The friendly food rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia is still ongoing these days, with recent articles on the battle of supremacy between the hawker markets in the two countries. But worldwide travel guide Lonely Planet seems to have made up its mind in favor of the Malaysian dish, by quite a margin, in fact.
Lonely Planet released its Ultimate Eatlist, a new book detailing 500 food experiences all over the globe. The good news—both Singapore’s chili crab and Malaysia’s Laksa made it to the top twenty.
The not-so-good news (for Singaporeans, that is) is that while the chili crab made it to number 17 on the list, Laksa is actually ranked at number 2, beat only by pintxos, which are small Spanish snacks.
Now, 17 out of the 500 best food experiences all over the world is no small achievement, but we have to admit that in this round of the food wars, Laksa beat Chili Crab hands down.
Lonely Planet describes laksa this way,
“Rich and creamy curry laksa is just about as tasty a bowl of food as you will find anywhere on the planet, but it’s in Malaysia, and in particular in Kuala Lumpur, that you’ll find some of the best ways of eating it. Here are fantastic little hawker centres tucked into the shadows of towering skyscrapers, and at Madras Lane, just off Petaling St, you’ll come across competing curry laksa stalls vying for your attention.
Pick the one with the longest queue and when you have the bowl in your hands choose a plastic chair (make sure it’s connected to the stall where you bought your laksa or you’ll be in trouble) and begin the swoon-worthy, sweat-inducing process of eating. Come again the next day to try the neighbouring stall’s version. A heady mix of spices and flavours (such as fresh turmeric, galangal, chilli, candlenut and shrimp paste) go into the curry mix, which, when combined with coconut milk, creates the signature fiery orange appearance of the noodle soup. Two types of noodles (thin rice and thick egg), along with shredded chicken, shrimp, cockles, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, a sprinkling of fresh chilli and mint and a squeeze of lime, make up the rest of the lip-smacking ingredients. It’s an only-in-Malaysia experience.”
Other Asian dishes made it into the top 10 as well, including sushi (Tokyo) in third place, papaya salad som tum (Bangkok) in fifth place, mixed rice Bibimpap (Seoul) in eighth place and dim sum from Hong Kong in tenth place.
As Asians, it’s easy for us to see why these dishes were included in this best-of list, but what could be so special about the Spanish snacks that are in first place?
Ultimate Eatlist says that these snacks, which are known as tapas outside of the Basque region of Spain, are typically consumed at a bar-hopping experience in San Sebastián. They range from small open sandwiches to otherworldly gastronomic delights such as battered white asparagus, mushrooms braised with garlic, or a tuna and anchovy tart, best enjoyed on a lazy Sunday afternoon after a long nap, where you go out, see where people are eating and what they’re eating, and follow suit.
We can understand now why the list is not just about the food itself, but the whole experience that comes with it!
Here is the list of the top 20 food experiences from Ultimate Eatlist:
1. Pintxos in San Sebastián, Spain
2. Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3. Sushi in Tokyo, Japan
4. Beef brisket in Texas, USA
5. Som tum in Bangkok, Thailand
6. Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, Denmark
7. Crayfish in Kaikoura, New Zealand
8. Bibimbap in Seoul, South Korea
9. Pizza margherita in Naples, Italy
10. Dim sum in Hong Kong
11. Ceviche in Peru
12. Pastéis de nata in Lisbon, Portugal
13. Oysters in Freycinet, Australia
14. Cheese experiences in France
15. Jerk chicken in Jamaica
16. Lamb tagine in Marrakech, Morocco
17. Chilli crab in Singapore
18. Moules frites in Brussels, Belgium
19. Peking duck in Beijing
20. Pho on the Hau River, Vietnam