Food in Vietnam deserves a post of it’s own. Not only is it wonderfully tasty and full of healthy leafy greens, but it’s also made fresh to order right in front of you. From bowls of pho, to barbequed bun cha, Vietnam was definitely a culinary highlight of the trip. There are things that I ate here that I’ll remember for life…
… like what this street vendor was cooking up: banh xeo. It’s a kind of crispy pancake with beef and shrimp which you fold into rice paper along with fresh herbs and leaves to make a sort of spring roll. Mmmm…
Another great thing about travelling in Vietnam was the fact that the Vietnamese are drinkers. This was a pleasant change for an Irishman travelling in mostly non-drinking cultures for the last year and I certainly made the most of it. Reasonably decent locally brewed beer is served up at bia hoi restaurants on every second street corner and it’s so cheap that it is practically free (€0.40 for a pint!). We spent many evenings trying to get to know locals over a few brews. Great fun. There are also loads of atmospheric cocktail bars if you’re looking to splash out…
… like this one on the 50th floor of the Sheraton in Saigon. Slurping down a mohito while watching the sun set over the city below is an experience worth paying for.
On top of the ready availability of booze, they are also just as addicted to coffee as us Europeans. I had really been missing waking up to a decent cup of aromatic coffee. It’s a part of the culture in Vietnam and they have their own quirky (but tasty) way of preparing it: they make an unbelievably strong shot using a combination of the French Press method and the percolation method, pour it over some condensed milk, mix it together and then pour the lot into a long glass filled with ice cubes. That was how my morning kicked off every day – deliciously.
But it wasn’t all tastiness. There was a whole bunch of crazy too. In fact, we found one of only two things that I was simply incapable of tasting (read: wimped out on) on this trip: fertilised duck eggs. Ugh.
Innocuous enough looking, right? Just a normal egg…
…But this is inside!
A much braver person than me, our friend and host in Da Nang, Kelsey.
And the crazy doesn’t stop there. Dog food anyone? I ate dog once before with a family in Indonesia a few years ago and it’s not an experience I’d repeat. Aside from the fact that I was thinking about puppies the entire time I was eating it, dog meat is actually a pretty crappy meat so as you can guess we didn’t bother to visit this restaurant.
Yum, just what you need when you’re feeling down: preserved sea creatures!
Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever these additions to this iced drink were, they were sweet and surprisingly tasty.
Nom. Colourful and tasty veg abounds here in Vietnam
This is the sea mantis, hilariously immortalised by The Oatmeal here. I had one barbecued on a charcoal grill and it tasted kind of like a large prawn.
And if eating a sea creature with super powers isn’t enough for you, you can tuck into a living fossil. Horseshoe crabs are 450 million years old and were around at the same time as the dinosaurs.
A street vendor selling rambutans. I quite enjoyed eating this tasty sugary fruit until we mentioned it to another traveller: “Rambutan? Isn’t that the thing that looks like an inflamed testicle?”. It was kind of ruined for me after that. Damn.