The longstanding friendly rivalry between Singapore and Malaysian cuisine has met with a resounding victory after worldwide travel Guide Lonely Planet releases its Ultimate Eatlist book.
While both dishes have made it into the top 20 – an impressive feat, considering there were 500 entries – Chilli Crab was ranked at #17. Malaysian Laksa, on the other hand, came in #2, losing only to the Spanish dish pintxos.
Lonely Planet describes laksa as such:
“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.”
Lonely planet rate the food experience, not just the food. Pintxos, being bar bites… it isn’t hard to see why it’s in first place now – who doesn’t love sitting at a bar with a round of drinks on a friday night with your friends, chowing down on some snacks?
The list was curated from top chefs like Elena Arzak and Eric Ripert, celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern and BBC MasterChef judge Monica Galetti, with help from Lonely Planet’s staff and contributors. The final 500 dishes was then selected by Lonely Planet’s food editors, assisted by Austrlian celebrity chef Adam Liaw and food blogger Leyla Kazim.
The top 20 food experiences from Ultimate Eatlist include:
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
The rankings, however, have been met with criticism from chefs and food consultants, with Makansutra founder FD Seetoh saying “This doesn’t do justice to the few thousand other dishes around the world. Nobody is fit to say what food is best.”
Ultimately, however, critics should remember that the guide is just a guide, and not a declaration on what food tastes the best.