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One of the best ways to take in the local culture of Laos is to join a half-day cooking class led by talented Laotian chefs. The traditional food seems to be strange but soon becomes more impressive than ever because you have the opportunity not only to taste it but also to prepare it.

Related: full day in Luang Prabang

Getting a real taste of Laos with a cooking class is never a bad idea for food and culture lovers. If you are seeking for amazing places to experience the culture of food during your visit in big cities in Laos, this article is written for you.

Normally in the South East Asia countries, the most well-known cooking classes come from Thailand as a heaven of street food or Vietnam for its stunning cuisine which is so popular around the world. However, Laos food is proud to bear unique features that you can hardly find anywhere outsides comparing to its neighbors.

A typical Laos meal with sticky rice, lam (pork stew) and fresh veggie with herbs

A typical Laos meal with sticky rice, lam (pork stew) and fresh veggie with herbs

“Fresh” is the most distinctive feature of Laos cuisines. Having a chance to enjoy a meal in this country, you will find it surprising that Laos meals always serve a big quantity of fresh raw vegetables and herbs making the dish green and low in fat.

One more difference that you will find it so much fun is Laotian believe that: “sweet makes you dizzy; bitter makes you healthy” so sweet flavor is considered as the most unwanted for almost dishes, meanwhile, the bitter taste can be found frequently for using mint and dill which are favorite green herbs for Laos eat.

Another distinctive characteristic of Laos food or Laos eating habit is that food is traditionally eaten with sticky rice using your fingers. The habit must be the result of the fact that food is served at the room temperature.

Although Laos has a diversity of food culture among regions due to being influenced by its neighboring countries, there are must-try dishes that you find in a cooking class:

+ Laap: a traditional Lao food made from chopped meat, chicken or fish

+ Sticky rice/ Glutinous rice

+ Tam som: a spicy papaya salad made with chilies, lime juice, peanuts, garlic and paa daek

+ Mok Pa: herbed fish steamed in banana leaves

And now the below great cooking classes will add to your list of culinary experience in South East Asia for three most famous cities in Laos: Luang Prabang, Vientiane & VangVieng

1) Bamboo Tree | Luang Prabang 

  • Highlights:

Since having been established in 2014, the Bamboo Tree Restaurant and Cooking class is a highly recommended school in town.

From the cute name “bamboo”, you may discover that bamboo is used in so many ways in this cooking class. Not only your kids but also you will find so amazing to join in bamboo games: making bows and arrows by bamboo, walking on bamboo sticks; creating bamboo objects/souvenirs like weaving, making coaster; preparing a bamboo meal then eating in a bamboo bowl and watching a musician play a bamboo instrument for a traditional song while dancing by bamboo. All makes the authentic and cheerful bamboo experience for the single travelers, couples, the whole family with children and your group of friends. You can see more: Indochina tours Laos

Bamboo experience workshop in the Bamboo Cooking Class

Bamboo experience workshop in the Bamboo Cooking Class

Following the same process of a typical cooking class that you meet across Asian countries, Bamboo Tree’s friendly and professional chefs will take you to the local market not to buy for a fixed set menu but to choose your own favorite dishes among a list of available 20 dishes of the cooking school. Many tourists admitted that they fall in love with laap and mok pa that they prepare by themselves under the clear and detailed instructions step by step from the sister chefs.

Such a great treat after your fun cooking time

Such a great treat after your fun cooking time

  • Location: the farmhouse is located on the outskirt of Luang Prabang, surrounded by the rice valley and the forests making the whole place a chilled site for relaxing and cooking
  • Time: Morning time: 08:30 – 13:30 and Evening time: 16:00 – 20:30
  • Price: 60 – 65 USD

2) Madam Phasouk Cooking Class| Vientiane

  • Highlights:

Madam Phasouk cooking class is a family run class guided by Ms. Phasouk who had a 15-year experience as a cooking teacher at a hotel. People get amazed to know Ms. Phasouk is a brilliant and successful lady who can speak not only Laos, English but also Russian and French.

The experience of being welcomed at a local home like your family rather than a professional cooking school attracts many tourists coming back.

After being picked up by Ms. Phasouk at your hotel, you can start the session by visiting a wet market to get familiarized with various Laos ingredients and buy the necessary ones to fit your diet whether you are a meat lover or a vegetarian then you are fully ready to come to her home to prepare such an enjoyable meal.

Fresh vegetables and herbs you can find in any wet market of Vientiane

Fresh vegetables and herbs you can find in any wet market of Vientiane

Ending the cooking class with a delicious meal and cultural stories, you can also bring home a note of recipe that Madame Phasouk prepares for you so that you can make Laos food when back to your country to treat your beloved like a real Laotian.

