Food & Drink
Iconic Global Dining
By Leena Kim
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Forge a deeper connection to your destination by discovering the local cuisine. Indulge in these must-try dishes and unique culinary experiences from around the world.

“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture,” says Mark Kurlansky, the James Beard award-winning author of such books as The Big Oyster and Salt: A World History. Think about it: Of all the ways to immerse yourself in a foreign place — touring the sights, shopping, visiting its museums — what could be as multi-sensory and revealing as simply tasting the local cuisine? Just as some of the best relationships are formed by breaking bread, deep connections to a place are forged through discovering its food. 

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Sichuan food can be found anywhere in the world these days, but there’s really nothing like going straight to the source of the heat. That Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, became a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2010 is all the more reason to put it on your list. Its flavorful, spicy cuisine owes itself to the Sichuan peppercorn, used in famous dishes like mapo tofu (stir-fried with minced beef, chili paste, chili oil and fermented soy beans), hotpot (meat and vegetables cooked in a spicy broth), dan dan noodles (which are topped with pork and various sauces), and rabbit head, a regional delicacy. The best way to sample these is by wandering the street markets. But for a sit-down experience, Ma Wang Xi, Chengdu Yinxiang, Yu’s Family Kitchen, and Li Xuan at The Ritz-Carlton are great options. Even vegetarians need not worry — Mi Xun Teahouse does a hotpot with black truffles.

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In spite of its size, this tiny city-state packs a huge culinary punch, so much so that dining is actually considered the national pastime. The street food scene is legendary — more than 100 hawker centers are brimming with delicious local eats like wanton mee (noodles topped with roast pork, soy sauce, and chili paste), fried oyster omelets, Hainanese chicken rice, curried laksa soup, chili crab, kaya toast (made with a coconut milk and egg-based jam), and satay, to just name a few. How do you choose between the dizzying array of options? If the line is long, the food is good. In 2016, two stalls (Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle) became the first street vendors to be awarded a Michelin star. Of course, Singapore isn’t just about the casual eats. The Peking duck at Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck is one of the best; the Michelin-starred Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton puts a contemporary spin on Cantonese cuisine; and Odette (two Michelin-starred and ranked No. 28 on the World’s Best Restaurants list) is led by a French chef, Julien Royer, who creates beautiful dishes like Hokkaido uni with langoustine tartare, caviar and apple.

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Anthony Bourdain once said this about the Canadian city: “The fact that over 50 percent of the residents of Toronto are not from Canada, that is always a good thing, and for food especially. That is easily a city’s biggest strength, and it is Toronto’s unique strength.” Here, you’ll find a Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Little India, and Portugal Village, plus more than 150 spoken languages. Follow Bourdain’s footsteps and get the famous peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery. Stroll through Kensington Market to find an array of diverse options, from authentic Chilean food to fried chicken and waffles. For refined Italian, book a table at Toca, then follow it up with a well-deserved nightcap at the bar at The Ritz-Carlton.

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