Asia is perhaps more famous for its street food than for its specific restaurants. I learned why when I visited Bangkok. Just ask a local - the best chefs of Thai cuisine are not found in any kitchen, they're out on the street.
Seriously, I tried the best pad thai restaurant in Bangkok (Thipsamai) and it was good, but it didn’t compare to the version I bought off the street for 1/5 of the price! Let me try and describe it for you: pink glass noodles with fresh shrimp and bean sprouts, wrapped in a very thin layer of egg... *sigh*... unbelievable. It came with chili flakes, lime, and sugar (so good!) as seasoning, all of which I naively mixed into my noodles. Alas, this California girl couldn't handle the heat. My eyes watered and my nose dripped like a faucet as the Pad Thai Lady and my friend Celine both laughed at me. But that didn't stop me - I kept devouring every bite because it was so. damn. good.
And don’t get me started on mango sticky rice!! If I ever have twin children I will name them Mango and Sticky. Mark my words. That rich and velvety golden mango on top of sweet coconut sticky rice... Agh! I'm drooling just thinking about it. One of the most unique and delicious flavor combinations to ever grace my palate (love you so much mango sticky xoxo). But seriously. My friends here at home are so sick of me whining about how much I crave it - anyone know where I can get some in NYC?
But don't forget to be careful when choosing where to eat off the street. Rule of thumb: if there's a line, you're fine. And also don't eat anything that's been sitting out for too long - the best stuff is made fresh in front of your eyes!