Janice Luong, Opinions Editor
Asian food is one of the biggest and most distinguishable food groups out there. Prized for its vast region of origin and its innumerable options, Asian cuisine is something that you can never be bored or have enough of. In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month, I am sharing my five favorite dishes from several Asian cultures, regardless of if anyone thinks they’re odd-looking, smelly, or different.
Phở (pronounced “fuh”) is ‘pho-king’ great. Whether it is 80 degrees or 40 degrees outside, phở is a delicious noodle soup that can be eaten all year round, despite being served hot. This Vietnamese soup’s translucent broth, the most important characteristic of phở, makes this dish not too rich or heavy. Instead, the bowl is filled with a light but filling soup with herbs and complex flavors that marry together perfectly.
Hands down, panipuri, a street food originating from India, is one of my favorite appetizers and small bites in Asian cuisine. I would argue that East Asian cooking does not use mint as widely as other regions in Asia, so when I personally get the chance to eat food from more of these areas, I gravitate toward anything with mint. But mint is not the only thing that makes panipuri such a great dish. Its crispy hollow shell is also filled with yummy spices and sometimes protein. Panipuri also has so many regional variances that it is impossible to list all of them, but that just means there are many more types to try.
Lao Gan Ma
While it is not a dish, Lao Gan Ma is the most versatile and delicious chili oil ever. It is so tasty and popular that I have yet to not see it from any Asian household. This flavorful chili oil is not too spicy and is perfect when you mix it with rice and dig in! A truly amazing addition, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried this out yet!
Chewy, sweet, and savory — that’s how to describe this Japanese treat. Mitarashi dango is a rice dumpling skewer dressed with a sauce that is a good balance of sweet and savory. You might think the sauce would make this a messy snack but since dango is usually served chilled, you can usually avoid sticky fingers. If you like mochi, I would recommend you give this one a go.
Saving my ultimate favorite for last, dim sum has so much variety in every category of food that you just can’t get bored of it. As someone who has roots in Hong Kong, dim sum is a national treasure with incredible variety, flavors, and textures. Ranging from chicken feet to steamed dumplings to fried buns, it’s difficult to choose which dish one is the best. Plus, it pairs well with tea, and who doesn’t like that?