Nothing gets a food lover’s mouth watering quicker than the prospect of an international restaurant tour. Let’s take a virtual trip around some places where food is served up in different ways. Every corner of the world has its own take on how food should taste, be prepared and served and whether it’s the formal traditions of French cuisine, or the casual grab-it-while-you-can street food of the East, everybody sees it differently. A country’s cuisine is an expression of its cultural heritage and crucial part of their identity – so let’s see who is on today’s menu.
Japanese joy on a plate
The country that introduced the world to sushi has a rich restaurant culture. In cities such as Tokyo, you can grab plated food from conveyor belts that circulate the restaurant, choosing whatever looks tasty as it passes by. Alternatively, sample grand Japanese cuisine, prepared and served with high drama by chefs that really become stars of the show. Japanese cuisine is centred on rice, with fermented foods such as miso, natto, soy and plenty of fish. An emphasis on tradition and ritual is important and dining is viewed as a social and communicative event. Interiors in Japanese restaurants are usually dimly lit with low tables and seating positioned for optimum interaction. Rice paper screens, lacquered surfaces, wood, and natural materials are commonly used in Japanese restaurant design.
Justly proud of their culinary heritage, the Italians take immense pleasure in what’s on their plate. Pizza, pasta, ice cream and many other mouthwatering creations originate from Italy, making it a popular destination for foodies. The Mediterranean diet is globally famous for its flavour and health-giving properties, and traditionally meal times are celebratory and family oriented. At weekends, dining tables in trattorias and bistros are packed with hungry diners enjoying the traditional look of gingham tablecloths, bread baskets, jugs of olive oil and blocks of Parmesan – to share and enjoy a feast just like Mama used to make…
Dining in a Moroccan restaurant is all about comfort and relaxation. The furnishings will be richly coloured and luxurious. Cushioned benches, tapestry covered walls, ornate wooden carved screens and exquisite jewelled tiles and brass lamps give interiors a welcoming and hospitable edge. Traditional Riad courtyard buildings make popular and atmospheric restaurant settings. Order spicy tagines, couscous, seafood and sweet Moroccan pastries washed down with mint tea.
Thai taste sensation
In Thai taste hotspots such as Bangkok, the choice of food on the streets is vast. Vendors sell exotic meals cooked to order right in front of you, either from a stall, converted tuk-tuk or window onto the street. Choose from noodles, sate, omelettes, bean curd, meat balls and much more, all boasting that bold blend of sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavours for which Thai food is famous. For dining at a more relaxed pace in comfortable surroundings, there are many traditional Thai restaurants. Generally, interiors feature lots of dark wood, bamboo, colonial styling, spiritual iconography and carved and gilded screens that evoke a real sense of opulence and calm.
Great food requires a complimentary setting and whether you choose to dine out on sushi, pizza, tagine or noodles, make sure the surroundings match up to the mouthwatering menu.