Top destinations for foodies in 2014

Last updated 05:00 29/12/2013

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Culinary journeys have exploded in popularity, offering new experiences in some of the world's most popular destinations.

House of Travel's experts give the lowdown on the sweetest spots in 2014.

HAWAII

Hawaii's cuisine is unique thanks to its melting pot of cultures from the United States, China, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Portugal and beyond.

The food here is fusion heaven and "Hawaiian food" is emerging as a cuisine in its own right.

House of Travel's Lisa Paulsen recommends the fusion of Japanese and Pacific cuisines at Morimoto's in Waikiki.

For the less adventurous, her pick is the all-American fare at the Cheesecake Factory. "They serve a lot more than cheesecake here but consider yourself warned - the meals are huge!"

Duke's is another must for any visitor to Hawaii. "Their Baby Back ribs are to die for," says Lisa.

"I don't know what's in the sauce they put on them but I can't get enough of it."

Whatever it is, it must be good - Duke's ranked 14 out of 1872 restaurants on TripAdvisor this year.

Duke Kahanamoku is considered the father of international surfing and introduced surfing to New Zealand and Australia in 1914.

INSIDER TIPS

Most restaurants in Waikiki don't take reservations and you often have to wait a while for a table, so go early and put your name down, then head off for a few cocktails. After all, Hawaii is where the Mai Tai was invented.

Many of the best restaurants are in hotels, including Morimoto at the Modern Honolulu Hotel, and Dukes and the Hula Grill at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel.

Don't leave without visiting Pearl Harbour. Tickets are required for entry to the USS Arizona Memorial and ticket numbers are limited. Taking a tour, or securing tickets well in advance through the US National Parks Service, are the easiest options for visitors.

SAMOA

The locals are passionate about food and eating is often a social event that brings family and friends together to share traditional dishes such as umu (food cooked in an earth oven), sapasui (chop suey) and palusami (coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves).

Add some of the most picturesque beaches in the world and it's not hard to understand why Samoa is jumping up travellers' bucket lists.

Samoa offers foodies an excellent reason to visit in 2014, with the opening of the Return to Paradise Resort on the main island of Upolu. Kiwi culinary whiz Simon Gault is the resort's consultant chef and has designed both the menu and the dining experience.

House of Travel's Gary Smith says there are also good eating out options in Apia for visitors on a budget. "The burgers at Skippy's or the pizza at Georgie's Pizza are well worth a try. You'll find plenty of locals here - the sign of a good eatery."

INSIDER TIPS

At some swimming spots, be prepared to pay a small fee to the local village - many are still recovering from the 2009 tsunami and cyclone damage in 2012.

Cover up on the beach - Samoa is a religious nation and skimpy swimwear may offend.

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VIETNAM

The distinctive flavours of Vietnamese cuisine have always been a firm favourite with travellers.

Whether it's street food in Hoi An or fine dining in Ho Chi Minh City, the fresh, delicate flavours of this healthy cuisine shine through.

Blending cultural heritage with fine cuisine, Ancient House restaurant in Hue pays tribute to the city's last carving artists. This hidden gem is within the walls of the Phu Mong Garden House, which dates from the 1800s.

The menu highlights local specialties such as banana blossom salad, banh beo (steamed rice flour with shrimp flakes) and banh khoai (fried rice pancakes stuffed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts).

Every dish is a showcase for the creativity of its chefs, who sculpt plants and animals out of fresh vegetables.

Go all out with the Ancient House's Royal Court Dinner, a six-course feast accompanied by traditional music and dance.

House of Travel's Gabrielle Brown recommends Quan An Ngon's restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which have stalls cooking their signature and specialty dishes.

"It is delicious and (there is) so much choice." At Huong Lai in Ho Chi Minh City, you can have an excellent meal and help to support homeless youth who are training in the kitchen and waiting tables.

INSIDER TIP

Hoi An is a must on the itinerary if you want new clothes tailor-made.

MEXICO This destination is ideal for health-conscious foodies. Organic is the new trend here and eateries now cater to every imaginable preference and requirement, from gluten- and wheat-free to vegan.

House of Travel's Katie Searle says the seafood in Mexico is "super-fresh and delightful".

"Fish tacos are amazing and some of the best and freshest food comes from street vendors. Cervezas and freshly made cocktails are as cheap as bottled water, so search for the best coconut margarita!"

Take a food tour with Eat Mexico, the only local operator to focus on small-group tours of street and market food stalls, or arrange for a chef to cook a meal at your casa and pick up some authentic local recipes to take home.

If you're eating out, order a side of guacamole - it's made at your table and is different each time.

INSIDER TIPS

Living history is everywhere in Mexico. Be sure to visit some of the historic sites and museums. Taxco has beautiful silverware and the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is a must-see.

Surfing lessons with professionals are around $15 an hour along the west coast, including board hire.

- Stuff

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