of these places and a few others. Also made videos about all of these places (www.youtube.com/firstbitetv)
Hope that helps!
I tried the Khao Soi at Andy Ricker's original Portland Pok Pok and was pleasantly surprised. It's def a ripoff (think of Charles Phan Slanted Door for Vietnamese food - it breaks my heart) but it's a fairly good representation. Doesn't hold a candle to SamerJai. It's probably the best khao soi you'll find in the US, and even better than a lot of the sorry khao soi's you'll find in Thai restaurants, but still not nearly as good as the people who've been perfecting their curry mixes for decades.
The interesting thing about Pok Pok is that there's a lot of vietnamese influence in the thai food. Not a bad thing (the result is very delicious) but it's a creative interpretation. The Vietnamese fish-sauce fried chicken wings there were incredible.
Unfortunately no recommendations for guides - I'm a little embarrassed to say all we did was eat our entire trip and didn't actually go to see the sights! ><
Some food notes in general - Southern thai food uses more coconut milk (close to the ocean where the coconut groves are) and is much sweeter (more sugar cane grown), so you're better off not ordering coconut-milk based curries/soups in Chiang Mai (they're not very good, although if you have a really strong craving, Lemon Tree has a good red curry). You'll also see more steamed rice since that's more native to the region.
Sticky rice is grown in northern thailand, which is why it's more often the accompaniment for the food (served in the little bamboo baskets). It's also very spicy (although I've also had some very spicy southern food in Bangkok). You'll also see far less seafood (far away from the sea) and more chicken/pork/duck.
For a good food education in northern food I'd recommend trying:
I did go to Huen Muan Jai but wasn't that impressed with the food there... Perhaps it was worth going to again.
I went to Tong twice but didn't think it was worth the wait, personally, but if I had to choose one more general northern thai restaurant It'd probably be that one.
The Ruen Tamarind in the old town (part of a hotel) was a good place for a "nice" meal - but better to order their "fusion" style dishes than any thai classics.
Actually didn't try Lert Rot - the locals who were guiding me around didn't put it in their top lists. I liked Khao Soi Khun Yai 2nd best (The entrance is on the inner side of the north moat between the temples of Wat Monthian and Wat Kuan Kama).
Lam Duan Fah was a distant third or fourth.
Kao Soy Nimman was also pretty good, though the rest of the food there was average. Convenient since we were staying in the Nimman area.
Overall, though, the khao soi specialty shops were 10x better than getting khao soi at any restaurant - even local ones. The amount of work that goes into making the curry paste is just not something average restaurants will go through.
Attimo is FANTASTIC. In the top 5 meals of my entire life. We ate at 50+ places in Sao Paulo and it's still one of the most memorable. The chef, Jefferson Rueda, just won the chef of the year award. He cooks Italian-Brazilian food and does magic with the most humble ingredients - anything you order there will be amazing. It's very true to the roots of the Italian immigrants and is definitely different from your standard Italian restaurant. We actually just made a video about our experience there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u84ihL...
Other top picks by us are Brasil a Gosto (as Toog already listed) and Epice - a really innovative french/local cuisine.
And more international cuisine would be Kinoshita for Japanese (they have a really reasonable executive lunch menu) and Ici bistro for french (also good executive lunch menu)
Singapore is a fantastic place for foodies :) I spent almost 3 weeks there trying to eat everything and found some really amazing dishes. One thing to note is that the Singaporeans really like waiting in lines. So a lot of the best places have long queues. I almost wondered at some point if the cooks deliberately cooked slower so there would be a longer line and thus indicate better food... So lunch at some of my fav hawker places may not end up being all that quick (though they're worth it)
- Ya Kun Kaya Toast - more of a breakfast spot, Kaya Toast is a super singaporean place and the original one at 18 china street is the best (and most scenic). Kaya is a really delicious coconut jam (i brought several jars home as gifts)
- Maxwell Road Hawker center has several very popular (and very good) stalls including Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (featured on just about any Singapore eats list - it really was worth the hype. I recommend trying to get there right before it opens to avoid the lines) and Zhen Zhen porridge - it's rice porridge (congee) with fish and very very good. Long lines at both of these places. And while you're there, also go to Lao Ban for their soya pudding (SO GOOD.)
- Geylang Lorong 29 fried hokkien mee are delicious friend hokkien style noodles.
- Song Fa Bak Kuh Te is another traditional Singaporean food and the best of all the bak kuh te chains. Also get the braised pork trotters - heavenly. Not street food, this place would be a great lunch or more casual dinner.
**There's also some great Indian food in Little India due to the large Indian population**
- Singapore Zam Zam has a really delicious murtabak
- Tekka Center is the Indian hawker food stall and has some really good indian food
The interesting thing about Singapore is that they have to import everything - nothing grows on the island. So for high end restaurants, all the ingredients will be imported... which means that they're all very similar to high end restaurants in other cities. You'll be fine picking any place on a list of the top restaurants. We did go to Iggy's which was good (in the same way a restaurant is good in NYC or San Francisco) but not particularly "Singaporean." All their ingredients were flown in from Japan, which made me think that the food in Japan would probably be way better since it wouldn't be traveling over the ocean...
