Can Tho is one of the most popular destinations in Mekong Delta for any visitor. Roughly 03 hours from Ho Chi Minh City, you will find yourself arrived in a charming peaceful place. These top five must-visit destinations in Can Tho should be on your list. And the top five special food listed below should not be ignored, either.
1/ Bánh xèo (lit. Sizzling Cake)
Bánh xèo is a Vietnamese-style savory crepe named for the sizzling sound made when rice batter is poured into a frying pan. Its batter has the yellow color of turmeric as well as green color of spring onions. A typical Bánh xèo is stuffed with pork, prawns, bean sprouts and garnished fresh herbs. In South-western Vietnam as Cần Thơ, you may find minced duck meat or minced pork with cassava or apical buds of adult coconut plants inside its yellow crispy batter.
Bánh xèo definitely loses its flavor in the absence of fresh herbs and dipping sauce. The herbs served with Banh xeo include lettuce leaves, coriander, mint, Thai basil leaves, piper lolot, etc. As for dipping sauce, it fundamentally contains fish sauce, water, fresh lime juice, garlic clove, long fresh red chilli and sugar. The best dipping sauce is a perfect combination of salty, sweet, and sour.
1/Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm: 13/3 đường 917, P. Trà Nóc, Q. Bình Thủy, TP Cần Thơ.
3/Bánh xèo Ngọc Ngân: 74 Đại Lộ Lê Lợi, Quận Ninh Kiều, Cần Thơ. (Đối diện Sân Vận Động Cần Thơ)
(74 Lê Lợi Avenue, Ninh Kiều District, Cần Thơ) (Opposite to Cần Thơ Stadium)
2/ Cá lóc nướng trui (Grilled Snakehead fish)
Grilled snakehead fish is processed by Southern farmers after work ends. When the men go fishing, the women go back to the fields to pick vegetables and then go home to make the sauces. The fresh fish will be washed and cooked in the middle of the windy field, then everyone will enjoy the delicious meal together. The grilled snakehead fish undergo preliminary treatment, which means no scaling, no scraping viscous, no eviscerate, not marinating. Snakehead fishes are caught from the rivers, washed, grilled using a long stick, and afterwards be buried in a dry haystack on fire. Then, the farmers plug the stick into the ground or cover it up with burning straws until there are only ashes.
2/11 Lê Lai , Ninh Kiều District.
78 Võ Văn Kiệt, Ninh Kiều District.
3/ Lẩu mắm (Mắm Hotpot)
One of the most famous dishes is lẩu mắm. Its ingredients include mắm cá linh (a kind of dried and salted fish), side pork, shrimps, squids, and cá hú (a kind of fish). The dish is served with two trays of various fresh herbs and vegetables like luffa, cucurbit, bitter melon, and so on. The combined taste of the hotpot soup, fresh seafood and vegetables, along with fish source makes customers truly feel the simplicity and diversity of Southwestern soul.
3/ Lẩu mắm Cát Tiên 2: số 264 Võ Văn Kiệt, Phường An Thới, Quận Bình Thủy, Cần Thơ. (264 Võ Văn Kiệt Street, An Thới Ward, Bình Thủy District, Cần Thơ.)
4/ Pizza Hủ tiếu (Vietnamese Rice Noodles Pizza)
Pizza Hủ tiếu is a very special dish of Cần Thơ. It is fried Hủ tiếu (rice noodles) in the shape of a pizza, with different kinds of toppings for the customers to choose. This is a very interesting combination of Western and Eastern cuisines, a definite must-try when you come to Cần Thơ.
5/ Bánh tét lá cẩm (Sticky rice cake wrapped in magenta plant leaves)
Instead of the green coat as other normal Bánh tét (cylindric sticky rice cake, a Southern vision of Bánh chưng in square,) Bánh tét lá cẩm has a magenta color, which makes it become more attractive to foodaholics. It was created and has been made by the Huỳnh in Bình Thủy District (Cần Thơ.) The cake has an unforgettably special taste of the combination of magenta plant leaves, green beans, pork fat and coconut milk. It is often seen on many special occasions, especially on New Year’s Day, when it is brought to the altar for ancestral offerings, a tradition of Vietnamese culture.
