That Time I Remembered My Worst Backpacking Meals

Er, well… Hello again all! And sorry for the unexpected break…
I did not expect to be silent for that long!

But anyhow I’m back now. And it’s sequel time!

Because having written about my best backpacking meals, I have to follow up with the flip side – my worst backpacking meals!

It seems you can’t hit the jackpot every time you chow down on the road. And it’s not a problem that’s solely on the budget side of the fence – even splashing out a bit isn’t always a guarantee of top-notch nosh.

Sadly it seems that Asia dominates this category – But then it is a bit more out of my cuisine comfort zone I guess!

Now I’m not gonna be predictable and rack off fried bugs etc… We all know they’re disgusting! But they’re a novelty (usually!) – I’ll be sticking to actual meals and munch.

So it’s time to be helpful again and jot down the dishes I’ve devoured on my travels that I’d advise you guys to avoid like the plague!

Green Dumpling with Red Bean Paste – Nakamise-Dori, Tokyo, Japan

Let's be honest, they don't even look appealing... (Image Credit: )

Let’s be honest, they don’t even look appealing… (Image Credit: tour.cyol.com)

One of the major benefits to BA compensating me nicely for the delayed start to my Japan trip was that I had a lot more financial freedom to treat myself whenever I saw some tasty looking munch in Tokyo.

Or in this case, some rather unappealing looking munch!

Whilst strolling up Nakamise-Dori in Asakusa I was feeling a bit peckish, and whilst the custard dumplings I’d previously had would have been a safe (and scrumptious) bet, I thought it best to be a bit more adventurous. So I picked the most disgusting looking item I could see.

And it was safe to say that first impressions were correct in this instance – these dumplings were no delicacy.

With a much softer than expected texture – think of a really sticky mashed potato – and a sweet yet powdery red bean flavour, this was simply a combination that did not work for me, to say the least. I forced down half a dumpling before I couldn’t hack any more of the squidgy, smelly mess. And then struggled to find a bin. Thanks Japan…

Sorry, but I’ll stick to chocolate.

Price: ¥200-250 (I think)

Singapore Stir Fried Noodles – Smith Street, Singapore

dfgdfg (Image Credit: )

Where’s some Pad Thai when you need it…? (Image Credit: Mr Foodie)

I was really looking forward to grabbing some munch from the famous Smith Street hawker stalls, particularly as we were staying just one street over during our time in Singapore.

Sadly my personal experience was a pretty disappointing one, as I landed possibly the most bland serving of street food I had during our entire Asian adventure. Not what I expected on our first night in the culinary hotbed that Singapore supposedly was.

I went for a serving of Singapore Stir Fried Noodles, which I thought would be particularly appropriate for our first night in the city. Unfortunately I was served a boringly bland noodle dish with hardly any flavour worth remembering. No spice, no sauciness, nothing. Even the addition of bits of lobster and squid – I’m not really a seafood fan – made no difference, as they just blended in with the rest of the blandness. Sadly unimpressive.

Chelcie also wasn’t impressed with her dish, as she was pretty convinced that her chicken rice dish (I forget exactly which) didn’t actually use chicken! At least it wasn’t pork otherwise she would have been in trouble…

Thankfully the rest of the munch we checked out in Singapore was much more memorable. It was just a shame that our “local” hawker centre was a disappointment.

Price: $5-6 SD

Any Mexican Cuisine – Patty’s Fiesta, Bangkok, Thailand

Cheap chips & dull dips... (Image Credit: )

Cheap chips & dull dips… (Image Credit: BK – Asia City)

Okay so I should have heeded the warnings, what with the restaurant being located right on the corner of Patpong and Silom Road, but dammit it was my birthday and I wanted Mexican food!

And granted I didn’t pay for it either, with it being my birthday treat from my lady. I just wish it hadn’t been here in hindsight…

We actually tried a decent range of the Patty’s Fiesta menu, with a portion of nachos being shared for a starter, a few other small snacks in between, and chicken and beef fajitas between us for mains.