Happy eating and have a great trip!
Already responded to your post on Chiang Mai, but I also spent several weeks in Bangkok doing the same food research :)
the BEST restaurant that we at at was krua apsorn: especially the crab curry (it was my favorite dish!) but all the things on the menu are delicious. There are 2 locations, we went to the one on Thanon Dinso (GPS: 13.755234,100.501603) other things we liked there were the fried chicken wings and the southern style crab curry (one is spicy and one is not, they are both delicious), the crab omelette is good as well, giant juicy pieces of crab
Also, just down the street from Krua Apsorn (on thanon dinso)
For street-ish food:
For restaurant settings:
There are several good places to try in Chinatown
Just one thing - try not to eat pad thai! There's so much better food to try :)
Have a great trip!
I spent a few weeks eating my way through Chiang Mai and learned a ton about the cuisine.
A few tips - in general "northern" thai food is actually northeastern thai food. There are a few places that serve it in Chiang Mai, but the Chiang Mai food is more burmese in nature (Chiang Mai was occupied by the Burmese for a while) and the 5 foods you'll find everywhere are Khao Soai (coconut chicken soup), Hang Lay (Pork curry), Nam prik ong (nam prik is a dip - ong = a tomato-pork dip, other nam priks also available) and Sai Ua (chiang mai spicy sausage). You'll also find some good laab.
Here are my absolute favs overall:
If I went back, I'd probably eat exclusively at those two places, but since you requested northern food:
Veera laab ped @18.797964,98.970696
And for more chiang-mai specific food:
Khao soi khun yai @18.795358,98.983249
Kiet ocha @18.789737,98.986387
mango sticky rice @18.790715,98.9892
Nam Ngiaw Thapae @18.788417,98.996135
And for a general travel tip, I'd recommend trying to use the red trucks instead of tuk tuks (the tuk tuks are a rip off). You shouldn't pay more than 20-30 baht per person for a ride just about anywhere in chiang mai.
Hope you have a fantastic trip!
A bit late - but I tried just about every khao soi on any list and Khao Soi Samer Jai was my absolute fav by far!
We would always get a nod of approval from the red truck drivers when we told them where we wanted to eat (and never had to tell them an address).
While in general I recommend the street food in Hanoi (it's amazing) one restaurant that was pretty good and has a nice ambiance is Bobby Chinn. It's not the most authentic Vietnamese food (compared to the street), but it's the closest that I found and has a bit of an upscale twist, i.e. using filet mignon beef.
Ly Club is a french inspired vietnamese restaurant that's not bad and has a pretty dining room (feels very special).
Some pretty restaurants with so-so food are Madame Hien (beautiful patio area) and Don's a chef bistro (pretty lake view)
I'm not sure what the holiday schedules are like for any of those, but I'm sure one of them is bound to be available for you.
I spent 3 weeks in Chiang Mai and struggled to find any good sit down food in the city (and we ate at over 75 places!). The locals have basically moved out of old town - all that are left are tourist restaurants and accommodations.
Here are the places I absolutely loved:
Here are places that were very good, though not as good as the two above:
Eventually I'll be writing these up in more detail with photos and videos, but this should get you started for now!
Fantastic list! I'm planning on going to Lima next year and will definitely hit up your recommendations!
Hi manbeard! I spent 3 weeks in Singapore this year eating my way through the city - lucky you! And you're on the right track - we ate at a couple of the fancy restaurants and they weren't really that special. You probably know this already since you live in KL but Singapore has to import everything - produce, meat, seafood, etc. I was surprised when we ate at Iggy's and they kept referencing Japanese farms...
Anyway, top eats that we found:
Places I thought were just okay or overrated:
And there were others - if you have any specific questions, ask away! I'm planning on putting up a blogpost with more specifics and photos sometime in the future...
Enjoy your time in Singapore!
So I may be a litttttle biased (my dad's vietnamese) but Vietnam has pretty much the best food in the world. You're in for a treat!
Words of advice:
I could overwhelm you with options for Vietnam (I spent several months traveling finding all the best food) so I'll start with a few (let me know if you want more!)
* Banh mi kebap - 48 nguyen huu huan: a new fusion take on vietnamese sandwiches and surprisingly delicious
* bun bo nam bo - 67 Hang Dieu: my fav place, seriously ate there at least 3x! it's noodles with sauteed beef, herbs, and peanuts - mix it all up before yous tart eating
* bun dau - only at lunch from 11am-1pm, Ngo Trang Tien near corner of phan chu trinh: simple dish of fried tofu, bun (rice noodles), and either fish sauce (nuoc mam) or the more pungent mam tom (shrimp sauce). dip the tofu into the shrimp sauce (be careful, it's a bit of an acquired taste, it's the purple colored sauce with lime). tofu in vietnam is outstanding, just way better than you'll ever try outside of asia. you can also see bun dau on the streets and other people serving it, but we really liked this place the best.
* Bun rieu - 48 phan boi chau st (however, it's actually on the odd side of the street, across from 48 phan boi chau): this is a soup made with a crab-based broth, tomato, and pork. this is my favorite shop, but it's only open in the mornings (6am i think) until 2pm.
