Ten iconic dishes and where to eat them

Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

Your traveller's guide to world food

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Food is a hot topic of debate but travel website VirtualTourist has compiled its selection of 10 of the world's most iconic dishes and the best places to find them.

Reuters has not endorsed this list.

1. Pastrami Sandwich - New York City

Neighbourhoods grow and change but some things stay the same. A fixture in New York's Lower East Side since 1888, Katz's Delicatessen is a holdover from a time that has long disappeared from the old neighbourhood.

Less than a block from the Tenement Museum, which celebrates the immigrants who lived in the area in the early 20th century, Katz's is most famous for its pastrami.

The deli's superiority is so renowned that it has online ordering, shipping all over the United States and to any military address, a tradition established during World War Two.

As luxury hotels and trendy nightclubs pop up around it, the quality and tradition of Katz's ensures it will be a fixture for the next 125 years.

2. Pad Thai - Bangkok

One of Thailand's more accessible and less spicy dishes, Pad Thai is many people's first foray into Thai cuisine.

Comprised of stir-fried rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts and peanuts, the dish is traditionally served with lime wedges and can be found all over Bangkok's street food scene.

The most famous spot for Pad Thai in Bangkok is Thip Samai, an unassuming storefront across from Wat Thepthidaram in the Banglamphu district.

The restaurant serves original Pad Thai, as well as a "superb" version with Thai noodles served in an omelette.

3. Pizza - Naples

While pizza has been reinterpreted all over the world, the original slice can be traced back to the working class neighbourhoods of Naples, Italy.

Traditionally, it was served Marinara or Margherita, with the primary difference being that Margherita features mozzarella cheese and basil on top. It was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was served this style by a young chef when visiting Naples in the late 19th century.

There is no shortage of pizzerias in Naples but two of the most famous are L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Pizzeria Di Matteo, the latter near the Duomo and known for being the place where U.S. President Bill Clinton dined during the Group of Seven conference in 1994.

4. Frites - Brussels

Belgium is known for many food specialities, including waffles, mussels and chocolate, but one of its greatest areas of expertise is in frites, or fried potatoes called French fries by some.

Belgian frites are distinct for two reasons - they are usually made with Bintje potatoes and they are fried not once, but twice.

Vying for top spot in Brussels are Frit Flagey in Place Flagey, Friterie Tabora near the Grand Place and Maison Friterie Antoine in Place Jourdan.

Once you pick your place, the next decision is how to dress your frites. While the traditional accompaniment is mayonnaise, Maison Antoine provides more than 20 sauces, including curry, mustard, ketchup and poivre.

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5. Coffee and Beignets - New Orleans

A people-watching institution in its own right, Cafe du Monde is a mandatory stop for any coffee connoisseur visiting the Big Easy. On Jackson Square, the patio at Cafe du Monde is a great spot to enjoy the European ambiance and pace of New Orleans or listen to its street musicians and performers.

While Cafe du Monde is known around the world, many people do not know that coffee first came to North America by way of New Orleans. After being successfully cultivated by the French in Martinique, they brought it to their new colonies along the Mississippi River.

The beignets - square pieces of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar - are a perfect complement to the chicory coffee. If you can't make it to the flagship on Decatur Street, there are eight Cafe du Monde coffee stands within the New Orleans metropolitan area.

6. Steak - Argentina

Beef has played a large role in the culture of Argentina, from the asado cuisine to the image of gauchos on the estancia. Argentina's steaks are a cut above because the cattle are raised on grass in the pampas, not on grains in feedlots.

A few recommended parillas, or grill restaurants, are El Boliche de Alberto in Bariloche, Don Julio in Buenos Aires and La Cabrera in the Palermo Viejo district of Buenos Aires.

VirtualTourist members recommend the bife de lomo at La Cabrera, which comes with a variety of side dishes and promises to be the most affordable 12-ounce (340-gram) steak of your life.

7. Sushi - Tokyo

Similar to the steak situation in Argentina, delicious and fresh sushi is available all over Japan. But it is perhaps most associated with the sleek culture of Tokyo.

While sushi can be found at any hour, one experience unique to the city is Tsukiji Fish Market. Visitors are not allowed to watch the tuna auctions at the moment but can still tour the outer market, where a sushi breakfast can be had for much less than the standard price.

Travellers should keep in mind that most outer market restaurants and shops close by early afternoon.

Also, there are plans for the fish market to move to a new location as part of Tokyo's preparations to host the Olympics in 2020, but these plans have been delayed for another year, so visit this historic spot while you still can.

For those who prefer coffee in the morning and sushi for dinner, check out Sushi Saito, which has three Michelin stars and only seven seats, located in the Akasaka district.

8. Gelato - Florence

Perhaps the most hotly debated item on our list, gelato is a treat that no traveller visiting Italy can avoid or resist.

The difference between gelato and ice cream is the amount of air whipped into the batch - only 20 per cent for gelato but up to 60 percent for ice cream. This difference makes gelato denser and gives it a richer flavour.

While gelaterias have some traditional ice cream flavours, they carry ones more popular in gelato, like nocciola (hazelnut), stracciatella, and zabaione.

VirtualTourist members strongly suggest Bar Vivoli, Perche No and Grom in Florence. For those not travelling soon, Grom also has locations in Paris, New York, Malibu, Tokyo and Osaka.

9. Crepes - Brittany

Although crepes can now be found all over, they originated in Brittany in northwestern France. One unique aspect of this iconic food is that it can be eaten savoury or sweet.

While some people eat the savoury galettes for lunch or dinner with cheese, ham, eggs or vegetables, the more widespread interpretation is as a sweet treat filled or topped with Nutella spread, whipped cream or custard.

Three widely recommended spots are Creperie Tout le Monde in Douarnenez, Corps de Garde in Saint Malo and Breizh Cafe in Cancale.

10. Chili Crab - Singapore

While chili crab can also be found in Malaysia, it is considered to be Singapore's signature seafood dish.

Crabs are served in a bright-red sweet and savoury tomato and chili sauce, often with pullman toast, crusty bread or steamed buns to sop up the liquid.

Members strongly suggest the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant in the East Coast Seafood Centre, although the restaurant has five locations throughout Singapore and a new outpost in Shanghai.

Which iconic food would make it to your list? Leave a comment below.

- Reuters

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