Fusion cooking is not new to Vietnam. The culinary arts have been influenced by China, India and France but have been blended to suit the Vietnamese palate. Old and new, hot and cold, Yin and Yang find a place in the kitchen. And since the kitchen is so often on the side of the street one can feast on the aromas just driving by.
Check out the food streets – Mai Hac De, Tong Duy Tan, Cam Chi, or Le Van Huu. See Food
Pho glorious pho
This is Vietnam in a bowl. The ubiquitous food stalls serve noodle soup 24/7. Late night pub crawlers and early morning street hawkers can find nourishment for the soul.
Consumme, noodles, ginger, cinnamon and secret mixtures of spices combine to make this traditional dish. The most common are Pho Bo (beef) and Pho Ga (chicken). There is no Pho To (those are copy shops)
For the less intrepid, Pho 24, (www.pho24.com.vn ) a chain of pho shops, serves this dish in restaurants that do not allow you the luxury of inhaling motorbike fumes, but with uniformed waiters and full size chairs they’re the perfect place to bring the relatives when they visit. For the more adventuresome, alleyway pho shops have taste treats for just over a dollar.
It’s a Wrap
“Nem“; spring rolls to you, are the super snack. Fresh, deep fried or steamed they’re filled with noodles, herbs, shrimp or pork or chicken or …. I could go on but I’ll release you. Try them – they’re great.
Royal Hue chefs designed the Vietnamese tortilla for Asian DIYers. It’s a ‘wrap your own meal’. Start with a rice paper pancake and keep adding the goodies from the plates in front of you. Roll your own, dip in the sauce and … die of happiness. Try the restaurant at 6 Ly Thuong Kiet. (more Hue than Hue is their motto)
Banh Cuon is a rolled rice paper pancake filled with mushrooms and pork and served with dry fried onions, coriander and dipped into belostomatid sauce (water beetle essence). Half the fun is watching the preparation. 17 Cha Ca Street is one of the best.
Com Binh Dan University style buffet fast food. Everything is in front of you – just point. Chicken on a skewer, pork schnitzel, peanuts, tofu, greens, pumpkin, larvae and mystery food just waiting to be discovered. By far the best and cheapest are near universities. Go at lunch time, elbow your way through the crowd, point and click. Easy peasy. Sometimes you have to buy tickets from grandma before you order. She’s the one with the eagle eye watching the till – usually a tin box. Try 30,000 dong first. If you need more – which is doubtful – the servers will make sure grannie knows and you can whiz back to pay her.
Bun Cha is a lunchtime classic of bar-b-que pork patties, consumme, noodles and herbs. Everyone knows the shop at 1 Hang Manh.
Bun Oc is the snail version of the lunchtime soups, Bun Ca is the snakehead fish soup and Bun Rieu Cua includes seafood, thin noodles and sometimes pork. Try ‘food street’ Mai Hac De
Cha Ca La Vong is unique to Hanoi and is so famous it has its own street named after it. The snakehead fish is deboned and seasoned, served at your table in a hot brazier. Throw in the herbs and dish it on top of noodles. 14 Cha Ca Street
Short grain rice and red beans steamed inside a bamboo tube is a highland speciality, Com Lam, and is served with salt and sesame seeds
Hu Tieu is another dinner dish that’s perfect on a cold evening with your choice of ingredients – or try them all. Broth, noodles, dumplings, eggs, sliced pork, meatballs, shallots and/or pork hocks. 104 Mai Hac De
Xoi is the perfect snack of sticky rice topped with coconut, sesame seeds, beans or oreo cookies … OK OK just checking to see if you’re awake – no oreo cookies. Wrapped in a banana leaf it’s super filling and all biodegradable.
Authentic Recipes from Vietnam
Trieu Thi Choi and Marcel Isaak
The Best of Vietnamese Cooking
Ngoc Anh, Suzanne
Evans Mitchell Books, 2002
Johannessen, Lars Mikkel
The Gioi, 2006
Corlou, Didier, 2008
Into the Vietnamese Kitchen
Nguyen, Andrea, 2006
KOTO – A Culinary Journey through Vietnam
Lister, Tracey and Pohl Andreas
The Vietnamese Cookbook
Tran My, Diana
Books International, 2000.
Nha In Bao Quan Doi Nham dan 11, Editor: Eric Andre
R&R Publications, Australia, 2004
Vietnamese Food and Cooking
Hermes House, 2006
Wild, Wild East
Recipes and Stories from Vietnam
Baron’s Educational Series, 2008
World Food Vietnam
Lonely Planet, 2000.
http://stickyrice.typepad.com/ the best food site in the world !