Marion Burros, the food critic for the New York Times, described Vietnamese food as "aromatic and spicy but subtle, with clean bright flavors." The Vietnamese like to contrast sweet and sour, hot and cool, cooked and raw, and crispy and smooth. Southern Vietnamese dishes tend to be spicier, sweeter, and oiler, with more exotic fruits and vegetable and MSGs, than northern Vietnamese dishes, which are influenced more by French and Chinese cooking styles.
Vietnamese cuisine is known for using fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs and spices including lemon grass, lime and kaffir lime leaves. Throughout all regions of Vietnam, the emphasis is always on serving fresh vegetables and herbs as side dishes along with dipping sauce. The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, chicken, shrimp, cockles and various other kinds of seafood. Beef is usually used for one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam, ‘pho soup’ and the ‘seven course beef’ dish.
Features and characteristics of Vietnamese cuisine include: 1) Freshness of food: Most meats are only briefly cooked. Vegetables are eaten fresh; if they are cooked, they are boiled or only briefly stir-fried. 2) Presence of herbs and vegetables: Herbs and vegetables are essential to many Vietnamese dishes and are often abundantly used. 3) Broths or soup-based dishes are common. 4) The condiments accompanying Vietnamese meals are usually colorful and arranged in eye-pleasing manners. [Source: Wikipedia]
Pho is sometimes eaten for breakfast. Also popular are salty cakes made of rice flour with minced pork and dried shrimp. The more Americanized Vietnamese may eat breakfasts of oatmeal or French bread with jam and tea. Lunch might consist of bahn mi, a sandwich of carrots, cilantro, onions and daikon with pork or chicken on a French roll; or rice vermicelli; or pork and vegetables wrapped in thin rice-paper wrappers. Dinner is almost always rice, plus a few steamed or stir-fried dishes, typically including vegetables and either fish or pork. [Source: "Nutrition and Fasting in Vietnamese Culture" Janet Tu, March 28, 2001 *]
Fish is the most common protein in the Vietnamese diet. They prepare fish in a variety of ways: steamed, sauteed, fried. In the U.S., where meat is cheaper than in Vietnam, pork and chicken are also popular. Common vegetables include cabbage, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), mustard greens, collard greens and cucumbers. The most common condiment is nuoc mam - fish sauce (made from salted and fermented anchovies), used in Vietnamese cooking much as Americans would use salt or Chinese would use soy sauce. Most also use MSG in their cooking. *
The influence of France is can be found is Vietnam's food. Créme caramel is available at most restaurants; baguettes, sometimes croissants and Vietnamese-versions of French pastries, are available at every market and in every downtown area, particularly in Hanoi and the north. You can even find snails in some places. French-Vietnamese cuisine is a real delight.
Many chefs are women.
Regional Variations in Vietnamese Cuisine
Southern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are more famous for their cuisine than northern Vietnam and Hanoi even though the latter is famous for its French-influenced haute cuisine. After a great restaurant in Hanoi, Matt Gross wrote in the New York Times, "My delight was compounded by surprise, for I was in Hanoi, where cooks, in my experience, like to take the rich variety of southern Vietnamese cuisine - a rainbow of fruits, untranslatable herbs and sea creatures of every imaginable shape - and strip it down to a bland menu of broken rice and boiled meat. Then, with utterly misplaced pride, they declare it Vietnam's true national cuisine." While "the north of Vietnam is also starting to supply haute ingredients for these restaurants...the new cuisine of the north remains dependent on the produce of the south: The chefs order most of their fruits, vegetables, and seafood from Ho Chi Minh City, where the major suppliers are based.[Source: By Matt Gross, New York Times, February 2, 2006 ]
But Hanoi is catching up. In 2010, the website Sherman's Travel (www.shermanstravel.com) ranked Hanoi as the No. 2 foodie destination in the world, behind Barcelona, Spain, and ahead of Rome and Tokyo. In northern Vietnam, a colder climate limits the production and availability of spices. As a result, the foods there are often less spicy than those in other regions. Black pepper is used in place of chilis as the most popular ingredient to produce spicy flavors. In general, northern Vietnamese cuisine is not bold in any particular taste — sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, or sour. Most northern Vietnamese foods feature light and balanced flavors that result from subtle combinations of many different flavoring ingredients. The use of meats such as pork, beef, and chicken were relatively limited in the past. Freshwater fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, such as prawns, squids, shrimps, crabs, clams, and mussels, are widely used. Many notable dishes of northern Vietnam are crab-centered (e.g., bún riêu). Fish sauce, soy sauce, prawn sauce, and limes are among the main flavoring ingredients. Being the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, northern Vietnam produces many signature dishes of Vietnam, such as bún riêu and bánh cuon, which were carried to central and southern Vietnam through Vietnamese migration. [Source: Wikipedia +]
The abundance of spices produced by central Vietnam’s mountainous terrain makes this region’s cuisine notable for its spicy food, which sets it apart from the two other regions of Vietnam where foods are mostly not spicy. Once the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam, Hue’s culinary tradition features highly decorative and colorful food, reflecting the influence of ancient Vietnamese royal cuisine. The region’s cuisine is also notable for its sophisticated meals consisting of many complex dishes served in small portions. Chili peppers and shrimp sauces are among the frequently used ingredients. Some Vietnamese signature dishes produced in central Vietnam are bún bò Hue and bánh xèo. +
