Journey through cuisine: Three delicious ways to go on a gastronomic discovery

A culinary journey of a thousand miles begins with a single bite.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s immortal words on how thousand-mile journeys begin with a single step can also be applied to a different kind of journey – a culinary one. Taking a trip to sample the world’s finest and strangest, whether you’re going for gourmet, seeking strange cuisine, or savouring safe food options, there are several pathways that you can take for your foodie journey.

Gourmet Getaway

Those who want to holiday with the finest dining experiences can make each meal memorable by making a reservation at a restaurant with the most coveted seats. Apart from spa visits, holiday-goers in search of luxurious experiences include trips to the most sought-after restaurants on their must-do lists, where booking a table is as challenging as hiking the highest peaks of the Himalayas. For some, that’s part of the fun!

Different ‘Best Restaurants’ lists have varying tastes, but if you’re setting your sights on Asia, there’s no better destination than Bangkok, consistently regarded as one of the best cities for food tourism. Even The World’s 50 Best’s ‘Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List’ agrees – number 1 on the list is in Bangkok, the Indian-fusion, experimental Gaggan. Located in the quieter part of Bangkok away from the bustling city districts, Gaggan’s ‘progressive Indian cuisine’ offers India’s favourite street food prepared through modern cooking techniques. Regional Indian cuisine mixed with the flavours of Indian street food make this multiple-course menu a dining experience that shouldn’t be missed. The restaurant has caught the attention of gourmands all over the world that getting a seat in its strict 6.00 pm – 11.00 pm operating hours has become quite a challenge.

While you can map out your own culinary journey through simple research, using the Michelin Guide offers an easy way to craft a fine dining itinerary. Although not everyone’s preferred guide to foodie adventures, the Michelin Guide is widely recognised and is the most reliable standard of quality for restaurants in the world. Places that meet its criteria, which include overall quality, mastery of flavour and cooking techniques, personality, value for money and consistency, are awarded anywhere from 1 to 3 stars. In Asia, Michelin-starred restaurants in Singapore and Japan are also great places for culinary discoveries, but tourist-friendly Bangkok is the ideal city to visit.

Adventurous Gastronomy

Some travellers create an itinerary for places they must visit, while some create a list of unusual dishes. Being adventurous with food while on holiday is more than just eating fried scorpions for snacks or tasting crisp-fried bugs for fun. It also involves discovering unusual ingredients, learning from the locals’ culinary expertise and specialties, and simply enjoying food you wouldn’t otherwise experience from the confines of your hotel’s buffet table – although that’s not a bad way to dine, either!

While others get their adrenaline fix from extreme travel activities such as volcano boarding, heli-skiing, or skydiving, others seek their thrills from an entirely different source – a plate of some of the world’s strangest culinary fare. Do grilled congealed animal blood, cheese from an animal head, and frog sashimi sound strange to you? In their countries of origin, they are legitimate dishes that come with a story and/or have cultural ties. They may not be to your taste, but perhaps taking a bite of that barbequed chicken or pork intestine, popular in most Southeast Asian countries as Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, might inspire you to try more experimental dishes back home.

Unlike tourists who make the Michelin Guide the ultimate guide to their holiday dining plans, the more adventurous ones can simply flick through their smartphone for a quick hashtag search (#foodporn) for delicious meals to try while on vacation.

Food festivals also let you experience a different kind of food tourism. For a more organised affair, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival offers a variety of Australian cuisine in unusual settings – along the riverbanks, on farms, or inside cellars. And of course, cheap, good and readily available street food should always be on gastro-tourists’ dining plans.

Safe Food Choices

As exciting as it is to try fried scorpions in the streets of Khao San in Bangkok, sample Phnom Penh’s deep-fried insects, or take a bite of the infamous half-fertilised duck embryo found in the streets of Manila, less gastronomically adventurous travellers can find safe, but nevertheless fun and filling ways to satiate their taste for world cuisine.

Going on a culinary adventure while on holiday can also mean trying different restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you encounter the best Italian cuisine in Bangkok via Brio, or an excellent Japanese-style grill at Benihana. These sorts of ‘safe’ dining experiences can come with filling meals and great service, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Better yet, enjoy culinary treats from the comfort of your own pool villa or suites when you stay at Anantara Vacation Club Resorts. Spice Spoons – Anantara Cooking School lets you be the chef for a day, and by signing up for fun Thai cooking class with one of Anantara’s talented chefs, you get to take home valuable cooking lessons and leave your holiday with fond food memories from your vacation. With the lessons you’ve learned, you can treat your family and friends at home with delectable dishes from your travels and let them experience your own exotic meals!

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