No, we didn’t come fully unprepared to Vietnam, in terms of their cuisine. Home in Berlin we are frequenters in a trendy Vietnamese restaurant called “Good Morning Vietnam”. So we were familiar with that kitchen and our expectations were high.
Freshness, variety, tastefulness.
At the origins of healthy eating. Fresh homemade food wherever people go. Impossible not to like.
More Vietnamese food
All photos in this series developed as Fuji Pro™ 400H analog film emulation.
Unlike other Asian kitchens, Vietnamese dishes are not spicy themselves. Or, at least, not hot. Although Vietnam is the world’s biggest pepper producer, I wouldn’t say pepper was the most important spice in what I was having during our 10-days-stay. Vietnamese food is done from natural and fresh ingredients, often chicken, pork or fish with noodles, rice and vegetables, and all this in many different varieties. Huge amounts of fresh herbs, often coriander leaves, are typical.
The spiciness of a dish comes in an extra bowl as a hot and spicy sauce, and you get one with every dish you order. Sauces can be the traditional fish sauce (which actually is the most popular seasoning in the country), but often you get soy sauce with hot chili slices – my absolute favorite. In the end you can decide how hot you want your food to be by adding more or less of these sauces.
A key impression in Vietnam was that, obviously, having a meal for locals is more like refueling the car than a ritual at certain hours.
Maybe for this reason availability of freshly prepared hot dishes wherever you go is visibly high. Saigon’s cityscape is marked by a huge number of cook shops and mobile snack stands and having a quick meal (I don’t call it fastfood) is easy and convenient at any time.
Seems like they don’t interrupt their daily business for a meal – they come, gulp three or more small dishes on the fly and go on doing business. Amazing to see how even the smallest cook shop has a dozen of freshly cooked dishes available. And small means small – two-three square meters and that’s it.
One neighborhood seems to be controlled by one family clan, so even if you find many bars and bistros in one place, be sure they have one owner and there is one kitchen somewhere over the street serving them all.
My best grilled chicken I had in a doorway with two tables, a fridge and a scooter roaring in between from time to time. They brought the beer from that fridge and the chicken from somewhere around the corner. Not sure if this was very hygienic, but it was all authentic and tasteful.