There are many ways to travel – backpacking across a region, interacting with locals and hearing about their way of life, spending some alone time lost in both your thoughts and the landscapes of a place. I for one have always believed that experiencing and experimenting with local food is also an essential part of truly getting the taste of a place. So, from my recent time in Vietnam I’d like to share the top things to try in the Land of the Blue Dragon:
- Egg Coffee
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. But before you rule this one out you should know that this is a beverage that has won over almost everyone who has tried it or at least had the guts to try it!
The frothy beaten egg at the top with a shot of coffee at the bottom make this a sweet combination. One that we ended up having almost every day during out time in Vietnam!
Just Pho you… One of the favourites pho sure. Um okay, I’ll stop! Hah, this dish will stay in your mind for reasons beyond its name. This meal in a bowl was invented in the capital city of Hanoi, back in the 20th century. It reflects the French influence in the form of a clear broth married into the protein with some fresh veggies to top it off. And for those of us who love our flavours nice and strong, make sure you request the addition of some red chilli.
- Cau Lau
As we walked through the gorgeous streets of the Lantern Town of Hoi An, there was a lot of street food to be tried. An explosion of Vietnamese flavours beckoning you with their aroma as you walk through the lit-up lanes. A mildly popular but wildly delicious dish is the Cau Lau. It comprises of thick noodles and flat rice-based croutons with pork and green herbs. You will find multiple noodle bowl meals in Vietnam but this one has mysterious flavours that make it distinctive from the rest.
- Spring rolls
Spring rolls or Gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese are one of the most popular street food items found across Vietnam. Unlike the usual spring rolls these aren’t necessarily deep-fried. For an authentic Vietnamese experience try the rice paper roll which is an amalgamation of pork, prawns, bun and veggies.
Popular with the vegetarians too, as you can request for a vegetarian variant of this dish and still get a taste of the local flavours. The spring rolls are served with a peanut sauce which is a must have when you try the rolls.
- Banh Mi
Someday the creator of Subway went to Vietnam, thought of a very own Vietnam special subway and that is how Banh Mi was born.
Haha the above was a joke so please do not take it seriously. The credit for the oh-so-scrumptious sandwich goes to the kind folks of Vietnam itself. The sandwich is their very own variant of a fast food take away option. What I loved was how the vegetables were pickled and left you with the right kind of aftertaste. So, if during a long trip you get bored of the noodles and soupy meal bowls, this is the alternative to go for.
And for the truly adventurous and experimental foodies out there, I’m sharing a bonus dish.
Yes, that is snail! Famous in the streets of Saigon. Snail is a popular food item in Vietnam and served in various ways. I for one couldn’t bring myself to try it this time but will rip the band aid next time. I hope you do too!
Happy munching, foodie friends.
Click here to check out some of the best cafes in Hoi An!
Click here to check out some of the best cafes in Hanoi!