While we all attempt to act like we're professional foodies, it's only possible to reach this peak status if we're culturally aware of all of the different types of foods out there. While not all of us can travel around the world, most cities have a diverse selection of these unique foods. Here's a guide to 10 ethnic foods you probably haven't tried but should– immediately. 

1. Injera

This traditional Ethiopian bread is flat, spongey, and made of teff flour, which is a popular flour used in Ethiopia. When you go to an Ethiopian restaurant, chances are you'll receive injera instead of  silverware, because it's used to hold sauces and dishes. Some of my favorite Ethiopian dishes that taste great with injera are Shiro, which is chickpea based with onions, garlic, and ginger; or Gomen, which is collard greens mixed with spices.

2. Shakshuka

Although native to North Africa and the Middle East, Shakshuka was brought to Israel by the Jews as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim lands. While originally it had meat, this classic Israeli breakfast consists of a poached egg atop tomato, pepper, and onion with a combination of spices like cumin. Typically, it's topped off with feta cheese and parsley for taste. 

3. Chicken Tikka Masala

While the origin of chicken tikka masala is disputed between India and Scotland, both countries agree that this dish is delicious. Chicken with masala sauce– a combination of tomato, cream, and coriander– is baked in a tandoor oven and served with rice. 

4. Gatsby

Perfect for sharing, this iconic South African street food is a foot long sandwich loaded with fillings. While there are many variations for toppings, which is typically up to the vendor or customer, one ingredient is essential to a Gatsby– slap chips, or French fries tossed in vinegar. Traditional fillings include masala steak, curry, or bologna.    

5. Unagi

sushi, sauce
Laura Hu

Translating from Japanese to eel, this sweet fish is first marinated in a sweet soy sauce and then grilled until crunchy. Next, the eel is served nigiri style, where the fish is sliced and placed on top of rice. Unami is perfect for sushi lovers who are sick of all the typical rolls (spicy tuna is just not cutting it anymore). 

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is a unique, soy-based food originating from Indonesia. Unlike it's major competitor, tofu, it utilizes the whole soy bean, making it the healthier option. Tempeh can be prepared in a variety of styles including fried, boiled, baked, and more, and it's commonly used as a replacement for meat.

7. Mochi Ice Cream

sorbet, dairy product, chocolate, candy, cream, mochi, sweet
Gabby Phi

While these visually pleasing balls may appear to look like perfect scoops of sorbet, they're actually ice cream balls enclosed by the Japanese mochi. Mochi, which is pounded sticky rice, adds sweetness and texture to the tasty dessert. Original flavors are green tea, vanilla, and strawberry, but now-a-days mochi ice cream is offered in almost any flavor. Mochi balls are becoming increasingly popular, and now there's even a mochi bar at Whole Foods. 

8. Bao Buns

A Chinese classic, Bao Buns or Baozi are steamed buns filled with vegetables or meats. While they have a similar appearance to dumplings, they're actually larger and have a bun that's thicker and melts in your mouth. Restaurants like Momofuku are famous for their shrimp, pork, shiitake mushroom, and brisket buns. 

9. Elote 

Elite, also known as Mexican street corn, is grilled corn smothered with cotija cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, and chili powder. While corn on the cob with a little butter might be what you're used to, after you try elote, you'll be forever changed. 

10. Guinness Cake

An Irish delicacy, this rich chocolate cake is combined with Guinness, a traditional dark beer, to create the ultimate Irish dessert. The tasty treat is topped off with cream cheese icing and comes in cake or cupcake form. 

11. Tom Yum Goong

Home to Thailand, this clear and spicy soup, often famous for its hot-and-sour affect, is a guaranteed cure for a chilly day. The soup's primary flavors are lemongrass, crushed chili pepper, lime juice, and fish sauce. Typically the soup contains shrimp, chicken, or beef.  

After finishing this article, it's difficult to not be starving. So leave your comfort zone and head over to that local Ethiopian restaurant you've always been "meaning to try," or walk to the Mexican food truck you always see from your kitchen window and grab a bite to eat– you can thank me later.