The warm weather and fertile soil of southern Vietnam create an ideal condition for growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and livestock. As a result, foods in southern Vietnam are often vibrant and flavorful, with liberal uses of garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs. Sugar is added to food more than in the other regions. The preference for sweetness in southern Vietnam can also be seen through the widespread use of coconut milk in southern Vietnamese cuisine. Vast shorelines make seafood a natural staple for people in this region. +
Historical Influences on Vietnamese Food
Due to historical contact with China, Vietnamese cuisine shares many of its characteristics with Chinese cuisine. In culinary traditions, the Chinese introduced to Vietnam many dishes, including hoành thánh (wonton), xá xíu (char siu), há cado (har gow), hud tieu (ka tieu), mì (wheat noodles), bò bía (popiah), bánh quay (youtiao), mooncake and bánh pía (Suzhou style mooncake), bánh to (nian gao), sui dìn (tang yuan), bánh bò, bánh bao (baozi), com chiên Duong Châu (Yangzhou-fried rice), and mì xào (chow mein). The Vietnamese adopted these foods and added their own styles and flavors to the foods. Ethnic minorities in the mountainous region near the China–Vietnam border also adopted some foods from China. Ethnic Tày and Nùng in Lang Son Province adopted thi.t lo.n quay (roasted pork) and khau nhu.c (braised pork belly) from China. Some New World vegetables, such as chili peppers and corn (maize), also made their way to Vietnam from the Ming dynasty. [Source: Wikipedia +]
The French introduced baguettes to Vietnam, which were then combined with Vietnamese stuffing to become a popular fast food in Vietnam called bánh mì and known overseas as "Vietnamese baguettes", though different from the French counterpart in that the baguette is normally made entirely of rice flour. The French also brought to Vietnam onions, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, tarragon, carrot, artichoke, asparagus, and coffee. Onions are called hành tây (literally "western shallots"), asparagus as mang tây (western bamboo shoots) and potatoes are called khoai tây (western yam) in Vietnamese, which reflect their origin before arriving in Vietnam. French-influenced dishes are numerous and not limited to: sa lát (salad), pâté, patê sô (a Brittany pasty called "pâté chaud"), bánh su'ng trâu (croissant), bánh flan, ya ua (yogurt), rôti (rotisserie), bo (butter), vi.t nau cam (duck à l'orange), op let (omelette), op la (œufs au plat), phac xi (farcies), bít Tet (beefsteak), sot vang (cooking with wine), dam bông (jambon), and xúc xích (saucisse). +
Vietnamese cuisine also has influences from its neighbors Laos and Cambodia, in which coconut milk and spices including curries were introduced to Vietnam. Though not common in the north, cà ri is a quite popular dish in central and southern Vietnam. The most common form is chicken curry and to a lesser extent, goat curry. Chicken curry is an indispensable dish in many social gathering events, such as weddings, funerals, and the yearly death anniversary of a loved one. Similar to Laos and Cambodia, curry in Vietnam is eaten either with the French baguettes, steamed rice, or round rice noodles (rice vermicelli). The Vietnamese also adopted green papaya salad from Laos and ma'm bo hóc (prahok) from Cambodia. Ma'm bo hóc is used as a central ingredient of a Vietnamese rice noodle soup called bún nuo'c lèo. +
Due to influences from China and France, the French Indochina countries of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia have similar dishes and beverages, including beef noodle soup (feu in Laos, pho in Vietnam, and kuy teav in Cambodia), spring rolls, breads, sandwiches, and coffee. With the contact with communist countries from Eastern Europe, the Vietnamese adopted dishes such as stuffed cabbage soup, sa lát Nga (Russian salad) and Czech beer.
Among the 3,000 or so other dishes that make up Vietnamese cuisine are fish and rice noodle soup, tamarind crab, stir-fried beef, sauteed prawns, sauteed vegetables, clay pot rice (sauteed chicken, green onions, tomato, ginger, nuoc nam, and rice cooked in chicken broth), fish in a clay pot, grilled fish with lemon grass, noodles served with coconut milk, “steamed boat” (shellfish, fish and vegetables cooked in a hot pot at the table), flaming coconut with beef and onions cooked in coconut milk, steamed shrimp and coconut, chicken marinated in five spice powder, and catfish fried in sweet sauce.
The most popular Vietnamese dishes include: 1) Noodle dishes using special Vietnamese noodles which are extremely thin and woven into intricate bundles (e.g. Banh Hoi, Bun cha, Mi Quang or Bun thit nuong); 2) Noodle soups with the rich and tasty broth (e.g. Pho, Bun bo Hue, Bun Mang, Bun Oc or Bun rieu); 3) Rice dishes served with different types of meat and fish prepared in various ways; 4) Sticky rice dishes made with sticky rice with coconut milk, cooked the same way as the rice or steamed for a firmer texture and more flavor (e.g. Banh chung or Xoi ); 5) Wraps and rolls such as rice flour rolls stuffed with ground pork, prawns and wood ear mushrooms (e.g. Banh cuon or Banh trang, made from ‘rice paper’ - thin rice flour sheets); and 6) Meat dishes, which include beef and vegetables stew with spicy herbs ( Bo kho), and cubed , marinated beef served with green vegetables, onion and tomato ( Bo luc The most popular soup is pho - a noodle soup. There are many varieties of pho made from different types of meat but it is most commonly beef and chicken. The rice and meat are served with various greens and pickled vegetables, sometimes with a prawn paste cake and grilled prawns (e.g. Com chien Duong Chau, Com hen or Com tam). lac). [Source: Vietnamese Cultural Profile, Diversicare, March 2009]
Other common dishes include “muc xao” (squid sauteed with onion, garlic, tomato, leeks), “nem bi” (shredded roast pork mixed with rice powder, mint, coriander, and lettuce rolled in rice paper) and “nem chua” (rice paper wrapped around sour sausage, lettuce, mint, coriander and dipped in nuoc cham), “com cau lau” (mussels and their broth with banana flowers, peanut sauce, fish sauce, garlic and rice), tofu with spicy sauce and chilies, pork stuffed with tomato, grilled beef smothered with ground peanut, sweet and sour soup of carp, soup with tamarind, pineapple, and tomatoes, grilled pork balls, fried fish cakes, and sauteed mudfish cooked with turmeric and vegetables.
