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Foodies 4 Tết

Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) is coming!

Like Christmas or New Year in the West, Tết is time of reunion, holiday and also party. Vietnamese celebrates the New Year on 03 first days of January lunar calendar, but all preparation and enjoyment starts and finishes a week before and after those days.

One of the most highlights of Tết is food preparation. Vietnamese cook number of dishes per day during Tết as offerings to ancestors. Afterward they enjoy foods with family and friends.

So, what Vietnamese people eat during Tết? Here are some highlights of foodie you may find in Vietnamese meals.

Bánh Chưng (Square Cake) – Northern Specialty.

Bánh Chưng is a mixture of sticky rice, green bean, pork and other spices like fish source, pepper… They are all wrapped in leaf of ‘Dong’ and boiled in 12 hours. There is another version of similar Bánh Chưng in the South of Vietnam called Bánh Tét. People also change ingredients for different flavors.

Square Cake 4 Vietnamese Tet

Gà Luộc (Chicken)

A must-dish for Tết, Vietnamese believes Chicken dish will bring a prosperity for each member in their family in the New Year. Most popular way to cook is boiling and deep it with salt and lime.

Thit ga luoc

Giò Chả (Vietnamese Sausages)

Vietnamese sausages find rarely in daily meals. It just eaten in special events like Tet, weddings or anniversary party. Vietnamese sausages made of from lean pork or beef, wrap around with banana leaf and steamed.

Vietnamese Sausages

Nem (Spring Rolls)

The original Vietnamese spring rolls made from mixture of pork, vermicelli, egg, bean sprout.. and wrapped by rice paper and fried. People in the city now change the pork to shrimps, beef or other seafood to get different flavors. Spring rolls serve with fish source and other mints.

Nem Vietnam - Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Dưa Hành (Salad)

Northern Vietnamese people prepares soured onion to eat with their Square Cake. There are more ingredients found in the South with bean sprout, carrot, chilly and radish.

Vietnamese Salads

And of course, the Tết meals will not complete with a special Vietnamese drink: Rice Wine!

Vietnamese Rice Wine

Happy Vietnamese New Year 2014!

Vietnamese Home Foodies

I am kind of believer for best foods are not coming from 5 star restaurant. It is especially true for Vietnamese food. You are not really known of Vietnamese courses until you got into a Vietnamese family. Somebody said ‘Every family in Vietnam has a professional chef’ It is also deadly true!

Vietnamese people eat differently at home. Some of the famous courses that apparently represented for Viet food culture are rarely eaten at home. They are good, wonderful but Vietnamese somehow can not cope with them daily. They have a different menus to cheer up the family members. What are they?

Broth
A meal without broth will be unusual in Vietnamese family food, broth could be simple like morning glory both or cabbage broth, if they have time, they will make more completed courses like fish broth or oyster broth. Broth course in also the most difficult courses to make in Vietnam food.

Rice
Vietnamese is the World most rice eater. They eat about 300kg rice per year. This is a must and the most favored food for Vietnamese. Rice will be served on the bowl and people mix with other course to eat.

Omeletes
Westerners normally eat omelettes at breakfast, Vietnamese eat this course at home for lunch or dinner. It normally cooked with pork, onions and come along with a bit of fish source.

Morning Glory
Most eaten in north of Vietnam, normally boil and deep with fish source. It is good for teeth (less Northern people having problem with teeth, my friend doctor said so), it is more popular in the summer and always eaten with Vietnamese small egg – plants. It is traditional Vietnamese countryside meal.

Another course for rice
Vietnamese often set a course for rice bowl, it makes a good sense though, as rice itself is very light and flavor – less, making a salted courses like fried pork, fish with fish source or shrimp sauteed would make a better combination.

If you join a group tours in Vietnam, the restaurant always offer 9 to 12 courses menu. Vietnamese normally don’t eat that much in daily life, 4, 5 courses are maximum. Courses are changing everyday based on seasons and particular favor of each family.

Viet Value Travel offers tour to visit local family and enjoy the meal with local people. You will not only understand the local life but also experience what authentic of Vietnamese foodies are!