Sadly pretty much every aspect of our food was shockingly bland. With a salsa that amounted to little more than a load of finely chopped onions and peppers in a watery tomato sauce, cheap quality tortilla chips, and a severe lack of spice all round (something you think they would understand in Thailand) it was a very underwhelming meal.

Of course I know you don’t go to Thailand and expect perfect Mexican food – like I say, exception for my birthday – but you’d hope for a little more “authenticity” than what we got. At least the drinks were alright I suppose.

Oh and the transvestite waitress actually did give our fajitas a tequila flash at the table. That was nice of her.

Nevertheless, avoid this place, save your money and stick to street food!

Price: TOO MUCH!

The Mysterious Salty Smoothie – Phuket Town, Thailand

Definitely no "totally tropical taste" to this one! (Image Credit: )

Definitely no “totally tropical taste” to this one! (Image Credit: CaramelPotatoes.com)

An odd one this, where what should have been a fairly standard pineapple smoothie – of which plenty were consumed between us in Thailand –  seemed to actually be a nice fresh jug of salt. Yum yum!

Whilst enjoying what was actually a pretty decent portion of street munch in Phuket Town, Chelcie’s accompanying pineapple smoothie certainly wasn’t the sweet slurpie she was expecting. The looks on her face from her first couple of sips told me something wasn’t quite right with it, though I didn’t really believe her when she said it tasted like salt. But after having a mouthful myself I saw that she was spot on with her assessment. Not a nice taste at all.

I’m not sure if something was up with the water this one was made from, but a bitter salty aftertaste lingered with us for the rest of the night. Definitely not the most refreshing drink that we consumed in Thailand…

Maybe they just got the sugar mixed up…?

Price: 40 baht (approx)

Seafood Congee – Hong Kong (on the plane!)

Just what I want to see in the morning... (Image Credit: )

Just what I want to see in the morning… (Image Credit: Soy and Pepper.com)

I don’t get congee. I have to be honest. It just looks like a serving of vomit/snot/something even worse (delete as applicable). It’s definitely not a texture that agrees with me that’s for sure.

And this wasn’t even my dish, but it still makes it on here!

For breakfast on our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong there was a choice of ham and egg omelette or seafood congee. With Chelcie being unable to eat pork she only had one choice, although it probably helped that she didn’t know what congee was beforehand…

It’s safe to say she wasn’t impressed with the clear, snotty, soupy dish she was presented with. After only a few mouthfuls it was rapidly shifted away from her, and despite the fact it looked like the most unappealing thing I could imagine having for breakfast, I figured I’d best give it a try for myself.

I lasted a mouthful less.

The runny, mushy rice dish was not particularly welcome in my mouth. Add the fact that it had strong fishy tones to it and I was not sold on this at all. Even less after several sleepless hours. Thankfully I had the omelette to take the taste away!

I don’t even think the fact that this was plane food congee could excuse it from being utterly disgusting. It’s definitely one that’s been confined to the “never ever trying again” vault!

Price: N/A as I was flying – But not expensive anywhere in HK.

Japanese Breakfast – Japan

Just too early... (Image Credit: )

Just too early… (Image Credit: Menuism.com)

With my stay in Nikko seeing me stay in a traditional Japanese minshuku, I was keen to immerse myself as much as possible. And that meant trying out a traditional Japanese breakfast too!

It was always going to be a risk, as I knew I wasn’t likely to enjoy several of the common items used, yet was very keen to see if I’d be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the case…

There’s no doubting you receive a rather impressive spread of items in a traditional Japanese breakfast, however the sight of miso soup, pickled and sour vegetables and dried mackerel made my stomach shrivel up in fear. I had also forgotten just how much I disliked nori (seaweed wraps used around sushi) until I used one to wrap some rice in. It nearly ended up on the opposite wall.

Whilst I munched through the bowl of boiled rice I was served and enjoyed the gyudon (Japanese meatballs), the mackerel was far too strong a taste for me first thing in the morning. It probably would be at any time, but definitely at that time of day. I’m also not particularly keen on soup, and definitely not such a watery one. And as for the various sour vegetables, well… They’re just minging!