Nem ran (called cha gio in the south) is a much-appreciated speciality, although it is very easy to prepare. Since long ago, nem ran has been a familiar dish on the menu at all households during the New Year’s festivities, at family parties, and at receptions. The stuffing of the nem ran is comprised of mince pork, sea crabs, eggs, minced Jew's ears, thin-top mushroom, dried onions, bean-sprouts, pepper, spiced salt, etc. The mixture is then rolled in flat rice cakes and fried in a pan until crispy. Nem are eaten hot with a sauce that it is, at the same time, somewhat salty, sweet, acidic and scented (with the flavors of onion and pepper). Papaya and a few fresh scented vegetables are added. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]
Gio lua (Silky lean meat paste) is made with lean pig meat, which is pounded with a pestle until it becomes a sticky paste. Fresh banana leaves are tied very tightly around the paste, and then it is well cooked. Good gio lua has a fine white color, is firm, and has a perfumed and sweetish taste. Gio lua may be obtained anywhere in Vietnam, but the best gio lua is from Uoc Le Village (Hanoi), where the know-how for Gio lua is strictly kept so as to allow no secrets of the job to flow out from Uoc Le. Slices of Gio lua are slightly pink, moist, and sweet-smelling meat, fish sauce and banana leaf. ~
Indian and Chinese dishes are also widely available. They include things like fried noodles, fried rice, fried rice with chicken, fried rice with pork, fried rice with prawns, Indian-style curry, crisp fried noodles, sweet and sour vegetables, beef in oyster sauce, chicken with ginger and coconut milk, fried rice with ginger, curried chicken, grilled fish in banana leaves, pork, chicken or prawn soup, and curries. Fine restaurants serve things like pork warpped in sugar cane and fish cooked with peanuts.
Side Dishes, Snacks and Street Food
Side dishes include tofu, vegetables and spinach cooked with a little sugar and garlic. Soups—made with chicken, fish, okra, ginger, shallots, cilantrano, lime leaves, tomatoes, hot peppers, pineapple, coconut milk and a host of other ingredients—are usually served at the end of the meal.
Hue's best known dish is a crispy pancake made with egg and rice flour. It comes folded over grilled shrimp, pieces of pork, bean sprouts, lettuce leaves and herbs and dipped in spicy peanut or soy sauce. Another local specialty, also found in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere is rice paper wrappers rolled around grilled shrimp, pieces of pork, bean sprouts, lettuce leaves and herbs and dipped in spicy, sweet orange sauce.
Popular Vietnamese street foods and snacks, include spring rolls, pork meatballs and pho (beef noodle soup), fruits, ice cream and baguettes with pâté. The Vietnamese people learned to like these foodstuffs because of cultural influence from other countries—ice cream came with American contact during the Vietnam War and baguette from French colonial influence.
One of the best street food’s in Vietnam is “goi cuom” , a cold Vietnamese-style garden roll made of shrimp, pork, shredded lettuce, cellophane noodles and fresh citron or herbs, wrapped in a translucent rice-paper wrapper and dipped into a peanut-based dipping sauce or a spicy, sweet orange sauce. Good ones are light, crisp and salad-like. The eating experience is quite different from eating than from eating a deep-fried egg roll or spring roll.
Other appetizers and street foods include spring rolls (made with thin delicate rice paper stuffed with crab, shrimp, pork and vegetables and deep fried), “nem cua” (crab spring rolls), “bahn tom” (shrimp cakes made with shrimp, grated sweet potato and rice flour), “bahn khoai” (pancakes made of rice flour with shrimp, pork bean sprouts and turmeric served with nuoc cham, green figs, peanut sauce, green banana and hot peppers).
Also try “cha gio” (spring rolls filled with crab, pork, bean sprouts, vermicelli, deep fried and served with nuoc cham), grilled beef with lemon grass, char-broiled pork balls, rice balls stuffed with sugar, “bahn loc” (steamed tapioca cakes stuffed with shrimp or meat), tapioca flour cakes stuffed with bean past or sugar cubes, “xoi” (sticky rice with sausage and other fillings), “banh cuon” (dumplings with ground pork), greasy Chinese bread sticks, Vietnamese fried dough, and grilled bananas sweetened with coconut milk.
The national dish of Vietnam is “pho” (soup made from chicken, beef or pork stock with noodles, coriander, scallions, meat or fish balls, hot peppers and nuoc nam). Served with chilies, lime wedges, and herbs like cilantro, mint and basil, which you add yourself according to preference, it is consumed with “banh cuon” (Vietnamese ravioli) for breakfast and lunch by nearly every Vietnamese. It comes in may varieties, including “pho ga” (chicken soup), “pho bo” (beef soup), “bahn pho” (white rice noodles), “mien pho” (clear noodles made with manioc powder), and “mi pho” (yellow wheat noodles).
Amy Pataki wrote in the Toronto Star: "In Vietnam, they eat soup for breakfast. Not just any soup, mind you, but pho (pronounced "fuh"): highly aromatic beef stock poured over a tangle of rice noodles and garnished with fresh herbs, bean sprouts and sliced meat. Native to Hanoi, in the north, its popularity has spread to street stalls throughout the country.