  • Location: a small house near Mekong River
  • Time: Lunch starts at 09:30 and Dinner starts from 15:00
  • Price: 20 – 30 USD

3) Cooking Class at Organic Farm | Vang Vieng

  • Highlights:

Vang Vieng is a famous stop-over point for backpackers & adventurers on their trip from Vientiane to Luang Prabang so finding a cultural place for food lovers is quite limited. However, you can still go cycling or a tuk-tuk out of town to the Organic Farm to do a cooking class using ingredients from the farm.

The relaxing surround area of Organic Farm

The relaxing surround area of Organic Farm

The farm is proud to promote the use of organic products by natural materials and traditional method to plant without chemicals. Before starting the cooking class, you can choose to explore their organic farm with a lot of fun activities to maintain or build up the farm: digging the new flower bed, goat milking, making a bamboo bench, feeding baby animals or plant mulberry trees for a healthy drink…

All class cooking ingredients used from the organic farm

All class cooking ingredients used from the organic farm

With a maximum of 4 people join in the cooking class, you will have a chance to master making a meal of 3 main dishes and 1 dessert by Mr. T – the owner’s informative instruction. A warm and cozy welcome place is actually an ideal hub to escape the busy party place in Vang Vieng. If your time permits, why not trying to relax for a night and become a real farmer here?

  • Location: just 5 km from the town and facing the rafting area of Nam Song River
  • Time: Anytime is welcome
  • Price: From 23 USD

 

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Since late November, people in Hanoi starts to feel the weather changing. Sometimes there is a heavy rain and the temperature decrease 10 Degree Celcius in just a few hours. There are some special dishes that familiar with local people in the winter that we would like to introduce to you today. For those who would like to discover the new things, you might want to taste these dishes. They might be not the taste of everyone, but it’s worth to try if you want to experience like a real local people with Indochina tours

  1. Che Troi Nuoc ( stuffed sticky rice ball served with sweet syrup)

It’s not easy to exactly describe this dish. There’s also no official name for it in English, but it is a dessert that similar to the Tangyan of Chinese. The word ‘troi nuoc’ means floating on the water. In a small bowl, there are two balls with the same size of the egg, made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls, one stuffed with the green bean paste, another with black sesame. The balls are bathed in a sweet brown liquid made of water, sugar and grated ginger roots, garnished with peanut and coconut milk.  The liquid is always kept warm in low heat.

This dish is perfect for a light dessert or a snack in the mid-afternoon on a cold rainy day. You can find the famous food stall that serving this dishes in the Old Quarter at No. 1, Bat Dan Street.

8 món ăn vặt nóng hôi hổi giúp bạn chống chọi với đợt rét đậm đầu tiên của mùa đông - Ảnh 11.

2. Banh Duc

This dish is kind of weird with Westerners. In a large bowl, slow-cooked non – glutinous rice flour or corn flour is served with savory ingredients such as ground pork, grilled ground shrimp, mushroom, fried onions, fried tofu, Vietnamese coriander, sesame seeds, salt, peanuts, lime juice and soy sauce or fish.

Local people can eat this dish throughout the day – for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. It is the favorite dish special for the elder because of the soft texture and mild flavor. The best place to taste this dish is at a small stall in the alley of Le Ngoc Han Street.

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3. Grilled Corn and Sweet Potato

You can find these simple dish almost anywhere in Hanoi. Just simply the fresh corn or sweet potato, grilled on the hot charcoal but its good smells seduce local people in the cold and dizzy winter night. The sellers might have another job at the daytime and in the evening, they spend some hours on the street for extra income. They serve the people who have to work late or on the night shift. It’s only 30-50 cents for a corn or potato, but in the freezing day, people seem to be closer when sitting around the fire to enjoy the sticky, hot and sweet grill corn or sweet potato. What a healthy snack for a beautiful sleep in the winter night!

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Hanoi is full of iconic foods, and of all the wide range of street side dishes, Banh Mi is still the tastiest and a must-not-miss one.  Choosing the best Banh Mi to try while you are in Hanoi can be overwhelming, scrolling through all those recommendations and mouthwatering pictures would take years. And seriously, you are passing by as a visitor, the best experience is what you are looking for. You can always enjoy this dish when doing a full day trip around Hanoi city with Indochina tour our tour guides are the local resident and they know best where to go and the following are some examples.

  1. Banh Mi Dinh Ngang

DinhNgang

(The perfect mix of Dinh Ngang bread and ice tea. Source: internet)

Situated at the corner of small Dinh Ngang and Cua Nam street, the bread shop looks simple but has been around for more than 20 years.  Its specialty is Banh Mi Thap Cam (mixed bread), with a bunch of ingredients stuffed inside: a slice of pâté, a fried egg, Vietnamese ham and pork skin sausage, and cucumber all slathered with the store’s signature sauce.

