Category Archives: Specialties

Vietnamese cuisine specialties

Humble things to do when you’re in Hanoi

1. Take a stroll on Long Bien Bridge and walk down to the island

This may surprise you: this landmark bridge of Hanoi was designed by AlexandreGustave Eiffel, the same man who designed the landmark tower of Paris. It’s quite a long walk, so make sure you do it in cool weather and bring a lot of water. Or beer! It’s worth it since you will see a combination of everything: a war remnant, daily life, people making a living, farmland, and lots of corns and other produce.

cau Long Bien

Long Bien bridge - Cầu Long Biên

2. Spending a couple of hours just chilling in a pagoda

Escape the crazy traffic and noise of Hanoi and take a hideaway in one of the many pagodas here. Every pagoda in Hanoi has a quiet yard where you can just sit, lose yourself in its serenity and watch local people light up the incense and make their prayers. A good place to watch life go by and just chill – but don’t be so chilled and bring beers in. And it’s always a good idea to dress respectfully here.


Chùa Một Cột

Spending a couple of hours just chilling in a pagoda

3. Sitting on a low plastic stool to eat Vietnamese street food

Take the risk and join the locals in one of the numerous plastic-stool street restaurants in Hanoi. They say the best Vietnamese street food can only be found in the streets. There is a wide selection to choose from including the famous ‘pho’ and other noodle soups, stir-fried noodles, sticky rice, Vietnamese sandwich, sweet deserts, and many others. A word of caution: steer clear of the ice and fresh herbs.

Hàng rong - Ăn vặt

Food stall - street food

4. Getting lazy with a coffee, iced tea or ‘bia hoi’ on the street

There are numerous places on the street where you can sit on a low plastic stool on the roadside all day drinking coffee, tea or ‘bia hoi’ (the local draught beer). The best places are crowded all year round – even in boiling hot days or freezing evenings. An excellent experience for those who want to see the real local life and watch other backpackers. But be prepared for a little messiness, pollution, and maybe even motorbikes riding just a few feet away from you!



Breakfast in Hanoi – an essential part of the Vietnamese cuisine

No matter how busy and modernized Hanoi has become, the Hanoi food and the traditional breakfast habit of the Hanoianshave been well preserved. Their breakfast menu is quite diversified with dried food, including rice, bread or pastries, and many different types of noodles and noodle soup. The Hanoians make their breakfast at home or go to a small restaurant on the street - some prefer to buy the food on the street and eat it at home.

As the Hanoi people go to work or school early in the morning, the streets here are already crowded early in the morning with small eateries lining up and plastic stools occupied by hurried eaters. Most popular and crowded are ‘pho’ and other noodles restaurants, including snail noodle soup, crab noodle soup, noodle soup with assorted toppings, eel noodle soup, fish noodle soup, etc, which are the distinct traditional dishes of Hanoi and Vietnamese street food. These meals are light enough for the summer and hot enough to keep you warm in the winter.

People who want a heavier meal can go for sticky rice or a Vietnamese sandwich. There is a varied choice of toppings or side dishes to go with them – different kinds of Vietnamese sausages, Vietnamese pate, fried eggs, shredded pork, butter, sauces, fried spring onions… Fresh rolls, fried rice or fried noodles are also among the favorite breakfast dishes.

The Hanoi people prefer to eat their breakfast and sometimes other meals at street restaurants and the street vendors’ than classy, air-con restaurants. Most of them say traditional food tastes best in the street – the expensive restaurants only copy it in a clumsy way. That is why Vietnamese street food is popular not only among Vietnamese people but also foreign tourists.

To a real Hanoian, a decent breakfast has to be followed by a cup of Vietnamese coffee or bitter tea in one of the tiny, laid-back places in the Old Quarter where they get updated on daily news or get their shoes shined. Only after then does a new day really begin.

The most popular Vietnamese coffees

Cafe da, cafe sua da, cafe trung

Espresso, cappucino, mocha... we don’t use these names to call our Vietnamese coffee. The traditional Vietnamese coffee and its favorite variations are mostly robusta and made in absolutely different ways – with a ‘filter’ (or ‘dripper’), and are named based on their characteristics and/or ingredients. The most popular Vietnamese coffees include:

1. Black coffee

It is black, for sure. This down-to-earth coffee is best when it’s made with a filter and served with granulated, refined sugar. Bitter and very strong, so not recommended for beginners!

2. Milk coffee (or Brown coffee)

Milk coffee in Saigon, or Brown coffee in Hanoi – different names but the coffee is basically the same. The coffee drips through a filter onto a layer of condensed milk in the cup. Before you drink, stir well until the coffee turns caramel-colored. Beware – it’s condensed milk, so the coffee is pretty sweet.

The hot coffee is served in a small cup placed in the middle of a bowl filled with hot water to keep it warm. You can also pour it into a glass of ice (cubed or crushed) and enjoy iced coffee. Hot or iced, it’s always creamy and sweet.

3. Egg coffee

This much-loved newbie is becoming very popular among the Hanoi youth. Egg yolk is whipped with sugar until it gets foamy then poured over a little coffee in a cup. Served hot or with ice. Many of my customers said it’s super creamy, tastes a bit like caramel and chocolate (but nothing like egg!!!), and in brief, YUMMY!

Coffee Culture in Hanoi

Cafe Lâm

the old and the young at Cafe Lâm

My first morning in Vietnam I was extremely jet lagged after a twenty hour journey from Chicago.  I stumbled blurry eyed down the streets of the backpacker district and hopped into the first cafe I could find and ordered a coffee.  The little cafe had only plastic stools to sit on; I remember them being quite near to the ground and it felt more like I was squatting than sitting.  Hunched in such a way I examined my first cup of Vietnamese coffee.  It was brought out with a smile by a young waitress and placed before me in a casual way as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  I did not agree with this notion.