Specialties of Northern Vietnam
Pho is regarded as a typical dish of Hanoi people. Pho is prepared not only in a sophisticated manner but also using a technique with sweet but pure bouillon, soft but not crashed noodle, soft and sweet-smelling meat. It is said a bowl a hot and sweet-smelling Pho is best enjoyed on cold winter days in Hanoi. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]
Bun thang ("Ladder" soft noodle soup) is a soft noodle soup made with thin noodles, fried chopped meat. Bun Thang is unique to Hanoi. A bowl of Bun Thang includes lean pork paste, thin fried egg, salted shredded shrimp, chicken, onion, shrimps paste, and a little Belostomatid essence. Bun Thang bouillon made from shrimps and meat must be very sweet and pure. ~
Snail dishes (mon oc) are popular with—and unique to— Hanoi people. Common dishes include snail steamed with ginger leaf, gingered snail, snail sauted with carambola, snail boiled with lemon leaf, snail steamed with Chinese herbs. They can be ordered many small restaurants, restaurants, and even hotels. Noodles and snail sour soup is regarded as a dish for young ladies because of its sour taste and hot broth. ~
Com (Grilled green rice) is regarded as an autumn dish. Every autumn, around September and October, the cool north-westerly wind brings a cold dew, causing sticky rice ears to bend themselves into arches. The rice grains are at their fullest and the rice-milk is already concentrated in the grains. Com is made from green sticky rice that is harvested in the blossom period, roasted many times, crushed and sieved. One can enjoy com with tieu ripe banana. When eating com, you must eat slowly and chew very deliberately in order to appreciate all the scents, tastes, and plasticity of the young rice. Com is an ingredient also used in many specialities of Vietnam, including com xao (browned com), banh com (com cakes), che com (sweetened com soups), etc. Com may be obtained anywhere in the North of Vietnam, but the tastiest com is processed in Vong Village, five kilometers from Hanoi, where com making has been a professional skill for many generations. ~
Cha ca La Vong (La Vong grilled fish pies) is a unique specialty of Hanoi, which even has a road named Cha Ca Street. Cha ca is made from mud-fish, snake-headed fish, but the best one is Hemibagrus (Ca lang). The fish is deboned, then seasoned and clipped on pieces of bamboo, and fried over hot coals. An oven of coal is used to keep cha ca always hot. Cha ca is served with roasted peanuts, dry pancakes, soft noodle soup, spice vegetables and shrimps paste with lemon and chilly. The Cha ca La Vong Restaurant on No.14 Cha Ca Street is the "ancestor restaurant" of the dish. ~
Banh cuon (rolled rice pancake) is a popular breakfast food. To make it rice is grilled and steamed with oil-spread to give it a sweet smell. The pancakes are served on a plate. The cake is called Banh cuon Thanh Tri due to its origin is Thanh Tri Village south of Hanoi. There is a rolled up version of Banh cuon Thanh Tri filled with minced pork mixed with Jew's ears and thin-top mushrooms and served with salted shredded shring and fried dry onions and a delcious dipping sauce made with sweet-smelling Belostomatid essence. ~
Lon quay Lang Son (Lang Son roasted pork) is delicious for many reasons, however, the main specific taste of the dish comes from the unique flavor of a kind of leaf called "Mac mat" (meaning "sweet leaf"). The leaf is soaked with spices, fish sauce, glutamate, flavoring powder, then stuffed into clean pig belly and placed on reverted furnace. The pig skin is fried with watery honey to make the skin turn golden and brittle, and make the pork soft and sweet-smelling. ~
Banh tom Ho Tay (Ho Tay fried shirmp cake) was invented at Banh tom Ho Tay Restaurant on the Thanh Nien (Young) Street. The make it wheat flour is mixed with potato fibres and shrimps, then fried with oil. The cake is brittle, soft, sweet-smelling, and served with vegetable pickles and sweet and sour fish sauce. ~
Specialties of Central Vietnam
Banh beo xu Hue (Hue bloated fern-shaped cake) is a specialty of Hue City. Banh beo is delicious with its core stuffed with small shrimps and sauce made from a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, chilly and fresh small shrimps, watery grease. The sauce is a mixture of sweet- and buttery- smelling flavors. Without the delicious sauce, the cake would become worthless. When serving, a tool called Que Cheo (bamboo fork) is used to pass the cake, cut into pieces, and pick up and eat. The cakes are best enjoyed while sitting in a green garden on the Perfume River listening to Hue folk songs. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]
Bun bo gio heo (Beef and fork soft noodle soup) takes skill to make. A pig leg is clean-shaved, and chopped into even slices with adequate bone, meat and skin, mixed with lean beef, and soaked with salt, pepper, fish sauce, dry onion and spices. Banh la cha tom (Grilled rice cake with Cray fish) is a simple cake made from grilled rice cake and cray fish only. The cake must be as thin as a leaf and flexible. Cray fish must be brittle and sweet. It is served with long-jawed anchovy sauce . ~
Com hen song Huong (Perfume River mussel cooked rice) has the sweet-smelling flavor of rice, onion, and grease, as well as strange tastes of sweet, buttery, salty, sour, bitter, and peppery-hot. He original version is found on the Hen river-islet in the Perfume River but can also be found on some streets in Hue City. Com hen requires 15 different raw materials to prepare: mussels, fried grease, watery grease, peanuts, white sesames, dry pancake, salted shredded meat, chilly sauce, banana flower, banana trunk, sour carambola, spice vegetables, peppermint and vegetables. ~
Cao lau Hoi An (Hoi An noodles) are carefully made from local new rice not stocked rice. Water used to soak the rice must be taken from wells in the Ba Le Village. This ensures that noodles are soft and enduring and have a special sweet-smelling flabor. In addition, meat used to prepare for Cao lau must be loin or trotter. Dry pancakes used must be thick and have much sesame. Greasy coconut essence and bitter green cabbage are also indispensable. The so-called genuine Cao lau Hoi An must satisfy all above requirements . ~
Banh trang cuon thit heo (Dry pancake roll with pork) is considered as not only a daily dish but an artistic specialty of Central Vietnam. It consist of a big plate of fresh vegetables with a peppery-hot red chilly, a plate of boiled lean and fat meat, a bowl of fish sauce, and a plate of dry pancakes displayed on the dining table. Customers have to serve themselves with all of the 10 substances mentioned above . ~
My Quang (Quang soft noodle soup) is a variety of Pho (rice noodle soup) similar to rice noodle and chicken or pork soup (Hu tieu), The soup broth, which is added, comes from a mixture of flavors from beef or pork bone, shrimps, crabs, chicken and duck. The noodles are yellow so they are in harmony with the colors of shrimps and crabs. The best My Quang is made from rice in Phu Chiem, shrimp in Cho Dai and spicy vegetables in Tra Que . ~
Specialties of Southern Vietnam
Southern specialties include “ca loc nuong rom” (snakehead fish grilled in straw), “ca loc hap bau” (snakehead fish steamed with gourd), “ca kho to” (stewed fish in caramel sauce) and “ga noi vuon” (free-range chicken). In the Mekong Delta local restaurants serve “Ca loc nuong trui” (grilled snakehead fish and vegetables), “lau mam” (hot pot with marinated fish, chili and vegetables), “Ga rung nuong muoi ot” (farm chicken grilled with salt and chili), “nom hoa sung” (water lily salad), “nom hoa dien dien” (sesban flowers salad) and “ca ro kho to” (caramelised anabas fish with fish sauce and chili in an earthen pot).
