Eating in Vietnam

by Female Abroad

Vietnamese food is very different (in a good way!) from any other type of Asian food. It has a strong French influence mixed with Indian and Malay. Expect the heat & curries from Indian and Malaysia with the baguettes and cooking styles from France. While it has been voted as one of the world's healthiest food (except for the salt content), you will have a ton of grilled options from seafood to fresh vegetables, that are light on the stomach and wallet.

The buzz of Vietnam will help you find your fill all hours of the day from French bakeries that serve up wonderful sweet breads for breakfast to street side stalls with a variety of meat grilling. As a rule of thumb, the tastiest foods usually come from the most basic kitchens. At home when I go for Pho, if I find the place spotless then I actually won't eat there as the ones with some dirt and grime have more authentic tasting options.

Also, just so you are aware Pho - as in the soup - is pronounced F-uh not F-oh. If you pronounce it like it is spelt then you will be ordering a prostitute. Which you may want more, I'm not here to judge! When you are eating it, use your chopsticks to place the rice and other items found in the pho onto your spoon and then let the items slip off the spoon, into your mouth. The Vietnamese are not too fond of the Chinese which is why they do not want the chopsticks to touch your mouth.

In Vietnam itself, as you explore the country you will notice differences in dishes and snacks depending on where in the country you are. For example, the North (ex. Hanoi) is usually cold so you will find a lot of Pho, Chao (rice porridge used to cure common colds), and grilled meat sandwiches like Bun Cha. In Central Vietnam you will find more Chinese flavours, spices, and techniques like Spring Rolls, Bun Bo Hue (super spicy beef soup), Banh Khoai (similar to egg fu young), and Banh Beo (boiled rice with pork bits). The South (Ho Chi Minh) is where people with money seem to be headed so you will find the highest quality food and ingredients in this area. You will also find a lot of foreign chain restaurants (KFC anyone?).

If you are looking for "exotic" items then head to the country as you will find fried silk worms, dog meat, cobra meat, Com Hen (rice flavoured with live clam juice), Durian,Hot Vit Lon (hard boiled egg with a baby chick inside that hasn't hatched yet) and more depending on where you stop off at. Vietnam has made dog meat illegal but it is still widely sold in the Northern region.