There was a bowl full of hot water.  In the bowl was a small glass with condensed milk on the bottom; it was wearing a tiny metal hat.  I soon observed that the hat, or phin, was actually a filter as there was a dark oil like substance leaking from the bottom of it.  I remember thinking that it must be broken, because even after five minutes it still contained some hot water.  I kept poking at it and eventually the waitress, giggling to herself, removed it for me.  I mixed what now looked like a shot of espresso with the condensed milk and took my first sip of Vietnamese coffee.  It was divine: sweet and strong enough to cut through my extreme jet lag and help me get on with my explorations.

Sitting with Le Xuan Hoang at his coffee shop near the Red River, watching my coffee slowly filter through thephin,  I'm reminded of that first cup.  Hoang's cafe is located on a busy street near a committee building (No 3 Bo Song Quan Hoa Street).  He says he owes much of his cafe's success to it's location, as many patrons come to his cafe on business.  "I think umm people to drink coffee they have some reason.  Some people they want to drink coffee.  Some people they want a place to sit.  Some young people they want a place to be with their friends.  A lot of reasons for drinking coffee. But for my place, my shop, it's about the quality of the coffee,"  Hoang says explaining the real reason for his shop's popularity.

He uses a blend of three coffees: two types of beans from Nha Trang mixed with Trung Nguyen, the most popular brand of coffee in Vietnam.  He explains that the Trung Nguyen is strictly for aroma and that the other two are to make it strong, which it definitely is.  Hoang is convinced that not many people can really taste the difference between good and bad coffee, but fancies himself a connoisseur.  He limits himself to one cup a day though in order to control his coffee habit.

Vietnamese coffee distinguishes itself from its western counterparts in three ways.  It is roasted with butter oil, which coats the beans and protects them from burning during the process.  In this way they can produce dark beans similar to a French Roast.  Another difference is that they don't use 100% Aribica beans as is the trend in much of the west.  They usual do a blend of 70% Aribica and 30% Robusta, which makes the coffee a bit stronger and for many makes it a unique drinking experience--nostalgic almost, like this is how coffee once tasted long ago.  The third difference is the unique varietals that can be planted in Vietnam's diverse landscapes.  Among them are Arabica (and an "indigenous" Sparrow, or Se, Arabica), Robusta, Excelsa (sometimes called Chari), Liberica, Catimor and others.

Cafe Lâm

through the souveir shop, the hidden cafe

The brewing method itself is also quite unique.  Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in the late 18th century by Dutch and French colonizers  Supposedly, the introduction of condensed milk was due to the difficulty in keeping fresh milk in the tropical climate but has since become a matter of preference.  The phin, or metal filter, has disputed origins and though they are seen in other places in South East Asia, no one can quite agree where they come from.

It may come as a surprise but Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee beans after Brazil.  Until recently they were only producing rather low quality beans for mass consumption, but as more money comes to the country they are specializing in higher quality beans.  As the coffee shop owner Hoan explained to me, twenty years ago there were barely any cafes in Hanoi, now he reckons there are over two thousand.

One of the oldest coffee shops in Hanoi is Cafe Lâm, located on Nguyen Huu Huan street in the Old Quarter. It's the full of old men wearing barrettes and smoking.  Through the haze of smoke though, it's hard to ignore the walls covered completely in paintings from various decades.  The story is that before the coffee shop became famous many starving artists would come hang out there.  They would exchange their latest works for credit and drink coffee for free until it was time to create another one.  This exchange did two things for Cafe Lâm: it was able to adorn itself with countless paintings that are now worth quite a bit of money and created an atmosphere where artists and intellectuals could hang out: an atmosphere that seems to exist to this day.  It was hard to ignore a man next to me who was doing a rendering of one of the paintings on his iPad.

Cafe culture here is just as varied as in the west.  From old unique cafes like Lâm cafe to expensive cafes with lavish couches where young couples go on dates.  Many however are simply done in people’s houses, which they furnish with a few plastic stools and open to the public.  In such operations the costs are very low as it's usually family members who work there or employees from the countryside who are paid a pittance. According to Hoang, though, these operations rarely make much money.  "If you want to be a success in your coffee business.  You have to have some special thing.  Make some difference to other.  Maybe about quality, maybe about atmosphere.  Maybe because of you.  You are friendly and they want to see you," and Hoang surely is a friendly man who had to excuse himself several times during the interview to make small talk with his patrons.

Cafe Phố cổ

cafe trung at Cafe' Pho Co

One popular cafe in Hanoi has a rather interesting gimmick.  It is Café Pho Co, called "The Hidden Cafe" by most Westerners (11Hang Gai Street).  If one hasn't heard about the cafe it would be near impossible to spot as one needs to go through a souvenir shop to find the cafe.  Indeed I had to stop at several such shops before finding the windy path that led to the old cafe with a bonsai garden and winding staircase that leads to one of the best views of Hoan Kiem Lake the city has to offer.  Café Pho Co is also famous for its cafe trung (egg coffee), which is the typical Vietnamese coffee topped with a sweet froth almost like a meringue.

As described in the beginning of this post, Vietnamese coffee does take quite a while to brew and filter and no one at the coffee shops seem particularly rushed.  Indeed, many people hang out at them for hours slowly sipping and chatting with friends as the world passes by.  It's a distinctive feature of Vietnam, this savoring of the joys of life instead of rushing from place to place with a large paper cup.  Like the coffee itself this attitude takes some getting used to, but after you try it you soon find yourself addicted.

