The Best Food in The WORLD! – Chowzter Awards held in London
The winners of the Chowtzer awards 2014, which aim to find the tastiest fast foods around the world, were announced in London on Sunday and we were there as Chief Chowzters for Glasgow.
Local food experts and bloggers nominated their favourite dishes, which were then tested by a tasting team.
The overall prize of tastiest item in the world went to the ceviche at celebrated Chez Wong in Lima, Peru, with the Pide Ustu Doner at Karadeniz Pide Doner Salonu in Istanbul named as European winner and Franks ‘n’ Dawgs Chicago hotdogs bagging the North American fast feast crown.
The UK’s only prize went to London’s Albion (boooo but yum!) which won best bakery dish for their fried jam croissant. While there are no real surprises on the list, the awards celebrate the quality and variety of authentic regional food around the globe, served at diners, street stalls or food carts rather than exclusive restaurants.
Overall winner of the tastiest dish in the world: Ceviche at Chez Wong, Lima, Peru
Ceviche is such a point of pride in Peru that it has its own national holiday – 28 June. Javier Wong, the chef/owner of Chez Wong in Lima, is considered a master of ceviche (spelt cebiche in Peru).
His restaurant, which is far from fancy, is in one room of his house, in the rough and tumble district of La Victoria. There’s not even a sign on the door. If you don’t have a reservation, you don’t get in. No exceptions. There’s no menu, substitutions or alterations.
Wong works with Pacific sole only. He gets the best pick from the market and is a master with the knife. He breaks down the entire fish at a small table at the head of the dining room and dices it up for a ceviche. He mixes it in a bowl right at the table with just the right amount of salt and lime. On most days, he’ll add octopus, though occasionally you will see squid. It’s served immediately.
After the ceviche, you can add a tiradito (a sashimi-like cousin to ceviche) and/or a saltado (stir fry), which Wong prepares in the kitchen in a wok with a high flame. It’s unbelievably simple, yet no one has been able to do it better. Diners reserve months in advance for one of seven tables at Wong’s, proof that with the right ingredients and techniques, a classic recipe from a simple place can be as powerful and tasty as food from the world’s most expensive restaurants.
• Calle Enrique Leon Garcia 114, +511 470 6217. Nominated by Nicholas Gill founder of nicholas-gill.com
Best seafood dish: Alaskan king crab five ways at Dynasty Seafood, Vancouver
A favourite among the Chinese community, reservations are strongly recommended at chef Sam Leung’s upscale restaurant, where he serves a traditional and west coast-influenced menu. During Alaskan king crab season (February to April), tourists and locals flock to experience his Alaskan king crab dinner. In this must-try feast, the crab is prepared several ways. The standard three-way features steamed garlic crab legs, deep-fried crab knuckles and baked Alaskan king crab fried rice with Portuguese curry sauce. Additional ways include crab salad and a soup and noodle course, which sits on a savory king crab steamed egg custard.
• 108-777 West Broadway. Nominated by Mijune Pak founder of followmefoodie.com
Best pizza in the world: Di Fara pizza, Brooklyn
Domenico DeMarco, born into a family of master pizziaolos, emigrated from Italy to New York in 1959. In partnership with a gentleman named Farina, he opened a shop on Avenue J in Brooklyn, and Di Fara was born. DeMarco makes every pie, adding each ingredient himself. He never rushes and those in line wait patiently while the artist works. His square, red pie with hand-cut pepperoni, fresh and aged mozzarella, gran padano, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil is a New York City legend.
• 1424 Avenue J. Nominated by Yvo Sin founder of feistyfoodie.com/
Best vegetarian dish: Falafel at L’As du Falaffel, Paris
The lunchtime queue often extends well into the street at L’As du Falaffel, a kosher Middle Eastern restaurant on a back street in the heart of the Marais, the old Jewish quarter of Paris. Their legendary sandwich packs deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas seasoned with onions and spices into a warm pita heaped with grilled aubergine, crisp cabbage, cucumber, tomato, parsley, hummus, tahini and hot sauce. First, try it as served and then with each of the green and red sauces to start a debate about which is best.
Best noodles: Pad thai at Pad Thai Thip Samai, Bangkok
You can find Pad Thai, a favourite staple of Thai cuisine, all over Bangkok’s street food scene, but Pad Thai Thip Samai is rightly famous for it. From an unassuming storefront in the old district of Phra Nakorn, chefs use high-quality ingredients and cook over flaming charcoal to give it a lovely smokey flavor. Patrons recommend the Pad Thai haw kai goong – soft rice noodles cooked with fat, juicy prawns, bean sprouts and more are flash-wrapped in a paper-thin egg coating. Just add chili flakes, crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lime.
• 313 Thanon Mahachai, Phra Nakorn. Nominated by Mark Wiens founder of eatingthaifood.com
Best rice dish: Hainanese chicken rice at Tian Tian, Singapore
Chicken Rice is one of Singapore’s most iconic dishes, and Tian Tian’s Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre has won global acclaim – not only did it gain Anthony Bourdain’s approval but subsequently defeated Gordon Ramsay in a hawker duel, and for good reason. The rice is cooked in chicken stock and fat, ginger, garlic and pandan leaves. It’s soft, moist and so full of flavour, you can eat it on its own. The real kicker at Tian Tian is the house-made chill sauce that uses lime juice instead of vinegar for that sweet citrusy tang. Customise your final flavours with dark soy sauce, fragrant minced ginger paste and chilli sauce, either as a dip or drizzled on top.
