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The food in Vietnam is awesome. However, the people making and serving it are even more so. We buy our Banh Mi (Viet subs) from this lady for lunch on average 4 to 5 times a week. She is wonderful. Every visit she tries to teach us some more Vietnamese. Even if we are just walking by we get a “Xin chao” (hello). The more I travel, the more I gain faith in humanity.

This blog is all about Vietnamese food. However I am putting a disclaimer in right at the start. I am not a “Fear Factor” fan and do not enjoy eating something just because it is bizarre and gross. As well there is plenty of  “nasty” stuff the locals eat that I simply am not going to try. A trip through the meat portion of the local markets is as close to an anatomy lesson on domestic animals as you could ever imagine. Simply put, I don’t eat organs. However, even after leaving what I call the fringe of culinary delights out, Vietnam is an awesome place to eat.

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All through our initial 2 week tour of Vietnam we experienced fantastic food. In Ho Chi Minh City the place for an introduction is the Street Food Market at Ben Thanh. It is easy to find as it shows up on every Google map or other map you could download. This place is wild and busy, but they are very used to dealing with tourists so it is a great place to get your taste buds introduced to what this country has to offer.
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These little roadside carts are everywhere in Vietnam. This lady is here at 8 in the morning (she may be there earlier but 8 is the earliest we have been out) and still there at 9 at night. (once again, she may be there later, but 9 is the latest we have been out).
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We have yet to find where the bakery is that makes these buns, but, oh my goodness, they make great buns.
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We honestly don’t know what all goes into these buns and perhaps it is best not to be too inquisitive. But they are delicious. Some days a little spicier than others but always good.

Coffee and beer have been two other items that I have had to adjust my perception of how they are consumed.

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Whether it is “Tiger”, “Saigon”, or “Larue”, if you don’t have it with ice you simply are not getting the full Vietnamese experience. Not all establishments (especially those that deal with a lot of tourists) serve ice with their beer. However if you want to “break the ice” so to speak with your server ask for ice with your beer if they don’t bring it right away. It is a great acknowledgement that you are making an effort to enjoy their refreshments as they do.

There is something fun about drinking beer the way the Vietnamese do. You will see a case of beer on the floor at the end of the table with a bucket of ice beside it with tongs hanging over the edge. All the bottle caps and empties, whether bottles or cans just go on the floor. I found this difficult at first but once you get in the swing of it, it really is kind of fun.

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Vietnam is one of the biggest producers, as well as exporters of coffee in the world. And they produce damn fine coffee. I am not a coffee connoisseur, however in my opinion the coffee here is the best I have ever had. If you order coffee with ice, and you should, this is what you get. You can get it without the condensed milk but it sure is tasty with it. The glass of iced tea is a lovely thirst quencher as well. You just get one serving of coffee but the tea is constantly topped up.
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It can take up to 10 minutes for the water to run through the grounds in the top but when it is near the end it helps to tip the metal cup to help the last bit drip through. The little plastic tab is their way of keeping track of your tab. Just hold it up when you want your bill and the server will be there.
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It is hot here, so having your coffee iced just makes sense. It does not taste like the ultra sweet iced coffee you get in North America. It just tastes like smooth rich coffee.

Even though we have a very nice apartment here and our kitchen is more than adequate, we find we eat out about 6 nights a week. It simply is so inexpensive it is hard to justify hiding away at home. Plus the entertainment value of getting out is fantastic for us and the locals watching us. For lunch and even breakfast, noodles or pho is the staple and is delicious. Don’t be afraid to pick up the bowl and drink the broth, and please, at least try to use chop sticks. A spoon for fried rice is totally acceptable but for noodles, fish, grilled meats you should use chop sticks. Just saying.

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This eating establishment would appear from nowhere a couple of nights a week in the alley just outside our apartment. Honestly, you don’t get much more authentic than this.
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When you walk up they direct you to the grill and have you pick out the size of fish you want. They are already wrapped and starting to cook on the grill.
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This has been one of my favourite dining experiences. The hustle of the servers delivering the food up and down the alley, the old ladies walking by selling lottery tickets, and the scooters zipping by as you sit on these little plastic chairs makes it a bit of sensory overload. On top of that there is the food. Delicious fish served with greens and rice paper so you can roll your own “fish tacos” More on that in a bit. The part that impressed me was when we walked out the door the next morning you couldn’t even tell the restaurant had even been there.

 

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We have a restaurant that caters to both locals and tourists that we regularly visit. Besides the great food and absolutely lovely staff, we also like this place because they take the time to show you how to properly eat the food if you don’t know. What you see here is what you get when you order grilled fish. Fish, cooked in tin foil, cucumber, lettuce, and greens, rice paper and dipping sauce. Some places offer water to wet the paper with which is good fun as the paper becomes very sticky if you take too long building it.
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It is all in the palm of your hand when it comes to putting these tasty little things together. As you don’t get plates all the construction is done while holding the rice paper.
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Hot pots are the other gem we are enjoying very much. similar to a fondue except you get to consume the cooking fluid. Everything you see on the table goes into the pot of boiling hot broth. Meat, greens then noodles, in that order. You get to decide how much spice you want to add when you are cooking. I personally love those little red chilies.
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It always amazed me that everything piled on the plates would fit into the pot, but it does. Once the noodles are in for a few minutes you are good to start eating. You just ladle it into your little bowl and go for it. It is also acceptable to steal the occasional tasty morsel straight from the pot. Only with chop sticks though. We have found this to be a perfect 2 to 3 beer meal if you time it right.
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It is fun and delicious.
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We have seen this at a number of locales but have not tried it yet. It comes across as a bit of a tourist item which, for me, causes it to lose some appeal.
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There are many regional specialties throughout Vietnam. Everything I have talked about so far we have had in Nha Trang. Except the coffee, that has been everywhere. While in Hoi An we sampled their specialty, White Rose. A type of dumpling that is quite nice.
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It is nice once in a while to find a little micro brewery and enjoy a beer in the manner that we find “normal”.

In our first 6 weeks in Vietnam we have loved the food and found the people to be wonderful. The next couple of months promise to be just as enjoyable and we look forward to experiencing more culinary delights. If you have any suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Enjoy.

 

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

2 comments on “Vietnam Food

  1. Leanne Johnston

    Thanks Peter, you made my mouth water reading this. It makes me remember how great the food certainly is, we look forward to getting back. Sounds as though you’re really enjoying Vietnam.

    Regards

    Leanne Johnston EDM GROUP

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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