Best bowl foods from around the world

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At its heart, the bowl food is all about comfort, whether it’s a refreshing serving of poke on the sun-drenched Hawaiian coast, a hangover-busting bowl of pho in Vietnam or a reviving Welsh stew to warm the cockles. And it’s this feel-good factor that really lends itself to connecting people and places. Here, we ladle out some best bowl food experiences from across the globe.

Khao soi in northern Thailand

Any traveller who has been lucky enough to spend time in the north of Thailand will have supped on an irresistibly fragrant bowl of khao soi. A luscious, golden, coconut milk-based curry, concealing juicy pieces of chicken and slippery rice noodles that's topped with crispy, deep-fried noodles for added crunch. For a tad more tang, don’t forget to add the colourful pickled vegetables that are served on the side; and if you can handle the heat, a heady helping of bird’s eye chillies swimming in fish sauce.

Salmorejo in Seville, Spain

Never say gazpacho when you mean salmorejo, at least not in Andalucía. Locals insist that this piquant dish is different to its more famous cousin - and it is, if not by much. While gazpacho incorporates a variety of vegetables, salmorejo sticks to tomatoes and garlic. It blends in leftover bread and vinegar and tops things off with chopped egg, Iberico ham and a swirl of olive oil…

Arroz de marisco in Portugal

I love Portuguese food – it’s unfussy and nourishing. From treats like pastel de nata (custard tart) to mains such as frango assado com piri piri (spicy, charcoal-grilled chicken) and porco à alentejana (braised pork with clams), the country’s cuisine rarely fails to please. But if there’s one recipe to rule them all, the defining dish of a seafaring nation with more than 1000 miles of coastline, for me it’s the near-ubiquitous arroz de marisco. The bald translation - seafood rice - seriously undersells this medley of shellfish in a tomato-based sauce, which is typically served in a large earthenware pot for two people or more, and then ladled into shallow bowls.

Ramen in Tokyo, Japan

In Japan, a country where bowl food is a staple and solo dining is encouraged, it's no surprise that there is a chain of restaurants dedicated to connecting you to your crucible of goodness without distractions. Ichiran branches, famed for their tonkotsu ramen, are ubiquitous in Japan. In Tokyo, a city overflowing with people, this small respite from conversation and bright lights allowed my senses to focus on the rich flavours of the dish. It was one tasty bowl I will never forget.

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