A round plate of Xoi chien phong (Bloating fried sticky rice), placed next to a plate of buttery roasted chicken, is always attractive to anyone. A lump of sticky rice will become a plate of Xoi chien phong as big as a grape-fruit by talented chefs. In the past, Xoi chien phong was offered only in the Binh Duong Restaurant, Dong Nai Province. At present, you can taste the dish in star classified hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]
Lau mam (Mixed vegetable and meat hot pot) is a folk dish known for over a hundred years that has become a luxurious specialty in the South. Chau Doc fish sauce made from fresh-water fish, a kind of sweet- smelling and greasy fish, which is required to complete the delicious Lau mam dish. Substances to prepare for Lau mam, include fresh food-stuffs such as snake-head fish, "keo" fish, pork, peeled shrimps, eel, beef, and so on, accompanied with at least 10 kinds of vegetable, sometime as many a 24 kinds. They include water-lily, egg-plant, balsam-apple, straw mushroom, bean sprouts, chilly, etc. When boiled, the flavors of the sauce, which is mixed with citronella, chilies, vegetables, fish, shrimp and meat, are very sweet-smelling. Lau mam roam is scooped into bowls and served with soft noodle soup . ~
Goi Buoi (Salad of shaddock) is available at the majority of famous restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Major ingredients include shaddocks mixed with fresh shrimps, pork, and dry cuttle-fish. The dish is originated in Miet Buoi, Bien Hoa City. Goi buoi dish is especially flavored with slightly sour, sweet, peppery-hot and buttery tastes. Also added are spice vegetable, white sesames, coconut and dry cuttle-fish. ~
Ca tai tuong chien xu ("Tai tuong" bloatrf fried fish) is an unique and luxurious specialty in the South. The fish is as white as chicken, delicious and sweet smelling but not crushed. There are two ways to prepare the dish: boiled down or bloating fried. In the bloating fried way, pour plenty of oil into pan, wait for the oil to boil before placing the fish in. "In boiled oil, fish scabs would be raised up as porcupine's feathers." To serve, place the fish on to the plate, arrange boiled quail eggs, fried potato, fresh onion and tomato slices at the edge, season with chilies. Finally, pour soup and sprinkle fried peanuts and crashed onion on to the fish. The dish is served with sour and sweet sauce of fish . ~
Ca nuong trui (Bare fried fish) is based on a method cooking used by southern villagers in the countryside to make fried fish in their fields in which they stuck bamboo pieces through the fish, placing the head side of the fish towards the ground and smoked it with rice straw. The fish is served with the burnt skin removed. It is as white as chicken and placed hot on a lotus leaf. The fish is dipped in peppery salt with some lemon drops squeezed on it and rolled in fig leaf or placed on a young sesame shoot. Bowls and chopsticks are not necessary. At home, the dish can be served with dry pancakes, soft noodle soup and vegetables. Ca nuong trui is a dish that accompanies drinking. It is popular and exciting . ~
Ca kho to (dry-boiled catfish) can be prepared with catfish, anabas or snake-head fish. Necessary spices include dry garlic, fresh lemon, onion, chilly, sugar, glutamate, fish sauce, grease, and a spoon of pepper and wine. Although Ca kho to is a popular dish in the South, it is also cheap. Before serving, boil the bowl of fish on a low fire and sprinkle some with sweet-smelling peppers. Keep fire on when serving. Ca kho can be served with boiled vegetables such as shallots, white cabbage and spinach and dipped in Ca kho to sauce. It can also be served with pickles such as vinegary beet or green pineapple . ~
Cua rang muoi (fried salted crabs) is best appreciated when served very hot, mixed with some lemon drops. At banquets, a plate of bright red Cua rang muoi is usually served as an aperitif. Diners are often overwhelmed by the sweet-smelling spices and delicious buttery flavor of crab at the same time. Highly qualified chefs in Vung Tau coastal area usually select brackish water crabs with much meat and a a large liver and pancreas. A delicious crab dish also depends on the soup, added while frying the crabs in pans. Star aniseed, cinnamon, cardamom are commonly-used spices. ~
Ho Chi Minh Vietnam’s Trailblazers of Taste
Reporting from Ho Chi Minh City in 2003, R.W. Apple Jr. wrote in the New York Times, "Restaurant cooking of real excellence has evolved in the last 10 years, and particularly in the last three, with bright young chefs innovating and adapting like their brethren in other major Asian capitals. French and Chinese and Indian influences remain, of course, the legacy of a long and clamorous history, but something new and manifestly Vietnamese is emerging. Spring rolls and salad rolls on white tablecloths? Absolutely, and in Ho Chi Minh City's better places they might be filled with squid or grilled fish or chicken instead of crab or shrimp and pork. Chefs have no qualms about serving the traditional alongside the inventive: a plate of fat rosy shrimp with satisfyingly sour tamarind pulp, for instance, together with a plate of tiny quail glazed with star anise and grilled with garlic and paprika...I ate those two dishes, among others, at Nam Phan, a luxurious villa decorated with antique ceramics and scrolls. On our table, a single orchid floated in a silver and black lacquer box. [Source: R.W. Apple Jr., New York Times, September 5, 2003 :::]
"The villa housing Nam Phan stands at the center of a walled garden on the busy corner of Le Thanh Ton and Hai Ba Trung, two of the city's main streets. Inside, though, all is quiet. The high-ceilinged rooms are painted in grays, taupes and whites, and furnished with a modern refinement rare in Vietnam. "Ravishing." I would say the same about the food, especially the salads. One was made from grilled dried beef and the tender leaves and crunchy stems of water spinach, a relative of the morning glory. It was light and refreshing, just the thing on a warm day. Another, more elaborate and more assertive but as appealing, included lotus stems, bits of pork and tiny shrimp, fried shallots, chilies, mint, Vietnamese coriander and fish sauce. Tangy, fishy, sweet all at once, it had the layers of flavor the Vietnamese love. Nothing, for me, matched the shrimp with tamarind sauce. The pulp inside the tamarind pods, which look like giant brown beans, had been sweetened just enough to balance its sourness, and gobs of black pepper added a contrasting punch. The combination was fabulous." :::
The restaurant "Hoi An specializes in the cooking of the central coast town of that name, a photogenic little port whose food and architecture were influenced by the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Portuguese merchants who settled there in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.In a typical example of central Vietnamese delicacy, the flavor palette in Hoi An's spring rolls is limited to shrimp and pork paste, black sesame seeds and Chinese coriander, and the paper in which they are wrapped, made from rice and cassava flour, is more brittle than most. The salad rolls, which are just as elegant, arrive with a miniature pagoda carved from a carrot. :::
"Shrimp grilled in a banana leaf, another specialty, emerge rich and buttery. Dipped in a concoct-it-yourself sauce of lime juice and salt, they spoil you forever for shrimp cocktails. Sumptuous, chili-laced beef and onions, served inside a coconut, is vaguely South Indian in style; could that be the influence of the Portuguese? Though the rice noodles are not authentic (only those made with water from a particular Hoi An well get the nod from the purists), the ca lau here is luscious all the same: thin slices of baconlike pork, butterflied shrimp and crushed bits of crunchy sesame cake are piled onto the broad noodles, and a bowl of clear, fragrant marrow-bone broth is served on the side. The dish reminded me again of the Vietnamese genius for making a lot from a little. :::
"We managed to work our way through creamy, juicy bay scallops grilled in their shells and dressed with chopped scallions, peanuts and herbs; a tuna salad, served in a green mango, to be spread on rice crackers with a chili sauce - that familiar Vietnamese blend of spicy, fishy, salty, sour and caramelized tastes again, with so much ginger that it left a stinging sensation on the lips; a few pickles and other tidbits; and then a pair of gargantuan crabs steamed in beer.The crabs left a lasting impression, to say the least. They had thick shells and big claws, like stone crabs, and they gave up firm, moist, glacier-white lumps of meat, as big as cherries, as sweet as you could ask." :::
From Clay Pots to Quail Eggs in Hanoi
Matt Gross wrote in the New York Times, "Ca kho is one of those Vietnamese dishes that is so simple to prepare that it poses a challenge to chefs who want to make it uniquely their own. After all, it's just fish braised in a clay pot. But therein lies the challenge: What kind of fish? How sweet, how salty, how runny should the caramel-and-fish-sauce braising liquid be? How much black pepper is too much? It's a debate that has as many wrong answers as right ones, and that, as far as I'm concerned, rarely yields a dish that could ever be called memorable. Which is why, on a recent visit to Hanoi I was amazed to taste a ca kho that refused to fade into the background. The fish was soft and actually fish-flavored, and the braising liquid had a depth and richness that had me drizzling sticky russet juices over my rice bowl all night. I can't make any claim to encyclopedic knowledge of ca kho in Vietnam, but it was the best I'd eaten in a long, long time.[Source: By Matt Gross, New York Times, February 2, 2006 ]
" The Hanoi restaurant scene has something for every palate. For traditionalists, there's Wild Rice. For ambitious French-inspired food, Green Tangerine and its quaint, tile-lined courtyard. For modern Vietnamese fusion, Wild Lotus. There's the Metropole Hotel's mad scientist, Didier Corlou, busy deconstructing classic Vietnamese food; and there's straight-up New York-style restaurant food (at nearly New York-style prices) at Vine.
In 2000, Bobby Chinn, a New Zealand-born, British-educated American of Chinese and Egyptian descent, "opened Restaurant Bobby Chinn, a dark, romantic space hung with yellow silks and contemporary Vietnamese paintings. The menu mixes serious cooking - truffle crab espresso, blackened barramundi - with Bobby's natural goofiness. For $2, the menu claims, "We tell you that 'you are beautiful' all night long." But over the last nine years, Bobby has done more than feed funny food to homesick expatriates; he has also trained a new generation of chefs. Now, he said, "they call me the Bobby Chinn Cooking School." Without Bobby Chinn (or Didier Corlou, the chef at the Metropole since 1993), it's hard to imagine a restaurant like Green Tangerine.
"In a renovated house in the Old Quarter, its French chef, Benjamin Rascalou, is running wild, making a mackerel mille-feuille with la lot (like grape leaves, but less bitter) and serving frozen yogurt with red tuna carpaccio. Not everything is successful, but this sort of experimentation goes a long way in a city that once seemed beholden to boring food. The scope of the menu is on the same scale, stretching across Indochina (and beyond) to offer fish tikka in pandanus leaves, Peking-style duck rolls and a crisp green-papaya salad that was the best I've tasted outside Thailand.
Two friends and I had decided to subject ourselves to the tasting menus at Spices Garden, Didier Corlou's laboratory of Vietnamese cuisine at the 150-year-old Metropole hotel. We sat outside, in the humid courtyard, with the strains of traditional Vietnamese string instruments echoing out from the main dining room. The courses soon began arriving, each reflecting Didier's decade-long research into local cooking techniques and ingredients. "First came a trio of soups, each identified by a signature herb (the rau ram, a sort of soapy leaf sometimes known as Vietnamese coriander, was my favorite), and a tamarind sorbet, and a fried "flower crab," and grilled foie gras with lemongrass, ginger and sauteed bitter cabbage, and on and on. Right around the time dessert arrived - a jelly of oranges dusted with bee pollen from Ba Vi Mountain - the four of us stopped eating for a moment: The music had changed, become jauntier and, especially in contrast to Didier's thoroughly exotic creations, oddly familiar."
