I must admit, one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to visit Vietnam was because of the food. I love noodle soups and Vietnam does them like no other country. After having fallen in love with Pho back in London already, I knew I was going to go to Vietnam to do one thing above everything else: EAT!
I wanted to taste real vietnamese food! And so I did.
With the result that I blew my Budget massively over the course of two weeks, because all I literally did, was to go from one restaurant, cafe, street food stall to the next. And I did not gain weight! Vietnamese food, in my eyes is relatively healthy. Pho noodles, and many dishes in vietnamese cuisine, are naturally gluten free. Pho soups, rice paper rolls and even curries: you’d struggle to find wheat in those dishes. I once knew someone who did a gluten free diet to loose weight and it worked. In other words: you’d struggle to pick up weight in Vietnam – unless you consume copious amounts of ueber-sweetened vietnamese coffee and masses of Kem (icecream).
What struck me the most, was the incredibly beautiful restaurants I have visited in this country. The interior design in some places were out of this world. I felt right at home!
These are the most beautiful restaurants in Vietnam (in my eyes):
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1) Miss Ly – Hoi An
I recommend trying Pho Bo here – one of the best I had on my trip! Alternatively, if you prefer chicken, order Pho Ga (Bo = beef / Ga = chicken). And yes, of course, there are Vegetarian alternatives served with Tofu (or just plenty of veggies) readily available throughout Vietnam. I must say though… Vietnamese food is so much more than ‘just’ Pho Bo. Alternatively, try the regional taster menu. Prices are reasonable.
What I adored about this place was the small cosy space with big windows overlooking the street near the market in Hoi An. Miss Ly has been cooking at this place for ages. This business has been in her family for 21 years. She greets everyone who comes into her restaurant and is always happy to have a bit of a chat! Lovely lady!
Address: 22 Nguyen Hue St, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam
2) Giang Cafe – Hanoi
This was a serendipitous find when I wandered through the streets in Hanoi. You need to try the famous Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Hanoi). There are plenty of Egg coffee places to try this beautiful frothy and smooth coffee delight that tastes a bit like a Cadbury Creme Egg. I loved it so much, I even posted a recipe on how to do it yourself. It is really easy to do! Essentially, it is what it says it is: Coffee with egg yolk. The egg yolk is mixed with sweetened condensed milk (very popular in SE-Asia) until it is supremely smooth and delicious. The weight of the froth makes the coffee sink to the bottom of the glass and apparently also takes some of its bitterness away.
Address: No. 39- Lane Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi, Vietnam
3) Soi Hoian – Hoi An
This was my absolute favourite! Set amidst a beautiful relaxing zen-like garden complete with Buddha statue and water features. I had a long chat with the owner who gave me plenty of advice for things to do in Vietnam. Him and his family happened to have lunch when I arrived, so he not only prepared what I ordered for me but offered me some of the traditional dish they were busy eating.
My Mi Quang was a taste sensation! Originally from the Quang Nam province – now served all over Vietnam – this noodle dish is particularly served during family gatherings and on important dates, such as TET (Vietnamese New Year). Rice Noodles are yellow because of the Turmeric used. Usually served with Croutons (toasted sesame rice crackers called ‘bánh tráng me’) and roasted peanuts on top. My personal favourite is Mi Quang with pork.
Address: 232 Cua Dai – Cam Chau, Hoi An 084 510, Vietnam
4) Sozo – Ho Chi Minh City
During my time in Bangkok, I had Bubble tea every single day. That’s how much I love it. Not as popular in Vietnam, I was worrying about my daily fix of tapioca balls. Until glorious serendipity led me to Sozo. Their Passionfruit cheesecake is out of this world…by the way. Who are Sozo? To quote them, Sozo is a cafe that was created ‘for the purpose of helping disadvantaged Vietnamese break the cycle of debt, find employment and start a new life’. All profits go straight into staff training, education and used for the creation of new jobs. The atmosphere at this place is great, the staff fantastic – and well…the concept…very worthwhile supporting.
It is located in a very trendy part of HCMC – the interior is simple and cosy and the people go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
Address: 176 Bui Vien, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam
5) Mango Rooms – Hoi An
I love duck. Especially roasted duck. I love soup. Especially noodle soup. Now, imagine my intense feeling of happiness when I saw Mi Vit Tiem = Roast Duck Noodle soup on the menu! There are street food stalls that specialise in just this one soup. And one day, after reading raving reviews about the famous ‘Mango Rooms’ in Hoi An, I splashed the cash and treated myself to a bit more expensive version. It was so worth it! Plus, I absolutely adore the interior of the Mango Rooms. Bold colours – just the tiles alone….*sigh*. My idea of interior decor heaven! A pricier restaurant – for Vietnamese standards. If you don’t feel like dining here, bring a book, order a Herbal tea and enjoy the view over the river – which is exactly what I did on a few occasions. The place has such a blissfully relaxing atmosphere – perfect to relax and unwind!
Address: No. 51, 24A Street, Area 5, An Phu Ward, District 2