MOVING ABROAD INVOLVES a lot of adjustment. While you get accustomed to using a new currency to buy things you never needed before from people whose language you don’t speak, the recognizable and simple pleasures in life become more valuable than ever—food being one of them.
The HSBC annual expat survey, which you can still fill in until April 19, asked expats about food last year and got the beef (and the chicken, and the entrails, all cooked up in a giant pot for several hours). According to the thousands of responses they received, the spicy cuisines of China, India, Mexico and Taiwan are some of the best in the world—but they are also the hardest to get used to. Gua-bao pork belly buns—a classic of Taiwanese local cuisine, obviously has a lot of fans, as 85% of expats who have moved there said they enjoy the region’s food.
Expats across Asia soon adapt to spicier flavors, and Singapore for one prides itself on being a melting pot of Southeast Asia’s cuisine. “Tom yum soup and mango sticky rice are incredible, in fact I have tom yum cravings right now,” said Joanne Groves, a teacher in Singapore. Ms. Groves grew up in the U.K. and France, and while she says she still prefers Western food—in particular choucroute, a fermented cabbage dish from Alsace—she’s discovered new favorites while living in Asia. “From Singapore, I love hokkien mee,” she said. “It is this noodle dish that has everything in it and it’s the most amazing comfort food.”
Her boyfriend, Chris Kohler, originally from Haledon, N.J., can “plough through” the Indonesian satay sticks that are a staple of the city’s street-food scene. Mr. Kohler, who works in recruitment for a U.S. university, also enjoys fried beef hor fun. “I love the slightly sweet sticky sauce and bean sprouts—the chewy noodles and the crunchy bean sprouts go together really well.”
Obviously, mouth-tingling spice isn’t the only criteria for food choices. The questionnaire also assessed “pure enjoyment,” with Italy ticking this box for 87% of expats, closely followed by Spain with 79%. Staying around the Mediterranean (you know the drill: olive oil, tomatoes, fish, loads of fresh stuff), Turkey won notice for making a healthy lifestyle simple, with many expats there saying how easy it was to eat healthily on a budget. Healthy local produce was easy to find for 84% of expats in Turkey, just ahead of 77% of expats in Italy and France, and 76% of expats in Spain, the survey found.
One big surprise: Older expats are the least likely to be stuck in their ways. According to the survey, expats under 34—a category Ms. Groves and Mr. Kohler fit into—are twice as likely as those over 55 to struggle when adjusting to the diet in their new country. It isn’t looking good for millennials—commonly defined as those between 18 and 34 years old—who, as well as being glued to their phones, and having short attention spans, are shying away from the pleasures of fried crickets or pig-intestine sausage.
Japan scored extremely well. Sushi and ramen are super popular: 93% of expats there said they loved the local food, and 68% said living there had improved their diet.
This year’s survey already has more respondents than the 9,288 who took part last year, but there’s still time to share your views on eating—wherever you’re currently living or working—and much else.