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Halong Bay
Vietnam, Dec 17, 2004

food, glorious food

You might be wondering how I could write a whole entry on food. Well, the fact is that I love good food and Vietnam has plenty of it. The food is so cheap that we ate out for practically every meal and we still didn’t manage to try everything that we wanted.

some yummy leaf-wrapped spring rolls
at Bo Tung Xeo (a restaurant near our hotel)

Some meals actually became quite an adventure. Many restaurants don’t have English menus, so we’d make use of the little Vietnamese we learned to guess at entrees. We often guessed wrong. For example, one day we had lunch at a restaurant across the city in Hanoi that is famous for its Hue style fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce (one of Grace’s favorite). When we got there we ordered what we thought were the spring rolls, but what we got was what seemed to be a double order of fried mushroom dough balls and a bean sprout omelet – no peanut sauce (or spring rolls) in sight. Fortunately, it was delicious. As a side note, while we ate our accidental order, we witnessed a dispute between restaurant owners and a person that we can only assume was a disgruntled customer. It got a bit ugly - LOTS of yelling and screaming and then a bit of pushing. Eventually, fried rice was thrown and it was over.

all this for $2 (drinks included, too) - and more importantly, it was gooooood!

Not only is most of the food we tried delicious, it is all cheap. We ate at a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City called Nam Giao in a small alley where we each had 2 entrees, a small appetizer, a fresh fruit shake and a dessert drink for USD $2 total! And… we lived to write about it. We also elected to occasionally eat a take home meal of steamy, hot savory buns from a moving street vender located generally around the corner from where we were staying. For those of you familiar with Dim Sum, these were similar to the white steamed buns filled with barbecue pork, but filled with veggies and mushrooms or chicken instead. Yum! And at just $.25 each (local price was even lower) we gorged ourselves on these. Other culinary delights include Pho (soup noodles, sometimes for breakfast, but good any time), Bun Cha (a dry noodle salad with grilled pork – another of Grace’s favorites), and flaming grilled beef. And for dessert, we’ve been eating ice cream in exotic flavors like Lichee and Ginger. Now all we have to do is walk another 20 miles to burn it all off.

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


May I ask, do you have to take any shots (immunization shot or preventative shots) before your trip to Asia. Do you have any problems with the food in Vietnam, as far as sanitation goes. Do you take any kind of medicine for Malaria, Diahrea? and how about mosquitos in Vietnam.

Any sugesstion/advice?

I'll be in Vietnam this November. Thanks for all of your posting, they give me a lot of information. Happy traveling.

--Brandon; Jun 30, 2005

Well...yes, you do have to watch yourself a bit in Vietnam. Only drink bottled water, try to only eat foods that are cooked and fruit that you've peeled yourself. A lot of times after meals you get fruit that the restaurant prepares and you'll have to determine yourself whether you think the restaurant is clean enough. Also, avoid street food that isn't crowded with locals and make sure that if you eat the noodles on the street that the water is boiling. All that said, it's easy to eat in Vietnam and if you're reasonably careful you shouldn't have a problem.

Depending on where you go in Vietnam you may have to get some shots. It's recommended to take malaria pills for going to the coastal cities like Hue and DhaNang. We take Malarone for malaria and Immodium for diarrhea. There are lots of mosquitoes in Vietnam so take some insect repellant and a mosquito net if you're allergic (like me!).

Please check out vietnam: hanoi low down and vietnam: ho chi minh low down for our advice on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh but in general. We liked Hanoi a lot so we recommend spending a good amount of time there. Also, we wished we had gone to the coastal cities (Hue and Dha Nang), but that just means we have to go back, right?

Good luck and safe travels!

--Susan; Jul 5, 2005