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Jun 30, 2010 01:46 PM

Best and Worst International Cities for Food

I asked this question a while ago on the International board, but I didn't get much response so I thought I'd try again here. My apologies if this is not kosher.

I recently passed the U.S. Foreign Service Exam, and while I wait for my clearances to come through I'm engaging in the fascinating pastime of speculating on my future foreign postings. Being a chowhound, availability of delicious food is very important to my happiness. So, if you had to choose a world city to live in based solely on the food, where would you go? Where would you avoid? I'm especially interested in your thoughts on non-Western Europe areas of the world.

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  1. Congratulations on passing the exam.

    This isn't non-Western Europe, but here's the link to a blog written by the wife of a guy posted to the American Embassy in Mexico City - . They're young, under 30, and she's done a number of posts on food, eating, drinking and food habits. It's sometimes a fun read. And good old D.F. is a great food town.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Just came across this link-back, and as the aforementioned Midwesterner in Mexico, let me second the vote for Mexico City as a foodie town!! I will back this up with an article from WSJ: and NY Times: We are heading back to DC in October, and whine on a daily basis how much we will miss the amazing, cheap food here in DF. It truly runs the gamut from delicious 10-peso street tacos at 4AM to elegant 4-course meals that while expensive, are still a steal compared to the US.

      Additionally, we have been living like pigs in sh*t with all the fruit and veg here that is practically free-- if you love avocados and mangoes and fresh-squeezed OJ but can't handle the prices in the US, you will never run the risk of scurvy here in DF.

      While I certainly support the various Asian cities proposed below, Mexico City offers an amazing breadth of Mexican food that you've never seen in the States, plus cultural & travel opps a-go-go, but you're still close enough to make a trip back for some Carolina BBQ. :) Good luck!!

      1. re: beefight

        Good luck on your new posting this Fall. I shall miss reading your Mexican blog entries. Having spent time in D.F. I usually got a chuckle out of your escapades

    2. Tokyo is quite a great city for eating out. There is a very broad selection, though many choices would not be considered very authentic. Service is generally among the best, and there is no custom of tipping.

      1. First choice is easy: Singapore. Second choice. . . oh, dear, that could be any number of places. As someone who will be living in a certain city for several years, your point of view will be different from the average tourist's. Much will depend on hooking up with local chowhounds, and even more will depend on your determination to find and enjoy what's around you. If you want to get an idea of the breadth and depth of a true, well-traveled chowhound life, you can (if you haven't already) go through some of the posts of the late, much-loved Sam Fujisaka.

        1. I agree with pilinut's nomination of Singapore. The Singaporeans are obsessed with food in a good way. Talking about who has the best chicken rice or chili crab is a national passion. For any food in southeast asia, Singapore is the place to be.

          Since the population is Chinese, Malay, and Indian, the best food comes from those ethnic groups, but excellent Korean, Japanese, Indonesian (similar to Malaysian) are available, as well. There are plenty of places in Singapore for western food, too, but, not surprisingly, you can get better western food in (duh) the western hemisphere.

          The profusion of tropical vegetables, fruits and spices, combined with the availability of temperate climate Australian ingredients make for quite a choice of ingredients. And the fusion of the cooking techniques of the three cultures makes for an interesting mix.

          1. Worst: Cairo. Pray you don't end up there, or if you do, try to fly to Beirut as often as possible to get something decent to eat!

            I haven't been to SIngapore, which I'm sure is fantastic, but in my opinion Istanbul is a great food town too.

            3 Replies
              1. re: mordacity

                The food.


                No, really. It is extremely difficult to get a decent meal there unless you are at the Four Seasons. When I am in Cairo I generally end up eating at the food court in the mall, because the pickings are so ridiculously slim and the food quality is generally so poor. Note that I am talking about restaurants, not home-cooked meals.

                1. re: mordacity

                  Worst I have experienced is Malta. Great fresh fish to buy, but they cook it and vegetables to death. Their spaghetti bolognese tastes as if it is canned-- I tasted multiple versions, as my daughter only ate this, and all were equally bad. A pilot I knew used to fill his suitcase with fresh vegetables when he flew to Malta. Otherwise, a nice place, but not for a long posting.