On the whole the places I have eaten in Vietnam have been of high standard. There are many restaurants to choose from and as in Australia or when I am in other parts of the world, I am very selective before deciding where to eat – this can take some researching and sometimes even checking the place out beforehand.
I have perched on small stools to eat in some of the street stalls and have eaten in a bia hoi (beer hall) where Vietnamese men seem to consume large quantities of beer. Sometimes I have not known what I have been eating-; sometimes what I have indicated I wanted has not been on the English menu (if there is one) – I have pointed to what others are eating.
We are all familiar with traditional Vietnamese food – dumplings and spring rolls. and there was certainly much of these to be seen.
But I have also eaten at the high price restaurants and have particularly enjoyed the more sophisticated “fusion” food served in many eateries – most of these has been in Hanoi.
Just like the rest of the world, simple traditional Vietnamese recipes have responded to trends and outside influences. Like in Australia, simple traditional recipes have been enhanced by progress: the increase in printed media, travel, availability of produce and its inhabitants (first mainly European, then Asian migration and more recently from South America, Africa and the Middle East). With easier access to books, the internet, more opportunities to travel and engage with travellers, Vietnamese chefs are adapting and elaborating on age-old staples. As expected there is a strong French influence in the cuisine but also that from different neighbouring Asian countries; the food in these restaurants is described as ‘fusion’ food or ‘modern’ Vietnamese food.
However, last night in Ho Chi Minh City I ate:
Spicy clear grilled beef with kumquat, mustard sprouts, lemongrass, herbs and small, white eggplant (raw).
Mustard leaf rolls with prawns and crunchy vegetables (carrots, lily stems).
Hoa Tuc salad with seafood, fresh palm hearts and lotus stems.
Salad Thiem with lily flowers, bok choi, water spinach and garlic.
I particularly liked food in Hoi An and will write about Lantern Town Restaurant in the near future.