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(Want to try a bite? Source: internet)

Having all the ingredients handmade is exactly the way that makes Banh Mi Dinh Ngang unique.

  1. Banh Mi Pho Hue

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(The legendary Banh Mi reported on BBC. Source: BBC)

Geoffrey Deetz – a chef and Vietnamese food expert who’s been living in the country for nearly 15 years – is the owner of this baguette shop. The article “Is the banh mi the world’s best sandwich?” by David Farley on BBC described this loaf of bread as follows: “The banh mi sandwiches in Hanoi are much more one dimensional than other parts of the country […] But so many things in here have a function: the pork floss soaks up the sauce, the pate adds moisture and the fact that the baguette is lightly toasted keeps it from getting soggy in this immense humidity”. David also commented the “banh mi” has always been the one kind of food he liked better outside its home turf.

  1. Banh Mi Ba Dan (Ms. Dan)

Established in 1979, Banh Mi Ba Dan is one of the oldest bread stores in Hanoi. Ms Dan’s son – Mr Binh – is now the owner of the store, and he has managed to maintain its reputation among locals as well as travelers. According to him, back to the old time when Ms. Dan still operated the store, it was a norm that a thousand of bread sold out each day. Nowadays, with the rise of bread stores all over Hanoi, thought the sale went down, still the true Hanoian enjoy its original taste of Ms. Dan’s bread.

Ms.Dan2(The ingredients. Source: internet)

Beside the traditional paté, the uniqueness of Banh Mi Ba Dan is also the freshness of the baguette. New loaves arrive from the bakery every three hours, this means the baguettes in the store are always crunchy and fresh.

Ms.Dan

(The new loaves. Source: internet)

In Vietnam, Banh Mi is actually an everyday ordinary dish, banh mi stalls and carts are everywhere on the streets, providing simple and delicious energy for breakfast and midday meal. From the familiar food for Vietnamese people, it is now, proudly, an obsession for foreign travelers and appear in almost street food tour in Hanoi.

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To the major foreign tourists coming to Vietnam scenery, people and culture are not the sole charms; food, or in particular, street food is another aspect that makes the country stand out. Perhaps street food is simple as it looks but no one can deny its attractive flavors. Sweet-roll or Bo Bia Ngot is one of those and it is especially well-known among young students. When it comes to Bo Bia, it reminds Vietnamese people of their childhood every time school finished, the hungry stomachs would rush out to the school gate looking for the old men or women selling this special gift on their bicycles. As time passes by, Bo Bia becomes a popular street food that is not only sold for students but it appears in many other places as well.

Bo-bia-is-only-made-after-your-order

One of very unique street-food in Vietnam. With fresh and simple ingredients, you can have a delicious roll. Sweet-roll is just made by sellers right after you order. Very unique, fresh and delicious

Sweet roll has its root in Fujian and Teochew (Guangdong) China. Nowadays, this food can be seen in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia and Vietnam. In Guangdong, it was originally eaten in Grave Visiting Festival in spring. However, hardly anyone knows exactly when the food was brought into Vietnam. The South part is the very first place for Sweet Roll, especially Ho Chi Minh City. It is told that around more than ten years ago, there was a man from Vinh Phuc Province (a province near Hanoi capital) came to Ho Chi Minh city to earn a living, somehow he could learn how to make the roll. Then, he moved back to Hanoi and started selling this type of food and spread the recipe to many other people.

Main ingredients of Bo Bia Ngot are very easy to find anywhere including rice paper, shredded coconut, pulled sugar and black sesame seeds. The rice paper or crepe wrapper in Bo Bia is made from wheat flour and a little sugar but it is different from one in normal Fresh Spring roll. The crepe must be absolutely thin and a little tough at the same time so that it can wrap all the things inside. As for pulled sugar, it is candy bar made from malt and is really crispy. Coconut must be shaved from mature coconuts so that it can be crispy as well and more buttery. Just a small sweet roll with few ingredients inside is a perfect combination: sweetness and crumbliness from candy bars, buttery taste from coconut and black sesame seeds. It takes less than one minute to make a small lovely sweet roll but when eating, we should have one bite at a time in order to feel every flavor. Normally, Bo bia ngot sellers can customize according to buyers’ preference. For me, I am always keen on putting more coconut and black sesame seeds. If you are a sweet tooth, you should have more of candy bars.

bo-bia-ngot

Find sellers on bicycle or motor-bike with white box, you can order a sweet-roll (source: Internet)

Until now, Bo Bia is still one of the most favorite street foods for every younger or students, for that reason, we can find plenty of Bo Bia sellers in primary or secondary schools or even near some universities. Moreover, in big cities like in Hanoi, Bo Bia can be found around Hoan Kiem lake area or Thanh Nien Steet near West Lake. A special thing about Sweet Roll is that you cannot look for them in a proper shops or restaurants with tables and chairs but on the streets outside. Sweet Roll sellers usually ride their bicycles with hand-made white cupboards writing Bo Bia Ngot on these. For only 10.000vnd, you already have one big or 2 small pieces of Swett Roll.

nho-thuc-qua-tuoi-tho-voi-cach-lam-bo-bia-ngot-2568e2a28aea70496db69daf9478124f

Look inside a small sweet-roll. You just have to spend VND 5.000 (20 cent) for this small piece.

