Vietnamese Food - What to Order

Aug 11th, 2004, 04:08 PM
  #1  
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Vietnamese Food - What to Order

Vietnamese Food - What to Order
Thank you for the restaurants in Hanoi.
Often times we are on the other side of town of recommended restaurants and want to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant in the area where we are at that time.
What are your favorite Vietnamese foods and description. We know spring rolls, pho, but what are other Vietnamese foods that are delicious? Thanks again!
IsisMnroe is online now  
Aug 12th, 2004, 04:06 AM
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try mango salad if you like sour stuff. there is this mangosteen salad also that is authentic and special. i personally love the tomato soup noodle and the lemon grass chicken or caramel ginger chicken. a little closer to western is the chicken/pork cooked with basil leave. enjoy!
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Aug 12th, 2004, 08:09 AM
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Hmmm... this topic is VERY close to my heart! Here are a few favorites, though it may depend on how much spice you can take and what region of Vietname you will be in:
1) papaya salad: can be made spicy or not with dried shrimps, tomatoes, etc. similar to Thai.
2) Hue beef/pork noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue): SPICY noodle soup with thick round noodles and a lot of lemongrass. I like this even more than pho.
3) Southern Seafood soup (Hu Tieu Nam Vang): savory pork-based noodle soup with thick or chewy noodles, variety or seafood, veggies... YUM!
4) Caramel fish (Ca Kho): Cooked in a clay pot--usually cat-fish--with burnt sugar, fish sauce, and sometimes garlic.
5) Sweet and sour fish soup (Can Chua): Extremely fragrant and tasty soup cooked with catfish, pineapple, tomatoes, lemongrass, fresh herbs. Meant to be eaten with rice and usually served in combination with #4. These two dishes are VERY southern.
6) pork and mushroom filled crepes (Banh cuon): rice flour filled micro-crepes filled with sauteed goudn prok and woodear mushrooms, eaten with fish sauce and fresh herbs. Popular in north and south.
7) Fresh spring rolls (goi cuon): rice paper roll filled with noodles, pork, shrimp, lettuce, and herbs. Dipped in peanut sauce. These are not fried.

It just occurred to me that these are very traditional dishes and I'm not sure if that's what you were asking about. Besides, I can go on forever. So let me know what tastes you like (e.g. spicy or not) and I'll give you a better list.
kathyl is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 08:56 AM
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Thank you for the above list of recommended dishes and ingridients.
We like spicey food. But heard that to order, it's good to order a mix of dishes (such as spicey, sweet, curry, salad).
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Aug 12th, 2004, 09:02 AM
  #5  
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Book: Lonely Planet World Food Vietnam. I shall also plan to purchase this book. It has recommended food and restaurants.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 09:05 AM
  #6  
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In late December, we are planning a trip to Bangkok, Loas, Vietnam and maybe Cambodia and return back from Bangkok. Probably for a month or more.
In Vietnam: Hanoi, Hue, Danang, Hoian, and maybe Saigon.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 09:15 AM
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I agree that the Lonely Planet book would be perfect for you! I just want to warn you against using the Lonely Planet guide for Vietnam (not the food one)--I found it to be very poor in suggestions and not very accurate.

As for food and travel, do try to eat some of the regional delicacies and compare how each region does the same dish differently. For example, pho is traditionally northern but each region has made it their own with different variations on the broth and herbs. I think I'll be most useful if you have more specific questions. The Lonely Planet food guide should give you a good overview.

One last thought, many tourists usually go to the more fany restaurants but you may want to try some home-cooking places, which are not fancy but clean. In Saigon, there are many of these restaurants in the tourist areas--some with names like Restaurant 51 or the like--with waiters standing at the doorways to entice you. At these kinds of establishments, I would usually order a fish dish (fried or steamed), a meat dish and a stir-fried vegetable of some sort. Hope that helps!
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Aug 12th, 2004, 05:32 PM
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And of course try to find Cha Ca - it's a northern speciality, but I'm not sure how widely available it is outside of the Cha Ca Va Long restaurant in the Old Quarter of Hanoi (Cha Ca Street, to be precise!)

