We have loved food almost everywhere we’ve been but decided early on to keep tabs on our absolute favorite dishes that we would want at least a big bite of as part of a “perfect meal.” We had almost NO overlaps in our food choices! Each and every one of these dishes was truly spectacular and practically faultless in every way. Get ready to drool!
Since we are doing superlatives, we also decided that the best two cocktail spots we found were Bisou (Paris) and Hemingway Bar (Prague). Our honorable mention is the prosecco bar we discovered – also in Prague! – called Milujeme Prosecco.
Here are our favorite meals, by person:
Fresh Bread from Parisian Downstairs Bakery – Maison de la Gregoire – of all the croissants I’ve had in Paris, this is where I had THE single best one. That perfectly flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, warm, just out of the oven bite. When we first tried this bakery because of its convenience, the croissants were just average…but then something special happened. They started producing consistently amazing croissants. I don’t know if I lucked out with a new baker, started going at different times or just had a fluke the first time I went with a bad croissant but these croissants are pure magic. When you bite into them, you get that crunchy sound, those flakes of buttery goodness falling off (and all over your clothes) and then each bite has the perfect proportion of that crunch with the most perfect buttery inside.
Jacobine French onion soup (Paris) – This French onion soup was truly life-changing. One of those moments where you dip your spoon through the hot, melty cheese and into the dark brown broth and you can already see and smell the layers of flavor. Nick and I went to Jacobine for dinner for our anniversary and were both left practically speechless by this soup. It was rich in flavor, perfectly balanced and truly, the perfect bowl of soup. You guys. We went back to Jacobine for this soup a total of 3 times in less than 3 weeks. It was that good.
Noir Fennel Spinach (Kathmandu, Nepal) – the ONLY food that appears on both of our top meal lists…and still, somehow, hard to describe. We literally happened upon this restaurant while walking to our hotel in Kathmandu. It had signage that indicated it was brand new and had just opened – it was a fusion of French and Indian food. We were intrigued. This spinach dish was recommended to us by the owner who was very excited to have customers in his new restaurant…the waitress set it down with another app we had ordered and politely said “the spinach is best if you eat it immediately.” It was so spectacular, we cannot tell you what it actually had on it haha. It was almost as if you lightly fried a spinach salad and then added pomegranates, magical crispy components, other small, diced vegetables and a beautiful sauce. We honestly can’t tell you what’s in it.
Bun Bo Nam Bo (Hanoi, Vietnam) – I have ALWAYS been a fan of Vietnamese food but I had never even HEARD of bun bo nam bo until we hit Hanoi. We honestly just happened upon this after doing a little research and seeing what was near our hotel – it was 95 degrees outside and we didn’t want to walk too far. You know it’s going to be good when you sit down and there really isn’t a menu…the waitress stops by and in broken English confirms that we want “two.” Of course we do! And then this special bowl was put down. Similar to a vermicelli bowl back home but on a base of crunchy salad – it is the most tender, flavorful beef with perfectly cooked noodles and an entire handful of crunchy onions and bean sprouts as a topping. And then the BROTH. Imagine the best pho or vermicelli you’ve had at home and then infused twice as much flavor. This place was so good I practically begged to go back.
Goulash & Potato Dumplings from Lokal (Prague) – at Lokal, a restaurant Nick had gone to with a buddy of his years ago, much of the menu does not contain helpful descriptions of what you’re ordering. Yes, I’ve heard of goulash. Who knew what it would look like here! Not only was it the most tender meat with the juiciest gravy, this amazing beer hall-style restaurant gives you an “unlimited supply” of whatever side dish you buy. I’ve never had potato dumplings. But the combination of those fluffy, savory dumplings with the flavorful meat and that SAUCE (bonus – they’ll bring you extra sauce too!!) were ideal for the beginning of a total meat coma. This was the ultimate “meat and potatoes” dish that I will craaaaaave when cold weather hits.
Parmesan Truffle Fries from Contrescarpe (Paris) – We had these one of our first nights in our neighborhood and this cafe quickly became “our spot” – any evening we didn’t know what we wanted to do, we ended up here. These cheese fries were perfectly crisped fries covered in a parmesan truffle sauce. The pictures and description can’t really do them justice but they were so. Good.
Hotdogs (Iceland) – just read Nick’s awesomely detailed blog post from April about his hotdog enlightenment in Iceland 🙂
Noir Fennel Spinach (Kathmandu, Nepal) – see above description 🙂
Pork knuckle in the Basement (Prague) – 4 pound pork knuckle on a wooden board. 2 liter beer. Candlelit basement with layer upon layer of melted wax piling up on the walls. All the locals eating here including construction workers. Nick says – “enough said.”
Khao Soi with Pork (Chiang Mai, Thailand) – This was an Anthony Bourdain recommendation. Khao Soi is a traditional North Thai dish and not found often outside of that area. It is noodle curry, usually with pork (we also got chicken), with coconut milk and crispy noodles on top. This was so delicious that as soon as we finished our first round, we ordered a second round. Who cares if you’re hungry when it’s this good – just order another one. You won’t regret it.
Sushi from Standing Sushi Bar (Tokyo, Japan) – Putting ambiance aside (all locals, if you didn’t speak Japanese you ordered by pointing at pictures or at the fish in the case, standing only) – the ingredients and preparation just slayed it here. Uogashi Nihon-Ichi (the sushi place in question) led me to two very “ohhhhhh, NOW I get it” moments – and I’ve been enjoying sushi around the world for years now. Or rather, I was enjoying what I (mistakingly) thought I knew and loved as sushi. The rice is still slightly warm, the grains sticky, and entire mixture just ever so lightly vinegared. Ohhhh, that’s what good sushi rice is like. The sushi chef puts wasabi between the slightly warm vinegar rice and the slice of fish. Ohhhh, that’s what they mean about “the wasabi is in the sushi already”. Just the right amount, swabbed across a section of the morsel.
Japanese Curry from Champions (Kanazawa, Japan) – Named for this city in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture, it is a distinct variety of Japanese curry. These days, many people will call it simply “Japanese Curry”; but oh no, no, no… this is ground zero for Japanese Curry. Kanazawa Curry is just one of many different varieties of what is commonly seen as a quick lunch meal or bite in a train station on the way home from a long work day. Whereas Indian curry is all about spices and not as saucy, Thai curry relies heavily on coconut milk and therefore is more soupy, older Japanese curry had a mixture of cut up meat and vegetables in the curry. Kanazawa curry (again, now known as Japanese curry) is comfort food to the others’ culinary excitement. Japanese curry is calming while the other varieties are exciting. And that’s a compliment.