Every day after school or work, on the way back home, stopping by a Bo Bia Ngot vendor is such a peaceful feeling. For the foreign tourists, trying Bo bia ngot on a beautiful day walking around the city will certainly make the journey less tiring. If you ever come to Vietnam, try this cheap yet wonderful street food, and you will not regret.

If you interest this post, please click: Indochina tour to get more information

 

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I decided to book air tickets to return Hoian for the 3rd time on a day of mid-October. However, this is the first time of mine to visit the enchanting town during its rainy season and especially when reading the weather forecast news warning that if central Vietnam would be anyone’s travel plans over the next few days, they may want to consider delaying the travel — or, at least, keep updated to the latest information pertaining to the weather due to the effects from Typhoon Khanun.” (Boarding Area).

Please click indochina tours Vietnam to get more information

Having been kept updated by the local weather forecast channel about the weak influence of this storm and believing that the daily rain will not dilute the beauty of this region, I still started my trip as planned and was so lucky to enjoy Hoian without rain or storm but with a pleasantly sunny and cool weather throughout my chilling days.

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After strolling around the old streets of Hoi An, I thought of doing something else near the town for more fun experiences. My great day was to rent a bike and ride around on two wheels to visit Thanh Ha Pottery Village, Bay Mau Palm Forest and relax by An Bang Beach.

  1. Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Finishing a nice breakfast with Mi Quang (Quang Noodle with shrimp and pork), I headed 3 kilometers out of Hoian town to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village to see the historical village and made a pottery on my own as a souvernir.

The Thanh Ha village was famous for its pottery, bricks and tiles. You will be amazed to know the unique Yin – Yang tiles which can still be seen on many roofs in the old city of Hoi An were made from this old village. Coming to the terracotta museum, you will have a chance to see the whole building of red bricks and clay in the region.

I must admit that I was lost in the World Square garden of miniature of iconic monuments from all over the world. This was really a great way to learn new places and to check my memory. Besides world famousTaj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, Sydney Opera House, Pyramids, the Whitehouse, the Angkor Wat, I figured out the little  replica of Hoi An Old Town with lovely old houses which were all made by clay and by the artisans in village.

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Though the indoor exhibition was quite attractive with objects and images about the long history development of 500 year history at Thanh Ha, I could not stand going down to the outdoor area where I can see the nice hand-made pottery products and made one by myself. Needless to say, this is an ideal site for both adults and children where you can create any masterpieces of your imagination.

Having made the pottery without previous knowledge and experience but thanks to the great help of the nice artisan, the vase/pot came out surprisingly nice and it cost only 30,000 VND for this worth.

  1. Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest:

Leaving the Thanh Ha village, I continued my day trip to Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest where is regarded as the Little Mekong inside Hoian.

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Located 5 km from Hoian and surrounded by water of 3 major rivers in Hoian: Thu Bon River, Truong Giang River and De Vong River, the hidden coconut forest is really a wonderful destination for tourists to sit in the basket boat and go through the natural coconut waterway. In the past, the forest was an important historical where the guerrilla force relied on coconut forests to cause more damage to the enemy in wars and became a place of shelter, refuge to many officials. Nowadays, it is really nice place for people to explore the tranquil coconut palm while seeing the sunset at Thu Bon River.

Welcomed me on boat, the friendly boat lady gave me an amazing gift made of the coconut leave, that is the ring with shape of a grasshopper! The rowing boat went through the forest and along the river for around 30 minutes. At the end of the ride, I was astonished again by the unique performance of a boat man right in his basket boat while enjoying a great round by my boat’s old lady that was a little dizzy but so much fun.

  1. Relax at An Bang Beach

The end of my day trip today was An Bang Beach, a lovely beach that is only 3 kilometers from the town and it is where you will find less vendors, more peace with clean water, smooth sand, gentel waves and pure atmosphere.

While the Hoian ancient town is peaceful, the beach is somehow vibrant by the pace of life showing on a huge number of bamboo basket boats along the beach. Like in Bay Mau forest, these boats are still used as a mafor means of fishing for daily life.

