southeast asian foods
Indonesia is a huge country, with a cornucopia of regional foods. In most cities, you can find food from around the archipelago. The quality of street food varies a lot - some of it is great, some is terrible. Once you find a vendor you like, stick with them. Small cafeteria style pick-what-you-want restaurants are popular, including Padang style food, which is loved by most expats. Padang food is cheap and vendors are known for staying open late at night. A few of my favorite Indonesian foods are sate ayam, rendang sapi, mi Aceh, ayam bakar rica, ayam goreng mentega kecep, bubur zoom zoom, perkedel, bakwan jagung, tempe goreng, and rujak with ice cream. The most incredible thing about Indonesia is all of the unique drinks and sambal recipes. Remember: "Nasi goreng is Nasi BORING." The .docx below is a comprehensive list of Indonesian food, with names of common ingredients in English, Indonesian, and Javanese.
Malaysia & Brunei
Food in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei is mostly similar, with only a few dishes unique to each country. Some food is a new creation using Western ingredients, like Burger Ramly or Roti John (I'm not a fan of either). Some distinct Malaysian dishes include ulam, ambuyat (linut), pasembur (rojak mamak) and sata. Some popular Malaysian food also found in Singapore and/or Brunei that I recommend includes dosai, kue kochi (Passover cake), nasi kandar, nasi kerabu.
Singapore is a city with a mix of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and other people. It's not surprising its food comes from around the region and globe, or is also a mix of cultures. Peranakan or Nyonya food, for example, is a mix of Chinese ingredients and wok cooking with spices from Malaysia. And, Nasi Goreng Pattaya is fried rice, but wrapped in a fried egg served with Indonesian chili sauce and cucumbers, and a name from Pattaya, Thailand.
To be honest, I do not get very excited about most of the everyday food found in the Philippines. And, I'm not a big fan of the innards, heads, tails, knuckles, fat, skins, etc. of animals, which finds its way into many of the most common Filipino foods. To me, the best thing about the Philippines is that it is easy to find tasty, authentic American and Mexican food and groceries, which is sometimes difficult in Indonesia and Thailand. But there are a few local dishes that are simply awesome. Most expats would agree that chicken adobo and lumpia (shanghai or cheese) top the list. Sinugno, and Champorado are good. And, desserts and pastries: leche flan, taho, empanadas, or local coconut or pineapple pies.
Thai food has become extremely popular outside Thailand in the last 10 years. The spirit of Thai cooking, to me: simple and cheap, with lots of heat, and a great taste.
In Thailand, quality is the same (good-excellent), whether the food comes from a cheap street vendor, a fancy restaurant, or is home-cooked. Outside Thailand, I always ask the server, or the cook if necessary to prepare the food the way I'm used to in Thailand. Some of my favorite Thai foods include pat ga pao, dtom ka gai, pat prik geng, all the curries (geng - penang, kiow wan gai, masaman), pad thai, lap moo, and kao niow ma-muang. All of these recipes are the file below (in English). I've also included the names of common ingredients used in Thai cooking in English and Thai.
RECIPES ONLINE (FREE)
Filipino & Others: