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Vietnamese Food

Travel Forums Asia Vietnamese Food

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1. Posted by msmitheman (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

I expect this to be controversial and I'm hoping that I can be proved wrong, however....

I've just spent the best part of a couple of months in Vietnam (and I love the country!)....however, from what I'd heard before arriving here, I had high expectations for Vietnamese food!

I have spent a long while in this part of the world and others, both as a child (growing up in the Middle East and Africa) and as an adult with work and traveling for pleasures (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines etc). However this is my first (well second, but both this year) trip to Vietnam. I would say I'm extremely open and adventurous when it comes to new cuisines and up until now I can say I LOVE all sorts of Asian cuisine.

Well my experience of Vietnamese cuisine is that at best it's extremely average and at worst I'd rather eat my own shoe (although I'll admit that, with regards to at worst, you could say that about any cuisine). Don't get me wrong, I've had good food in Vietnam...great seafood at the coast, an abundance of good Italian, excellent Indian...but when it comes to Vietnamese dishes I think they're terrible.

The much hype of spring rolls that are in fact small, greasy and tasteless, dry clay pots, tasteless stir fries, noodles and soups. The Pho is ok, but at the end of the day it's a bowl of noodle soup and I've had much better elsewhere. I've tried everything from the street stall to the expensive restaurant and everything in between. My conclusion? Vietnamese food is terrible compared to other Asian cuisines.

I hope I've been missing something over the last few months, and that someone can tell me the dish(es) I should've been ordering all this time? I am back in Saigon and have 2 days left before heading for the Philippines (where I know the local food is great having been there before)...please someone tell me that it's not just the coffee that's great here???

2. Posted by sapphyre (Respected Member 418 posts) 8y

I have to say I feel the same way as you do about Vietnamese food and I'll avoid it if I can. Plus the overload of beansprouts...YUCK!!!!!

3. Posted by Traveloat (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

I'm so glad I'm we're not the only people thinking this! My partner and I have just finished 3weeks traveling in Vietnam - and after coming from China where every meal was good to amazing we were really disappointed. Probably the nicest foods we had were fried goat in Ninh Binh, beef coconut curries in the Mekong Delta, Cha Ca in Hanoi and bbq'd red snapper in Hoi An - but apart from that totally agree that food was average at best! The best thing we found were the fruit shakes - best of which were in Saigon in a little cafe called Banana - somewhere in the backpacker area but can't remember the street! At least there were a few good bakers and plenty of oreos to keep our hunger at bay (seriously what is with the dominance of oreos in Asia?!?). In Cambodia at the moment and so far not much improvement.... Hopefully Thailand!

4. Posted by msmitheman (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

glad it's not just me...

...Thailand...spent a month there back in is great! Hope you're traveling overground there and not trying to fly!

5. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2001 posts) 8y

Where did you folks eat? I had just the opposite experience in Vietnam - especially good food in Hue and Hoi An, but also in Hanoi and Sapa. The only thing I would complain about is the lack of condiments on many tables - I like my chillies and they're not to be found in the north. Just look at the trash that passes for restaurant food in the USA - if a traveler doesn't seek out the best places (locals are the best source), sure, they'll eat poorly!

6. Posted by msmitheman (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

Well, I guess that's my point... I've been able to seek out "the best places" in other countries, but I have yet to be able to do that in Vietnam (for Vietnamese dishes)...and as I mentioned I've tried all angles....was just wondering whether anyone could make any recommendations!

As a Brit who lives in the USA I totally agree with your comment about the States, but I'm not sure what that's got to do with Vietnam.

7. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3742 posts) 8y

It's a shame that you haven't had a good experience with the food in Vietnam so far. My boyfriend and I found it, on the whole, outstanding throughout Vietnam and certainly the best in SE Asia, although Thailand came close. Have you tried the Vietnamese Spring rolls? I can't remember the names of any particular establishments we ate at in Saigon but I don't remember having a bad meal. Good luck - hope you manage to find somewhere good. :)

8. Posted by joffre (Respected Member 157 posts) 8y

I suspect there are 2 groups of food lovers that travel through Asia, those that like the 'big' flavours of southern SE Asian & those that like the more subtle flavours, found in Vietnam for example... the real interest in my mind is Vietnam's subtle & creative use of foods eg. the pho's, cuon's, roll your own rice paper dishes, the influences of the French certainly evident, eg. the freshly filled baguettes on the street... when I visited Myanmar, all my research told me that the food there was crap, yet in a week of travelling there I discovered otherwise... you may never know if you don't go looking!

9. Posted by msmitheman (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

Well I've certainly done my fair share of looking & searching over the past few months...I love just wandering in this country, especially in the towns and cities, there's always something to surprise you...and at 6'5" I cause many surprises myself!

I suspect there are 2 groups of food lovers that travel through Asia, those that like the 'big' flavours of southern SE Asian & those that like the more subtle flavours

...maybe you've hit the nail on the head here. I must be in the first category as I have tried all the things you mention on many occasions at many different places, and it just doesn't do it for me. Oh well...

10. Posted by Seany (Respected Member 268 posts) 8y

I remember eating a brilliant meal in Hoi an, it was lovely, just on the riverbank the sun was setting, nice warm breeze,cold bottle of beer . Some other meals where a bit average but arnt alot of places like that?