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As the ideal time for swimming at Hoian beach is from April to September during the summer of Central, I just stopped at An Bang Beach to have a big fresh seafood dinner that definitely satisfied a hungry soul like me.

Though the trip was taken during the rainy season, I enjoyed myself very much in a great weather. So my best advice for anyone who is planning to Hoian these days would be to get updates from local weather channels, book accommodation through any channels that allows for late cancellations or for last-minute delay until the weather is better and take advice from locals where living right at place. It is certain that you can even still had good days while during rainy time. Therefore, I believe you may also have a lot of fun experience to Hoian and do not hesitate to share with me your great time there!

Happy traveling!

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Autumn is the most beautiful season and is the best time to visit Hanoi. When you visit Hanoi at this period (from August to October), the weather is not so hot in the morning and a little cool at night, light rain sometimes. In this season, you will feel Hanoi as a beauty of a young and vunerable girl. It is very difficult to use any words to describe the fragile beauty of autumn in Hanoi. Because of this beauty, the Emperor decided to give this “beautiful girl” as a natural “gift” – Com (Green Sticky Rice or Green young rice) for Viet people. With its green color and small size, it is the most fresh and beautiful food you have ever try during your life.

Com raw

Green young rice in raw is one of must-try food if you travel to Hanoi in autumn (from August to October)

Cốm (in English, green young rice), a popular traditional food especially in the Northern of Vietnam, is made from glutinous rice after a complex cooking process including roasting, sieving and drying. The place considered a Cradle of this food is Vong Village (Cirle Village) in Hanoi. This area used to own abundant rice fields and making Cốm is passed from one generation to another. Cốm gives out a sweet and fresh scent, reminding people who eating of hard-working farmers as well as light breezes in autumn. Besides, a lasting impression is created once you have tried this speciality thanks to its buttery as well as soft taste. It is better to eat Cốm by hand, slowly, one pinch at a time which is similar to the old elegant Hanoian. In order to preserve the color, scent and flavor, this food is wrapped by lotus leaves. Besides, Hanoi people enjoy Green Young Rice in various ways; a few examples are combining Cốm with ripe bananas or red persimmons. However, in my personal, the best way to enjoy this tiny fresh “gift” is eating it with banana and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese green tea. If you have any chance to try this, you will never forget this flavour mixed of sweetness from ripe bananas, bitterness from green tea and aroma of fresh green rice. Let’s travel Hanoi to enjoy Com with: Vietnam tour packages

Chuoi com

The best way to enjoy Com is used it with ripe bananas. Believe me! you will not forget this mixed flavour.

Nowadays, this refined food is usually sold by vendors, who day by day walk through small streets or sit on the sidewalks with their shoulder pole and hangers. Moreover, Cốm is used by houseworkers as an ingredient in daily meals. Some dishes that can be made from Green Sticky Rice are: chicken stewed with herbs and Green Sticky Rice, fried shrimp coated in Green Sticky Rice, Green Sticky Rice sweet soup (Chè Cốm) or even Green Sticky Rice ice cream. Cốm is also an essential ingredient in making Green Rice Cake, a must have present in engagement ceremony of Vietnamese people. Before each wedding, a man’s family have to bring offerings to the woman’s one in order to ask for permission for their wedding.

ban com

You can find Com and buy it from vendor inside the Old Quarter. However, now there is not much vendor sell this natural “gift”, so you need luckiness to catch them who has two baskets full of green

Com cake

However, if you do not have much time or can not find them, you can go straight to Hang Than street in Old Quarter of Hanoi and buy some products made from fresh Com as Com Cake

Along with Green Rice Cake, Xu Xe Cake and betel nut are presents that used to hope for a bright and happy future of the brides and grooms. Green Sticky Rice is so special that it makes every person living far away misses their hometown. In addition, Cốm definitely can satisfy and pamper the most fastidious travelers who ever came to Hanoi. You can not bring the fresh green young rice back to home but you can buy some products made from it as speical souvenir. However, most of real cake/candy made from Com should be used in 4 days to keep their real flavour.

I hope that after reading my post, com will be on your must-try food list in Vietnam. Then, you will at least one time try this special food and enjoy it in the best way.

 

 

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Hanoi in September, the weather seems to be more comfortable. Temperature is down and it is less sudden heavy rain with the thunderstorm as in August. It’s also time the Hanoians enjoy the speciality that only available in Autumn. If you have the chance to be in Hanoi in September, we highly recommend giving these dishes a try. Let’s explore Hanoi to enjoy special dishes with: Indochina tours Vietnam

Hat sen – Lotus Seeds

Lotus seeds are harvested when the seed head of the lotus is ripe or nearly ripe and the latter is harvested when the seed head is still fully green but with almost fully developed seeds. At harvest, the bitter-tasting germ of most seeds is removed using a needle.  It is a healthy ingredient with low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and are a good source of protein. The Hanoians have many ways to use the lotus seeds in cooking.

