Ok, if you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know 2 things.
- I have recently returned from Vietnam.
- I am unemployed so I have a lot of free time.
So, with that in mind, I decided that I would kill some time by writing about my personal top 3 Vietnamese dishes! Now, these are MY Top 3, not THE Top 3 so if you disagree that’s fine. You’re wrong, but that’s fine.
So, without further adieu, let’s get started!
No1 – Cao lầu
This was the best dish I had in Vietnam, and it came with a really cool story too. I was walking around Hoi An one day, the only place this beautiful dish is available when I met a man named Minh. Minh was learning English and stopped me outside his shop to conversate. This wasn’t the first time that this has happened, and if you’re a Westerner who’s been to Vietnam you’ve likely experienced a similar encounter. In fact, I met my girlfriend, who I speak about in my LDR blog post, in this way. So, back to the story
So, back to the story, we talked for about an hour and a half. As soon as I told him I hadn’t tried Cao lầu yet, he invited me to his sister’s street cart to try the local famous local dish. We met back up when he’d closed up, about 6 pm, and took a short walk to his sister’s corner.
There I was introduced to the smoky pork, crisp greens, crunchy croutons, bean sprouts, and soft, chewy noodle goodness that is Cao lầu. It’s bursting with flavor and is refreshing on a warm Hoi An night, at the same time as feeling homely. Like a lightweight, roast dinner feeling. Reportedly, Cao lầu noodles can only be made with water from a secret cham well on outskirts of town.
Seriously if you’re going to Vietnam, put Hoi An on your list. Grab a bowl of Cao lầu and get yourself a cheap suit made while there too!
No2 – Bo Lá lốp
This for me is very close runner-up. But that’s also because this dish holds a special place in my heart which I’ll explain in a minute.
First of all, if you’re gonna try this dish in Vietnam, make sure you go to a street vendor. I think it’s almost a given that if you want to try local food, the street is the best place to go. Especially for quality/price ratio. Superb quality, tiny price. So put that fear of a day on the toilet to the back of your mind and get stuck in!
Bo Lá lốp consists of beef wrapped in Lá lốp leaves and grilled. Usually sliced cucumber (in my experience), Lettuce leaves, Herb leaves, and sticky noodles. You then take rice paper, place on your lettuce, cucumber, and herbs. Then put some noodles on it. And finally, place the beef roll on top and roll it up like a spring roll. The dish is usually served with fish sauce and a spicy sauce for dipping.
Now why this dish is special for me, this is the first street food I had in Vietnam, in Saigon. My girl was the one who took me to get some the day after we met. This was because I told her I hadn’t tried any street food yet so she took it upon herself to take me for some, with some of the other friends I had met in the park opposite Pham Ngu Lau.
Seriously, if you’re going to Saigon make sure to try this dish! Its easy to track down a street vendor selling this in District 1 though it may take some walking around!
No3 – Bun Dau Mam Tom
This dish is a Hanoi specialty supposedly……that I had in Saigon.
This delcious dish that comes in many forms as far as I could tell. What I had was referred to as a mixed platter. It came with vermicelli noodle cubes, fried tofu, boiled pork, fried shrimp paste, and mixed herbs. The sauce is amazing, and I was lucky I had my girlfriend on hand to mix it properly for me! If you can get a local to show you all the better, that goes for a lot of things!
I had this on my last night in Saigon so it was always going to hold a poignant spot in my head. The fact it was so damn tasty was a bonus!
If you want more info on this dish, try here for a comprehensive look at it: http://www.alotravelasia.com/must-try-street-food-hanoi-bun-dau-mam-tom/