Before street food gets any more good press and clever marketing, I need to stake a claim to my 5 favorite street foods.
1. Chicken Satay (Panang, Malaysia). Something about the combination of lemongrass, peanuts and a very dirty grill make this the best Satay in the world. For the last 11 years I have tried to find this distinct flavor everywhere, and I’ve never managed it. I even wrote to Saveur magazine begging them to unearth this recipe after they devoted an entire issue to street food. Alas, I may never taste this chicken perfection again. Luckily, while in Malaysia, street satay was my daily breakfast.
2. Curry-wurst (Berlin, Germany). This is only one of purportedly hundreds of sausage varieties in Germany, but its amazing. Essentially, its a kielbasa with a curried tomato sauce, but with a pint of German beer, you’ll think it has to be more clever than that.
3. Street Vendor Dogs (New York, USA). While this is an obvious choice, it deserves recognition. Steamed dogs, steamed bun, and onions slathered in a ketchupy-mustardy sauce – can’t beat it. (runner-up: Maine’s version of the street dog: a lobster roll in a hot dog bun – the best are at Red’s in Wiscasset).
4. Octopus Balls (Kyoto, Japan). No, Octupi do not have testicles (this isn’t a Japanese version of Rocky Mountain Oysters). This street food is a fried oyster fritter, and its delicious.
5. All Food Carts (Portland, OR, USA). We owe it all to the city that started the food cart revolution, and landed street food smack in the middle of a media frenzy. Now, we can check various internet sites to determine the locations of our favorite food carts in cities all over the world, and we can order tamales, gourmet grilled cheese, korean tacos, and endless takes on interesting, portable and quick foods. Other cities, like New York, have tried to replicate this movement, but nobody does it like Portland. *My favorite in Portland – wacky beverages at the food cart outside People’s Co-Op.