Food and travel go together like mac ‘n’ cheese. From the moment we taste something new, to the time we arrive home and tell everyone they “…have to try this!”
Busabout kicks off on a food journey, and there’s no better place to start than Vietnam.
One of the best things about Vietnam is the incredible street food. It’s a common misconception that street food will be sole cause for an upset tummy, resulting in discomfort and annoyance that can interrupt and ruin a day’s sightseeing.
However, street food is the safest bet for fresh cuisine
A good rule of thumb is to follow where the locals eat. A little food cart that serves noodles from a communal pot but is overflowing with customers and bustling with noise, is much more trustworthy than an expensive make-shift Western restaurant in the main tourist district. And to be fair it’s not the food that usually causes an overextended stay in the facilities but rather the water – and the ice in your drinks. So avoid those where possible.
Street food is so indicative of local delicacies, how foods are traditionally cooked and cheap-cheap in price. It’s a no-brainer – you’ll have your best food experiences for a couple of rands from a little cart on the side of a market street. If you are a foodie, it’s important to note each city’s delicacies so you can scribble them on the top of your edible bucket list, so hop-on a tuk-tuk and head off to the best joint in town!
1. The Classic: Pho
The simplicity of a hot noodle soup is comforting and nourishing, and the Vietnamese have perfected the rice noodle, beef broth potion that we call pho, pronounced ‘fa’. Again, follow the local clusters. The best pho we’ve eaten was in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) at a crowded restaurant complete with plastic stools and friendly locals. Some say unorthodox, others say quirky and authentic!
2. The Obvious: Banh Mi Pork Rolls
A delicious bi-product of the French colonisation that is growing ever trendier in the modern day food court, Banh Mi is fusion food at its best. A tasty mix of traditional Vietnamese ingredients like chilli, pickled carrot, coriander and daikon (radish) within a crunchy French baguette, spread with smooth pâté, cold meats, mayonnaise and a dash of Maggi sauce! Every bite is as lively as a lion dancing on your tongue, and the marriage of French flavour profiles and Vietnamese fresh produce is magical.
3. The Hidden Gem: Cao Lau
Found in the food markets lining Hoi An’s enchanting central canal, Cao Lau has a taste and texture you’ll never forget. A cluster of chewy noodles that complement a crispy crackling and pork, the dish is mixed with fresh bean sprouts and greens to create a balance that tantalises the taste buds. But the real magic is found in the sauce, legend has it that Cao Lau can only be made from the water from the ancient wells hidden in the town, making it a special and unique artefact in the stunning yellow city that is Hoi An.
4. The Refreshment: Iced Coffee
There’s something cheeky, addictive and enchanting about the simplicity of Vietnamese iced coffee and the game-changing ingredient is condensed milk! Think French style filter coffee drizzling down into your glass mingling with the sweetly satisfying goodness of condensed milk. Amid the hustle and bustle of cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi it can be a nice time out to sit down on a fold-up chair on a busy street corner and sip one of the great caffeine wonders of the world while watching the organised chaos buzzing around you.
Vietnam is the perfect travel dish so get yourself on Busabout’s Ultimate Vietnam Adventure, a 14-day exploration of the rice basket of Asia from Hanoi in the North to Ho Chi Minh City in the South. Priced from R16 500 per person sharing inclusive of accommodation, breakfast daily, one lunch, one dinner, air-conditioned private transport, village cycle trip in Mai Chau, entrance to the Vinh Moc tunnels, Po Nagar Cham Towers in Nha Trang and the Linh Phuoc Temple.