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Rich & tasty pumpkin & lotus seeds soup for starters

Pumpkin and lotus seeds soup is a perfect starter for your dinner. For the main course, you can order the lotus rice. Rice mixing with lotus seeds, wrapped in the fresh lotus leaves then steamed to be well-done. The fragrance from the lotus leaves that brings comfy feelings. It is also sure going into the favourite list of vegetarians.

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Healthy steam rice and lotus seeds for vegetarians

Chicken, mushroom and lotus seeds slow cooked is a high nutrient receipt that is considered good for the recovering patients and helps to have a beauty sleep.

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It will be a mistake if the desert from the lotus seeds does not come to this list. Fresh lotus seeds stuffed inside the fresh, peel-off longan, that makes the dish looks like the real fruit but with eatable seeds. Added with ice, sugar syrup and a bit fragrance from jasmine flowers, you feel like you’re eating not a dessert, but the spirit of Hanoi.

Com – Green young rice

Though Hanoi is a busy city, it is surrounded by beautiful green fields of rice. Immature rice kernel is harvested and roasted over very low heat then pounded in a mortar and pestle until flattened, then to be served with coconut. In a more rustic way, people eat cốm with ripe banana. Cốm is also used to make other dishes such as xôi cốm (steam sticky rice), chè cốm (sweet soup), chả cốm (the green young rice mix with pork paste, flatten shaped then fried).

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Cốm Hanoi

Hanoi is very famous with bánh cốm ( the green rice cake). Steamed, mashed green beans mix with fresh shredded coconut, sugar and covered by the rice flour. It tastes sweet but not too much, quite sticky and will be a perfect match with a cup of Vietnamese hot tea in the afternoon.

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Bánh cốm – the green young rice cake

Moon Cakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming, and Moon Cakes is essential. The cake has round shape looks like the full moon with many options of filling flavours inside. There are two types of the pastry: baked or non-baked

The traditionally baked moon cake has about 10 ingredients inside: cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or almond, chicken floss, Chinese sausages, lime leaves, lotus seeds, winter melon dried jam, etc. The non-baked version is usually going with vegetarian ingredients, such as taro, lotus seeds, green beans, young rice cake, coconut, etc.

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Many ingredients for the baked moon cake fillings

The moon cake nowadays has been upgraded to a more luxurious version with salted eggs inside. Is has been not only for eating, people are using the moon cake as a gift for their family and friends.

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Favourite modern style moon cake with salted eggs inside

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When talking about beach paradise, where will you think of? It may be Bali, Maldives, Koh Rong Saloem… These are definitely beautiful. But you may not know that in Vietnam we also have an enchanting island named Mong Tay which is not less graceful than any other islands. In this March, without calculating or planning in advance, I got a very good flight ticket deal to Phu Quoc. So BOOM! I have been there and enjoyed my exciting trip with the most unique experiences – exploring Mong Tay Island.
For more information, you can click: Indochina travel packages

Mong Tay islands is also called “Fingernail Island” or “Nail Island” is a small island located just off the Vung Bau beach – near to Phu Quoc island town, Kieng Giang province and is an eco-tourism destination famous for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and kayaking. It has two zones: the south zone is where you will find most island flora with a few sea bird nests and the northern zone lying the small beach with coarse white sand. Today, we are going to discover the south part aka Robinson Island.

The beautiful Mong Tay island

The beautiful Mong Tay island- source: internet

The legend of its name comes from a true story about a real “Robinson” ­– Mr An, the king of the island, the “blind knight”. 13 years ago, he himself swam from the mainland to this island, brought along food and drink, forecasted the storms, and turned it into an alive island. Nowadays, the island, beach and coastal waters are protected and are belonged to the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve.

To come to this beautiful island, the only way is getting on boat/cano from An Thoi port.

The locations of two Fingernail Island in the North and South side

The locations of two Fingernail Island in the North and South side- source: internet

WHAT TO DO?

