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Savoury safari • Local dishes you have to try

Fish head curry in Kuala Lumpur and 20 other dishes you’ll only ever find in their natural habitat

Hongshao rou • Shanghai

Giant cubes of pork belly, called ‘five-layer meat’ in Chinese thanks to the striated fat and lean layers, are the foundation of hongshao rou (red braised pork), one of the most popular dishes in Shanghai. There are a number of regional variants (the Hunanese version was supposedly Chairman Mao’s favourite dish), but the luxuriously fatty Shanghai take features pork slow-cooked in dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, star anise and plenty of rock sugar, which lends that rich sweetness that Shanghai cuisine is renowned for. Crystyl Mo, Time Out Shanghai food editor

Looking for hongshao rou in Shanghai? Time Out recommends the version at Jian Guo 328.

Photo credit: Keisuke Tanigawa

Hammour Makbous • Abu Dhabi

The most popular fish in the emirates, hammour is a delicate, flaky white fish with a subtle yet distinctive flavour. In this dish, the fish is laid on a bed of rice packed with regional spices including cumin, turmeric, black pepper and saffron. The dish is finished with a tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Sarah Riches, Time Out Abu Dhabi deputy editor

Looking for hammour makbous in Abu Dhabi? Time Out recommends the version at Mezlai.

Photo credit: ITP

Shakshooka • Bahrain

It might look like ordinary scrambled eggs, but shakshooka is so much more. It’s a common breakfast dish in the Middle East and North Africa, and everyone has a different take on it. In Bahrain, it’s generally served as a flavourful, loosely scrambled omelette with diced tomatoes and peppers, topped with a sprinkling of seasoning and curry powder for a bit of a kick. To enjoy it the traditional way, grab the soft khubz (Bahraini pitta bread) and scoop some up while sipping on your chai karak (milky cardamom tea). Katy Gillett, Time Out Bahrain editor

Looking for shakshooka in Bahrain? Time Out recommends the version at Chai Café.

Photo credit: George Dipin

Andouillette • Paris

Call yourself a foodie? Then hold your nose and prove it. Currently undergoing something of a renaissance in Paris, andouillette is the (im)pure essence of what makes a sausage. A chunk of the lower intestine stuffed with more intestines, tripe and seasonings and served with mustard sauce and onions, its earthy farmyard stink is cherished by aficionados. As the Mayor of Lyon once said, ‘Politics is like andouillette – it smells a bit like shit, but not too much.’ Ellen Hardy, Time Out Paris associate editor

Looking for andouillette in Paris? Time Out recommends the version at Au Pied de Cochon.

Photo credit: Creative Commons – Kae Yen Wong

Capipota amb trompetes de la mort • Barcelona

Although this gutsy dish made from beef head and hooves is more often found stewed with chickpeas, the version made with ‘trumpets of the dead’ mushrooms is sublime: they’re some of the most savoury things that grow in Catalan soil. Don’t be put off by the name: the taste is sweet and the texture like velvet, slipping easily down the throat. Overall, this must-try dish rewards the diner with contrasting flavours of Catalonia’s fields and woodlands. Ricard Martín,Time Out Barcelona food and drink editor

Looking for Capipota amb trompetes de la mort in Barcelona? Time Out recommends the version at Casa Lucio.

Photo credit: Ivan Giménez

Jianbing • Beijing

On just about every street corner in Beijing, at any time of day, you can find guys with griddles serving up tasty jianbing; a traditional savoury crêpe. The pancake is made from a hearty wheat batter that’s fried with an egg, smeared with chilli and soy paste and dusted with scallion and coriander. To finish, it’s wrapped around a crispy cracker, folded over and served. It’s an addictive takeaway snack that’s great as either breakfast or late-night chow, or for those times when the two cross over! Sean Silbert, Time Out Beijing food editor

Looking for jianbing in Beijing? Time Out recommends the version at Temple Restaurant.

Big baby • Chicago

The Southwest Side dish was born 40+ years ago at Greek-owned fast-food joints and hasn’t changed since: Two thin patties are griddled until the edges are crisp and gooey cheese melts between them. Then they’re placed atop a toasted sesame seed bun smeared with ketchup and mustard, while pickles and tons of caramelized onions add sweetness and acidity. Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago restaurants and bars editor

Looking for big baby in Chicago? Time Out recommends the version at Little Market Brasserie.

