There are some meals you eat that are so good, you never want to forget them.
That’s originally why I started taking photos of the food I ate, and eventually started a blog back in 2009 – to remember, and also to share with others, food and travel experiences.
At the end of every year I think back…
About the meals I had – to remember the taste and flavors of the food, the atmosphere, and the people I met and interacted with.
I’ve narrowed down the meals, and here is my list of the 11 best meals I ate in 2015.
(NOTE: I’ve done my best to put this list of food in order by delicious… but it was very tough. So I would say that it’s sort of in countdown order… but don’t hold me accountable).
11. Beef Noodles – Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan is an amazing place for food lovers – the restaurants, the night markets, the food stalls. It’s just a food lovers paradise, and it’s such a friendly and convenient place to travel as well (by the way, I’d highly recommend Taiwan as a travel destination).
It was tough to narrow down the best things I ate in Taiwan, because I really enjoyed the braised pork over rice (lu rou fan), and the Fuzhou pepper pork buns, but the meal and dish that really made me nearly fall from my chair was this bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles (maybe I’m just a big meat lover).
In Taipei, I ate at Lin Dong Fang, one of the most legendary Taiwanese beef noodle restaurants in the city.
As soon as I saw those scary looking vats of everlasting bubbling meat at the front of the restaurant, I knew it was going to be good.
The broth was really smooth and not gamey tasting and it had a faint whisper of the Chinese medicinal herbs they used in the brewing of the soup, and the noodles were nice and chewy. But the winner of the dish were the slices of beef – just tender and flaky, and melt in your mouth.
Address: No. 274 Bade Road, Section 2, Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Open hours: Monday – Saturday from 11 am – 6 pm
10. Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu – Bangkok, Thailand
One of my favorite Thai dishes, something I could eat just about everyday, is tom yum goong, shrimp soup, filled with aromatic herbs like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.
Located in the Banglamphu area of old Bangkok, Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu (ร้านต้มยำกุ้งบางลำพู) is a pretty average looking street food stall that sets up on the sidewalk just outside a parking garage. They have the typical selection of seafood and vegetables sitting on ice, with a couple tables next to the fence, all covered by a tarp.
But the tom yum goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง), which is the dish they are most well known for, is something truly mind blowing.
Using, what I think is a pork stock infused with lemongrass and galangal, they then add mushrooms, coconut shoots, kaffir lime leaves, and the main ingredient: freshwater shrimp.
The yellow buttery looking fat (which is the liver of the shrimp) of the freshwater shrimp curdles up to make the entire soup unbelievably rich and creamy and packed with flavor. All the creaminess comes form the shrimp – the way a good Thai tom yum goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) should be.
Address: Thanon Kraisi (right in front of the big Banglamphu car park), Talad Yawd Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand
Open hours: 9 am – 6:30 pm daily
9. Nasi Campur – Langkawi, Malaysia
Langkawi is a small island off the coast of northern Malaysia, not far from Penang.
In 2015, Ying and I had the opportunity to spend a week on the island, touring around, and eating a lot of good food.
Being an international and touristy island, there was a lot of regional Malaysian food represented at restaurants throughout the island. One of the most well known restaurants in Langkawi that serves some truly unique and local Langkawi dishes is Kak Yan Nasi Campur.
When we arrived to the restaurant and walked in, I could hardly contain myself.
Presented on a series of tables all pushed together were approximately 100 different Malaysian and Thai dishes waiting to be dishes out and devoured.
The mind-blowing selection of food, the local Langkawi atmosphere, and the awesome Malay and Thai flavors of the cooking and ingredients, is what made this meal so unforgettable.
I haven’t had a chance write about this restaurant yet, but it’s on Foursquare.
Address: Ulu melaka, 07000 Kuah, Kedah, Malaysia
Open hours: About 11 am – 4 pm daily, best to eat here for lunch
8. Fish Head Curry – Singapore, Singapore
Ah, fish head curry!
As a fish lover, and a curry lover, the combination of this famous dish could hardly get any better for me.
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This year in 2015 Ying and I just took a very short trip to Singapore for a conference (but we’ll be coming back again soon), and so I really didn’t have much time to eat all the insanely delicious food Singapore has to offer, but one thing I did have was fish head curry.
There are many legendary fish head curry restaurants in Singapore, and trying all of the restaurants that serve fish head curry would be an amazingly delicious task. Recommended by my friend Catherine, we headed to Samy’s for fish head curry.
The fish head, which if I remember correctly I ordered the large size, was pretty big sized, and at Samy’s which is a nasi kandar restaurant, they serve the Indian curry style of fish head curry (there’s also a Chinese style in Singapore).
Although a fish head, part of the collar of the fish was still attached, so there was still so much rich and flaky fish to eat off the bones. The curry was thick and creamy, with a hint of a curry leaf aroma, and a wonderfully pleasing blend of spices and with a hint of a sourness to.
I’m a huge fan of fish head curry.
Address: 25 Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249670
Open hours: 11 am – 3 pm for lunch and 6 pm – 10 pm for dinner (closed on Tuesday)
7. Spiral Buffet – Manila, Philippines
Back when I was younger, especially when I was in high school and university, buffets were one of my favorites meals – because I loved to eat a lot, and back then I could eat a lot more than I can now.
But as I got older I started realizing that the quality of buffets just wasn’t all that great (most of the time).
However, located at the Sofitel in Manila, Philippines, this year my wife Ying and I had the chance to eat at Spiral Buffet.
It was by all means the grandest and most memorable buffet I have ever seen or eaten at before.
On top of that, what really impressed me was that even though it was a buffet, they cooked each dish in small portions (and didn’t let food sit around for too long) so that they could maintain the quality of the buffet – and it really showed.
The oysters were flown in from France, the selection of French dishes, a variety of really good Filipino dishes (the crocodile adobo and stingray cooked in coconut milk were my favorites), and then entire cheese room, were the highlights of the Spiral buffet for me.
It wasn’t just a single dish that caught my attention eating here, but the vast variety and quality.
Address: CCP Complex Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Manila, 1300, Philippines
Open hours: The restaurant is open throughout the day, but the ultimate buffet is on Sunday starting at 11 am
6. Sushi Platter – Osaka, Japan
One of the absolute best reasons to visit Japan is to eat raw fish in all forms and styles.
This year, my wife and I were sitting in Bangkok, and we decided to take an impromptu trip to Osaka to meet up with my friend Dwight who was already visiting. We found a flight, and a few days later we were on our way to have one of the most epic eating trips of the year.
During our time in Japan, I had a lot of marvelous sushi, including some of the most melt-in-your-mouth tuna belly I’ve ever experienced.
One of the sushi meals that I won’t ever forget was at Harukoma Sushi (春駒 支店).
Ying and I were just walking through a market doing some shopping and I was making a video, and I noticed a line of people waiting to get into a restaurant. It turned out to be a famous Osaka sushi restaurant that I had researched previously and wanted to check out.
We got in line.
Even though the restaurant was in the middle of what was kind of a clothing market, when I stepped into Harukoma Sushi (春駒 支店), it felt like we were back at a fish market.
What I loved about Harukoma Sushi (春駒 支店) is that it wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t pretentious, but they just delivered fresh fish, bit sized portions, and with friendly welcoming service. It was amazing.
The uni (sea urchin) and the tuna belly were outstanding, as were the crab nigiri and the negitoro maki (minced tuna belly hand roll). I don’t think you can order anything wrong.
Address: 5-5-2 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
Open hours: Around 11 am – 9:30 am daily
5. Nasi Kandar – Penang, Malaysia
Penang is one of Asia’s greatest cities (island’s) for food; If you’re a food lover, Penang should be a priority.
What I love most about Penang is the mixture and diversity of food available – you’ll find incredible and authentic Chinese food (plus regional variations and Peranakan), Indian food (and Malay influenced Indian food), and Malay food as well.
And while all types of the diverse cuisine spectrum are spectacular, there’s one meal I would fly to Penang from across the world just to eat: nasi kandar.
Nasi kandar, which originated in Penang, is a meal of rice and a selection of Indian (and some Indian Malay mixed) dishes and curries. Normally all the dishes are prepared at the front of the restaurant, and you choose whatever you’d like.
There are many nasi kandar restaurants throughout Penang, but I had the most outstanding nasi kandar meal (maybe in my life so far) at a place called Restoran Tajuddin Hussain.
The biryani, the mutton curry, and the ayam rose, an Indian Malaysian almost barbecue sauce curry chicken, was unbelievably delicious.
Address: 45 Lebuh Queen, 10200 George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia
Open hours: Monday – Saturday from 11:00 – 3:30 pm for lunch and 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm for dinner (closed on Sunday)
4. Bhutanese Food at Kalden – Thimphu, Bhutan
Before taking a trip to Bhutan, I had no clue what Bhutanese food was.
I had assumed it would be the same as Nepali food or northeastern Indian food. But my assumptions were wrong, and I was blown away by how unique and how flavorful Bhutanese food is.
Just after arriving to Thimphu (the biggest and capital city of Bhutan, population 91,000 according to Wikipedia), Matt took us to Kalden Restaurant, a little local spot, well know with Bhutanese food lovers in Thimphu.
The menu included all the necessary Bhutanese dishes like ema-datshi (cheese and chilies), shamu datshi (mushrooms and chilies), sikam paa (sun dried pork with chilies), shakam paa (dry been with chilies), and cheese egg fry.
With a plate of red rice as the base of my meal, we proceeded to eat and demolish all the meat, cheese, chilies, and butter that we ordered, and WOW it was sensationally delicious.
Kalden Restaurant was my very first meal in Bhutan, and while I had Bhutanese food for the following 28 days, this was still one of my favorite restaurant meals, and it was a true eye opener to Bhutanese food for me.
Address: The restaurant is located in Chang Lam, just above the farmer’s market. Just ask around when walking around Thimphu and you’ll be pointed in the right direction.
Open hours: Open for lunch and dinner
3. Soft Shell Crab Curry – Bangkok, Thailand
For years now, Soei has been one of my utmost favorite restaurants in Bangkok.
P’Soei, the owner and chef of the restaurant, is someone I look up to for doing what he loves, and his passion of serving food, the way he likes it, shines through every bite you eat at his restaurant.
While this year wasn’t my first time to eat at Soei, I did try some dishes on his menu for the first time this year, and that’s reason enough to include this restaurant on my list.
The dish that truly made me my eyes tear with joy was boo neem pad pongari (ปูนิ่มผัดผงกะหรี่), a style of Thai yellow curry with egg and in this case, soft shell crab.
Words can hardly describe the taste dimensions and fragrance of the dish.
All I can say is that the soft shell crab is crispy and soft, and the yellow egg curry includes both a crab aroma, plus an amazing blend of yellow curry powder, all wrapped within an egg based sauce to give it texture and depth, and then a signature handful of diced up Thai chilies to give it a kick.
Just about everything on the menu at Soei is spectacular, but the boo neem pad pongari (ปูนิ่มผัดผงกะหรี่) is one of my new favorites.
Address: Located right at Samsen Railroad Station, Thanon Setsiri, Sam Sen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand
Open hours: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm from Sunday to Friday (closed on Saturday)
2. Kobe Beef – Kobe, Japan
A pilgrimage to eat Kobe beef, in Kobe, Japan, is something that I dreamed about all my life (or at least ever since learning about Kobe beef, which I don’t really remember when that was).
When I was in Osaka this year, that dream came true.
We headed to a restaurant called La Shomon (焼肉バル), located in Kobe, but about 30 minutes from the center of the city, in a smaller local village.
Yakiniku (which is a Japanese grilled meat restaurant), is what La Shomon specialized in, and I came ready to eat some grilled Kobe beef. We had the mixed beef plate, which came to our grill table gorgeously presented, with the different cuts of the beef, and the most insanely pretty meat marbling that I had ever seen.
The beef, cooked medium rare on charcoal right before my nose, was so good, I actually couldn’t contain my overjoy, and upon my first chew I nearly fell out of my chair (you can watch the video here).
Along with outrageously good regular Kobe beef, La Shomon is also a pioneer restaurant in Japan that serves dry aged beef.
The block of dry aged beef was grilled, then left to rest, then grilled, then left to rest, a total of three times, so it had the perfect cooked-ness to it, while packing in all the flavor. The dry aged slices of beef weren’t as juicy as the regular un-aged beef, but it had a beautiful, almost cheese depth of flavor to it.
This Kobe beef experience was unbelievable.
Address: 垂水区神田町4-10 2F, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, Japan 655-0027
Open hours: 11 am – 10:30 pm daily, and 11 am – 10 pm on Sundays
1. Dim Sum – Hong Kong
My mother is Chinese American (Cantonese), and while growing up, and visiting relatives in Hawaii, dim sum was always, and still is, one of my undefeated favorite meals.
In 2015, I took my second trip to Hong Kong. While I’ve tried a number of famous Hong Kong dim sum institutions (like Lin Heung tea house), this trip, I had the best Hong Kong dim sum experience that I’ve ever had.
Will is a good friend of mine from Hong Kong, and if it wasn’t for Will, there’s no way I would have ever found this place.
On our last day in Hong Kong (literally before Will dropped us off at the airport), he said something along the lines of, “there’s this one dim sum restaurant that my parents used to take me to when I was a kid, and they serve some of the best and most traditional dim sum in Hong Kong. I haven’t been there in years, but I think we can find it, and you need to eat there.”
We drove through the hills, which only built up our appetite, and in the middle of a green mountain, all of a sudden, just off the road, there was a commotion of vehicle traffic, and a packed street, full of cars hovering around and waiting for a parking spot.
Known as Duen Kee Restaurant (端記茶樓), and located on Hong Kong’s Chuen Lung mountain, this family style run yum cha (tea drinking and dim sum) house, is possibly one of the world’s best places to eat dim sum (at least that’s what I think).
The restaurant is located in a small village, and even though it’s not far from the skyline of Hong Kong, you feel so relaxed and far remove – ah, the perfect countryside dim sum dining atmosphere.
There are about 10 different little dining room to choose from where you can sit, the first floor, the second floor indoors, the second floor patio, and second floor bird cage patio, the overflow room next door, the tent outside, etc. (you get the picture). It’s one of those glorious restaurants that looks like it just kept expanding.
When you arrive to Duen Kee dim sum restaurant, all the dim sum is in the first room to the left, and you grab a tray (cafeteria style) and take whatever you please.
Every type of dim sum you can dream of, and dim sum dishes that brought back my earliest childhood food memories, were all available.
It was impossible to not go overboard, and so we did, and it was worth every meaty bite.
Along with dim sum they also make traditional style char siu and roast duck, and it shouldn’t be missed either.
I have to say a big thank you to my friend Will for bringing me here to eat the most amazing dim sum, which turned out to be one of the best meals of 2015.
Watch the video!
If you have a few minutes, watch the full compilation video of all these meals below:
(Or you can watch the video on YouTube here)
Food is one of the best reasons to travel (that’s what Migrationology is all about).
And it’s always tough to choose your favorite meals from a year of eating delicious food.
But when you reflect about what you ate, and learned, and who you had a chance to interact with as a result of eating a meal, it’s truly amazing how food can bring us together.
I hope you enjoyed this list of 11 of the best meals in 2015.
Now I have a question for you: What was the best food (or meal) you ate in 2015?
Leave a comment below to let me know!