Political power doesn’t always make for the best food. In Asia, the top cities for deal making are still bested by those known by word of mouth for their rich traditions of wet markets and home cooking. Imperial Beijing has its duck — stolen from nearby Shandong province — and a wide array of regional showplaces, but foodies in China save their reverence for smaller towns in the rich Yangtze Delta like Yangzhou. In Vietnam, Hanoi, spartan in style and dominated by beef-noodle soup, has never been able to lord it over the south’s imperial seat of Hue — still the best source of delicate rice-flour snacks. And Bangkok’s fiery street fare pales before that of Khon Kaen, a main source of grilled-chicken-and-papaya salads perfected by the Isaan region.
Here are four of the region’s true capitals of tasty consumption:
Next 1. Chengdu, China