* kem caramen and sua chua nep cam - 29 hang than st - super amazing, sua chua nep cam a new fav. kem caramen is basically creme caramel, but they steam it in vietnam since they don't have ovens which gives it a distinct flavor. sua chua nep cam is a sweetened homemade yogurt with a special fermented rice - reallllly delicious!
* Phở Sướng - 24 Trung Yen lane, off of Dinh Liet st. This is the BEST pho we had in all of Vietnam! Also ask for the "Quay" (kway) - it's a fried breadstick that you can soak in the pho broth.
* Xoi Yen - 35B Nguyen Huu Huan Street: Xoi is sticky rice. Here you can get Xoi Xeo, which is the yellow sticky rice that has mung bean and peanuts. I recommend getting Xoi Xeo Thap Cam, which will give you a bit of everything. You might also try a plain Xoi thap cam (not xeo) for just the plain white sticky rice
* Quan An Ngon - Phan Boi Chau Street: this is the only restaurant that I would recommend going to. most restaurants in Hanoi are very disappointing, because Vietnamese eat on the street the standards are lower in restaurants. Quan an ngon will have most of the street food I listed above (and below) but will be at maybe 30-40% less flavor/taste. However, the advantage is a pleasant environment and you can try many things all in one place.
* Morning Glory at 106 Nguyễn Thái Học: this is a fantastic restaurant, you're not going to go wrong ordering anything here but the fish in banana leaf is outstanding. all other hoi an specialties done very well as well, in general, all menu items are high quality
* cao lau is the quintessential hoi an dish, you can't get it nearly as good outside hoi an. it's good at morning glory, in the central food market at stall #34, and on the street in the morning at the corner of Cnr of Trân Phú & Hoàng Diệu Street
* son restaurant is very picturesque on the river between hoi an city and the beach. very nice food and relaxing environment. tamarind crab and stuffed squid are good.
Ho Chi Minh City:
* Cục Gạch Quán - 10 Dang Tat, Tân Định, Quận 1: one of the best restaurants in vietnam. really excellent homestyle cooked food. highlights include the fried tofu with lemongrass (heavenly, they make the tofu in house), the thit kho to (pork in claypot), chicken with lemongrass in claypot (amazing), the canh chua ca loc (although my favorite is an an vietn, below), the morning glory (simple, common side, but they do it really well here), and anything else that looks interesting they'll do well here.
* An Vien - 178A, Đường Hai Bà Trưng: it's down the alley at 178. more upscale restaurant but has delicious food. recommend the xoi chien with pork (fried sticky rice pockets with grilled pork, really delicious), chao tom (shrimp "meatball" on sugar cane that you wrap up with herbs and lettuce and dip in fish sauce), canh chua ca loc (my FAVORITE sweet and sour soup, but beware, it's spicy! take the fish out of the soup and debone it), there's also another dish with sauteed pork and really tiny rice noodles that's excellent but i don't remember the name - it's on the bottom right corner of one of the pages in the menu. The coconut flan is quite special and delicious as well
* Hu tieu Nhan Quan - 72 Nguyen Thuong Hien: classic southern vietnamese noodle dish that's very delicious. ask for "hu tieu nam vang" to get the broth on the side. pour some of the broth in with the noodles and enjoy!
* Cha ca la vong - 3 Ho Xuan Huong: technically, this is a northern dish, but I find that it's overly greasy in Hanoi. This restaurant, related to the original one in Hanoi, is much nicer (air conditioning, new building) and I actually believe the quality of the fish is much better due to overall higher quality seafood in HCMC
* Banh khot co Ba vung tau - a couple locations but we went to 258 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, 8, District 3: a kind of bite sized fried rice cake with shrimp that you wrap up in lettuce leaves and herbs and dip in fish sauce. really delicious
My boyfriend and I ate alllll over vietnam (seriously, hundreds of places) and these are some of the stand outs. We're going to be making videos about them, we loved them so much.
ENJOY your trip to Vietnam!!
I know you said you already got back, but if you haven't tried Roberta Sudbrack it's definitely one of the top places to grab a meal in all of Brazil. I also adore Espirito Santa (in Santa Teresa) - the chef is Amazonian and she does her own twist on Brazilian classics like moqueca, acarajé - she even does mini feijoada rolls, though I prefer her collard green rolls with vatapá and her grilled namorado fish (and the maracatú dessert with cupuaçu is incredible)
The Botequim Informal chains have surprisingly good Feijoada for a really good price. Zuka (in leblon) is also interesting contemporary cuisine.
If you're willing to trek out a bit:
If you're interested, my boyfriend and I actually made a video about our favorite dishes at espírito santa and interviewed the chef (Natacha Fink) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFU0x...
I'm jealous you get to go back to Brazil every year! If you ever make it to SP there are some phenomenal restaurants there (Like Brasil a Gosto as Toot mentioned, but our all time favorite restaurant in Brazil is the somewhat newly opened Attimo...)
I went to PR about 1.5 years ago and my favorite restaurants were:
Jam Rum Bar & Bistro
Lechonera Los Pinos