Source from Nate's Notions Blog

Hanoi’s coffee culture, like no other

Sai Gon has coffee on high floor, and under ground, etc., whereas Hanoi has street coffee and traditional cafeteria. The competition between Trung Nguyen coffee system, modern Cappuccino coffee and traditional coffee is still equal. This reveals that the Hanoians retain some uniqueness of their ancient lifestyle.

Coffee and the Hanoians

Hanoi coffee, Hanoi cafe

Hanoi coffee

The Hanoians drink a lot of the dark, caffeinated beverage and prefer sipping their stronger blends outside in front of a small shop with some sweet milk and a spoonful of sugar. Every morning, on hot days of summer and cold and dull days of winter, you can easily see some here with a cup of coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

For many Hanoians, the most important factor of a café is not its luxuriousness but the quality of the product. Old people love cafés which have been around a long time, located on old streets or inside deep alleys. Office workers like cafes with romantic and quiet styles like those in Pho Co Quarter. Young people prefer the noisy and busy atmosphere of modern and luxury or pavement cafés.

Street Coffee…

Hanoi coffee, Hanoi cafe

Hanoi coffee

Soaking up the rhythms of the street and embracing Hanoi from all of its sides, from old to new ones, and from traditional to modern & quirky ones, you will tenderly recognize that, nothing can be better refresh us after hardworking hours than a cup of coffee on a street near Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake).

Basking with sunshine in the afternoon when there’s less noise from automobiles, Hanoi ends a day and opens a new paradise for culture experiences. Taking over a legacy from bygone years with the involvement of an irresistible French factor, the Vietnamese have embraced café culture in a great way. There are so many famous coffee shops in Hanoi, like Nang café (6 Hang Bac), Nhan (39D1 Hang Hanh), Quat (Quan Thanh), Quynh (Bat Dan) to Giang (Hang Gai and Lam (60, 91 Nguyen Huu Huan)… Chairs are small, literally child-sized, and are sometimes made of blue plastic or painted wood. The tables are covered with glasses of ca phe den (black coffee) or ca phe sua da (iced coffee), which come with their own picturesque drip top. Not only just for connoisseurs, these places are idea for having gossip, meeting old friends, talking to pass time of day, stealing precious moments for romantics …

Cyclo Cafe, Hanoi

Cyclo Cafe, Hanoi

Now, let’s follow a coffee connoisseur…

A good example of the authentic Hanoi cafés is Hang Hanh, an atmospheric slender street veering off the city’s central Hoan Kiem Lake. In the afternoon, one may find himself inexplicably drawn to its’ wall-to-wall cafés which unfold below the shady boughs of leafy trees. Here, the annoying young and cool Vietnamese often sit and watch the world in front of their eyes. In late afternoon, with the last rays of sunshine, the place starts to buzz. At weekends, it is positively heaving with dating couples or gangs of youths desiring to be couples.

If this sounds too frenetic, a more subdued place like Giang Café can be chosen! Though situated in a busy tourist shopping street, the tiny confined Giang Café attracts the serious permanent coffee lovers and soccer addicts.

My next stop is Lam café - the perfect refuge for artists, poets and thespians to refresh their minds for creativeness. Situated on a shaded street, it will bring you the relaxed moments by the simple but artistically-decorated bamboo furniture, colorful framed oil paintings on the wall, ceiling fans as well as wooden table with a lot of tiny china teapots.

Yet, if you ask me about my favorite one, I will not hesitate to answer that it is Quynh Café. Down in a quiet side street, this unassuming cafes’ entrance is marked by a simple red lantern and ornate ironwork doors. Stepping inside, you not only see the bamboo furniture on tiled floor but also the tiny plants adorn wooden shuttered windows. Looking on damp-streaked walls, you may surprise with wooden arrows and trumpets, farming implements and ancient hunting pistols. Breathing the cool air from the antiquated table-fan, wallowing in soft French background music, you will desire to stay longer...

Coffee drinking from another approach

The resurgence of tourism to these fragrant shores has led to the resurrection of the wonderful old ambience of former colonial times in many Hanoi cafés. Delightful cafés are now housed in elegant French-style villas with exquisite silk prints, meticulously polished wooden floors and pot-planted courtyards or serve delicious food all day and evening. Street cafés like the La Terrasse du Metropole on Ngo Quyen and Le Phung Hieu or Highlands Café, 84 Nguyen Du are the typical examples!

Hanoi’s coffee culture calls on coffee addicts from every corner of the globe!


Dangerous Dining: The World’s 10 Deadliest Delicacies

Vietnamese people eat dogs, cats, rats, pufferfish, toads, snakes, insects, raw shrimp paste any many other weird things. Well, looks like we're not alone...

Humans are one of the few creatures on this planet who have the capability of ignoring our basic survival instinct. We jump out of perfectly good airplanes, something that still sets off alarms in the most veteran skydivers. We push ourselves to the edge of death and back with physical demands on our bodies that defy reason: ultramarathons in the desert, living in microgravity, setting the world record for holding one’s breath under water.

Yet as contradictory as it sounds, testing these limits is probably what makes us feel the most human, the most attuned to nature and our own potential. Potential when it comes to soaring above the skies, jumping eight feet in the air… and eating the most bizarre, even dangerous, dishes set in front of us on the dinner table.

What are some of the deadliest foods the world has ever seen? Poisonous or harmful by design, not accident, and something that has us questioning our sanity when we choose to take a bite?

Fugu (河豚)

Fugu Sashimi Platter, Japan© k_haruna

Fugu (河豚), also known as pufferfish, is a fish whose liver and internal organs contain deadly amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin, for which there is no known antidote. It might surprise many to know, however, that any fugu chef worth his weight in Japan will attempt to leave just the right amount of poison for a tingling sensation to pass through the diner’s tongue, leaving him satisfied with the taste and experience.