Photo credit: Jason Little

 Ryoog yerena • Dubai

It can seem as if the vast majority of Emirati food culture involves some use of dates. Sweet, savoury or drinkable; rooted in tradition or off-the-cuff and innovative – most of it involves dates. Among other eggy riffs on an Emirati breakfast is the ryoog yerena, aka date omelette. While baked eggs usually give that indulgent duality of texture, with drippy, rich and gooey yolk against custardy whites, here the spectrum is intensified. The layer of dates underneath caramelises, burns and sweetens, to span crunchy toffee to thick, syrupy caramel, and is divine. Penelope Walsh, Time Out Dubai eating out editor

Looking for ryoog yerena in Beijing? Time Out recommends the version at Klyaa Bakery and Sweets

Kokoreç • Istanbul

One of the most controversial street eats out there, kokoreç is actually spiced and skewered sheep’s intestines, served in either half or quarter of a bread loaf with plenty of grease and salt to go with it. No wonder it’s everyone’s favourite post-drunk food – after all, it takes a real lack of inhibition to feast on guts. What sets most people off about kokoreç is that, given the part of the animal used in the meat, it’s of utmost importance to clean it thoroughly. Thankfully, one of the most popular kokoreç chains, Sampiyon Kokoreç, is sure never to disappoint.

Looking for kokoreç in Istanbul? Time Out recommends the version at Sampiyon Kokoreç.

Photo credit: Creative Commons – Robyn Lee

Fish head curry • Kuala Lumpur

This is a dish that’s as delicious as it is bewildering. Fish heads – usually of the red snapper variety – are submerged in flaming orange curry that simmers in large pots while okra, eggplant and fried bean curd are thrown in for texture. The fish soaks in the curry’s forthright spiciness, its flesh retains a firm bite, and its gelatinous cheeks wobble like jelly. Surekha Ragavan, Time Out Kuala Lumpur food editor

Looking for fish head curry in Kuala Lumpur? Time Out recommends the version at Restoran ZK.

Photo credit: Hizwan Hamid

Chicken parma • Melbourne

It’s Melbourne food culture in one bite: fuel of sports fans; menu staple of every pub and a dish of Italian immigrant origins, adopted and adapted to be our own. The bashed, breaded and deep fried chicken breast is smothered in a sharp tomato sauce and coated in layers of good quality ham and melted cheese. What you’re looking for is juicy meat, a crisp and even crumb coating, and universal sauce and cheese coverage. Consume with Carlton Draught beer and a game of AFL (sport of kings in Victoria). Gemima Cody, Time Out Melbourne food and drink editor

Looking for chicken parma in Melbourne? Time Out recommends the version at Local Taphouse.

Photo credit: Graham Denholm

Bulhao Pato Clams • Porto

Bulhao Pato was certainly one of the most quoted Portuguese poets of the nineteenth century, but this dish has nothing to do with his poetry. The reason for its popularity stems from the sauce – a base of olive oil, garlic, coriander and lemon – used especially with clams, and is one of the most popular seafood snacks found in Lisbon. At the end it is customary to soak up all of the sauce with bread. Ricardo Dias Felner, Time Out Portugal deputy editor

Looking for Bulhao Pato Clams in Lisbon? Time Out recommends the version at Pinóquio.

Pie and mash • London

‘Pie mash and eels’ has been the signature Cockney staple for centuries, the pies filled with whatever was inexpensive, Sweeney Todd style. For generations of Londoners the filling included Thames estuary eels, but as eels have become rarer and costlier, the fillings are now mostly minced beef. The pastry’s the star attraction: flaky, crumbly, and a mop for the parsley ‘liquor’ (sauce) and mashed potato served with this dish. Guy Dimond, Time Out London group food and drink editor

Looking for pie and mash in London? Time Out recommends the version at Square Pie Company.

Photo credit: Rob Grieg

Danger dog • LA

To take a bite of a Danger Dog is to relish in the dribble of bacon grease running down your chin, the snap from a hot dog of questionable origins, the crunch of brusquely sautéed peppers and onions, the spicy jalapeño and avocado that tickles the back of your throat on the way down. You’ll face the consequences later, but at 2am on a sidewalk scattered with drunken bar hoppers, it will taste only of perfection. Erin Kuschner, Time Out LA associate editor, food and drink

Looking for danger dogs in LA? Time Out reckons it’s one of 101 essential things to do in the city.

Photo credit: Jakob N. Layman

Pastizzi • Malta

The familiar paper bag soon becomes translucent. Your first bite into the diamond-shaped pastizzi brings the audible ‘crunch’ as the pastry flakes away, revealing the delicious warm ricotta or pea filling within. The lightly burnt ends of flaky pastry leave your fingers with an oily film, and as the last of the pastizz disappears, you don’t care about the calories, you just lick your lips in anticipation of the next one. Sarah Micallef, Features Writer

Looking for pastizzi in Malta? When in Rabat (the town just outside the medieval walled city of Mdina) don’t miss a pit stop at Crystal Palace (next to the Domus Romana), a favourite local haunt for authentic Maltese pastizzi and tea, served in a glass.

Photo credit:

Tacos al pastor • Mexico City

One of DF’s must try dishes, available at any hour and an after-party favourite. Pork is marinated gently in chillies and spices before being slowly grilled on the spit, topped with a fresh pineapple and onion. While the flame roasts the spinning red meat, the pineapple juices drip down over the pork, softening it even more. When ready, the pork is finely sliced, put in two small corn tortillas, and served with coriander, chopped onion and a pineapple slice that the taquero catches skillfully from the top of the vertical spit. As a final touch, lemon juice and salsa are added, bringing it to close to taste perfection. Each taco costs around 5 pesos. We reckon it’s by far the best street food you can ever get. Beatriz Vernon, Time Out Mexico food and nightlife editor

Looking for tacos al pastor in Mexico City? Time Out recommends the version at El Vilsito.

Photo credit: Adriana Rubio Mendiola

New York bagel • New York

Among the food icons of Gotham – the classic ‘za slice, dirty-water hot dogs and chewy oversize pretzels – the classic New York bagel and lox stands out as one of the city’s most enduring, emblematic culinary titans. They say it’s in the water, but whatever it is, it’s working: they’re small-but-mighty, springy-yet-crusty and the perfect vehicle for silky sliced salmon and luscious cream cheese. Bagels have been here for years, a much-welcome contribution from late-19th-century Polish Jewish immigrants.
 Christina Izzo, Time Out New York food and drink editor

Looking for a New York bagel in New York? Time Out recommends the version at Russ & Daughters.

Photo credit: Paul Wagtouicz

Francesinha • Porto

Francesinha is a serious protein overdose, the type of thing that would exhaust even Anthony Bourdain. Between two lightly toasted slices of bread is placed sausage (typically a fine Portuguese chorizo), fresh salami, steak, and even ham or other meats. The secret of success, however, is almost always in the sauce, a thick complex liquid that takes several hours to make and that can require more than two dozen ingredients – from seafood stock to whisky. Ricardo Dias Felner, Time Out Portugal deputy editor

Looking for francesinha in Porto? Time Out recommends the version at Santiago.

Chicken rice • Singapore

Singapore’s national dish, chicken rice is a good option on particularly humid days. Tender, succulent chicken meat is drizzled with special sauce and sesame oil, which tastes especially lovely with punchy chili. A satisfying mound of well-coated rice sits under glossy-skinned chicken, retaining its flavours without being too oily. Choose from drumstick, wing, claws, or spare parts. Rachel Tan, Time Out Singapore editor

Looking for chicken rice in Singapore? Time Out recommends the version at Maxwell Food Centre.

Smashed avocado on toast • Sydney

It doesn’t really get more Sydney than smashed avocado on toasted sourdough. It’s all about the simplicity of a perfectly ripe avocado – all cool, buttery and creamy – spread thickly over well charred toast, sprinkled with sea salt, a little freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Some people like to butter the toast first, and sure it adds a certain something – but they don’t call an avocado nature’s butter for nothing. Myffy Rigby, Time Out Australia chief food and drink critic

Looking for smashed avocado on toast in Sydney? Time Out recommends the version at Will and Co.

Photo credit: Anna Kucera

Kuzu-mochi • Tokyo

This traditional Japanese summer dessert comes with a modern twist: it’s gluten-free. Chewing your way through a chilled dish of kuzu-mochi, made from starchy kudzu (arrowroot), might not be as pleasing to the senses if it weren’t for the Japanese brown sugar syrup (similar to molasses) drizzled on top and the kinako powder, made from ground roasted soybeans, that floats on top and then mixes in to hold everything together in one harmonious mix of sweet goopiness. Annemarie Luck, Time Out Tokyo editor

Looking for kuzu-mochi in Tokyo? Time Out recommends the version at Funabashiya Koyomi.

Photo credit: Keisuke Tanigawa

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