December 19, 2009

Vietnam: In Conclusion

I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted on here, both myself and the better half spent the majority of November being ill, and then it seems I got lazy somewhere around flying back into Thailand and hanging around on beaches in December...

Anyway, I just want to leave you with some thoughts on Vietnam. Firstly if you've decided that it's worth a visit (and it definitely is), I advise working your way from north to south - i.e. flying into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Three reasons; firstly, the weather inevitably gets warmer (although watch out for the storms!), the places become more relaxed and beautiful and the food - most importantly - really warrants your attention.

We took the usual sleeper bus option from Hanoi down to HCM having already visited Sapa (definitely worth a look) and Ha Long Bay while we were teaching in Hanoi. Our stops went as thus:
  • Hanoi
  • Nimh Binh
  • Hue
  • Hoi An
  • Nha Trang
  • Mui Ne
  • Hoi Chi Minh
Hue and Hoi An really wet our appetites while we were travelling through. Unfortunately for us, food in the north was quite a disappointment for what we had come to expect - perhaps because we were living in student accommodation - I'm sure other visitors have better views of Vietnamese cuisine. For that reason Hue was the first place that we felt really paid attention to food, and there was a good variety throughout the former capital of Vietnam.

However, we were only there for 24 hours, so I'd really like to draw your attention to Hoi An. Famed for its own style of cuisine, the food was cheap and excellent. The best place we ate at regularly was called 'Mr Hung's', - a small street vendor restaurant down on the river next to Hoi An Market. Here you can taste all the delicacies of the region, including White Rose, Cao Lau and Won Tons. The first is similar to dim sum, and is basically made up as shrimp dumplings. The secret is very dear to the locals however, so good luck getting the recipe!

Cao Lau was a kind of a soup, but utilised only a small amount of water - the rest being made up of vegetables, noodles, dry pancakes and fish or meat. The noodles are made from a local sticky rice soaked in wells from the area to produce a very specialised flavour, which creates a very satisfying meal (or starter if you're feeling really hungry!)

Image sourced: Noodlepie

The won tons were different to any Chinese type won tons you may have come across before. Rather than being wrapped up into twisted parcels containing delicacies of meat or vegetables inside, the won tons in Hoi An were similar to crispy poppadoms that had been deep fried, cut into slices and then scattered with vegetables and other toppings, including the mild chili sauce which they put on everything in Hoi An!

Delicious and tasty - you can't miss out! Source: Wikitravel

Anyway, I just wanted to leave you with a taste of what we came across in Vietnam, and I hope from previous posts that you are at least becoming intrigued by the prospect of SE Asian food, especially if it isn't something you have tried particularly before. Check out previous recipes for ideas...

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