Just like climbing the picturesque Mt. Fuji, many westerners try this dish for the experience, the risk you may be poisoned. In all honesty, I found it to be somewhat less thrilling than gambling (and this is coming from an adrenaline junkie), even with the threat of death tossed in. Thirty years ago, it caused a stir throughout Japan as Bando Mitsugoro, a famous Kabuki actor, died after eating four servings … though he may have overindulged a bit.

If you are in the mood to “risk your life”, be sure to travel to the city of Shimonoseki in western Japan where no fugu-related deaths have ever been reported. In addition, you have the choice of raw fugu sashimi, fried fugu (tastes like chicken), boiled fugu, fugu with miso, and fugu sake.

Ackee Jamaica

Ackee Fruit, Jamaica© picpu

Turning our attention to the Caribbean, we find the delicious but dangerous Ackee fruit. Although rich in vitamins and protein, if the fruit is eaten before it is fully ripe, it prevents glucose from being released from the liver, quickly lowering one’s blood sugar and ensuring violent illness or death. Many have called the symptoms following ingestion of the unripe fruit “Jamaican Vomiting Sickness.”


Why settle for mere legs in France when you can have the whole frog? The Giant Namibian Bullfrog is a delicacy in this African nation, but when you consume them, timing is everything. People are generally advised to dine “after the third rain” or when the frogs start croaking and breeding. Failure to do so will usually result in kidney failure, what the locals call Oshiketakata.


There’s not a great deal of preparation required to serve san nak ji (raw baby octopus) to food enthusiasts: the octopus is dismembered, served with sesame oil, and immediately presented on a plate. As such, many of the tentacles will still be moving around (remember, each “leg” of an octopus has its own brain), and won’t hesitate to use their suckers on you if you try to swallow them. Take care to chew thoroughly before you risk letting something alive and potentially dangerous down your throat. Despite the “thrill”, many foreigners trying the dish have reported a relatively bland taste, more chewy than delicious.


We’re so accustomed to hearing things like “you should eat healthy, natural foods, like apricots” that we forget all the preparation required to eliminate poisons and toxins harmful to humans. Seeds of cherries, plums, peaches, almonds, apricots, and even apples contain cyanogenetic glycosides, which upon ingestion release hydrogen cyanide. Don’t panic if you’re eating an apple while reading this fascinating article; it would take a massive number of seeds for any harmful effects to occur.

Unfortunately, in Turkey, known for its large population of apricot trees, a few have died after “seed binges”. Roasting the seeds will make them safe for consumption if you’re determined to eat a bowl with milk for breakfast everyday.


Cassava in Fiji© prilfish

The leaves and roots of cassava are surprisingly rich in cyanide. By this point, we may as well wish cyanide were the most delicious, sumptuous substance on the planet if we had to die to enjoy a bite … not much in the way of flavor, though. Cassava is a tropical vegetable originally from South America, but has gained popularity in Africa, particularly for its juice, which can be fermented to produce a drink called piwarry.

William Rhind, a 19th century geologist who was one of the first Europeans to encounter the root, observes:

When it is considered that this plant belongs to a highly-poisonous tribe, and is itself one of the most virulent of the species, it cannot but excite astonishment to find that it yet yields an abundant poison which, by the art of man, becomes not only perfectly innocent, but highly nutritious, yielding nourishment to many thousands of the natives of South America, and affording a luxury to the tables of more refined Europeans.

Oh Italy, is there anything you can’t give us? History with the ruins of Pompeii, oppression under Benito Mussolini, even rotting cheese with maggots (charmingly labeled a “delicacy” in your wonderful country)?

Casu Marzu is technically outlawed throughout much of Italy, and many would consider it more like garbage than food. Nevertheless, its preparation is as meticulous as a fine dessert: cheese from sheep’s milk is left outside to ferment; in the process introduced to a certain species of fly, which is allowed to lay its eggs on the cheese. The eggs hatch, and dinner begins … for the maggots, that is – not you; the best is yet to come.

Eventually, the maggots soften the cheese enough for consumption, but they must be eaten alive along with the cheese to prevent extra toxicity. If you don’t want to eat live maggots (what? you don’t?), you can starve their oxygen supply by placing the cheese in a sealed paper or plastic bag; the larvae will eventually jump out of the cheese in search of air and, finding none, die.


Elderberries© Auntie P

Just like Ackee, it’s not exactly to the food connoisseur’s advantage to consume unripe elderberries. This is probably the least dangerous food on the list, however, as the ripe fruit is eaten around the world safely and deaths are extremely rare. Take care to keep the plant away from small children and animals, and remember never to eat the stems or leaves of the sambucus (elderberry).

Blood Clams

Blood Clams (Opened)© willsfca

You don’t have to sleep with someone suspicious to get hepatitis if you choose to eat blood clams in Shanghai. Although blood clams are considered one of the more delicious Chinese delicacies, the style of preparation in Shanghai involves quick-boiling them, leaving many viruses and bacteria present, including hepatitis A, E, thyphoid, and dysentery.

And the worst of all …


That’s right, you heard me. The number one killer in the states isn’t drunk driving or murder, it’s the result of fast food: high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hyperobesity … In the end, most of it comes back to those three times a day cravings for cheap burgers and fries, as deadly as tetrodotoxin or cyanide; it just works slower. You’d probably have a healthier diet eating nothing but dishes #1-9 above rather than indulging in a lifetime of McDonald’s burgers.

So take care with what you put in your mouth. Oh … and always chew before swallowing.

