#OTCBontour - Vietnam roundup

#OTCBontour - Vietnam Roundup

I (Mirko) was lucky enough to travel to Vietnam mid-July 2015 to celebrate the wedding of some dear friends of mine. Travelling with a bunch of foodies was a definite plus as it allowed us to try a number of cuisines that Vietnam has to offer. This post is not aimed at describing each dish in detail but rather provide you with an album of some of my favourite dishes of the holiday...enjoy!

vietnam, banh mi, otcb on tour, lunch, roll
Combination Banh Mi - from Banh Mi Phuong 
Doing some research about the destination where the wedding was held (Hoi An) allowed me to work out some places and dishes that I wanted to try. Banh Mi Phuong (made famous by Anthony Bourdain through No Reservations), was a must visit location to try a Vietnamese staple - Banh Mi. This was AMAZING, the best Banh Mi that I have had and definitely worthy of its fame. The Banh Mi are slightly smaller than those that we are familiar with here in Australia, but none the less, still very filling. With a light, crunchy but soft bread filled with a combination of grilled pork, chicken and cold meats as well as pickled carrot, cucumber, tomato (yes tomato) and egg (yes egg), this was a breakfast staple of mine which I travelled into Hoi An town for every day. Coupled with a cafe sua da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)....and costing $1-2 USD what more could I ask for?!

vietnam, otcb on tour, sugar cane, drink, cumquat
A little suspect looking - Sugar Cane drink with Cumquat
vietnam, otcb on tour, meat, nem nuong
Nem Nuong - Grilled meats
vietnam, otcb on tour, banh xeo, pancake
Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Pancake
Another highlight of Hoi An was Restaurant Bale Well. An all you can eat Banh Xeo and Grilled Meat restaurant. The grilled meats were moorish and the mini Banh Xeo were so crispy and delicious that I probably ate 5-6 of these easily. The meal costing us approximately $10 USD, one of our more expensive meals of the trip.

vietnam, otcb on tour, cao lau, hoi an noodles, noodles
Cao Lau - Hoi An Noodles
Cao Lau, is a regional noodle dish specific to Hoi An and is made of pork, local greens and is made special by the way that the noodles are made. The noodles have a different taste and texture to those which we would normally see due to the water which is used in the noodle making process. Another delicious dish!


vietnam, otcb on tour, rambutan, fruit
Rambutan (and other fresh fruits) as far as the eye could see

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, cart

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, ban mi, saigon
Banh Mi 37 - Food Cart, Saigon
Moving on from Hoi An, my holiday takes me to Saigon (AKA Ho Chi Minh City). Travelling with some Vietnamese speakers and others that have been to Saigon previously definitely helped. We were told of a food cart called Banh Mi 37 which we had to try so we could sample a different version of Banh Mi. Again, the bread is perfect, but this Banh Mi is a lot simpler with little nem nuong patties lining the inside of the light and crusty bread. The patties are flavoursome with a smoky flavour and the Banh Mi has a decent hit of chilli adding great heat to the dish. I was sweating all the way home eating this thing!

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, drinks, cafe sua da
Cafe sua da - Drank these things every day! 
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, drinks, coconut
Fresh Coconut - Delicious!
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pandan, cake
Pandan cake....light, fluffy, moist - delicious!
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pate chaud
Pate Chaud 
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pate chaud
Reminds me of a dumpling filling
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, drinks, cafe sua da, trung nguyen
Cafe Sua Da from Trung Nguyen (Vietnams version of Starbucks - but better)
I had Cafe Sua Da every day I was in Vietnam. It was very interesting to taste the subtleties that each place had based on the coffee blend, the flavours used in the roasting process as well as the amount of condensed milk added to each drink impacting the strength of the brew. Simple in its creation, but complex in its delivery.

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pho, soup
Couldn't go to Vietnam without eating Pho!
How could I say I went to Vietnam and not try Pho. Here I try the Pho Tai (Pho with rare beef). I can say that Australia has very good Vietnamese cuisine and our pho is comparable given the freshness and quality of our local produce (especially the meat). Whilst this is the case, it was interesting to see the different herbs that are available in Vietnam which are used in this dish.

One of the highlights of my Vietnam holiday (and I think I can speak for a number of us when I say this) was our Food Tour of Saigon with XO Tours. For those of you who are heading to Saigon and want to experience its local cuisine, give XO Tours a go! Over a four-hour period, you are seated at the back of a scooter (driver included) and taken to local food spots across Saigon to sample dishes and ways of eating that the locals love. The following show some of the items that we ate along the way.

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, bun bo hue, soup
No not Pho - But BBH (Bun Bo Hue)
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, bbq, shrimp
BBQ Shrimp
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, frogs
Frogs!
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, crab, chilli sauce
Crab claw in Chilli Sauce
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, balut, duck embryo
Balut - Duck Embryo
Being of Filipino descent, I am familiar with the delicacy which is known as Balut. Whilst I am aware of this dish, I have never been game to try it but on this occasion I decided to give it a go. Not the best looking dish, but surprisingly not bad. The embryo itself was quite soft and tasted like eating a really rich, flavoursome egg. Don't get me wrong, if I see this on the menu, I won't be ordering it any time soon.

Another surprise of Saigon was 4P's Pizza. I did not think that I would get a decent slice of pizza in Saigon but did. All pizzas had a light and crispy base with some really tasty toppings. Pictures are below:

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pizza, margherita
Margherita
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pizza, tomato, burrata
Tomato and Burrata 
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Okonomiyaki
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pizza, cheese
4 cheeses
vietnam, otcb on tour, food, pizza, dessert, apple
Apple and Raisin dessert pizza

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, soup, banh canh ghe, crab
Banh Canh Ghe - Crab Soup
Banh Canh Ghe is a soup served with a whole crab, noodles, and a few other items I am unsure of. All I can say is that this was a really tasty dish, but be ready to get your hands dirty to get to the crab meat.

vietnam, otcb on tour, food, bun thit nuong cha goi, pork, spring rolls
Bun Thit nuong Cha Goi
My last meal in Vietnam was the Vermicelli Noodles with grilled pork and spring rolls. A light and fresh dish with some really nice flavours.

I hope that these pictures have made you hungry and you are considering Vietnam for your next holiday destination!


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