Searching for the Perfect Bowl of Pho
Reporting from Hanoi, Jessica Gelt wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "In Hanoi, soup is a way of life — the connective tissue of Vietnamese culture. With noodles, herbs and sinew, it strings together twisting streets and varied lifestyles. Here the bones, crumpled napkins and squeezed limes that litter the ground beneath tiny plastic tables are symbols of a good meal and a life well lived. Pho — rice noodles in savory broth with a variety of meat and herbs — is Vietnam's national dish, and bun cha — a combination of grilled pork, sweet and savory broth with fish sauce, sliced green papaya, rice noodles and fresh herbs — is the signature dish of Hanoi. Besides these belly-warming staples, you can satisfy your appetite with all manner of noodle soups for breakfast, lunch and dinner. [Source: Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2012 |=|]
"The abundance of options makes looking for the perfect bowl of noodles in Hanoi a tricky one. It's a quest that will lead you through the city's back alleys, grand French-influenced boulevards and tucked-away neighborhoods. A bowl of soup on the street in Hanoi usually sells for 15,000 to 25,000 Vietnamese dong — 72 cents to about $1.20 — so eating this way here is a steal. By contrast, a bowl of simple and comparatively bland pho ga (chicken pho) or pho bo (beef pho) at the elegant French colonial Hotel Metropole goes for about $12.50 and comes with a side of wealthy tourists chatting on their cellphones. |=|
"To help me gauge which street stalls were superior, I enlisted the help of Mai Thi Thu Trang, a young woman who manages" a restaurant in Hanoi. "Places that are good are normally places that old people come to eat," Trang said. "Because they believe in the quality." Early the next morning, she took me to a stall that she said served some of the best breakfast noodles in the city. It was deep in the Old Quarter, a collection of 36 tightly knit streets that retain the layout and much of the architecture of early 20th century Hanoi, with roots stretching as far back as the 11th century when the city was established by King Ly Thai To. |=|
"In the Old Quarter, Trang led me through the chaos of these streets, turning off Hang Buom into tiny Ta Hien Street. There she pointed out a small shop (No. 2C) — about the size of a walk-in closet in Beverly Hills — where a wizened old woman in traditional dress and a conical straw hat sat eating on the high stoop (a good sign). She beckoned me to sit on a knee-high plastic blue stool at a similarly doll-sized table beneath a small framed picture of Ho Chi Minh. A younger woman sat on another stool above two steaming pots. |=|
"One pot was filled with broth into which she put noodles plucked from inside a glass case that held bowls of brown eggs, salt, chopped green onions, plates of pig's feet, sliced pork and raw meatballs. I didn't order; she just made a bowl of noodles, broth, a dash of salt, a sprinkling of herbs, pickled garlic, meatballs and slices of soft pork and handed it to me. The dish, called bun doc mung, was a revelation: The broth was rich and fragrant, the meatballs light and redolent of spices. The soup sustained me well past lunch as I wandered south to Hoan Kiem Lake and stopped at Ngoc Son temple, which is on a little island. I sat for a while, staring at the murky water and hoping to catch a glimpse of a giant lake turtle — a sign of good luck. |=|
"As the sun set, I wandered back to the Old Quarter to catch a show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, where skilled puppeteers in rubber boots perform their art in a small pool decorated like a lake. When I emerged I was hungry again, but this time I decided to take a chance. At the busy corner of Hang Bo and Hang Can, I happened on a bustling stall where teenagers snaked in a line down the street, waiting to eat fried chicken feet, dipped in salt and lime juice, and a noodle-based soup in a blood-black broth in which small pieces of chicken and liver floated. The soup went well with a bottle of lukewarm 333 beer, but it didn't rival the bowl of breakfast noodles I'd eaten that morning on Ta Hien Street, where the wise old woman had beckoned to me with the promise of the glorious day to come. |=|
Great Food on a Tight Budget in Vietnam
Christine Salins wrote in the Canberra Times, "As in many parts of Asia, the lotus is prized in Vietnam as a symbol of purity and perfection. Every part of the plant is eaten or used, the flowers gracing shrines and altars, the stamens made into an aromatic tea. The seeds are dried and boiled and used for making sweets, cakes and puddings. The candied lotus I tried at Saigon's Sofitel Plaza Hotel was a big kid's dream! The stems are peeled, sliced and added to soups and salads. The bulbous roots, which taste like chestnuts and have a beautiful lacy pattern, are used in braised dishes and soups. The leaves of the lotus plant are used to wrap rice and other foods for steaming. The finest example I encountered was at the Hoi An Restaurant in Saigon, a classic wooden two-storey house serving food with imperial flair. [Source: Christine Salins, Canberra Times, September 11, 2002 ^]
"Dishes such as rice pancake with crumbled shrimps, roasted duck, sauteed chicken with lemongrass and delicious grilled eggplant with spring onion and chopped nuts were presented on plates that were a sight to behold. And while the prices were imperial by Vietnamese standards, they were decidedly cheap by our own, three of us eating very well for around $50. One of the best things about travelling in Vietnam is being able to eat like a king on a pauper's budget. But it was the Hoi An's simple dish of steamed rice that was the biggest surprise, wrapped in lotus leaves like a beautiful parcel, with lotus seeds crunchy like chickpeas sprinkled throughout. Lotus plants nudge the road between Hanoi and Halong Bay, not one spare inch wasted in this heavily populated country. ^
"Givral, in Saigon's Dong Khoi Street, has plenty of ambience but despite being listed as a must by some of my guide books, its ice cream did not live up to expectations. More to my liking was the ice cream at Fanny's, near Hanoi's picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake, where the mango sorbet and cinnamon ice cream hit the right spot on a hot, humid day. Although boundaries have blurred, Vietnam still has regional specialities such as the banh khoai of central Vietnam, small golden pancakes made of rice flour and eggs, filled with prawns, pork and bean sprouts. I sampled these at the Mandarin Cafe in Hue, and while I tasted better ones in Hoi An, the cafe is worth a visit if only for its brilliant photos taken by the owner, Phan Cu. ^
"The food in Hue reflects its status as a former imperial city, and this was nowhere more obvious than at the Tinh Gia Vien restaurant, in a private villa in the Garden of Tranquility. Madame Ha, who traces her descent to the imperial household, hovered over the restaurant like a hawk, proudly discussing the dishes, her garden filled with bonsai trees and the knick- knacks on display. Appearance is everything in imperial cuisine and our 11-courses came in an amazing assortment of shapes: papaya and carrot flowers, a pineapple lantern holding appetizers, spring rolls shaped into a peacock, rice shaped as a tortoise, and others shaped as a dragon and phoenix. We were amused to see that whereas the $US10 ($A18) set-course menu included shrimp and fish, the $12 menu had "bigger shrimp and bigger fish" and the $15 menu "bigger shrimp, bigger fish and elephant". Presumably, this referred to quantity rather than size, for the prawns on the $10 menu were already jumbo-sized. And we were relieved to learn that the elephant referred only to the shape of the dish. ^
