Bangkok - Siem Reap - Ho Chi Minh City
I am traveling for the first time to Asia in November, and I am really excited about the food! Now, after reading about being careful about all kinds of stuff (raw food etc) I am little bit on the fence about how to really experience all the local flavors but at the same time staying safe (being Westerner and all :-(). I would really appreciate some suggestions/ideas where to eat and what....THANKS in advance!
I can only speak for Thailand. Visiting since the 90's, and living in Bangkok since 2007, I have never gotten sick eating "local". I did, however, get the worst case of food poisoning from a "Western standard", Japanese chain.
Just keep to hot soups and "hot-off-the-grill" treats. Many vendors are cook-to-order propositions. Look for busy carts, stalls and shops.
You should seriously consider Hep A vaccination. It's one serious disease that can be easily transmitted through food. While you're at it, make sure your "puppy shots" are complete and your tetanus booster is current.
Always wash your hands before eating. Much of the contamination comes from our own hands.
Here are some of our ideas. Click on the "Photos" tab and see some options.
You are going to enjoy Siem Reap - remember to pay a visit to the central market in the morning before the tourist kisch invades. Really fresh ingrediences and that's what makes the food wonderful. I liked to coffee and people watching at Blue Pumpkin. Food wise - stay AWAY from anything that has ice in it if it doesn't cater to the westerners. I saw how the ice block was transported and that was the end of the temptation from those shaved ice vendors. Another precation is to treat your utensils. I got pretty sick after eating at a BBQ place the guide recommmended & the only item I overlooked was not dipping the spoon in hot water. After that, I just stuck to the pub street food.
Thailand does great stir-fries. Try Pad Siew, Pad Ga Pra Muu or anything really. Cambodia is pretty decent, with influences from it's neighboring countries as well as China but can't compare with the other two countries you'll be visiting. In Ho Chi Minh it's really all about the street. Stay outdoors and you'll do fine. Sample everything. Cheap as biscuits. Check out some of the dishes I've eaten in my 2+ years in Sai Gon to give you an idea--> globaleats.blogspot.com. Let me know if you'd like the names of specific restaurants (Vietnamese or Western) in Ho Chi Minh as well. You're probably already in Nam huh?