Source from Vagapondish

25 delicious Vietnamese dishes



1. Pho

What list of Vietnamese cuisine would be complete without pho? It’s almost impossible to walk a block in Vietnam’s major cities without bumping into a crowd of hungry patrons slurping noodles at a makeshift pho stand.

This simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, features predominately in the local diet -- and understandably so. It’s cheap, tasty, and widely available at all hours.

cha ca ha noi, cha ca la vong

Chả cá

2. Cha ca

Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish.

This namesake alley is home to Cha Ca La Vong, which serves sizzling chunks of fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric and dill on a hot pan tableside.

banh xeo

Bánh xèo

3. Banh xeo

A good banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.

To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.

rau muong

Rau muống

4. Rau muong

Some might call it river weed -- with good reason -- but that doesn’t stop the masses from scarfing down platefuls of morning glory, usually stir-fried and seasoned with slithers of potent garlic.

Rau muong is common at Vietnamese restaurants and beer gardens.

Nem ran, cha gio

Nem rán (chả giò)

5. Nem

Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention.

The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce gets the gastronomic juices flowing before a main course. In the north these parcels go by the name nem ran while southerners call them cha gio.

goi cuon

Gỏi cuốn

6. Goi cuon

These light and healthy fresh spring rolls are a wholesome choice when you’ve been indulging in too much of the fried food in Vietnam.

The translucent parcels are first packed with salad greens, a slither of meat or seafood and a layer of coriander, before being neatly rolled and dunked in Vietnam’s favorite condiment -- fish sauce.

bun bo hue

Bún Bò Huế

7. Bun bo Hue

Central Vietnam’s take on noodles caters to carnivores with its meaty broth and piles of beef and pork. The thick slippery rice noodles also make for a heartier meal than noodles found in the north and south.

ga tan

Gà Tần

8. Ga tan

Got the sniffles? Opt for ga tan, a broth that’s Vietnam’s answer to the proverbial cup of chicken noodle soup. Sure it’s not quite how your mother used to make it, with its greenish tinge from the herbs and hunks of chicken parts, but it’s worth a try if you’re needing a Vietnamese tonic.

bun bo nam bo

Bún bò Nam bộ

9. Bun bo nam bo

This bowl of noodles comes sans broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden and the various textures intact. The tender slices of beef mingle with crunchy peanuts and bean sprouts, and are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, and a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.

trai cay dam, hoa qua dam

Hoa quả dầm

10. Hoa qua dam

This chunky blend of fresh tropical fruit in a cup is the perfect local treat when the heat of Vietnamese summer starts to wear you down. It could be considered a healthy alternative to ice cream -- if you stick to the shaved ice variation -- but for the full experience it’s best had with diabetes-inducing condensed milk mixed in.

pho cuon

Phở cuốn

11. Pho cuon

Pho cuon packages the flavors of phoand goi cuon in one neat little parcel. This Hanoi take on fresh spring rolls uses sheets of uncutpho noodles to encase fried beef, herbs and lettuce or cucumber.

pho xao

Phở xào

12. Pho xao

Pho xao may just be a slightly healthier take on my xao -- but the beauty is in the details. The flat, smoother phonoodle doesn’t crisp up like its pre-boiled instant cousin.

When done well the outer edges acquire a browned crunchiness, whilst the center stays soft and glutinous. This dish tastes best with a fried egg and seasoned with chili or soy sauce.



13. Xoi

Savory sticky rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam, more a meal itself. The glutinous staple comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), but almost always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.

banh cuon

Bánh cuốn

14. Banh cuon

These rolled up rice flour pancakes are best when served piping hot, still soft and delicate. Although seemingly slender and empty they have a savory filling of minced pork and mushrooms.

Zest is also added by dunking the slippery parcels in a fishy dipping sauce.

bun dau mam tom

Bún đậu mắm tôm

15. Bun dau mam tom

This plain-looking tofu and noodle dish is served with mam tom sauce -- the Vegemite of Vietnam. The pungent purple dipping sauce is used to flavor the slabs of deep-fried fofu that are at the core of the meal.

banh goi

Bánh gối

16. Banh goi

These pockets of deep-fried goodness are often described as the equivalent of a Cornish pastry or as a Vietnamese samosa, depending on the nationality of the person explaining.

Inside the crispy exterior you’ll find that it’s similar to neither description, with its filling of finely minced pork, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles.



17. Chao

With its thick and creamy texture Vietnam’s rice porridge is the best pick when your queasy stomach can’t handle much else. If you want to jazz it up you can always add slices of chicken, fish, beef, duck or pork ribs, along with a sprinkling of herbs and shallots.

bun cha, bun cha ha noi

Bún chả Hà Nội

18. Bun cha

Pho might be Vietnam’s most famous dish but bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital.

Just look for the clouds of meaty smoke after 11 a.m. when street-side restaurants start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire. Once they’re charred and crispy the morsels are served with a large bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles.

banh mi

Bánh mì

19. Banh mi

The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level. How exactly depends on what end of the country you’re in.

In the north chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein—bread, margarine and pâté—but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.



20. Lau

Eating this hodgepodge hotpot dish is a communal affair with everyone digging in to the oversized boiling pot. We’ve found that just about anything can (and will) go into this soup from tofu to frogs.

It’s best to stick to one main protein rather than opting for the mix of meat, poultry and seafood together.

banh bao

Bánh bao

21. Banh bao

Steamed pork buns aren’t traditionally Vietnamese but thatdoesn’t stop the spongy rolls from being sold by street vendors and in traditional Vietnamese restaurants.

