Imagine getting up in the morning in your tropical paradise getaway. You stroll downstairs to the café, where you are served hot, strong coffee while delicious scents waft your way from the kitchen. Yes, you’re in Vietnam!
Sweet and Strong Coffee
Vietnamese like their coffee sweet and strong. If you’ve been disappointed by other Asian countries where your coffee is dispensed in the form of a cup of hot water and a mix of instant powder in a paper tube, you’ll be pleased here. Vietnamese coffee is the best in Asia—and it’s the real deal.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Vietnamese spring rolls (nem) are ever-present and popular, making a delicate addition to any meal at any time of day. Wrapped in thin rice paper and containing bean sprouts and other vegetables, along with chopped bits of prawn or roast pork, spring rolls make a great start to your order. Vegetarian spring rolls are also available and quite common.
Just Pho You
Another very common dish you’ll see everywhere is pho, which is a type of noodle soup (pronounced “fuhr”). It’s common for breakfast, but can be taken any time. It’s lightly seasoned and usually has a touch of ginger, with small pieces of meat added.
As in much of Asia, most dishes are accompanied by rice. Vietnamese food isn’t quite as spicy as that of nearby Thailand, although spicy chili sauces are usually offered in a separate dipping bowl for those who like a little fire with their meal. You may also notice a slightly fermented, fishy undertaste to most Vietnamese dishes. This is nuoc mam, or fermented fish sauce, and it is used in almost everything.
All’s Fresh that Starts Fresh
After dinner, you may enjoy some of the country’s exotic and sweet tropical fruits, which are ever-present throughout all of Southeast Asia. Fresh, sweet pineapple, along with mango, longan, and mangosteen are widely available and are a true delight to the senses. Fresh drinks are also a delight, although travelers should take care to drink bottled water or drinks whenever possible. Fresh coconut milk is quite refreshing, and green tea, served either cold or hot, is also widely available.