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23rd November
2011
written by Justin
Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo in Saigon

I had decided, before we arrived, that the main purpose of my trip to Vietnam would be to sample as much local food as humanly possible, and to learn to cook some of it!  Even though our trip was a whirlwind, I am confident that I succeeded in my goal.  Here are the foods which we considered exceptional, broken down by city:

  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
    • Phở bò – This is the classic soup which is pretty popular in the Bay Area.  Every time we had it (the Vietnamese like to have it any time but especially at breakfast and late night) it was delicious.  I’m happy to say that the Bay Area reproductions are really authentic though they don’t quite have the same variety of meat parts that you can get in Vietnam.
    • Bánh xèo – These are really delicious crepes stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, eaten with mint lettuce and do-it-yourself rice paper.  We got our hotel person to go out on motorbike and bring us the best ones in town (they’re more a street food in Vietnam.)  It was amazing!
    • Bún thịt nướng – Bun is a classic Vietnamese dish, vermicelli noodles with grilled pork and egg rolls.  This was so good we had it twice in a row.
    • Cơm tấm – “Broken Rice” named after a variety of really short-grain rice used.  More grilled pork for this dish.  Really tasty!
  • Nha Trang
    • bánh mì – Vietnamese Sandwiches very similar to Lee’s in the Bay Area.  We had them for breakfast.  They’re put on really tasty baguettes.
    • BBQ Beef – Do-it-yourself bbq variety where they bring out hot coals and you get to cook your pre-marinated beef how you like.
    • Picnic on Snorkel Boat – spring rolls, fish, mustard greens.  During our day trip snorkeling, the captain prepared a whole lot of dishes that I didn’t really recognise.  Everything was really nice!
    • Street Baguettes – Only in France can you find better baguettes but even there they cost more than $0.25 each!
  • Hoi An – there we did a cooking class and learned to make most of the food we ate!
    • Fish Grilled in Banana Leaf
    • Squid stir-fried with celery
    • Fried Spring Rolls in Rice Paper (many times they are done in egg rolls when fried but this is a delicious alternative)
    • Fried Wontons
    • banh bao vac – known as “White Rose”, shrimp dumpling made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose.
  • Hanoi
    • Croissants – unbelievably good this far from France.  The French bread tradition is alive in Vietnam, that’s for sure!
    • More Pho
    • More Spring Rolls
That’s it!  We had so little time that even eating 3-4 meals per day we couldn’t really try everything, but I think we got a good number of classic dishes into our belly!
BBQ Beef and hot coals in Nha Trang

BBQ Beef and hot coals in Nha Trang

Local beer by the pool, Nha Trang

Local beer by the pool, Nha Trang

Trying Rambutan in Hoi An

Trying Rambutan in Hoi An

Amazing baguettes

Amazing baguettes

Traditional Vietnamese coffee

Traditional Vietnamese coffee

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