The best buns have a hard boiled quail egg buried within the minced meat, while the cheaper ones come without any filling at all. Remember the lower the price the less stuffing, so you might not be getting the good deal you thought you were.

com chien

Cơm rang

22. Com rang

Fried rice may not be the most adventurous option, but sometimes you just want some familiar grub done right. Baby sized chunks of meat and colorful vegetables are mixed with soy and fish sauce in a wok streetside to create a rice dish that is still moist but slightly smoky.

Make it Vietnamese by supplementing with Bia Hanoi.

Vietnamese beafsteak

Bò bít tết

23. Bo bit tet

Vietnam’s equivalent to steak and eggs fills the void when you’re hankering for some greasy pub tucker. The thin flank steak is usually served with eggs, thick potato wedges, and Vietnamese meatballs on a sizzling cast iron plate.

com chay mo hanh

Cơm cháy

24. Com chay

Com chay refers to two things in Vietnam: vegetarian food, or Vietnam’s homemade rice crispies that are popular with children. Unlike the sweet treats in the United States, Vietnam’s version of a crispy comes with meat instead of marshmallows.

Vietnam’s vegetarian restaurants use mock meats to create all the traditional dishes and usually do a pretty good job. Although some places include artificial creations we would rather not try. Fake rubbery snails anyone?



25. Che

This dessert can be served in either a bowl or a glass. The latter is the more enticing option with the visible layers of bean jelly, coconut milk, fruit, and ice.

Best had when you’re craving something sweet on a scorching day.

Source: CNN Travel

Vietnamese cooking techniques

Common Vietnamese methods usually observed in preparing all ingredients include:

Vietnamese Condiments

Vietnamese Condiments

  • Rán,Chiên: fried dishes.
    • Chiên nước mắm: Fried with fish sauce.
    • Chiên bột: Battered then deep fried.
  • Rang: fried dishes without oil.
  • Áp chảo: Pan-fried then sautéed.
  • Xào: stir fry, sautéing.
    • Xào tỏi: Stir fry with garlic. Very common way of treating vegetables.
    • Xào sả ớt: Sautéed with lemongrass and chilli.
    • Xào lăn: Pan searing or stir frying quickly to cook raw meat.
    • Xáo măng: Braised/sautéed with bamboo shoots.
  • Nhồi thịt: Stuffed with minced meat before cooking.
  • Sốt chua ngọt: Fried with sweet and sour sauce.
  • Kho: stew, braised dishes.
    • Kho khô: literally dried stew (until the sauce thickens).
    • Kho tiêu/kho gừng/kho riềng: Stewed with peppercorns/ginger/galangal.
  • Nấu: Simply means cooking, usually in a pot.
    • Nấu nước dừa: Cooked with coconut juice.
  • Hầm/Ninh: slow-cook with spices or other ingredients over a long period of time.
  • Rim: simmering.
  • Luộc: boiling with water, usually applied to fresh vegetables and meat.
  • Hấp: steamed dishes.
    • Hấp sả: Hấp or steamed with lemongrass.
    • Hấp Hồng Kông or Hấp xì dầu: "Hong Kong" style steamed dish (i.e.: with scallion, ginger and soy sauce).
  • Om: clay pot cooking of Northern style.
    • Om sữa: Cooked in clay pot with milk.
    • Om chuối đậu: Cooked with young banana and tofu.
  • Gỏi: salad dishes.
  • Nướng: grilled dishes.
    • Nướng xiên: skewered dishes.
    • Nướng ống tre: Cooked in bamboo tubes over fire.
    • Nướng mọi/nướng trui/thui: Char-grilled over open fire.
    • Nướng đất sét/lá chuối: Cooked in a clay mould or banana leaves wrap. Recently clay moulds and banana leaves are being replaced by kitchen foil, hence the method has evolved intonướng giấy bạc.
    • Nướng muối ớt: Marinated with salt and chilli before being grilled.
    • Nướng tỏi: Marinated with garlic then grilled.
    • Nướng mỡ hành: Grilled then topped with melted lard, peanuts and chopped green onions.
  • Bằm: sauteed mixed of chopped ingredients.
  • Cháo: congee dishes.
  • Súp: soup dishes (not canh or clear broth soup)
  • Rô ti: roasting meat then bring to a simmer that usually accompany with strong spices.
  • Cà ri: curry/curry-like dishes.
  • Quay: roasted dishes.
  • Lẩu: hot pot dishes.
  • Nhúng dấm: Cooked in a vinegar-based hotpot, some variations including vinegar and coconut water-based hotpot.
  • Cuốn: Refers to any dish featuring rice paper wraps with bún and fresh herbs.
  • Bóp thấu/tái chanh: Raw meat/seafood preparing with lime or vinegar.

Source: Wikipedia

Hanoi - an Asian greatest street food city

Hanoi and its environs are the birthplace of many quintessential Vietnamese dishes, such as pho and bun cha, and the city is often cited as one of the world's great food capitals.

It's a street eater's paradise, with a plethora of options for those who want to eat like a local. In fact, many swear that the best food in Hanoi is found on the sidewalk, with dishes that often feature fish sauce, lemongrass, chilies, and cilantro and other fresh herbs.

The city, which celebrated its one-thousandth birthday last year, has put those centuries to good use perfecting its curbside nibbles.

Although vendors often cook in small shop fronts, they serve their wares on the sidewalk, on small plastic tables and chairs that can seem woefully inadequate for overgrown foreigners.

Bun cha Hanoi

Voted Vietnam’s tastiest pork. By the guy who wrote this caption.

1. Bun cha

Possibly the most delicious food available to man, bun cha is the lunch of choice all over Hanoi.

Pork patties and slices of pork belly are grilled over hot coals and served with fish sauce, tangy vinegar, sugar and lime, which, when combined, creates a sort of barbecue soup that is eaten with rice vermicelli and fresh herbs.

