Starting in Hồ Chí Minh City and ending up north in the capital Hanoi, we’ve definitely eaten our fair share of noodles, rice and spring rolls!
I mentioned in my last post that the food in Vietnam is definitely underrated. Here are a few of the dishes we demolished whilst exploring Hồ Chí Minh City, Mũi Né, Hội An, Ninh Bình (Tam Coc) and Hanoi.
Hồ Chí Minh City
Hồ Chí Minh was where we tried our first veggie Phở – and to say we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The traditional Phở is made with meat but it doesn’t lack any flavour without. Phở is almost like a noodle soup with various veggies like carrot, mushroom and green beans (among others) plus lots of fresh herbs, chilli and soy sauce. Usually the herbs are brought to the table alongside your Phở so you can add as much or as little as you want for the right flavour. Fresh mint, coriander and lemongrass were among some of the herbs plus miso paste (a soy bean product) was also added.
Finding a vegan restaurant in Hồ Chí Minh was something we definitely didn’t expect to come across! We even tried vegan “shrimp” there – but that just felt wrong so we avoided after a taster…
The street food stalls had plenty of veggie options and in the night market we found stir fried rice noodles with all different types of veggies and tofu – SO TASTY.
Mũi Né had some of the best food we’ve eaten here in Vietnam. We frequented a cafe/restaurant called Choi Oi (which means “wow” in Vietnamese!)
Each morning we sat on a leafy front porch of the cafe and had a Vietnamese coffee plus fresh fruits like dragon fruit (which I’m now obsessed with) mango, watermelon, banana and lychee.
This place had plenty of veggie options to choose from and such cheap prices!!
I tried a dish with rice, coconut, tofu and bamboo (second image). I didn’t know what to expect as I’d certainly never even thought of eating bamboo before but the flavours were incredible and it almost had a meat like texture.
We also had the nicest Phở we’ve ever eaten in Choi Oi – if you happen to be visiting Mũi Né then this place is a must. (We miss it so much!)
Hội An was mainly street food which you can pick up for pretty cheap. Stick to the stalls though or find somewhere to sit down and eat outside the center. Restaurants around the night market sometimes charge double the price for what you could pick up from somewhere further out or even a stall on the side of the road.
Spicy tofu with tomato sauce was frequently seen on menus here and tasted really good – incase you haven’t already guessed the Vietnamese like tofu with everything, even meat!
These fried potato chips on skewers were really tasty too, especially after a couple of Larue (local) beers (basically a Vietnamese equivalent to chips after a night out?!)
Cooking Class In Hội An
During the Eco Cooking Class we learnt how to make:
- Fresh spring rolls
- Rice Pancakes
- Papaya salad with mushroom and tofu
- Aubergine in clay pot
- Shrimp crackers (apparently also veggie)
Plus all the dipping sauces including a peanut soya for the spring rolls that was incredible (if you like peanut butter you will love this).
All these recipes are traditionally Vietnamese and we even came away with our own little recipe book to help when we are home! I can’t wait to make some of this food back in Wales, although I don’t know how much my nan would like to eat traditional Vietnamese Phở over traditional Welsh Cawl…
Ninh Bình (Tam Coc)
This was some of the cheapest food we’ve eaten our whole time in Vietnam.
A tip we’ve found out along the way (after a few times getting ripped off) is to aaaaalways look for the local places. Eat with the locals, eat what the locals eat and chances are you’ll stumble across the tastiest food for the cheapest prices.
This tiny place was hidden among a strip of big restaurants aimed at tourists. It’s run by a sweet Vietnamese family and we got all of this food for 35,000 VND each (about £1!!).
Hanoi has been a mixture for us. After stumbling across an amazing local street food place the first evening, we tried to return there the second but it was closed so ended up on a busy strip searching for some cheap Phở. After finding it difficult to get any veggie food (which we’ve never had a problem with anywhere else) we settled somewhere and ordered Phở and fried spring rolls (pictured above). However because this place wasn’t necessarily for the locals the prices were much more than usual and the Phở itself wasn’t great.
Our final night inevitably resulted in a return to the local place! We sat and ate with the locals and got a full meal for 35,000 VND! The cook there was lovely and the food was even better.
From trying our first Phở in the South, to eating on the side of the road with the locals in the North, the food in Vietnam has definitely been an experience in itself.
I’m taking away a better understanding of Vietnamese food and traditions and will definitely be making some of this food in the future – although maybe after a few months without so many noodles and so much chilli…
MORAL OF THE STORY –
Always try to eat like a local and with the locals, don’t go to the other side of the world to eat what you would at home! Plus over here, it really could be anything …