When traveling abroad, one of the more intimidating aspects can be attempting the new cuisine. You really don’t know where that meat is coming from, you can’t read any of the menus, and you can’t help but watch those veggies being sautéed next to the frying scorpions. No matter which way you slice it, trying new dishes abroad can always come with its risks. However… that is why you hit up the travel clinic before you pack, and bring that extra bottle of pepto-bismol. You know you will want to try those new delicacies, and it is definitely worth it. During our travels through Vietnam, we took the leap into the Asian flavor, trying every new dish we could. From scallops on the beach, to soup for the local street vendor, we were never disappointed. Here are some of the more unique and tasty experiences we had traveling through the endless flavors of Vietnam.
Starting in the North, the delicacies in Hanoi are endless. The busy streets are full of vendors with fresh produce collected just that morning. One after another, restaurants seep unfamiliar aromas that excite your senses. Even the street meat was difficult to pass up. One of the more unique dishes we were able to try was a delicacy from the Indochine Restaurant, a meal set up by our supplier, 365 Travel. Stir – fried calamari, vegetables and almonds served with sesame crackers was one of our favorite courses in Hanoi. The smooth, yet tangy taste of the veggie medley serves well on the crunchy base cracker. As an early appetizer course of your meal, it’s difficult not to fill up as you can’t help but finish off the plates!
Traveling down the coast, we continued to enjoy one of Vietnam’s most famous dishes. This constant during our stay was the mouth-watering taste of the “Pho” Noodle Soup. The simple combination of clear rice noodles, beef broth, and steak strips is often garnished with green onions, chili peppers, cilantro, bean sprouts, and often fish sauce. Whether cooked in a local family restaurant, or simmering in the pot of a street vendor, the Pho from each chef will introduce you to a new flavor, but will never fail to satisfy.
After flying past the rice paddy fields, getting closer to the ocean air, we found ourselves melting into the taste of Hoi An. Some of the most colorful markets we had ever seen lined the street adjacent to the river. Fish, lobsters, vegetables, flowers, chickens, wood carvings, herbs, hand-made leather shoes…anything could be found along this shopping haven. Naturally, this is where the fresh ingredients of my favorite Vietnamese dish were found. Far and away, (my) favorite dish of the trip was Baked Chicken in Banana Leaf. Sautéed with flavorful spices such as garlic, pepper, coriander, and lemon, the chicken is wrapped up, and baked in a banana leaf. Once served, you can’t beat how the moist and flavorful combo bursts in your mouth. Make sure to put this one on the checklist!
What might be the freshest meal we enjoyed was on the beach of Nha Trang. On the sand behind the bustling row of restaurants, a single woman had set up her own mini seafood restaurant just off the surf. On ice in weaved baskets, she had on display prawns, clams, scallops, lobsters, crabs, and squid. After picking your poison, and negotiating a price on the sand, this bustling chef whipped up a meal on her one small traveling stove, attached to an end of her basket carrier. With a little sauce and seasoning, and a quick session on the grill, the scallops and lobster tail were the best seafood we had ever had.
The final staple of your cuisine exploration is a southern specialty, widely found in Ho Chi Minh City; the Banh Mi. The Banh Mi is named for its bread, a Vietnamese Baguette. This delicacy is a sandwich, one that you can really put anything in. Most popular, the fillings include cilantro, pate, pickled carrots, and tofu. We had several variations with steak, chicken, and even the mystery meat was delectable. Sold in restaurants, but more so street vendors, you can walk to any corner and have your ideal combo thrown together right then and there. Glance down the street, and you’ll even see prepared Banh Mi, wrapped and piled in one side of someone’s basket carrier (the other basket is often filled with nice cold bottled waters, sodas, or beers!).
When traveling, never let the fear of something new deter you from trying what might just be the best food you’ve ever tasted. Interested in trying the Vietnamese Cuisine? Contact our Travel Consultants to get moving towards this next destination on your bucket list!