There's no doubt in my mind on this one, whilst some lower places were a bit harder to decide. It's a tad unfair too as China's bigger than the rest of the countries put together. Unfair or not though it wins, there's just so much variety, from the familiar to the unexpected, hardly a day went by without something amazing being eaten. Even after two months there I feel I need another six months to finish exploring.
Whilst it may not have the breadth of China's food Vietnam excelled in freshness of flavour and throwing up lots of surprises. The combination of salty fish sauce and sour lime juice is perfect for my palate and it's in everything. The popularity of Vietnamese food in the UK deserves to be as popular as it is in my little bit of East London.
Where Malaysia excels is with its meeting of cultures. The three big ethnic groups - Malay, Chinese and Indian - all contribute to a breadth of cuisine way beyond what should be expected from a country that size.
My first couple of weeks in Thailand were a big let down when it came to food. I was expecting big things from it but the country is so developed from a tourist point of view that I think if you stick to the usual destinations - Chiang Mai and southern islands - you're rewarded with pretty generic, low grade food that's made not to offend Westerners over anything else.
I finished the trip with a few days in Bangkok though, where I made a big effort to eat on the street and away from tourist locations, and I was rewarded with the interesting food I'd been searching for - fiery, sour soups and curries, fermented crab salads and bags of fried pork and sticky rice. Whilst not doing enough to lift Thailand from fourth place it definitely saved my opinion of it.
Like Thailand, Indonesia suffered by my staying on a pretty touristy beach were the restaurants consisted of the places that happened to be on the beach when it started getting popular, rather than people who could actually cook.
A couple of days on mopeds and another in Banda Aceh threw up some decent dishes though that left me hungry to learn more. Luckily I bought a cook book there, I just need to learn Indonesian/Malay now so I can read it.
Cambodia - particularly Phnom Penh and Siem Reap - is currently suffering from too many expats and tourists which have led to too many expensive and Westerner friendly restaurants.
Kep and Battambang did throw up some nice street food but not enough to save it from the wooden spoon.
1) Pan Mee (Malaysia)
Hopefully a trip around the oriental supermarkets of London will throw up the required ikan bilis (dried anchovies) so I can attempt to mimic this at home.
2) Pork Mee (Malaysia)
Such a simple combination of ingredients - noodles, pig, stock and maybe an egg - yet so good. Obviously the stock needs to be a flavoursome one and your pork can't be that insipid, overly lean stuff you buy in the supermarket over here but as long as your ingredients are good quality this dish is a winner.
3) Thai Sausages (Thailand)
Thailand may have managed a measly 4th place in the country competition but these were a winner. Strong flavours and interesting additions like rice & rice noodles caused a soured flavour to develop.
4) Tian Shui Mian (China)
Thick, chewy wheat noodles bathed in sweet, sticky, salty, spicy, numbing sauce all served at room temperature. Strange but beyond good.
5) Chinese Hamburger
Braised pork belly chopped and in a pitta-like bread. Nothing more needs to be said.6) Sichuan Crescent Dumplings (China)
These had always grabbed my attention in Fuchsia Dunlop's books and the real thing didn't disappoint. The meat filling may be a plain one but when you start pairing them with red oil or seaweed and mushroom they're transformed.
7) Baozi (everywhere)
I'm sure most people have had Char Sui Bao - soft white steamed buns filled with barbecued pork - but the bun/bao doesn't need to stop here. Laos, Thailand and Cambodia did a filling revolving around minced pork, shredded wood ear mushroom and a hardboiled egg, frequently a quail's egg, that was very good. As was frequently the case China excelled though - minced pork with salty dried shrimp; pork and spring onion; shredded mushroom; spiced potato; pork, shrimp and quail's egg to name a few. So good that even though I ate them more than any other food I never had them long enough to photo and blog.
8) Mi Fen (China)
The simple things are often the best. Rice noodles with crunchy preserved vegetables, a variety of chili and as much stock as you want. Truly a delight.
10) Com Tam (Vietnam)
With barbecued pork chop, pork terrine, pork skin and rice all pepped up with the salty, chili-laden nuoc cham this was always going to be a winner and that's before you've added a bowl of soup and a 30p price tag.