When it comes to Vietnam food, all occur in your mind is Pho and Banh Mi. However, Vietnam cuisine is not just that. In case you want to dive into Vietnam culinary and be impressed more about it, here are some facts you need to know.
1. Same same but different
Sometimes, even you eat the dish with the same name in Vietnam, you feel like eating the wrong dish? Like the Pho in the north has a light flavor while Pho in the south has a fatty broth with the sweeter flavor. To explain this interesting difference, Vietnam foodis influenced by geography. In particular, it’s divided into 3 regions, the North, Central and the South with distinctive flavors.
As you see, the North is hilly and mountainous so the local use lots of herbs in cooking. Besides, freshwater seafood easily found is favored than salty water seafood. Unlike the Central and South’s rich flavor, the North has a light taste in food. Also, the soups have an important role in the cuisine so many dishes eaten in soup-based. Pho is such a famous example of North food.
Central Vietnam has a long coast along so you can have fresh and delicious seafood here. Moreover, the flavor is more spicy and salty and the color is brighter than Northern and Southern food. This is the region where the plentiful fermented sauce is made such as shrimp paste. Aside from homely dishes, you can’t miss the delicate and creative dishes of Hue that was once the Imperial City of Vietnam.
On the other hand, Southern food is influenced by neighboring nations like Thai Lan and Cambodia. South people love the sweet and sour flavor. Therefore, they usually put more sugar into the dish and lots of dishes are based on coconut juice.
To conclude, because of the difference in geography, climate and influence of neighboring nations, each dish reflects the local flavor of the region. Don’t surprise when you find some food strange and just enjoy the dish as its way.
2. Heaven of veggies with secret combinations
One thing any foreigners can realize immediately that Vietnam foodhas lots of vegetables included. Even you eat the dry or soup dish, it always has a bowl full of veggies and herbs. There are many reasons to explain this.
First, Vietnam has a developing agriculture thanks to the tropical weather and rich soil. Therefore, locals easily grow and get diversified vegetables. Second, most Vietnam food has a rich flavor combining many spices so the herbs bring out the freshness for the meals. Final, the vegetable is good for health due to the high-fiber rate. According to science, fiber helps people absorb nutrients from food, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. As a result, locals never miss put herbs together with meals. This is also the reason why Vietnam food is famous as fresh and healthy food in the world.
Additionally, depending on which food you eat, the herbs are not similar. For example, the herbs eating with Pho consists of basil, culantro, coriander, spearmint, etc. But when you eat Quang noodle, the included veggies are mustard greens, coriander, Vietnamese persicaria, lettuce, banana flower, etc. The reason is depending on the nature of the food. For example, the duck is cold meat so people eat it with persicaria which has a warm character helps your stomach ease. So it’s about the combination good for health when eating a Vietnam food.
3. Why eating in restaurants when you can eat on the streets?
Street food plays a significant role in Vietnam cuisine. Hence, the image of local people sitting on the tiny stools, enjoy a hot bowl of Pho on the hands and talk to each other is familiar with foreign travelers. Furthermore, many people agree that eating in these eateries are more delicious than sitting in decent restaurants. Moreover, the price is so cheap. With only 1 or 2 USD, you can fill your hunger soul.
You can see the cook do the food on the spot and the garbages littered around your sit. With foreigners, it might be an uneasy feeling. However, with locals, it’s so normal and just a habit in their daily life. So if you want to fit in and experience the authentic local lifestyle, eating street food is a must.
Besides, just a few steps, you can easily find tasty street vendors selling various dishes ranging from noodle, grilled meat, fruits, desserts, etc. Hence, it’s very convenient to enjoy superb food in Vietnam with these magnificent street vendors.
4. One simple but the best choice
In Vietnam, if people want to eat a particular dish, they usually go to a specific eatery to enjoy it. This shop specializes in one dish only. Sometimes, it’s even famous nationwide for that dish with a secret recipe only known between generations in the family. Just one dish with the awesome flavor and atmospheric space will satisfy any picky customers. Therefore, you won’t hesitate to choose which dish is good or not.
In Hanoi’s Old Quarters, there are even streets named after the goods they specialize like Hang Mam – street of fish sauce. It’s really a “stinky street” that awakes all your senses!
5. Unique drinking culture
Not a kind of food but the iced tea, beer, coffee contribute a large part in Vietnam culinary. They’re not only a drink type but also express a unique local lifestyle.
Iced tea or Tra Da in Vietnamese has a mild flavor with a light yellow-colored. Sometimes, local add more herbs into the tea so it’s more fragrant. This drink is normally free in the eateries or restaurants instead of tap water. In Vietnam, especially in Ha Noi, Tra Da Via He (drinking iced tea on the sidewalk) has become a cultural beauty of local daily life. Young people usually gather with friends, sit on the tiny plastic stools, have a cool iced tea and watch the streets at night.
Beer is a cheap drink in Vietnam. It can be as cheap as around 0.50 USD. That’s why it’s easy to catch your eyes with a crowd of people enjoying a cup of beer on the street, particularly on weekends. Whilst, you can’t miss Bia Hoi restaurants to enjoy a cool glass of fresh draft beer with some snacks. Due to the coolness and cheapness of beer, many workers or officers usually have a beer after a hard-working day. Furthermore, there are many brands depending on the region. For instance, Beer Ha Noi is popular in the north, Beer Sai Gon is well-known in the south and Beer La Rue is an outstanding representation of Vietnam Central.
Otherwise, Vietnam is famous worldwide as the second largest producer of coffee. Hence, you can’t miss coffee when mentioning to Vietnam. You can find coffee made in hot and ice kind with special flavors you can’t find anywhere in the world. One of them is Egg coffee (Cafe Trung), originates from Ha Noi with an attractive savor and fragrance. Besides, you can find a cafe on any streets in Vietnam due to the rich coffee culture. Don’t miss to experience Cafe Coc while traveling here. The instruction is to come by a simple cafe on the sidewalk where many middle-aged people sitting reading a newspaper. That’s where you can enjoy a true authentic coffee flavor of locals.
Here are just 5 interesting facts about Vietnam food. But as a rich cuisine culture, there are many facts will make you more surprise and temp to know more about it. Food is not only a basic need of people, but it also expresses the culture and spiritual life of local. Therefore, to experience the local lifestyle, never skip the food!