I can’t start a food in Asia post without rice. The picture above is from the rice fields in Sapa. But more on that later.
The food in Vietnam was great. It’s definitely a street food culture, but in a different way than Thailand. (Same same, but different….) While in Thailand I enjoyed street food at the night markets where an entire street or section of town will be blocked out just for a million food choices, in Vietnam one must walk more to find the particular food they want to eat. One food cart will set up on the sidewalk with a million little plastic tables spread around it as if expecting 20 children coming to eat. There is the occasional Bahn My cart set up for a delicious take away sandwich. Or, there is the most common, a shared table in restaurant (this also happens at any food cart with tables set up on the side of the street.)
Important tip to look like a local: order a plate of sunflower seeds with your coffee or Bia Hai! Everyone does it!
My introduction to Vietnamese food was at a Pho place in Hanoi. Jet lagged and clueless about the culture, Jordan and I were seated at a table with other Vietnamese. That first night I got Pho (pronounced “Fha,like the beginning of the word “fun”) and Jordan got fried noodles (Cuon Sui) at the recommendation of one of our table partners. Jordan and I were given a basket of greens to add as we pleased and there were various soy sauces on the table to make our food as spicy or sweet as we desired.
Below is our favorite noodle dish in Vietnam:Bun Cha! Bun Cha is freshly grilled meat in some hot water, a GIANT plate of noodles and a side of greens. You dip the noodles in the meat bowl and eat up!
Bahn My (pronounced Baaan Me)
Being a former French colony, one thing Vietnamese people know is bread. Baguettes to be exact! The Bahn My is a quick street food that is shaved meat inside fresh bread with cucumbers (or “salad”) and either a Vietnamese slaw or sauce mixture, and an egg. We’ve even gotten Bahn My with pate inside and some with a kind of mystery furry meat. (The furry meat Bahn My cost the record breaking low of 10,000 Dong, or about 40 cents. We got two each on our long walk to the airport to survive our upcoming 32 hour flight, with no food service as we got the cheapest tickets possible.)
Not pictured is the green bean cake (Banh Dau Xanh.) Definitely get it if you’re in Viet Nam. We found out about this from the Podcast Spilled Milk about Vietnamese Junk Food.
Bonus: Singapore Noodles
How to eat these dishes with the mystery bowl of broth… no body knows….. comment if you do! Jordan and I spied on everyone at this outside food court and couldn’t figure it out.