Before arriving, we'd read a lot about the Vietnamese penchant for chowing down on "man's best friend". However, during our three months in Saigon, we hadn't seen a single plate of dog being offered anywhere, and decided the stories were exaggerated. But it turns out that, in the north, they do eat dog. And it's not exactly uncommon.
Good morning! Sleep well? I see that you're hungry and could use a jolt of caffeine. How about an egg and a nice cup of coffee? No problem, here you go! But... why the troubled grimace? Didn't you know that in Hanoi, we put the egg into our coffee?
The majority of visitors to Hanoi probably have no idea how large it actually is, because they never leave its core of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. Tourism goes from critical inside this sphere, to practically non-existent just outside it. By any reckoning, a neighborhood like Văn Chương should at least have some foreign visitors, even if it's just those who have gotten lost. From a map, it's still in the dead center of Hanoi! But nope. We didn't see a single one, despite spending an entire day here.
We weren't as impressed with Hanoi's street food as we were with that of Saigon. In the capital, there's not as much variety, and the locals are far more keen to overcharge tourists. But over the course of the weeks, we managed to find a lot of new dishes, and some great places in which to try them. Here are our favorites.
Without a doubt, Vietnam's most famous culinary export is phở: rice noodles cooked in a clear, rich broth, usually served with beef and veggies. And there's no place better to try pho than in its birthplace, Hanoi. Whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, from a street stand or an established restaurant, in the traditional style or in one of its many variations, it's safe to say that you're going to enjoy your meal.
After one weekend in the city, we had already established Bia Hoi as our favorite new Hanoi weekend tradition. Bia Hoi joints are found on almost every corner in the capital, serving light, super-cheap draft beer, along with food. It doesn't matter what kind of day you've had: if you finish it by pounding down a few Bia Hoi, you'll go to bed happy.
As the capital of Vietnam for 143 years, Hue had plenty of time to refine its cuisine to imperial standards. As a result, the city is today regarded as having the finest food in all Vietnam; many of the country's most popular dishes originate here, and we could hardly wait to check them out.
For such a small city, Hoi An has a surprisingly rich food culture. There are dishes here which you can't find anywhere else in Vietnam, and an abundance of great restaurants and street stalls in which to try them. If in doubt, head to the central market, where a delirious hall of food stands is serving up any specialty you could possibly hope for. Cao Lầu If you believe the local legends, Cao Lầu is a dish…