Accompanied by deep-fried spring rolls, this calorically rich dish is served with garlic and chilies on the side for an extra kick.

Try it at: Bun Cha, 34 Hang Than, Hanoi

Pho Hanoi

A true world traveler, born in Hanoi

2. Pho

As the birthplace of pho, Hanoi is ground zero for the fragrant rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs that has become popular all over the world. It's no surprise, then, that Hanoi's pho is outstanding. Two variations are most popular: pho ga (with chicken) and pho bo (with beef). Pho is traditionally served as a breakfast food, so you'll find pho sellers all over town from before dawn to mid-morning.

Try it at: Pho 112, 112 Van Phuc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Bun rieu cua

Even without the purple shrimp paste (really) it’s delicious.

3. Bun rieu cua

Freshwater crabs flavor this tangy tomato soup that's made with round rice vermicelli and topped with pounded crabmeat, deep-fried tofu and, often, congealed blood. An odoriferous purple shrimp paste is offered on the side -- it tastes delicious.

Chilies and fresh herbs are the finishing touches for a complete one-dish meal.

Try it at: 11 Hang Bac St, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Ga nuong

In Hanoi, where there’s smoke, there’s flavor.

4. Barbecue chicken

Ly Van Phuc is its official name, but the place is colloquially known as "Chicken Street" in honor of the tasty poultry being barbecued up and down this crowded alley.

Grilled chicken wings and feet, sweet potatoes and bread that's been brushed with honey before being grilled are served with chili sauce and pickled cucumbers in sweet vinegar.

The simple, enticing menu is nearly identical for all the vendors on the street.

Try it at: Pho Ly Van Phuc, Hanoi


Rib-sticking breakfast to go.

5. Sticky rice

In the morning you'll find the sticky rice vendors out hawking their wares. Sticky rice is a hugely popular carb-rich breakfast food that comes wrapped in a banana leaf. There are dozens of variations on the dish.

One is served with crushed peanuts and sesame salt, another involves white corn and deep-fried shallots.

Try it at: Street Xoi, 6 Hang Bac St, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Cafe sua da

So good, they drank it before we could take a picture.

6. Iced coffee

Coffee was brought to Vietnam by the French and is, along with baguettes, one of their lasting culinary legacies. Beans are grown in Vietnam and roasted, often with lard, before being ground and served in single-serving metal filters.

Drinking a cup of cafe nau da, iced coffee with condensed milk, on a busy side street is one of Hanoi's great pleasures.

Try it at: Cafe Nang, So 6 Hang Bac, Hanoi

Nem cua be

Can “rolls” be square? In Hanoi, yes.

7. Nem cua be

You can find many types of excellent spring rolls all over Vietnam, but nem cua be, made with fresh crab meat, are particularly good. Unlike regular spring rolls, they are wrapped into a square shape before being fried.

Nem cua be are a specialty of Hai Phong, a seaside town not far away, but are fantastic in Hanoi as well.

Try it at: Nem Vuong Pho Co, 58 Dao Duy Tu, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Chao ca

Vietnam’s take on Chinese congee.

8. Chao ca

Toast has nothing on chao ca, so if you're looking for a satisfying breakfast in Hanoi, why not try a steaming bowl of fish porridge?

Like Chinese congee, it's a rice gruel made by cooking down the grains until they are nearly liquid. In Hanoi, it's most often served with green onion, sprigs of dill and slivers of ginger.

Try it at: Doan Xom Chao Ca, 213 Hang Bang, Hanoi

Banh cuon

The city’s “goopiest” snack.

9. Banh cuon

Banh cuon is a Northern Vietnamese dish that migrated to Hanoi. Thin steamed rice flour pancakes filled with minced pork and cloud ear mushrooms are served with nuoc cham, a fish-sauce-based dipping sauce, fried shallots and fresh herbs. Slightly goopy in texture, banh cuon are often eaten for breakfast or as an evening pick-me-up.

Try it at: Thanh Van Banh Cuon, 14 Hang Ga, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Muc nuong

Pairs well with rice wine. But you can do it straight.

10. Muc nuong

There's no greater pleasure than drinking on a busy Hanoi sidewalk, and what better to nosh on at while you do than muc nuong? Dried squid is grilled over hot coals before being shredded and served with a spicy sauce. It's a chewy treat that is best washed down with shots of rice wine.

Try it at: Muc Nuong, 36 Hang Bo, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Source from CNN

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

For our third cold coffee how to of 2011, we're going to focus a bit on styles of cold coffee served in the far east, but not from Japan, land of the iced coffee towers. There's an iced coffee beverage that has been around so long that it has been somewhat modified and dare I say it - bastardized (a bit) - in the United States. That iced coffee method is known as Vietnamese Iced coffee, or as the Vietnamese call it, ca phe sue dah. (phonetic spelling)

At its core, Vietnamese iced coffee is a combination of concentrated coffee brew, condensed (very sweet) milk (nb: do not use evaporated milk; always condensed milk), and ice. Super-sweet condensed milk is used for a few reasons, not the least of which is the bitter nature of most authentic Vietnamese coffee brews, which I'll go into detail on below.

I say "bastardized" because of the common misconception these days that Vietnamese iced coffee must be made with coffee and chicory. In many of the how tos and videos online showing you this style of brewing, you'll note Cafe Du Monde coffee from a famous New Orleans coffee shop and roaster is mentioned as the defacto standard coffee to use. People say this because it is a coffee and chicory mix, and according to these how tos, chicory is a required ingredient.