In the mountain areas game seems to be still popular - I was offered porcupine in or near Da Lat but was concerned that I might be eating an endangered species, so went for the wild boar instead. Which might have been the neighbour's pig, for all I could tell, but it was pretty good.

I also remember a sort of kebab consisting of a minced fish or meat mixture moulded around sugar cane - I think especially popular in Hoi An, will try to find a more precise description than that.

Happy munching.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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I was thinking of sugar cane prawns (chao tom). Minced prawns, pork fat etc., moulded around a stick of sugar cane and barbecued.

When you say "spicy" do you mean hot? Most Vietnamese dishes don't feature hot sauces like Thai curries and soups, instead you often get to add fresh chopped chilli as a garnish, along with herbs. But you'd know that if you've eaten pho.

One disappointing dish I had was "shrimp in coconut milk" - I was anticipating what everyone else in SE Asia (I think) calls coconut milk, but instead I was presented with a green coconut containing the thin juice, in which the shrimp had been cooked - very bland and uninteresting. I think that was in Nha Trang.
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Aug 12th, 2004, 09:30 PM
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Neil - you were thinking of the coconut milk extracted from the white coconut flesh, the liquid inside a coconut is quite watery. Supposed to be very refreshing but I don't like it much either.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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Actually, coconut "juice" 9as opposed to coconut "milk" is very nutritious and clean (because it is protected within the coconut). During the war, Vietnamese soldiers would often use coconut "juice" to cleanse woulds and even as IV fluid!

In addition to the juice, you can also eat the young coconut "meat," which is very delicious.

I forgot to mention the desserts! For an authentic experience, you have to try one of the many puddings that are made with sticky rice and either corn or taro or lentils. Due to the French occupation, Vietnam also has fabulous french pastries!
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Aug 13th, 2004, 06:43 AM
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To Kathyl, I never buy Lonely Planet Guides because I find I don't agree with many of their recommendations. I am wondering what you think about the Rough Guides to Vietnam? I will be going to Vietnam for the first time in January, need a reliable guide, and I'm gleaning as much as possible from this website. Thanks so much
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Aug 13th, 2004, 08:38 AM
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I haven't used Rough Guides was Vietnam, but as with most guide book labels, some countries are done better than others. Maybe you can go to a local bookstore and do a side-by-side comparison between RG and LP?

In a general, I like the Footprint guides the best. I believe they're a British label and am not sure if they have one for Vietnam.
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Aug 14th, 2004, 08:48 AM
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Kathyl,
Thanks for the reply. I do the side by side comps at the book store, but that doesn't mean I'll agree with the chosen book's recommendations when I finally get there. What reads well, doesn't always translate into a good experience. I've never used Footprint, but since you seem to be so well informed and helpful, I'll give it a try. I always post trip reports so I'll let you know how things turn out. Many thanks.
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Aug 14th, 2004, 09:58 PM
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Pat, you're right, "juice" was the word I should have used. Those shrimp were damn uninteresting, but I think we picked the wrong restaurant anyway. A dish of "five spice roast chicken" turned out to be a haunch of a fowl so tough you'd have needed a chainsaw to make much impression. My guess is that it was a fighting chicken that had retired undefeated many years ago and finally keeled over from old age.

Canned coconut milk is of course available all over, and cheap. It can also be made at home by steeping dessicated coconut in boiling water then whizzing in a blender and straining for thick milk, repeating the exercise for thin milk. From memory the home-made Asian version uses coconut flesh shredded with something that looks a bit like a big sideways orange juicer.

Lonely Planet guides have served us pretty well in Vietnam and NZ, but you have to allow for the fact that hotel and restaurant recommendations are pretty perishable things.
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