We are (probably) all familiar with Vietnamese coffee and if you aren’t it is definitely worth a taste. It is easy to find almost everywhere because Vietnamese food has thankfully traveled the globe. The Vietnamese love their caffeine and sugar. Vietnamese coffee is a thick, rich, motor-oil black concoction which is usually sweetened with a type of sweetened condensed milk. The beverage is called cà phê sữa đá (iced milk coffee) in most places or sometimes cà phê nâu đá (iced brown coffee) in the north.
One less common but uniquely Vietnamese preparation is called cà phê trứng (egg coffee). It sounds weirder than it is. It is, however, actually made with egg! This is basically like tiramisu in a cup and is delicious. Try it if you get the chance. It isn’t very common, especially in the south, so you may need to look around for it. It was originally from Hanoi and became a staple in the 1950s. We had ours at Green Coffee (126 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Ho Chi Minh City). This is not your average Vietnamese coffee shop. In our experience there are usually two polar opposites in Vietnam with one comprised of small plastic stools, street corners, and delicious cups of the thickest coffee you’ve ever seen. At the far other end of the spectrum are numerous chain coffee shops, virtually indistinguishable from Starbucks. Green Coffee is something entirely different and amazing! It is full of people on laptops doing work, goofing off, or otherwise taking a break. They have fast Wifi so why not? What makes it different from Starbucks? The drinks! They have amazing Vietnamese drinks and the prices aren’t crazy.
Pho is mostly a morning and lunch food so if you want it then find a small alley and go early. This cost $1.50. This is easily 3 times more than it was on my first trip to Vietnam. The cost of food is skyrocketing, especially in bigger cities. If you walk around any busy area between sunrise and around 10am all you need to do is look down an alley. You may be able to find this at other times of the day but it is always better to eat local food when the locals eat it. It will be fresher and very often safer.
Hot pot is a fun thing to do with a large group. My suggestion is to pick something hearty without noodles. The waiter will bring a grill with the pot of liquid you ordered and all of the things you can add. In this case we did beef and greens. This cost $5.00.
Noodles come in many shapes and forms. We got this particular bowl at the flower market which is an area with a lot of Cambodian people. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous! This cost $1.00.
This is “Vietnamese pizza”! It is actually called Bánh tráng nướng. We got this at turtle lake but it is served all over Ho Chi Minh City. There are ladies with grills out and you just point to something and they will cook it right up for you. It is made with rice paper, egg, dried shrimp, and herbs. This cost less then $1.
Spicy beef soup with bread or noodles. This was right outside the door of our place and it was the best thing I ate in Vietnam. It was $1.50 for a bowl with bread. The beef was like butter and the broth was delicious and spicy.