Mắm Tôm (Vietnamese Shrimp Sauce)

Writing about Vietnamese food is always interesting, but I rarely do it as language barrier. I am trying something today and choose one of our very special food – Mam Tom (Shrimp sauce or paste)

After collecting small shrimp from the ocean, people wash it and crush it. Dry it up for few days before add a special enzyme from a leaf. Keep it for few months for fermented before use. It takes a few months to make it and you can also keep it for few months in dry condition.

Mam Tom is widen eaten in Vietnamese daily meals, most popular in Northern part of Vietnam. Vietnamese eat it with tofu, noodles, pork or dog meat… The easiest way to recognize it is its smell. It will be very hard to smell for people who not familiar with it. It’s stinky!

Vietnamese people believe that Mam Tom helps them to avoid ghost or evil, keeping it at home brings luck and safe for family (trust me: not for kissing :)).

Mam Tom can be considered to Vegemite from Australia (I can’t stand it!), many people like it and hate it.  I still suggest you try once or two, it can be found anywhere in Hanoi sidewalk. Trying Mam Tom is one of 2 things you must do to get impressed by locals: Eating Mam Tom and pronounce the word of ‘Ngon’  like locals. You will pass the test to join Vietnamese community then :)!

Sample of recipes for Bun Dau Mam Tom (Hanoian Specialty)

Ingredients (served for 4):

  • Rice noodle (Bún): 1kg
  • Tofu (Đậu phụ): 0,5kg
  • Shrimp Sauce (Mắm Tôm): 0,1kg or a small canned box
  • Chilly, lemon, sugar, lemon grass, oil, oregano

Process (20 minutes):

Deep fried tofu while fine slice chilly, lemon grass. Put Mam Tom into a bowl then add 2 spoon of sugar, some chilly and lemon grass. Squeeze lemon on and mix well. Lastly, add couple of spoon of hot oil. Served with noodles and fried tofu and oregano.

Vietnamese popular weird dishes!

Note: This article is about the weird Vietnamese foods and it’s photos that may not suitable for everyone! Please consider to leave or keep reading!

Weird food can be found all over the World. Likely every cultures have their own way to show. Vietnam is not an exceptional. I like the saying from the west that I had read when I was in English centre ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’. Today I would like to show you the literal meaning of above saying in Vietnam. You may find those awful, curious or whatever but the fact is Vietnamese love them, eat them and enjoy them even everyday!

Animal – blood pudding (Uncooked) – Tiết canh
Is it strange for you to know that lots of Vietnamese choose this course for their daily breakfast? The most popular one made from the fresh pig’s blood after mixing up with herbs, pork meat then served with a piece of lemon. Depending on region, people can change the animal to goat, duck or even dog (popular only in countryside)

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Longyan’s tree buds – Bọ xít rang
This course is so popular in north of Vietnam like Mai Chau or Son La. Summer is Longyan season, there are thousand of bugs hanging on the leaf, people collect them then put them to a water pot for few hours. All their venom will be come off after that then they cook them as deep fried. Served with rice wine.

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Balut or fetal duck egg – Trứng Vịt Lộn
Popular throughout Vietnam, you can find it in almost local Pho shops as people eat it for breakfast before Pho. I even found it on Unification Express train and it is best sellers. Local love it, normally served with fine ginger and other Vietnamese herbal. Eat in hot!

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Grilled Chicken’s feet – Chân Gà Nướng
Chicken feet are eaten more in the North Vietnam like Hanoi (temperature reason?). It’s grilled after mix up with fish source, chilly, garlic and other ingredients. The popular restaurants in Hanoi are found along the Kim Lien or Nguyen Thai Hoc Street.

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Dog meat – Thịt Chó
Most popular food on above listing. Dog meats are eaten almost everywhere in Vietnam, especially in the North. A typical cook offers seven dishes such as boil, grill, steam, broth with noodles and stew…Dog meat served with famous smelly shrimp source and number of Vietnamese herbs.

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Animal – wine selection
It’s easy to find and popular drink in Vietnam is rice wine. Vietnamese later chuck more stuff on wine to make different tastes and purpose. Most of mixed wine explained for healthy drink, good for bone and blood – pressure, some stands for Vietnamese Viagra too. The selection included Chinese herbs, poisonous snakes, baby goat, bird, pig or pricy of bear’s hands!

