As I trudged out of the Bangkok floods last week, one of the sights that struck me was that of a chap of modest means wading through the waters, pulling a plastic basket containing all the makings of som tam, the spicy papaya salad beloved by Thais and Thai-food aficionados. He had saved his mortar and pestle, some papaya and chillies, limes, a container of pungent pla ra fermented fish sauce and even some boo kem, the chopped small black crab that adds a unique taste to the Isaan-style som tam (the only real kind, most Thais would argue). It was a reminder of how seriously Thais take their food. Floods might take your home, your car, even your livelihood, but no natural disaster is going to come between a Thai and his favourite snack. During the country's worst floods in living memory may not seem like the best time to be waxing lyrical about food, but the fact remains that Bangkok recently pipped Hong Kong on TripAdvisor as 'Asia's best food city'. The travel website's inaugural Travelers' Choice Food and Wine Destinations Award saw Bangkok, New Orleans and Florence, Italy, taking top honours in Asia, the United States and Europe, respectively. Barbara Messing, TripAdvisor's chief marketing officer, said the awards were based on millions of reviews and opinions from travellers around the world. The awards are sure to stoke rivalry between Bangkok and Hong Kong for culinary bragging rights. Hong Kong holds the advantage when it comes to cosmopolitan sophistication and swanky eateries that cater to well-heeled gourmands with the most demanding of palates and big wallets. With one restaurant for every 600 people or so, Hong Kong is rightly famed for its dim sum palaces and dai pai dong while also hosting a thriving 'private kitchen' scene, where gastronomes gather to sample arcane flavours in secret settings. Hong Kong also bests Bangkok when it comes to wine, with Thailand's high tax rate on imports making any decent drop an expensive proposition. However, Hong Kong cannot hold a hot-pot burner to Bangkok's variety and prices. In Bangkok, those unafraid of street food can feast on some of the tastiest, freshest and most authentic dishes for less than HK$20 and those with the means can blow thousands of dollars on haute cuisine and fine wine in one of the city's collection of breathtaking roof-top restaurants. The Thong Lor district is garnering global renown for its eclectic collection of imaginatively themed eateries and the uber-trendy Bed Supperclub remains a must for the visiting gourmand. When the waters recede and this intercity culinary rivalry returns to the boil, any subsequent food-off can only be good news for residents and visitors in both of these food-obsessed metropolises.