Every year, I enjoy compiling my top 10 food experiences. This year was EXTREMELY difficult due to traveling to a foodie paradise like Japan (I could have picked 10 things there alone!) and other amazing trips I’ve taken throughout the year. So here they are in no particular order:
1. Razor Clams from Noordzee; Brussels
No joke, prior to this seafood shack, I had never ordered razor clams in my life. I only ordered these after seeing another patron and just pointing to them when I ordered. So good we had two orders!
2. Waterzooi (Fish Stew) from Restaurant Du Progres; Gent
This is a traditional fish stew in Belgium. Full disclosure, I didn’t even order it! This was one of those occasions where I was out ordered at the table. But that didn’t stop my spoon from wandering over a few times!
3. Chicken Liver, Corn, Mango from Hof van Cleve; Kruishoutem
This was one of the best meals I have had to date. Three Michelin stars. At the time we visited, the 50th best restaurant in the world. I could add everything they served to this list. But this concoction (which was served as a snack with many other things) was so creamy and delicious and the perfect combination of flavors.
4. Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings) from The Bao; New York City
These aren’t your average dumplings. There is a delicate science to eating these. You have to nibble a little off the top otherwise the scalding pork broth with burn you and you’ll question why you ordered a dish that can injure you. But if you do it just right, you’ll get the perfect mix of meat and soup in each bite. And if you’re like me, you’ll be craving that broth each day after.
5. BBQ Ribs (and everything else) from Central BBQ; Memphis
Memphis is a BBQ town. They have it down. But in a town with that many options, go where the locals go. My Uber driver actually asked how a tourist found out about her favorite BBQ in town! They’ve won “Best Ribs in Memphis” and for good reason. Oh, and their sides were so good, my mom and I ordered extras AFTER our first round.
6. Fatty Tuna Layered with Wasabi from Sushisho Masa; Tokyo
Downstairs basement sushi counter with no more than seven seats. Only two reservation times per night. The chef hands you piece after piece until you pat your belly to signal you’re full. We were here more than two hours and they would have kept going! More than 40 pieces of the best sushi you will ever eat. Immaculate service. I only stumbled on this place after reading many negative experiences about Sukiyabashi Jiro. This place was always recommended as a better experience. Plan ahead – it books two months in advance!
7. Oyakodon from Imaiya Honten Shinjuku; Tokyo
This was the ONE dish in Japan I swore I would recreate. Essentially it is a rice bowl with a sweet sauce, chicken and an egg poured on top that softly scrambles with the heat of the bowl. It sounds so simple and packs amazing flavor. I ordered this several times on my trip. Ultimate Japanese comfort food.
8. Tamagoyaki from Tsukiji Yamacho; Tokyo
I know. This picture is clearly not of me. But that is because I scarfed mine down so quickly. Look how happy he looks though! Long story short, egg mixed with mirin (sweet wine) to create a slightly sweet omelet on a stick. This is reason ALONE to go to the Tsukiji Outer Markets, but believe me, I could dedicate an entire list to that place as well.
9. Japanese Wagyu from Ukai Tei Ginza; Tokyo
When your boyfriend who isn’t a steak person thinks this may be one of the best things he’s eaten, you know it’s good. I’m a huge steak person and I have not had anything that comes close to this. The marble in the meat makes it almost completely melt in your mouth. Perfection.
10. Bacon over Mashed Potatoes from Meat Man; Tokyo
I like meat. A LOT. And Japan has so many options from steakhouses to yakitori style like Meat Man. This was a last minute stop that turned into one of our favorite meals. We had everything from bacon to steak to sausage. I can’t wait to go back the next time I am in Tokyo.