Tell me, my fellow readers, what is it that keeps you alive until today? What is irreplaceable and is the utmost pleasure in life? F – O – O – D. Food. One word which contains one of the best delicacies of this world.
Here in Ho Chi Minh City, so many, too many kinds of food are available. From national to international appetites, nothing is out of the reach of Saigonese. Along with adapting, importing and appreciating other regions and nations’ cuisine, we also possess strong desires to share our personalities to the world, through the amazing dishes which has been cooked and developed through generations.
Most of our food is served on the street. That is the way we do things. Simple and convenient. We do not care about fancy places, for what we crave for is not luxuries, but the feeling of utter satisfaction in taste.
I always find myself drowned in the ocean of choices that HCMC has to offer. Sometimes more is less. There are so many kinds of food to choose from, whenever I decide to eat out while living in this city. With that bears in mind, I would like to give you a list of several street foods of HCMC, and let’s figure out if you can make the decision faster than I do every day.
* ‘Bánh mì’ (bread with everything)
‘Bánh’ stands for all types of cakes or anything made of rice or wheat in Vietnam.
‘Bánh mì’ is what we Saigonese can eat at any time of the day. There are bread and everything inside it. We have cucumbers, all kinds of herbs (vegetables) and meat of course. Ham, grilled fork, ‘chả cá’,… Anything you could ever imagine of, we can put it in ‘bánh mì’. The ingredients of ‘bánh mì’ are usually not put into the bread before the orders from the customers are received, for everyone has a different opinion on how they want their ‘bánh mì’ to be served.
For more information about bánh mì, we have another article for you:
**Bánh mì Sáu Minh
Address: 170 Võ Văn Tần, phường 5, quận 3 (170 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)
Hours: 8:00 – 22:00
Price: ~30.000VND (~1.32$)
This price is three times higher than the average price of ‘bánh mì’, because there are usually lots of ingredients inside and the bread is fully stuffed.
This famous ‘bánh mì’ stall on Võ Văn Tần Street is often crowded with customers. The place was recommended to me by my father, and our family usually buy ‘bánh mì’ there. Besides, they also sell dumplings and sticky rice.
**Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa
Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1 (26 Lê Thị Riêng Street, Ward Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1)
Hours: 14:30 – 23:00
Price: ~33.000VND (~1.45$)
This place is where you can get the biggest ‘bánh mì’ in HCMC. This is, of course, to make sure you can’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.
* ‘Cơm tấm’ (broken rice)
Now, this is a truly special dish of Saigonese. We created this dish, and it is one of the best dishes that we are most proud of. Interestingly, the history of this dish goes way back into the past.
The main ingredient, broken rice, is fragments of rice grains, broken in the field, during drying, during transport, or by milling. It used to be considered as the cheaper grade of rice for only the poor had to consume the “incomplete” rice. However, now it is considered a special part of Saigon cuisine, a dish that is loved by many people.
Nowadays, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish ‘bì’ (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. Various green pickled vegetables are added along with a prawn paste cake, steamed egg, grilled prawns and egg meatloaf (the customers decide what to be put on their dish, really). Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination with a small bowl of fish sauce, as well as a small bowl of soup broth with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). Sometimes, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with omelette.
**Cơm tấm Trần Quý Cáp
Address: 260 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3 (260 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)
Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Price: 20.000VND – 50.000VND (~0.88$ – 2.2$)
This place is my family’s all-time favourite Cơm Tấm Restaurant. There are so many factors joint together to create the delicious dish of ‘cơm tấm’, and this place is most famous for its broken rice. However, one of the restaurant’s drawbacks is that there is only one kind of soup served here which is bitter gourd soup.
**Cơm tấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ
Address: 74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ Street, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1)
Hours: 6:00 – 20:00
Price: 50.000 – 100.000 (2.2$ – 4.40$)
This ‘cơm tấm’ restaurant owns the market of pork-chopped in ‘cơm tấm’. Their pork is big and delicious, with as much amount as you could ever imagine having for a day. And yet you still crave for more on the next. This restaurant is most famous for its pork in ‘cơm tấm’, because who doesn’t like BBQ? Therefore, the average cost of each serving in this place is more expensive than many others.
* Hủ tiếu/ Hủ tíu (Kuy teav)
Kuy teav is a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stocks and toppings. Kuy teav is generally assumed to be a dish with Chinese origin. It can be found at marketplace (phsar) stalls, roadside vendors, and restaurants across the country, and is highly regarded for its clear and soothing broth and a dazzling array of herbs, aromatics and other garnishes and condiments.
**Hủ tiếu Nhân Quán
488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường 2, Quận 3 (488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, Ward 2, District 3)
27Q Âu Cơ, Phường 14, Quận 11 (27Q Âu Cơ Street, Ward 14, District 11)
This is the most famous system of ‘hủ tiếu’ restaurants of HCMC, as you can see above this brand has many locations all over the city.
**Quán Cả Cần
Address: 213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Phường 9, Quận 5 (213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương Street, Ward 9, District 5)
Hours: 6:00 – 22:00
Price: about 44.000VND (~2$)
This restaurant is not only famous for its ‘hủ tiếu’ but also all kinds of Chinese dumplings. We Saigonese usually go there for family breakfast.
‘Phở’ is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà.) ‘Phở’ is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. ‘Phở’ is originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, and was popularized throughout the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of ‘Phở’ differ from each other by noodle width, the sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.
This is my personal favourite ‘phở’ restaurant because I used to study English at ILA in the building next to the restaurant. Every Sunday morning, I, my sister and my father would enjoy a hot bowl of ‘phở’ before we go to English class. Despite that, I love the place because of the memories there and of course also the unforgettable taste of ‘phở’ in this old restaurant.
Address: 574 Kha Vạn Cân, phường Linh Đông, quận Thủ Đức (574 Kha Vạn Cân Street, Ward Linh Đông, District Thủ Đức)
* Ốc (Shellfish)
The eating of shellfish is unique to Vietnam. We eat every creature with a shell that lives in water bodies. There are lots of ways invented to make them, such as grill, stir-fried, boiled, raw, etc.
This restaurant will bring you the truest taste of the ocean. The seafood is usually fresh and amazing, but what attracts customers here is actually the way the cook makes all the dishes. Incredibly strong favour. Everything is unforgettable.
Bánh xèo, literally “sizzling cake“, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts.
‘Bánh ướt’ is one of my favorite choices of breakfast, thanks to its simplicity and undeniable deliciousness. Bánh ướt, literally “wet cakes”, is a Vietnamese thin pancake wrapper consisting of rice noodle sheets, served with dipping sauce, fried shallots, and slides of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage).
I usually eat ‘bánh ướt’ in the marketplaces.
* Bánh tráng
Bánh tráng or bánh đa nem, a northern Vietnamese term, (literally, coated cake and nem skins, respectively), sometimes called rice paper wrappers, rice crepes, rice wafers or nem wrappers, are edible Vietnamese wrappers used in Vietnamese cuisine, primarily in finger foods and appetizers such as Vietnamese nem dishes. The term rice paper wrappers can sometimes be a misnomer, as some ‘bánh tráng‘ wrappers are made from rice flour supplemented with tapioca flour or sometimes replaced completely with tapioca starch. The roasted version is bánh tráng nướng.
All over the street.
There are many varieties of bánh tráng, about which we will discuss in another article for you.
If you have any questions about this article or are in need for assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we are sure to be thrilled to help.
Located in Vietnam’s northwestern remote mountains, Sapa is famous for not only its stunning hidden landscapes but its wide variety of unique specialties as well. However, there is a dish that could horrify everyone with its extremely unpleasant smell but as well makes you addicted to it just by taking the first bite. And that is Thắng Cố, one of the most well-known dishes in Northwestern Vietnam.
