Saturday, April 7, 2012

Food of Vietnam

For someone who loves to eat, Vietnam is a great country to visit.  The food is delicious, varied, plentiful and inexpensive.  Our average meal cost around $2.  Click the link to see some of my favorite meals in Vietnam.
Walk down a typical street in any Vietnamese city, and you're likely to see people sitting on stools eating on the sidewalk.
The most popular dish on the street is probably pho, a soup with rice noodles, greens and meat or tofu.
Here is a typical bowl of pho.  It was delicious and cost $1.  Since the street vendors are open late, a bowl of pho makes for a nice late-night snack before bed.

Above is a video taken while we were eating the above-pictured bowl of pho.  While taking the video, I was too busy zooming in on the eye of the rat--which turned out not to be a rat's eye at all--that I didn't notice the woman slipping on the stairs above the sewer.

Above is a simple but delicious meal that I ate repeatedly at a restaurant in Ninh Bihn.
This dish is known as cau lau, and it is primarily served in the Hoi An region of Vietnam.  It consists of grilled pork and thick, rice noodles in a light, soy-based broth.  The greens and fried crackers are added just before serving, so they are still crisp while you eat them.  It's delicious.
This appetizer is almost like a Vietnamese tostada.  It features a mango salsa and shrimp served on a fried wonton.

Above is a video of a fish spring roll being prepared for us at our table at a restaurant in the Mekong Delta, just outside of Saigon.
This chicken dish was cooked by Nick.  He took a few cooking classes while in Vietnam.  After eating a delicious meal in Hoi An, Nick asked if they would teach him to cook the meals we just ate.  They agreed, and Nick returned the next morning, notebook in hand.  By noon, the rest of us arrived at the restaurant and ate the food Nick cooked!
Sometimes a meal is enhanced immeasurably by location.  For instance, we ate this simple meal of spring rolls, and vegetables & shrimp with noodles while sitting on lounge chairs in the sand, a few yards from the surf.  Not only was the location beautiful, but the food tasted very good and cost around $2. 

Above is a video of fishermen heading out to sea in round boats, which are distinctive to central Vietnam.  This video was taken while we were eating the above-pictured meal on the beach.

Here is another restaurant with a nice location--right in the heart of Old Town in Hanoi.  However, this restaurant doesn't serve traditional Vietnamese food; it's a KFC! 

As good as Vietnamese food is, sometimes it's nice to return to some old favorites, like the delicious thin-crust pizza--we heard the two restaurant owners speaking Italian--and the Indian meal pictured above.
 Most of our hotels offered western-style breakfasts.  At this hotel in Dalat, they cooked the eggs to order and offered many western favorites which are hard-to-find in Vietnam, such as Corn Flakes, peanut butter, jam and yogurt.
This was my second-favorite Vietnamese dish--grilled chicken in a delicious soy sauce.

My favorite Vietnamese dishes are the variety of clay pot dishes which are popular all over the country.  Three of them are pictured above.  They are served on the table with the sauce still bubbling, and the wonderful aromas preparing you for the delicious meal to come.

Above is a video of typical clay pot sizzling.
The kind employees of our Hanoi hotel invited us to join them for their meal celebrating International Women's Day.  International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 each year, and it is a major national holiday in some nations (though not the U.S.).

Above is a video taken at the Women's Day meal.

Seated to the right is Lan, who lived in San Diego in 2009 and was Beth's student.  She now lives in Saigon.  We were lucky enough to meet up with Lan and enjoy a meal together.  At the end of the day, a meal is really made by the company you share while eating it.

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