Continuing from last week’s post of my trip to Vietnam, this week, it’s all about the food. Basically I’ll share what I had, some tips on what to avoid and what’s cheap while you’re there.
When in Rome, you do as the Romans do, so when you’re in Vietnam, you eat what the locals eat. I can never understand why people would go overseas only to eat foods that are not the local cuisine. If that’s the case, then one might just as well have their holidays in Queensland – tropical, resorts and food that are well, what you can get in Australia because you ARE in Australia! So seriously, be adventurous and try the local cuisine instead.
I’m sure most of us are no strangers to the unbelievably simple yet delicious Pho or rice noodle soup. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what it is, Pho is basically a soupy rice noodle dish served with either sliced rare, cooked beef (pho bo) or a mix of beef innards or beef balls – I’m not talking about the cow’s balls by the way, they are meatballs. They also have chicken pho (pho ga). We have it here in Australia but food does taste better when you’re in the country itself right?
Pho Bo Vien (Vieatnamese meatballs)
Eaten either for breakfast or lunch, you also have a choice of sizes – small, medium and large. I think it’s the soup that makes this dish so delicious. Be sure to add some basil leaves, bean sprouts and chilli for a little more kick and flavour.
The “beef dome”
My other favourite is the”Bo 7 mon” meaning 7 course beef banquet. There is a selection of 7 beef dishes in one sitting including one where you get to grill the beef on a hotplate. But because there were only 6 of us there for dinner, we chose to have it 3 different beef dishes instead. My favourite was this steamed beef meatloaf (bo cha dum) that you eat with crackers. I had this when I went to Vietnam previously and somehow it seemed a lot bigger; or maybe it was just that I had been looking forward to having it so much that I had imagined it to be bigger than it really was!
Other dishes we had included grilled beef wrapped in lolot leaf, which is similar to the Greek’s beef wrapped in vine leaves, sliced grilled beef that you eat wrapped with rice paper and some lettuce, basil, cucumber , rare beef salad and we also had the Vietnamese spring rolls. The idea behind Vietnamese food is the sense of togetherness through the sharing plates.
Another one of our favourite dishes is the Vietnamese pancake, also known as Banh Xeo. It is filled with bean shoots, prawns and usually pork as well. You can choose to not have pork if you request it. This is eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves – the way I find that most Vietnamese food is eaten.
When it comes to drinks, can I just suggest that you opt NOT to have any ice? That’s just me being cautious because, you really don’t know if the ice comes from their tap water or boiled water and you really don’t want to risk getting diarrhea while you’re on holidays. I think we were the weird family who always chose to have our drinks cold but without ice. Basically, canned or bottled drinks.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
You do however need to try the Vietnamese coffee, also called Ca-Phe Sua. You could choose to have ice coffee but, you know how I feel about ice, so best to have it hot. The coffee is usually served with condensed milk and depending on where you have it, more often than not, the coffee is pretty thick in consistency.
What’s a tropical country without fresh coconut juice straight from the coconut itself?! I had this on a regular basis to help quench my thirst and cool me down. It definitely is a lot cheaper than any of those pre-packaged coconut waters we have in our supermarkets!
Finally alcohol. Their beers are usually pretty cheap too. I had a can of Heineken for around AUD$2.00 or a bottle for AUD$3.00. That is rather cheap. They have other beers and yes, they are all cheap. Good thing I don’t live there or I might end up with a beer gut by the end of the year! I’m not too sure about other alcoholic drinks, I do know that cocktails are quite dear compared to just plain old beer. And again, they are usually made with ice, so I would rather avoid having them. Actually I did have a little bit of Mr. C’s cocktail and let’s just say that we didn’t have a good night’s sleep afterwards.
That’s my round up of the type of food we had in Vietnam. We did have some fresh seafood while we were in the resort town of Mui Ne, so if you’re a huge fan of seafood, I highly recommend you try some fresh ones that are usually available in the resort areas.
Are you a fan of Vietnamese food? Do you normally eat what the locals do when you’re overseas or do you tend to reach out for the non-local type of cuisine? What other Vietnamese food should I have tried while I was there?