  • Swim and relax on the beach: The sea here is calm in the dry season and there are rarely underwater currents which make this an ideal destination for friends, couples and even your entire family. The beach is really stunning and picturesque where you feel like living in a true heaven – the sand is white and powdery, the water’s color in in blue and green and so clear that you can totally see any of the creatures living beneath.
Relaxing with sun, sea and sand

Relaxing with sun, sea and sand- source: internet

Swimming in bluish green water

Swimming in bluish green water-source: internet

  • Snorkeling: The green reef around the south Mong Tay island is shallow which makes it perfect for snorkeling. Coral ecosystem in here is very diversified with 17 different types including sea anemone. There are a few hard coral species and seaweed and many scattered rocks. Also, you may be able to see small school of barracudas, giant clam, puffer fish as well as Technicolor fish.
Beautiful green reef under clear water

Beautiful green reef under clear water- source: intenret

  • Fishing and have BBQ on the beach: For setting up the BBQ party, you can possibly buy seafood from the An Thoi port before your departure or go fishing to catch your own fish, that would be a very memorable meal.
Handmade seafood BBQ

Handmade seafood BBQ- source: internet

After this trip, I am thinking of postponing my excursion to Maldives for at least 3-5 years because I still enjoy and miss the Robinson Island. So if you are looking for a sun-sea-sand vacation to where is less touristy than Maldives, Mong Tay Island – Phu Quoc Island – Vietnam always welcome you!

 

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You have just returned from Sapa on a night train and had a quite good sleep after a long ride.  Then you do not feel worth getting a day-use hotel for such a short time until your trip to Halong Bay, Ninh Binh or Hanoi City Tour is coming. You are thinking of the nice breakfast and café for a rest to get ready for your day trip. Or more simply, you are sick of the daily breakfast at your hotel and need a change for an early morning breakfast. If so, this article is written only for you. Let’s explore the world of breakfast with Indochina tour
  1. Pho Huyen – Hot noodle soup

For Hanoian, the morning will be incomplete without a hot and tasty bowl of “pho” – noodle soup whether in a chilly day or a scorching day. This small restaurant specializes in serving the best chicken noodle with both hot noodle soup and mixed noodle. After your hungry belly is already filled up, you can enjoy a cup of hot milk coffee right at this location and observe the peaceful streets turning into bustle streets  that is promised to be one of the most memorable moment in Hanoi.
Image result for pho huyen noodle chaulongImage result for pho huyen noodle chaulong

If your time permits, a quick visit to the Chau Long Market nearby and combine with a trip around Truc Bach Lake will be a nice option for a full taste of local city life. The Chau Long Market is a traditional wet market with mostly fresh vegetables, fish, meat and certainly, seasonal fruits so you can catch a lot of nice photos of selling and buying activities from both locals and expats. Therefore, you may easily understand why this becomes an usual place for a Cooking Class inside the Old Quarter.

  • Address: 31 Chau Long, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh
  • Highlights: The mixed chicken noodle is a “must-try” dish of this small and clean restaurant.
  • Price: from 50,000 VND
  1. Quan Cu

The name “Quan Cu” reminds each Vietnamese people of the old restaurant with the real Northern flavor. The restaurant only serves a limited choices of the “Bun Thang” (Hot chicken vermicelli noodle with egg and pork), “Pho Ga” and “Xoi Ga” (Chicken rice) for breakfast but many locals determines this is the best Bun Thang in their lives.

At the old days, the Bun Thang is cooked after the Tet – New Year Holiday as this soup is made from all of the leftover: from pork cake, boiled chicken, shrimp  to vegetables. The light flavor helps relief after a couple of days eating rich protein food.  However, this stunning cuisine becomes a precious one for Hanoi food lovers as at first sight, the bowl looks so simple with several ingredients  but to prepare for the eye-catching performance, it requires a long process with dozen of ingredients such as herbs, pig bones, mushroom, shrimp paste. Nowadays, Bun Thang is not only for Tet as people have less time to prepare for such a special food like this.

Image result for bun thang quan cu

If staying in Hanoi, you should give it a try once in a life time to know the origional taste of Northern Vietnamese noodle.

  • Address: 31A Phan Dinh Phung Street
  • Highlights: As you may find it worrying about a bit shrimp paste put into the Bun Thang bowl. But the secret of this dish stays at the thing that the awful smell will be erased by the hot soup pouring into the bowl.
  • Price: from 50,000 VND

 

  1. Xoi Yen – Glutinous rice

I have heard quite a lot of complaints from my tourists that why they are served “pho bo”, “pho ga” or kind of soup everyday at every place throughout Vietnam. So now enjoying such a dry dish which is sticky rice – “xoi” will be a good replacement to provide your body a huge source of energy. Let’s pass by the Xoi Yen restaurant which is considered to be the 1st Xoi in Hanoi.