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Lists are long and seem to be endless, however those above are most popular and widen – eat throughout Vietnam. Like it or not, believe it or not, you are invited to Vietnam for travel and experience the differences. Is that the main reasons for us to travel and see the new things, new lands and new cultures?

10 restaurants I like from Saigon to Hanoi

Food is always the most important part of every trip. I am lucky to have chance to travel throughout my country more than one time. Every city or province in Vietnam has their own specialty. It is likely impossible to list all them here. I just want to show you my personal favored list that I often go. My choice is simple: hygienic, affordable and unique foods that you may not find in anywhere else.

Saigon

1, Pho Le (Beef noodle soup)

It tastes quite differently from most of Pho from the north. It is a bit sweeter I think. This shop serves with a big bowl, plenty of extra fresh vegetables and herbs. Chicken eggs and meat balls can be ordered as aside at small additional charges.

  • Address: 303-305 Vo Van Tan St., Ward 5, District 3.

2, Luong Son Quan (Bo Tung Xeo)

This is a popular place for both Vietnamese and tourist. It offers the beautiful grilled beef with self grilled service at your table. Beef is very tender plus secret mixed source. The other specialties are also available such as snake, scorpion and other you may not want to hear.

  • Address: 31 Ly Tu Trong St., District 1

3, Banh Xeo (Saigon Pan Cake)

The shop located in a small alley of Hai Ba Trung street in Saigon. It is always crowded by locals. There are couple of courses are served but highlight of restaurant is Banh Xeo which is the typical southern food.

  • Address: 46A Dinh Cong Trang – District 1 – Ho Chi Minh City.

Nha Trang

4, Lac Canh Restaurant

Lac Canh is small family run restaurant, it’s also famous for grilled beef but they offer in different flavors. Other grilled seafoods are also available here.

  • Address: 44 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm – Nha Trang City

Hoi An

5, Mermaid Restaurant

The one of very first restaurant opened in Hoi An. The founder owned number of restaurant in town but still keep Mermaid in purpose of providing affordable menu and unique tastes. I recommend to get some specialties of Hoi An and Stuffed Squids. They are the best in town.

  • Address: 02 Tran Phu – Hoi An Town

Da Nang

6, Quan Ba Thoi

This is a must – visit place for fans of seafood while you are in Da Nang. Restaurant of Ba Thoi offers the fresh seafood at affordable price. Just ask any locals for direction.

  • Address: 96 – 98 Le Dinh Duong – Da Nang City

Hue

7, Lac Thien Restaurant

Lac Thien is family run restaurant in Thuong Tu gate of Forbidden Citadel. The owner – Mr. Lac is deaf and mute. He is quite good at body language and foods has picture presented so it will be fine for your order. Don’t miss the special Hue Pan cake. Love this restaurant; love this family and also Mr. Coin.

  • Address: 06 Dinh Tien Hoang street – Hue

Hanoi

8, Bun Cha Hang Manh (Grilled pork with noodle)

It is busy all the time, especially at lunch. It offers a unique taste of meat and fish source. Bun Cha is also one of Hanoi specialties. Try it!

  • Address: 01 Hang Manh – Hoan Kiem – Hanoi

9, Snailed Noodle Phu Tay Ho

There are number of shops here for your choice. I think they all offer the good food. Just try to jump to the first one on the line – street. Snails are caught from the West Lake right in front. Fresh taste, a bit rubbery though, broth contents tomatoes, bones and other herbs that make a perfect combination.

  • Address: Phu Tay Ho – Tay Ho – Hanoi

10, Alfresco

The one and almost only Western restaurant I like in Hanoi (I go there quite often actually). It offers great pizza and spare ribs. Pasta I like is seafood with scream source. It is great service there too.

Those are places where I like to go, if you feel like following my routes, please click here to get the printable version. Kindly note that what I like may not the same to what you like. And do you have your own list of Vietnamese restaurants that you fall in love with? please write them down to our comment box below to show to the others. It’s very helpful isn’t it?. Enjoy your meals!

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