That's just not true. Vietnamese iced coffee, as done in Vietnam (and other parts of south west Asia) does not use chicory. What they do use is whole, 100% coffee. The problem those in the specialty industry may have with this iced coffee style is the type of coffee used, and the roast levels: most of Vietnam coffee is robusta, and it is roasted very, very dark. This combination of roast style and coffee type, along with the amount of coffee used all lead to a fairly bitter beverage, and hence the need to sweeten things up. Since condensed milk is commonly available in Vietnam, this was a natural choice.

The parts of Vietnamese iced coffee

To brew Vietnamese iced coffee as authentically as possible (though with a specialty coffee twist, which I'll detail below), you need something called a phin. A phin is the name for the little coffee brewer used for this brewing style. Fortunately, these phins, in various sizes, are almost always available at any town's dollar store for only a few bucks. I've seen them as low as $2, and as high as $7. This makes it a very inexpensive brewing device.

You'll also need condensed milk (Eagle Brand is one of the more common ones in the US), fresh ground coffee, hot water, and ice. Let's get into more detail, but with an eye towards specialty coffee.

The Phin: Typically, these are found in 4oz (120ml) to 10oz (300ml) brewing sizes. The one pictured in our how-to is a 4oz (120ml) brewing phin. As well as coming in a variety of sizes, the construction can vary a bit too, but the core parts are usually all the same: main brewing chamber with a filter built in the bottom, press down spreader for putting on top of the coffee, and a lid which doubles as a drip catcher stand for the brewer when done.

Some phins have a gravity-held top spreader, which sits right on the top of your bed of coffee. Others have a screw down spreader that gives you more control and perhaps even a better brew. The idea with the screw down spreader is you screw it down on top of the bed of coffee, keep tightening until you feel the coffee's resistance, then unscrew it about a full turn to create some headspace between the coffee and top spreader. This allows the coffee to expand when you first pour hot water onto it.

The Coffee: In Vietnam, robusta coffee is the primary coffee available. It doesn't taste very good. One way to make robusta more palatable (and remove the burnt rubber flavours) is to roast it very dark. Another is to roast it dark but also mix in some arabica. But this is CoffeeGeek and we don't deal with dark roasts or robusta very much. We'll be using a quality single origin (in the case of this demonstration, we're using the Ethiopian Ardi from Madcap Coffee roasters), and adjusting our use of the condensed milk to compensate for the sweeter, much less bitter coffee used.

The grind is a standard drip grind, though you should experiment depending on the phin you use - some can handle a more fine grind, some require a coarser grind.

The Dose of Coffee: We're making a concentrated coffee beverage, so the dose is more than the standard 7/8g per 100ml (g) of water. For Vietnamese iced coffee in a phin brewer, we're starting with a ratio of 12g per 100ml (g) of water. In our 120ml brewer, we're using 14 grams of coffee. Of course, you should adjust based on taste for your purposes.

The Condensed Milk: Condensed milk is super sweet, super thick, and can store on your cupboard shelf for eons. We tried doing a specialty coffee with the often-recommended amounts of condensed milk (about 1cm in the bottom of your cup) and it was just way-overboard sweet. There's also something else to consider: do you want your Vietnamese iced coffee to be a dessert (like it is regarded in Vietnam)? Or do you want a nice, balanced beverage for enjoying cold?

In our how-to, we're aiming for the latter. We want something balanced, but perhaps with a slight nod to a sweet summer drink. Definitely adjust your amount of condensed milk for your own style of enjoyment, but it must have condensed milk to be a "Vietnamese iced coffee"

The Water and Ice: as always, used the best quality water you can, and the same goes for the ice - make it from filtered water, and only use fresh ice. It can influence the cup taste.

Vietnamese iced coffee is brewed with hot water; most online recipes say 190-195F, but these instructions are for super dark roasted robusta. If you're using specialty coffee, you want a starting water temperature of 200-205F.

Steep and Brewing Times

The target brew time for Vietnamese Iced coffee is similar to a press pot brew: around 4 minutes. This counts from the time you first add water to the phin brewer, to when the last drops fall out of the bottom. If your brewing time is much longer than that, consider either reducing your amount of coffee used, or adjusting the grind coarser, or a combination of the two. If your brewing time is shorter than four minutes, do the opposite adjustments: grind finer, use more coffee, or a combination of the two.

How to Brew Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Variants on this brewing method

The Vietnamese use the phin brewer for both hot and cold drinks. To brew a cup of traditional hot Vietnamese coffee, you can follow the method above but with the following changes

  • Coffee Dose: go back to the more traditional 8g/100ml (g) ratio of coffee to water. You can up this dose a bit, but considering that you're grinding for drip, the extraction will be greater than a press pot. In Vietnam, the typical coffee dose is 12-14g per 150ml of water used.
  • Condensed Milk: The hot beverage uses less condensed milk than the cold one, but it still uses this sweetened milk product.
  • Brewing Times: because of the lower volume of ground coffee used, brewing times for hot Vietnamese style coffee are shorter - about 2-3 minutes max, depending on the size of the phin used.
  • Keeping Things Hot: Traditionally in Vietnam, they brew hot or cold into a glass, but for hot coffee, they put the glass (stacked with the brewer) in a flat-bottomed bowl of steaming hot water to keep the brewed beverage hot while the brewing takes place.

Another variant on the Vietnamese Iced coffee method is what is commonly known as Thai Iced Coffee. It is made in a similar way, but also uses a healthy amount of spices and a small amount of sugar to offset some of the spices' bitterness.

To make Thai iced coffee, brew the Vietnamese way, but also place in the brewing chamber a healthy amount of cardamom, cinnamon and almond extract - aim for about 2 tsp of spices total with ground cardamom making up the bulk. Also for serving, some prefer to add the condensed milk after the brew, to create a top down layer effect that your guests can stir.

Source from: Coffeegeek

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