Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ethnic Food and Where to Find it in Rome

"If we are what we eat, who are we?" Donna Gabaccia

One of the benefits of being a #traveler, is that you get to try different cuisines in their original form.  Traveling, whether you have been a foodie before or not, gives you the opportunity to experience each culture in one of its finest and most basic expressions: food.  Once you've tried a simple but real spaghetti pomodoro in #Italy and a real Ramen soup in #Japan or authentic Chinese food, it's hard to settle for Spaghettios, or sugar loaded Chinese takeout.  Yes, you become a foodie!

My first meal on our initial assignment overseas in Sri Lanka,  was a "lunch packet" at the cafeteria in my husband's workplace.  It came presented as a gift: a square package wrapped in a banana leaf and tied with some natural fiber rope.  I was a little worried, but the contents smelled good.  As I opened my lunch package I discovered a chicken leg, lentils, rice and a hard boiled egg.  I sighted with relief as I was able to recognize all the ingredients and I had tried them all before.  It turns out Sri Lankan food can be extremely spicy and in this case even the rice was hot.  I managed to finish my lunch drinking exorbitant amounts of water, but later on I learned to love their cuisine and I truly miss it.

My husband had already traveled the world before we met.  On our first date, he took me to a #Korean restaurant and I passed the test, I guess.  Using a lettuce leaf as a wrap to tasty barbecue meat and cooking it all in front of you was lots of fun.  My children have learned to love Korean food and now we even make it at home.

When you live overseas and you are craving for a particular ethnic food, the only way to find it may be in your own kitchen.  That is the specific reason why I leaned how to cook.  Looking for Peruvian food in Sri Lanka landed me in my own kitchen trying to recreate the recipes I love.  If you haven't tried #Peruvian food yet, you don't know what you are missing!

Having admitted many times to being a fan of Italian food, once in a while my palate longs for some international flavors.  Unfortunately, #Rome is not as "Around the World" as Gaby.  It may be because Rome has considered itself the center civilization for too long or because not many Italians like to deviate from their Italian diets, but it's hard to find ethnic food in Rome!

Here are some of my go-to places when I am looking for different flavors:

The Arirang restaurant of course.  Located at Via M.D'Azeglio 3/F.  You can also buy Korean and Japanese ingredients (Ramen Soup, sushi rice, ginsen) at the Korean Market located in Via Cavour, 84.
El Norteño at Via del Castro Pretorio, 26, a couple of blocks from the Termini train station.  Overall the area surrounding the Termini station is where you can find most ethnic cuisines.  It's not the nicest part of town and the restaurants are not fancy but they satisfy the cravings once in a while.

There are several sushi places around town, as it seams to be the "it" ethnic cuisine in Rome at the moment.  Most Japanese restaurants are ran by Chinese but I found these true Japanese sushi bars:  Taki (via Marianna Dionigi 56-60) and Rokko (Passeggiata Di Ripetta 15)

For a great an inexpensive burger try Perfetto Panini & Burgers Gourmet located inside the "Rinascente" department store of Piazza Fiume.  For an organic burger in the nice part of town try the one in Gli Ulivi (Via Luigi Luciani 23).  They also make their own ketchup. If you feel like taking a ride to Castelgandolfo try Grapes (Lago di Castel Gandolfo, Via dei Pescatori 7) an all American restaurant with a good artisan beer selection.

Recommended by an Egyptian acquaintance, by far the best shawarma in town can be found in Shawarma Station (via Merulana 271).  They have a lot more than shawarmas and serve a great variety of Egyptian food.

The #EsquilinoMarket (via Principe Amedeo 184) is a daily market near the Augusto Imperatore metro station, where you can find Asian and Latinamerican vegetables and other ingredients.  Craving for bak choy or cilantro? you'll find it there.

Lastly, another source for #ethnic #ingredients is the supermarket chain #Castroni and one isle in the super store #Auchan. And those are all the tips I have for today.  Do you know of any great ethnic restaurant in Rome?  Can wait to hear about it!


  1. I am always on the hunt for a good burger I am looking forward to trying out your suggestions!

  2. Even in Rome, there is always a time when you crave a good burger. Let me know what you think when you try them! Gaby