A big benefit for many people traveling internationally is the chance to discover the wide variety of cuisines that are offered all over the world, which can be one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. There is a common question among international travelers: what are the world’s best cuisines? Although everyone has a different opinion about what makes a cuisine great, there are several that travelers agree they just can’t get enough of.
Flavor profile: Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame and scallions.
Popular dishes: Dumplings, cong you bing (scallion pancakes,) peking duck and xiao long bao (soup dumplings)
There is no doubt that Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines around the world. While there is the Americanized version of many dishes, you can’t beat the authentic flavors that China has to offer with plenty of delicious and filling rice and noodles dishes — such as fried rice or chow mein — or truly unique experiences like a hot pot meal.
One of the most popular dishes that came to the west from China in recent years is xiao long bao, which is a dumpling filled with a rich pork broth that becomes gelatinous when cooled. When the dumpling is steamed, the broth returns to liquid, making a bite that is both unique and delicious.
Flavor profile: Turmeric, coriander, curry leaves and moong beans
Popular dishes: Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, samosas and tikka masala
There are many fragrant and delicious spices used in Indian cuisine which combine together to create a wide variety of delicious dishes. Tandoori chicken, for example, is marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in a special oven, resulting in a delicious and tender dish.
There are many different versions of Indian cuisine throughout India, due to a variety of cultural and religious beliefs, it is safe to say that whatever the region you choose to be in, you will have a delicious meal!
Flavor profile: Oregano, basil, garlic and porcini mushrooms
Popular dishes: Rigatoni alla carbonara, tiramisù, caprese and cacio e pepe
There are so many different flavors in Italian cuisine that it’s hard to pinpoint just one particular aspect of it. There is so much to choose from in this cuisine, from pizza to pasta, to a wide spread of delicious desserts.
I think that the main highlight of Italian cuisine is the variety of fresh pasta, which provides a wonderful base for the imparting of a number of delicious flavors and inclusions. No matter what base you choose for a dish – whether it’s a tomato-rich ragu or a subtle creamy cacio e pepe dish – there are an endless number of combinations you can create.
Flavor profile: Onions, tomatoes, lime and rice
Popular dishes: Enchiladas, tostadas, paella and tamales
There are so many varieties and takes on Mexican cuisine, including Tex-Mex, Oaxacan, Yucatán and Chiapas. The subtle differences between all of the different types of dishes you can get really make Mexican cuisine special and earns it a spot on the list.
One of the best varieties however is Mexican street food, from delicious tacos with melt in your mouth meat, to creamy and salty elotes, there’s a never ending range of delicious dishes you can find. These items can be found most commonly in the heart of Mexico City at stands called puestos.
Flavor profile: Miso paste, nori, wasabi and japanese rice
Popular dishes: Ramen, sushi, tempura and wagyu beef
Japanese cuisine is one of those that cannot be compared with anything else out there. This cuisine has a lot to offer and it is almost impossible to find something you don’t like about it as there are so many options. From sweet treats such as mochi and daifuku, as well as tasty savory dishes like the all time favorite miso soup, there is so much to love about this cuisine.
If you get a chance to head to Tokyo, you can also find many unique experiences like the vending machine park located just two hours outside of the city in Sagamihara. These vending machines have some truly delicious snacks and dishes that are worth the day trip out for.
Flavor profile: Lamb, fennel, olive oil and feta cheese
Popular dishes: Stuffed grape leaves, baklava, tabouli and gyros
It goes without saying that Mediterranean cuisine is one of my personal favorites; it always has something special to offer. There are plenty of fresh ingredients and spices in every dish – such as fenugreek, mint, garlic, and thyme – so you know you’re going to get an absolutely delicious meal!
One of my favorite dishes is stuffed grape leaves, more properly known as Dolma. There are many varieties including stuffings like fruit, seafood and even offal, but the most common and beloved version is typically stuffed with rice, ground meat, and a large variety of spices.
Flavor profile: Thai fish sauce, coconut milk, Thai basil and chilies
Popular dishes: Tom kha gai, som tum, tom yum goong and pad thai
Thai cuisine is one of the most unique in the world. With a focus on rounding out rich flavors with a subtle (or sometimes not subtle) kick of heat. One hallmark of Thai cuisine is the use of more fresh herbs rather than dried to really impart some extra flavor into the food.
Thai foods typically fall under four branches: tom, which is boiled dishes or soups, yam, which are mixed salads with a variety of ingredients, tam, which are pounded or crushed dishes, and kaeng, which are delicious thai curry dishes.
Flavor profile: Truffles, wine, cheese and shallots
Popular dishes: Soufflé, soupe à l’oignon (french onion soup), ratatouille and bouillabaisse
As one of the major spots in the world for culinary tourism, France has a lot to offer in terms of their cuisine. Despite the fact that there are many different variations in the cuisine depending on the region, no matter what dish is served, you can be sure that it will be delicious and enjoy the experience.
One of the areas in which French cuisine really shines is in the pastries that they produce. With rich and buttery croissants, delicious eclairs and a large variety of macarons, there’s a sweet treat for everyone to enjoy.
Flavor profile: Plantains, black eyed beans, onions, tamarind
Popular dishes: Bobotie, bunny chow, jollof couscous and tajine
It goes without saying that African cuisine is truly one of a kind. A continent as big as Africa has so many different cultures, that there are so many unique dishes that can be found there. As a result of the rich spices and the fresh ingredients they use, you can enjoy almost any dish that is served.
The recipes from different parts of Africa have many similarities, such as the fact that stews are the most popular recipes across the continent. Many staple ingredients are the same as well, beyond the ingredients in the flavor profile, corn, sweet potatoes and cassava root.
Flavor profile: Cinnamon, lemongrass, coriander and ginger
Popular dishes: Pho, spring rolls, bánh mì and banh chung
Vietnamese cuisine is well known for its fresh flavor, vibrant color, and use of local ingredients in all of its dishes. There is no denying that it has an unmistakable flavor thanks to its unique blend of herbs and spices, which includes cinnamon, lemongrass, coriander, and ginger.
The highlight of the cuisine is their soups, namely Phở, this noodle soup is commonly filled with either beef or chicken, rice noodles, and a variety of inclusions like scallions, bean sprouts, cilantro and lime wedges. There are also many regional takes on the dish including the protein being stewed in wine beforehand, chili peanut sauce inclusions and stir-fried protein.
The list of best cuisines in the world just keeps growing and growing. Now that you know some of the best cuisines around the world, it’s time to get a taste of culinary tourism. No matter if it is trying new foods or learning how to prepare them yourself from the locals, it is something you shouldn’t miss out on during your trip.