"In the central Vietnamese port, Hoi An, the speciality is coa lau, a combination of thick rice flour noodles, bean sprouts and greens, pork croutons and slices. It is said that true coa lau can only be made from water drawn from the Ba Le well, apparently because of its clarity and high calcium level. But more likely the secret lies in the noodles which have been made by the same family for more than 100 years. In Hanoi, the speciality is cha ca, fried fish with dill, turmeric, rice noodles, peanuts and an optional pungent fish sauce. The Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant, 14 Cha Ca Street, has been cooking only this dish for more than a century. The surroundings are downmarket, there is no menu and no-one takes your order. Everyone knows the drill: the sizzling fish delivered to the table in a pan over a charcoal burner. ^
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Ingredients: For the dipping sauce: A ) 4 tablespoons water; B) 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; C) 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar; D) Juice of 1 lime; E) 1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped; F) 1 garlic clove, finely chopped; G) 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger; H) 2 tablespoons fish sauce. For the rolls: A) 25g fine rice vermicelli; B) 6 rice-paper discs or wrappers (available in oriental stores); C) 200g cooked prawns, halved lengthways if large; D) Large handful of mixed herb leaves, such as mint, coriander, basil and green shiso, torn if large; E) 6 lettuce or mustard leaves; F) 30g bean sprouts. This is a perfect grow-your-own recipe – there's not a fixed list of ingredients, just add what's best from your plot. One essential is plenty of fresh, mixed herbs, especially mint.[Source: Taken from 'The Urban Kitchen Gardener – Growing and Cooking in the City', by Tom Moggach (Kyle Books, £16.99), The Independent, June 8, 2012, independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink *** ]
To prepare: First, make the dipping sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Add the lime juice, chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce, stirring and tasting as you go to balance the flavors. Cook the rice vermicelli, as the per the packet's intructions. Refresh under cold water, drain and chop into lengths of roughly 8-10cm. Get ready to roll. Arrange each ingredient as on an assembly line: start with a large bowl of warm water to soak the rice-paper discs or wrappers; next, you will need a plate, covered with a clean towel, on which to drape them once soaked; then the prawns, herb leaves, vermicelli and other fresh ingredients, each in a separate bowl. ***
Soak a rice-paper disc in the warm water for 15 seconds or until pliable. Transfer to the plate. Start to make a pile of the ingredients in the bottom third of the rice paper, arranging prawns and other ingredients to taste. Roll up tightly from the bottom, fold in the sides, then finish rolling up the cylinder. The rice paper should be slightly sticky, which will help to seal the rolls. Repeat the process for all the other rice paper discs, topping up the warm water if necessary. Slice the rolls on the diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce. ***
Vietnamese Desserts in a Glass
Aaron Joel Santos wrote in the Hanoi Times, "There shouldn’t be anything appetizing about a glass of amorphous globs punctuated by colorful squirms and squiggles. Yet Vietnamese che manages to subvert food psychology and bring to the masses a dessert equal parts modern art and simple, sincere goodness. It’s the perfect blend of earthy pastes and thick beans with sugary fruits and jellies. And at its best it’s a testament to everything exuberant about Vietnamese cuisine, by turns inventive and utilitarian depending o―n your vendor, and as much about unique clashes of flavor as it is steeped in basic recipes and tradition. [Source: Aaron Joel Santos, Hanoi Times, April 1, 2008 */]
"In short, che is Vietnam’s premiere dessert happening. It’s a glimpse into what life would be like if the gum kids picked from beneath bleachers tasted like sweet rain forest water, or if the slick sea weeds that washed ashore were covered in rainbow-colored candy shells. Much of che’s genius lies in its inherent plainness. It doesn’t strive to be exquisite and is comfortable on a creaky stool, carried along in a pink bag or slurped through a cafe’s dented tin spoon. It comes hot, cold, crunchy, chewy and never without a certain charisma. In Vietnam, che is Everyman’s dessert, by turns universally appealing and able to offer itself up as something one-of-a-kind, worth searching the city’s nooks and crannies for. */
"And while it would be impossible to assign best-of status to any one che in Hanoi, a near-perfect introduction to this choice beverage can be found at Quan An Ngon on Phan Boi Chau Street, just southwest of the Old Quarter. Here, the che suong sa hat luu serves as a good starting point; it’s just the right mix of sweet and semi-savory. It’s brimming with color and comes with almost everything but the kitchen sinks in a tall, ice-filled glass. Hat luu refers to the drink’s crunchy-then-soft mock pomegranate seeds. The menu offers up several other varieties, both hot and cold, so it’s worth bringing friends to sample more than just one. */
"Another favorite stop (which scores extra points for being just steps away from the renowned Bun Bo Nam Bo) is thach che loc tai, at 63 Hang Dieu Street. This is kind of like the Mel’s Diner of Hanoi’s che scene, with large neon and pastel menus posted on the walls tempting customers through dozens of different flavor options. Here, the che chuoi, with fresh grilled bananas swimming in warm ambrosial coconut milk and tapioca, finished with a scattering of smashed peanuts, comes highly though not exclusively recommended. For a different take on things, move south a few shops to find another che vendor sitting in the doorway behind her wares. She happens to have the best che nep cam I’ve yet had the pleasure of tasting. This uncanny beverage composed of black rice fermented in local spirits and a few large tapioca pearls, then finished off with a dash of coconut milk, easily quashes its more pungent competitors. */
"Elsewhere in the city, number 8 Hai Ba Trung Street spreads outward with boys and girls all hunched over and huddled around low tables throughout the day. Here the che hoa qua reigns supreme, with a veritable cornucopia of textures and tastes, from crisp watermelon and dragon fruit pieces to thick taro cubes and sticky tapioca pearls, all held together by a liquid that tastes remarkably like strawberries and cream. */
Of course there are hundreds of places to have che across Hanoi, and sometimes the best cup or glass comes when you least expect it. Remember, che’s appeal lies not in its lofty stature, but rather in its ability to entice anyone with five minutes to spare. And with this in mind, I offer up a few starting points, some places to find nice, no frills cupfuls whenever you’re in the neighborhood. To begin, number 14 Phan Huy Chu Street serves up a variety of great, simple glasses, while 37 H2 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, within the market, spoons sugar-heavy heaps to eat-in or take away. on Hue Street, near and within the fabric market, a number of women stake their claims, as well as on Bach Mai and Le Van Huu streets. In the end, che remains indicative of everything weird and wonderful about Vietnam. It’s strange at first but warms on you quickly, and it can even feel a bit slapped together at times, as the vendor ladles near-endless amounts of colorful jellies and viscous liquids into your glass. But then of course when you taste it you realize it was all for a reason. And it’s everywhere. