Food for thought – street food tours from Malaysia to South-Korea

Dining is a state of mind

First I must warn you guys – do not go on a street food tour if you want to eat light or you are on a diet. This is not what it is all about. Good news though that you not only stuff your mouth but also your mind, believe me.

Besides guided walking tours joining a street food tour has also become our must have activity during our travels. They complete the heritage walks very well: while on a walking tour you usually touch on the past and history of a city, on a food tour you explore the present of it by visiting the scenes of everyday local life. These spots are often located outside the city center so transportation is provided too.

They are also more casual than the walking tours thanks to the fact that some alcohol is also involved – there are more interactions between the participants and the end of the day you will feel like having a gathering with old friends.

And this is what street food and dining in general is about in Southeast Asia: much more than pure nutrition. Dining is a real social happening with countless courses and endless conversations.

The street food stalls are usually also run by the family together. Most of the hawkers specialize only on a certain dish and they spend a lifetime with bringing it to perfection. Sometimes they can make actual fortune of selling street food, like the dim sum chef in Kuala Lumpur, who is driving a Porsche. No kidding.

But let me start from the beginning.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In KL the team of FoodTour Malaysia provided us with a real authentic experience with their Off the Eaten Track tour. The plan was to taste the most popular foods of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine (the three main ethnic groups of Malaysia), though our timing wasn’t the best as Malays – who are dominantly Muslims – were celebrating Hari Raya Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan, thus all the Malay restaurants were closed. In turn we got to visit two Chinese and one Indian stall.

We kicked off our tour by a minivan from Taman Paramount LRT station having stopped by a local restaurant called Millennium Eighty Six first. The highlight of this food court is Ah Wah Hokkien Mee where the delicious Hokkien Mee (dark fried noodle) is prepared using charcoal heated stoves. Of course you cannot miss the evergreen Southeast Asian food, the chicken sate with peanut sauce either. Actually I got stuffed already with the hearty noodle and ice cold Tiger beer but there were two more stops to go including a surprise visit as well.

Chicken sate in progress

From Taman Paramount  we were heading to Brickfields, which is also known as Little India for its extended Indian and Sri Lankan community. Our guide squeezed in a drop by to the flower market and sweet shops of Brickfields on our way to a South-Indian restaurant called KRM. Their mango lassi was so amazing that we literally drank it by the liter.

Mango lassi for everyone!

The icing on the cake was the celebrated Kedai Kopi Mee Bon resto which is famous for its dim sum. I wonder how many dim sums the chef had to sell though to buy that Porsche but the credit definitely goes to him for the soft and tasty steamed noodles.

The dim sum stall which is worth a Porsche

Why I loved the tour

The other two food tours I am sharing on these pages were also professionally organized, I cannot complain at all, but this tour was just perfect.


Our guide, Charles, was a real showman in a lovely and not in an annoying way, the people in the group were great to talk to, not to mention the fabulous food.

You can’t really control these factors– the guide and tour mates – but they can extremely influence your impressions on the whole thing. And in this case everything was just in place.

More information on the tour

  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Available schedules: Everyday
  • Price: RM 160/person (approx. 36 USD)
  • Contact details:

Bangkok, Thailand

I am pretty sure that Thai cuisine doesn’t require an introduction. Every Asian inspired restaurant offers at least the famous Pad Thai or Tom Yum soup. But racing the town by tuk tuk in search for the best Pad Thai – that is another type of experience.

In Bangkok we did the Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk organized by Bangkok Food Tours. The meeting point was Chit Lom sky train station where after a short introduction we were grouped into the tuk tuks in pairs – and the race began!


We covered more than 7 spots including street food restaurants and a fried insect stall (!), the flower and fruit market near the Memorial Bridge and Wat Pho with the illuminated stupas. We ended the tour in a roof toop bar which was promoted as a secret bar, though we had a drink there the day before as well (I guess it`s hard to call something secret when Lonely Planet features it). Nevertheless having a beer while looking over the Chao Praya river was a great finish of the tuk tuk race.

Tibi and the grasshopper – not for the faint hearted

Oh and what about the best Pad Thai in town? Yes, we found it at the corner of the Maha Chai Road and Soi Samran Rat and indeed it rocked! I have to admit though that I am not totally sure if this is really the best – all the hype is coming from a Guardian article released in 2015. Nonetheless it was worth the hunting.

Behind the scenes

Why I loved the tour

This was an extremely well organized tour – and also the best value for money.

Wat Pho

We weren’t bored for a single minute. I especially liked the stopover at the Wat Pho – though we visited it at daylight to see the giant reclining Buddha, the illuminated stupas with the tiny glazed porcelain mosaics were breathtaking at night. As a fun fact we learned that these porcelain mosaics tiled the stupas are basically recycled broken China pieces came as ballast from the royal trading boats returning from China. The credit for this idea goes to King Rama III who wanted to transform Wat Pho into a place of learning and accessible knowledge.

More information on the tour:

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Available schedules: Everyday (with a minimum of 2 participants)
  • Price: ฿1,800.00/person (approx. 50 USD)
  • Contact details: booking through their website

Seoul, South-Korea

This tour by ZenKimchi was the most relaxed from all – and I guess it was due to the various local drinks we tasted an toasted with.

The first thing we got to know about Koreans that they love going out – they usually do four rounds at a single night with their colleagues catching the sunrise on their way home. And before you think that this is kind of a usual Friday night for many of us after a long work week, I have to disappoint you – they do it regulary on weekdays as well. Drinking till dawn then heading back to the workplace. No surprise that many offices in Korea maintain a separate room for taking a nap during lunch break.

So let`s see what are those four rounds:

  1. round: BBQ meal with bear, whiskey or soju (national drink made of rice)

Our first stop indeed was a BBQ restaurant in Seoul`s Gongdeok district. Korean BBQ  or gogigui is great choice for adults who always wanted to play with their food as kids but their moms weren’t really keen on the idea. This is a DIY food: you grill the meat (usually marinated beef or pork belly), top it with ssamjang (a funky paste to spread on meat and greens); sesame oil and salt (for dunking beef and pork), and finally wrap it into a sam (green leaf). Try to stuff the whole bunch to your mouth and chew on it for a while.

Cutting, wrapping, stuffing

While you are wrapping your bbq you need to keep up with the others toasting with shots of soju. There are plenty of rules how to toast in Korea though:

First you always have to top up the others` glasses first, doing otherwise is a sing of disrespect. When toasting the youngest needs to hold his/her glass lower then the older ones – BUT! even if you know how old the others are you always have to compete to put your glass lower than the others. After a few drinks we were really good at it.

  1. round – more drinks and snacks

After a short walk on Gongdeok`s old market we dropped by a restaurant famous for their kimchi pancake and all kind of deep fried stuff. Drinking banana and chestnut flavored sojus really made this visit “memorable” (liked the regular soju much better).


The group gave up after two rounds though our guide was open to accompany us to the third and forth round which involves the chicken & beer round and finally karaoke!

Why I loved the tour

The atmosphere of the whole tour was really casual and was more like a Friday night out than a sightseeing. It was the least informative though, as we were mainly focusing on food and Koreans` drinking habits. Nevertheless if you guys want to have a fun night out with great Korean food in an authentic environment then this tour is strongly recommended.

More information on the tour 


  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Available schedules: Everyday
  • Price: 90 USD/person
  • Contact details:

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