It’s definitely a cultural experience trying a Japanese breakfast, but it’s not one I’m keen to repeat. There’s far too many strong tastes for my liking, and particularly for consuming immediately after waking up.

Now do they sell Nutella over there…?

Price: ¥800-850 (in my accommodation)

What were the worst dishes you’ve had while on the road? And where were they?

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16 responses to “That Time I Remembered My Worst Backpacking Meals

  1. Hei Carl,
    i could imagine how worse these meals from your point of view. for dumpling, i love dumpling, but “green dumpling with read bean paste”? i wouldn’t choose that one. heheheheh
    for stir fried noodles, ehm i think something wrong with the noodles itself, it wasn’t that appealing :D.
    oh yea, i had that kind of breakfast too at my last day in Japan, Kansai Intl Airport to be precise. i chose it because so many people ordered it and it was OK for me, but the dried mackerel a little bit salty 🙂

    • Yeah I like dumplings normally too, but these were a bad choice haha!

      Glad you found the breakfast easier to swallow than I did. I need sweeter items first thing in the morning really, not dried fish! Urgh…

      • Indeed, a bad choice, have you ever tried red chicken feet? it usually goes with the other dumplings. i love that one too 😀

        i am an Indonesian, so that kind of breakfast was familiar with me, but i think the mackerel too salted too and that portion to much for me to handle as breakfast 😀 but i maintained to empty it all. i wouldn’t spend my money. LOL

  2. Glad you’re back ~ I liked your “worst” list. I can’t seem to find decent Mexican food in London either. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere but after three barely edible attempts, I’m don’t know if I’m willing to keep trying…

    • Thanks for the kind words 🙂 Yeah considering Mexican food isn’t that complicated it’s surprising how many places can produce such poor quality versions of it! Still I should have known better than to expect excellent comida Mexicana in Bangkok…

  3. There is nothing worse that Mexican food being shockingly bland. Although the food you ordered looked so nice, I can just imagine how bad it was. What a pitty it happened on your birthday. I love shakes, but in Thailand banana shakes tasted like a water :(, so disappointing!

    • I agree, and it’s really not that hard to get Mexican food right either! I do like rather a lot of spice though I have to admit ha!

      Yeah I dunno what was up with that pineapple smoothie – I mean they were a daily ritual out there – but that one was not tasty at all! 😦

  4. Carl, you need to visit Indonesia and eat my mum’s congee. I’ve never actually heard of the word congee, I know rice porridge, is it the same? When I was little I wasn’t a big fan, think I ate some pretty awful ones but the one made by mum is delicious, I promise you! 🙂
    I also experienced some bland food in Singapore! I only trust my friends recommendations these days for things to eat in Singapore!

    • Yeah that’s what congee is Aggy. I just don’t think the texture works for me to be honest, and adding a fishy smell to that just made it real bad… Urgh!
      That’s a shame you had some bland food too… Maybe we were just unlucky, what with Singapore’s usually great reputation? Hmm…

  5. I’ll avoid the smoothies when I visit Thailand! Thanks for the tip!

    My worst food experience has got to be (accidentally) eating guinea pig in Peru. We went to a tiny village restaurant in the middle of nowhere (we’d been walking for hours and were completely lost!)

    We asked for the menus and the waitress came back clutching two bowls of stew. We were starving so didn’t argue but tucked in, not knowing what we were eating. The meat in the stew was chewy and coarse and really hard to eat…

    After we’d finished we walked out of the restaurant past a huge cage of fat white guinea pigs with bulging red eyes. We asked the waitress if they ate the guinea pigs. “Yes,” she said, “you ate. For lunch.”

    I should say that apart from this, the food we had in Peru was amazing!

    • Ha no seriously they’re normally amazing! But that one was just bizarre… Definitely didn’t taste like pineapple!
      Oh wow! :O I’m not sure how I’d react after hearing that… Crazy! Good to hear everything else was decent though 🙂

    • Ah see ironically the food I hate more than any other is… English! 🙂
      So I’ll give anything a go, but unfortunately these definitely disappointed!

  6. Pingback: That Time I Pondered My Favourite Airlines | That Time In·

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