Sabrina Ghayour’s top 5 cities for foodies to visit

20th Aug 19 | Lifestyle

From Turkey to Vietnam, here’s where the chef and food writer has fallen in love with on her travellers.


If you travel with mainly your stomach in mind, you’re not alone. Food is one of the great joys of visiting different countries, and for cook and food writer Sabrina Ghayour, it’s a massive part of any trip.

The British-Iranian chef’s latest cookbook, Bazaar – which was 100% vegetarian – was published earlier this year, and here she rounds up her absolute favourite places around the world for glorious food.

1. Bangkok

“Bangkok is ridiculously vibrant. There’s no food trend they’re not on and don’t do beautifully. You have the whole Thai culture and then you have everything else also – it’s just like New York. It’s the most visited city on Earth. It’s colourful and we spend a hell of a lot of time there – I love it.”

2. Istanbul

“Istanbul connects me to my culture, and when I look at these people and the way that they eat, they have pickle stands and watermelon on the side of the street, I’m like, ‘These are my people’. It’s like the closest I can get to Iran. I feel strangely connected to them through kebabs and breads and culture, and just the way that they are – and our language is very similar. The diversity of food in Turkey is really priceless, Iran doesn’t have that. Every single region of Turkey is totally different from one another, food-wise and flavour-wise. It’s very interesting to me.”

3. Barcelona

“The Catalans are just awesome people and they’ve had vegan cafes since the Seventies – I had no idea. So it’s obviously been a lot more cosmo than we have been. I like the very cool people – and they don’t give a s*** what your beliefs are, as long as you’re cool with them. I always feel really welcome in Barcelona.

“Catalonia feels like it could be anywhere – Catalan culture is completely different to Spain; I love the region and I love going into the mountains and the olive trees a couple of hours outside of it – it’s just beautiful. And there’s beach, it’s gorgeous. I love fideuà, which is like paella’s cousin – it’s vermicelli noodle with seafood. I think it’s much more refined; that’s a very Catalan dish. And I love all their meats and cheeses.”

4. Lisbon

“I was really surprised. I dated somebody for a very long time who was Portuguese who was obviously an idiot because he never had very nice things to say about Lisbon, considering he was from there. Then I went and I was like, ‘I knew he was an idiot, this place is awesome!’

“From great seafood, reasonably priced seafood, to the culture of tinned fish… There are some brands that we know that are stupidly expensive, but go to Lisbon and stock up on all their conserveira as they call it, all the tinned fish – it’s all you want to fill your suitcase with. Pastel de nata and drinks and meat – I just love it; it’s really diverse there.”

5. Hanoi

“I went to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and I thought my love couldn’t increase [for Vietnam] any more, and then I went to Hanoi. ‘It’s just a city,’ my Vietnamese friends would say, but I went there and I was like, ‘Oh my god, what a city!’

“One night only we ate in a restaurant, and I realised what a massive mistake that was, what a waste of valuable time, because it was just mindblowing the food on every corner. Both me and my mother are difficult eaters sometimes if we don’t know what it is, but guess what – you’re not gonna know what it is, so let’s just sit and eat everything! You eat so much better on the street – there are so many wonderful things.

“I had every soup noodle going, I must have had 65 bánh mìs in two days, bun cha – noodles with grilled meats – a very Hanoi dish, they have a different pho, Catfish with turmeric and dill [cha ca], what didn’t I eat? I just ate my body weight in food there.”

Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour (Kris Kirkham/PA)
(Kris Kirkham/PA)

Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian And Plant-Based Recipes by Sabrina Ghayour, photography by Kris Kirkham, is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £26. Available now (

© Press Association 2019