• Stall 10, Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur St. Nominated by Catherine Ling founder of camemberu.com
Best sandwich: Caribbean roast sandwich at Paseo, Seattle
Fans know to call in their order to avoid the lines at Paseo, a tiny pink shack with outdoor seating only. The Latin music and mouthwatering aromas that emanate from this cash-only Cuban restaurant whet appetites for its best seller, the famous No 2 Caribbean roast sandwich. Hunks of succulent, spicy, tender braised pork in a crusty, chargrilled baguette, garnished with garlicky aioli, thick strands of smoky caramelised onions, fresh cilantro, pickled jalapenos and a crisp leaf of romaine. The restaurant sometimes runs out of bread by 7pm, so go early if you have your heart set on it.
• 4225 Fremont Ave N. Nominated by Naomi Bishop founder of thegastrognome.com
Best bird dish: Roast goose at Yat Lok, Hong Kong
Yat Lok, a small shop on Stanley Street, is popular with locals and in-the-know foodies visiting Hong Kong. American food critic and travel host Anthony Bourdain stopped by in 2007 for his TV show No Reservations and gave its roast goose his highest ratings. Underneath crispy skin lies a cushion of super melty fat. More than 20 ingredients including brown sugar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, star anise and cloves contribute to its sweet and salty flavours, and beneath lies the rich, tender meat.
• G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central. Nominated by Juliana Loh founder of julianaloh.com/site/blog
Best bakery dish: Fried jam croissant at Albion, London
Parisian head baker Matthieu Cauty and head pastry chef Uma Kuppuswamy make all the breads and pastries from scratch at this award-winning bakery, shop and cafe in Shoreditch. The shining star is a quintessentially fried Parisian croissant. This calorie bomb will take your breath away – the flaky croissant, the fruity jam, the crunch of crystalised sugar and what surely must be an entire stick of butter
• 2-4 Boundary St, Shoreditch. Nominated by Niamh Shields of eatlikeagirl.com
Best in Europe: Pide ustu doner at Karadeniz Pide Doner Salonu, Istanbul, Turkey
At Karadeniz Pide Doner Salonu, owner Asim Usta takes care of each order personally, chatting with customers and chiding regulars when he doesn’t see them often enough. Succulent, tender and a little fatty, layers of beef and lamb are shaved from vertical spits, then served with the pide baked in-house, the pide sucking all the juices of the döner. Pair it with onions, pickles, tomatoes and peppers, and chase the savoury meat with a glass of ayran, a cold, tangy yogurt drink.
• Sinanpaşa Mah. Mumcu Bakkal Sok, No. 6, Beşiktaş. Nominated by Tuba Satana founder of istanbulfood.com
Best in North America: Banh Mi at Franks ‘n’ Dawgs, Chicago
Real chefs in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago are at the helm of Franks ‘n’ Dawgs, billed as five-star dining on a bun. They elevate street food by incorporating seasonal, high-quality ingredients. Sausages are house-made daily using the finest cuts of meat. Accoutrements are also made in house with locally sourced ingredients by artisanal suppliers. A star in its Haute Dog lineup, the Banh Mi features lemongrass and chicken sausage, pickled daikon and carrots, Sriracha mayo, jalapeno, cilantro and a spicy pickled duck egg. It’s all piled high in a New England style lobster roll.
• 1863 N Clybourn Ave. Nominated by Karen Valentine founder of roamandhome.com
Best in Latin America: Mole Poblana at La Casita Poblano, Puebla, Mexico
Mole Poblana was invented by nuns at the Santa Rosa Convent in Puebla, early in the colonial period, for a visiting archbishop. Upon hearing he planned to visit, the poor nuns went into a panic because they had almost nothing to prepare. They prayed, then brought together the little bits of what they had. The result? A heavenly thick sauce infused with chiles, pepper, peanuts, almonds, cinnamon, anise seed, tomato, onion, garlic and chocolate. Served over meat, the dish has become a culinary symbol of Mexico, and every family and restaurant in Puebla has its own version of the traditional recipe. But the one cooked up by La Casita Poblana strikes the perfect balance between spicy and sweet. Order it served over chicken breast or thigh.
• 16 de Septiembre 3912 72580. Nominated by Rebecca Smith Hurd founder of puebla-mexico.com
Best in Asia: Stuffed Lechón at Pepita’s Kitchen, Manila, Phillipines
On his Philippine episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain hailed lechón, a roasted pig speciality of this island country, as the “the best pig ever”. Roasted over charcoal or in an oven, this succulent dish was handed down from the area’s Spanish heritage and improved with Filipino ingenuity. Lechón is so popular in the Philippines that an annual festival, Parada ng Lechón, is celebrated every 24 June, and people from all over parade decorated pigs with their mouths stuffed with apples. At Pepita’s Kitchen, a dining experience in a private, Makati home, Pepita’s Stuffed Lechón isthe star. The falling-off-the bone piglet is prepared with various stuffings, including truffles, Thanh Long de Leche, and other Filipino favourites such as as binagoongan and laing.
• 1050, Magallanes Avenue, Magallanes Village, Makati, 1232, Metro. Nominated by Anton Diaz founder of ourawesomeplanet.com