The New York City hot dog, best served street side doused in ketchup and mustard, is both gritty and served quickly—indeed an emblem of the city itself. Each urban space and culture around the world develops its own street food, from currywurst in Berlin to porchetta sandwiches in Rome. In many instances, street food is one of the most authentic and accessible foods one can eat in a foreign country, presenting culinary traditions adopted to modern urban centers.
Below we have a curated selection of our favorite authentic international street foods in New York City, most of which can be found in brick and mortar shops. Only a select number of cities and nations are represented so please do add your favorites in the comments!
1. Japanese Takoyaki at Otafuku
Takoyaki—a traditional street food from the Kansai region of Japan (the region home to Kyoto)—are balls of octopus breaded and fried in a special takoyaki pan. The best and most authentic in New York City are sold at Otafuku in the East Village. As you enter this tiny cramped shop, you are greeted by the hurried sounds of chefs preparing the next batch of takoyaki or other traditional Japanese dishes, such as okonomiyaki.
When ordered, the takoyaki are covered in toppings such as kewpie, aonorio, konomi sauce, and bonito. With chopsticks in hand, you then take a seat on the small bench in front—the only seating available in this tiny restaurant.