Thắng Cố or so-called Thắng Cố Ngựa is a traditional food of the H’mong people and believed to have first appeared more than 200 years ago, when the H’mong, Tay, Nung ethnic groups migrated to Bac Ha in Lao Cai province. It is originated from the northeastern mountainous Ha Giang, and gradually gained popularity among all of the ethnic minorities in the remote northern mountains of Vietnam. People here are really proud of Thang Co dish.
In the past, the main ingredient to make a traditional Thang Co dish is horse meat, instead of buffalo meat, pork or beef like the Kinh’s cuisines. Each kind of remade recipe of Thang Co owns its featured flavor; however, Thang Co in Bac Ha ( Muong Khuong) may obtain the best flavor.
Despite its unique taste, the cooking process is quite simple with 12 traditional ingredients, for instance, cardamom, citronella, ginger, star aniseed, cinnamon twig, Thang Co plant and others.
To make the dish, firstly, meat and internal organs must be carefully cleaned by being boiled up and then sliced into pieces before marinated. After that, without any oil, it will be fried up in a big pan on a charcoal stove. Lastly, we will leave all of the spices, together with main ingredients prepared, to simmer for hours. For a tastier dish, backbones and ribs are added to make the soup more flavored and sweeter. In order to make the soup look clearer, we must strain the veggies from the broth.
It is maybe a featured characteristic of Thang Co when we use a big pot or a kind of deep-fry pan instead of a normal pot and the pot is always seethed even when customers are enjoying it. It should be eaten with fresh vegetables such as lemongrass, chayote, cabbage, chili leaf, especially special sauce of H’mong people, which is made from Muong Khuong chili.
Thang Co can also be eaten with mèn mén, grilled corn, especially aromatic corn wine. The best recommendation for you to fully experience the authentic taste is enjoying Thang Co with a little warm and aromatic ethnic corn wine of Bac Ha or San Lung wine.
4/Only on special occasions:
Previously, Thang Co was only served on the special occasions like Tet holiday, village’s big crop festivals or in the large fair like Bac Ha market, which was not held regularly. Nowadays, it is gaining more popularity and appears in the menus of many restaurants. However, to get the real and original taste of the food, you should have the dish in fairs and markets in Sapa, especially in Bac Ha market.
If you plan to travel to Sapa, you must not miss this one-of-a-kind specialty of the mountainous upland, the unique recipe of Northwest Vietnam.
One of the very special dish of Vietnam is ‘chả’, something only unique to Vietnam that no one can find the right word with the same meaning in any other languages. Therefore, I will not translate the name of this extraordinary Vietnamese dish into English, but use words in the most uttering sense of my ability to convey the meaning of the food itself to all you readers. In this article, I will only be discussing about one particular kind of ‘chả’ which has helped a restaurant stand firmly in Hanoi cuisine for 130 years: Chả cá Lã Vọng.
‘Chả cá Lã Vọng‘ is a dish made from fish (usually sliced catfish), marinated in charcoal, grilled on charcoal and then fried in fat pans. Very simple. And the question remains is: Why can something so simple be so popular? Now I will unveil some interesting stories on this particular Vietnamese cuisine.
1/ The origin:
There is a very interesting story behind the famous name Lã Vọng of this particular kind of ‘chả cá’.In the French colonial period, at No. 14 Hàng Sơn Street, there was the Đoàn family who often use their place to shelter the Đề Thám army. The head of the family often made a very delicious ‘chả cá’ for the people who come by their house, then customers gradually became close with the family itself. The guests started to help the family to open a restaurant specializing in selling ‘chả cá’, both to support the family and also to create a gathering place.
As time went by, the two words ‘Chả Cá’ became the name of the street itself. In the restaurant, there was always a figure of Lã Vọng – Khương Tử Nha sitting with his knees crossing while fishing – a symbol of talented people who are waiting for their time to come. Therefore, the customers were used to call the dish ‘chả cá Lã Vọng’, which now has become the official name of the restaurant and also the dish itself. The secret recipe of this dish is only handed down to the eldest child of the Đoàn family.
