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Dec 31 2015

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Vietnamese Cuisine is Fantastic!

I am not a food lover and food tasting is rarely an important activity during my trips but Vietnamese Cuisine is so good that I could not help trying everything!

Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in worldwide. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is based on its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. Vietnamese Cuisine has an excellent balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste.

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My favourite dish in North Vietham was the Pho Bo, a noodle soup with meat so good, nice hot (perfect for the slightly cold days that we had in December) and so filling that it could resuscitate a dead man! Pho Bho is also considered Vietnam’s national dish and virtually everybody can prepare you this delicious soup for few dongs.

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The cuisine in Central Vietnam is more spicy than in other parts of the country. Once the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam, Huế’s culinary tradition features highly decorative and colorful food, reflecting the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisine. But where I enjoyed Vietnamese cuisine most in Central Vietnam was in Hoi An, a city with a pretty historical centre which also happens to be a kind of gastronomical capital of Vietnam.

My favourite dishes in Hoi An were Bahn vac (white rose), delicate shrimp dumplings topped with crispy onions and Cao lau, Japanese style noodles seasoned with herbs, greens and served with slices of roast pork. Being Hoi An on the coast, I also enjoyed a couple of fish dishes with views over the sea, of course!

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One of the most popular activities to do in Hoi An is a cooking tour and virtually anybody in the historical town can propose you one from 25$ to whatever. I decided it was not a bad idea to finish the year expanding my culinary skills so I booked a cooking class for the 31st December. The chosen cooking class was not one of the cheapest but it was very good rated on trip advisor. Located on the tiny island of Thuan Tinh, it  included a tour in the market to buy all the necessary ingredients for our dishes.

Pick up on 31st December at 8.00am, we headed to the market with our cook-teacher. Asian markets are great and if you have the opportunity to visit them with a local who explains you everything it is much more fun. This market had the plus of its location by the river so the fish section was as interesting as the fruits part, I enjoyed this market experience like a kid!

After a boat trip to reach the tiny island, we arrived to our cooking classroom, a kind of open bungalow in a beautiful surrounding. Every student had his own fire, tools and ingredients, everything set in a very professional way. Our teacher was very cool and his instructions very easy to follow plus the dishes prepared by ourselves (Bahn Xeo, Bun Bo Nam Bo, Pho Bo and Goi Cuon) were super good 😉

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I enjoyed this experience a lot and, who knows, if it happens to visit me in Paris I may surprise you with a smoking Pho Bho, lol

My tips :

  • I tried a lot of Pho Bhos. My favourite one was cooked at the Hotel Thái Bao, on Cat Ba Island. If it happens to you to be around don’t miss this fantastic Pho Bho!;
  • My favourite restaurant in Hoi An was Vi Café Restaurant (113 Tran Hung Dao St). Delicious traditional dishes for a very good price, fresh Bia Hoi (draft beer) for 3 dongs and a very nice owner;
  • I had an excellent fish meal for few dongs at Hong Hanh Restaurant in An Bang beach. It is on number 3 (or was number 4?), one of the last restaurants over the beach, on the left side, next to an expensive European restaurant.
  • The cooking course Thuan Tinh Island Cooking Tour (cooking-tour.com)was fantastic and I recommend it a lot. It was not the cheapest (34$ in December 2015) but not the most expensive either plus it included the boat trip and the market tour;
  • EXCELLENT hot sandwiches for few dongs at Phi Banh Mi (88 Thai Phien, Hoi An). I tried the pork sandwich and it was so good that I did not want to try anything else 🙂

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