The basic sticky rice served is often Xoi Xeo – ground mung bean sticky rice with fried onions and a plenty of choices for authentic and yummy topping:  shredded chicken with mushroom, steamed chicken breast, minced pork, pork cake, fried/braised egg or Chinese sausage and various veggies. Having a glass of soy bean milk is much better to avoid the filling up feeling.Related image

  • Address: 35B Nguyen Huu Huan Str., just a couple of blocks from Sword Lake.
  • Highlights: The restaurant has an English menu with fast service and a nice balcony sitting area on the 2nd If you are vegetarian, this place also satisfies your needs. However, the mixed xoi (xoi thap cam with all the the topping above) is more than enough for a man’s belly.
  • Price: from 25,000 VND
  1. Banh cuon Thanh Van – Steamed Rolled cake

Bánh cuốn (literally “rolled cake”) is a dish from northern Vietnam. It looks like a crêpe roll made from a thin, delicate and wide sheet of steamed rice flour filled with ground pork, minced wood ear & mushroom.

Image result for banh cuon thanh van

The complete hot dish is only serve when you order and usually consists of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage) and bean sprouts, with the dipping sauce called “nước chấm” and inevitably some special fresh herbs eating together.

While waiting for your food or enjoying the banh cuon, you may have a chance to see the cook to skillfully demonstrate the whole amazing process, from spreading out the raw wet rice flour to wrapping the cooked rice sheet with meatball, mushroom and serves those on the dish without forgetting slices of fried onions on top. You can ask for a steamed egg if need but it may take a several more minutes to wait.

  • Address: 12 Hang Ga Str, Hoan Kiem
  • Highlights: It is certainly the Banh Cuon: soft as silk, a bit chewy, a bit oily with sweet-sour-spicy-salty dipping sauce.
  • Price: from 20,000 VND

I believe that the list of detailed food for an early morning adventure may be of your expectation to embark on a busy day ahead.

Good morning Hanoi and happy traveling!

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In previous chapters, I have mentioned many tasty dishes made of 2 special noodles, bun and pho. Today, let’s me be your foodie tour guide again for another 8 minutes. I bet this time, you will not regret, for sure. Many of my friends are sweet teeth, so we can gather together and find new places offering wonderful dessert. Here is our best list.

Traditional sweeties

Hanoi has many sweet foods, so it is a big mistake if you have not tried one when visiting this beautiful city. Basically, like many Asian countries, most of Vietnamese sweeties are made of sticky rice or its powder.

Floating Cake

Floating Cake- source: internet

Han Thuc (Cold Food) festival was few days ago. On that day, people often eat Troi Cake and Chay Cake. Troi cake is a ball of sticky rice powder with palm sugar inside. Many cute white balls will be boiled and served cold. When they are well cooked, they will be floating on the water so it also has other name which is Floating Cake.  Chay Cake is similar to Troi cake, but instead of palm sugar, it is filled with mung bean or green bean paste. Chay Cake also has a second name, Lean Cake. Both of them will be sprinkled with some sesame on the top. They are sooooooo delicious as all the ingredients blend into each other well.  The sweetness from sugar, the stickiness of glutinous dough, and the rich, nutty flavor of sesame can make you eat the dish unstoppably.

Banh Chay

Banh Chay- source: internet

You can find those foods in many street vendors appearing in almost every corner in Hanoi. However, if you want to sit down, there are 2 shops offering those foods in high quality, according to may experience. The first one is right at the corner of Luong Van Can and Hang Bo Street. It is small but always crowded. The price range is from 15000 VND to 30000 VND per dish. I think you might not be able to eat over 30000 VND as this shop’s products are quite too sweet for some people. My friends love it but I think they have too much of sugar. The second one is located near Ham Long Church. It takes quite a bit of time to walk from the centre to there, but if you have scooter, your iron horse will bring you there in just 10 minutes. The price in this shop is similar to the one on Luong Van Can Street.

New emerging sweet foods

Dark Brown rice (Black Rice)

Dark Brown rice (Black Rice)- source: internet

Hanoian loves food, generation after generation, so it is easy to understand why there are always new sweeties in this ancient city. The thing I like most is Sua Chua Nep Cam (Yoghurt with Black Sticky Rice). It is sweet but not too sweet; it also has a light flavor of yoghurt blending perfectly with Black Sticky Rice. Can you imagine it? It is super good for someone like me, who loves sweetie but hate obesity, love sweetness but hate being sweat when doing work out, like eating wonderful food but want to have a strong heart. Since this food provides a lot of fiber and many nutrients from dark brown (black) rice and yoghurt, I can happily and peacefully enjoy it without feeling deeply regret later.

You can find Sua Chua Nep Cam in mostly café and dessert shops, especially the ones for teenagers. In Giang Café, which is famous for egg coffee also offers this lovely food.

Giang Café

Giang Café- source: interent

I hope after reading this article, you will have a few ideas about where to eat in Hanoi. I know it is hard to choose as Hanoi has too many wonderful foods to discover, so maybe my friends who run some interesting tours for foodie can help you. You can contact at Indochina tours Vietnam. Last but not least, don’t forget to read the next chapters, I hope you will have a colorful time in Vietnam. See you soon!

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