2/How they made it:
The fish used to make ‘chả cá’ should be little, sweet and fleshy. The most special and also extremely rare one is made from the Anh Vũ fish, caught at the junction of Bạch Hạc River (Việt Trì – Phú Thọ). Fish fillets are sliced from the sides, marinated in galangal, turmeric, chili, shrimp sauce in a special esoteric manner for at least 2 hours, then clamped in bamboo pair (or greased grill). The grillman must flip the grill from time to time so that the two sides are equally golden.
Right before served, the grilled meat will be put into a pan with a bit of animal fat – this is the traditional recipe of ‘chả cá’ – on the charcoal stove set in the middle of the table. When the pieces are golden yellow boiled in the fat, dill and onions are added to the pan to stir and quickly separated into bowls. Often cooking oil is not used to fry fish because it has a lower temperature and make the fish less tasty.
3/ How to eat it:
‘Chả cá’ must be served when still hot. When eating, put several ‘chả cá’ pieces into your bowl, rinse a bit of boiling fat on top, add some ‘bún rối’ (tangled rice vermicelli)’, ‘bánh tráng nướng’ (grilled rice paper), roasted peanuts, sliced cucumber, dill, Welsh onions, pickled lemon, and a little bit of ‘mắm tôm‘ (shrimp paste.) Shrimp paste is prepared by squeezing fresh lemon, a bit of fat, sugar, white wine and chilli, beat until bubbly and a little bit of belostomatid oil. Some foreigners cannot eat shrimp paste so they can have fish sauce instead, but the fish sauce makes the favour ‘chả cá’ be reduced, more or less.
This dish can be served with wine and is suitable to eat in cold weather. In hot weather, customers often drink beer while having the dish.
4/ Where to eat
The majority of foreigners who come to Hanoi with an interest in this dish often visit the 130 year-old ‘Chả cá Lã Vọng’ Restaurant.
This is the famous restaurant I mentioned above.
Address: 14 Chả Cá Street and 107 Nguyễn Trường Tộ Street. The one on Chả Cá Street is relatively small but it is the original restaurant from the old times, while the one on Nguyễn Trường Tộ Street is clean and more spacious, suitable for large groups of people.
Price: 175,000 VND/person (7.71$/person)
If you have any questions or problems about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. We would be thrilled to help.
Sesame balls, ‘bánh lúc lắc’ in the North of Vietnam or ‘bánh cam’ in the South, are a type of fried Asian crispy pastry made from glutinous rice flour, filled with bean paste and coated with sesame seeds.
In Vietnam, the image of sesame balls is often attached to the image of a little boy sitting on the porch of the house, singing songs and waiting for the return of his grandmother from the market. When she goes back, she does not forget to give him some snacks like cakes, candies, and sesame balls.
Sesame balls went to his childhood and other Vietnameses in that way. The pastry is nothing luxurious and can be found in almost every area of Vietnam in any season of the year. When the cold season approaches, sitting next to the heater and enjoying the crispy and sweet sesame balls would be so wonderful. When you take the cake and shake it slightly, you can hear the movement of the bean filling inside. That is the reason why sesame balls are sometimes considered as a toy!
How To Make Sesame Balls
Fried sesame balls are made from local ingredients such as first-class glutinous rice, mung beans, sugar and white sesame seeds.
First of all, glutinous rice flour and rice flour are mixed together. Boil water with sugar and then slowly pour into the mixture while carefully kneading it to create dough. Wait for an hour so that the dough can absorb water and become thicken. After that, shape it into round balls.
As for the filling, mung beans are washed and soaked for several hours. Then they are steamed up, finely sliced and mixed with sugar and cooking oil to produce a smooth mixture. After that, the filling is divided into small round balls. When putting the filling into the crust, it is important to make sure that the cake is round and not distorted. Next, the cake will be soaked in white sesame seeds and then placed in a tray before being fried.
Put the pan on the stove, pour a lot of oil and wait until it is boiled then drop the sesame balls into the pan. Try to roll the balls constantly to prevent the filling from sticking onto the crust. This step is completed when the balls are in golden brown.
A perfect sesame ball is brownish yellow, bulging and not flattened when cooled. The crust should be thin and fragile, the stuffing is rounded and not sticky to the covering. Holding the ball and shake it lightly, we can feel the filling rolling inside.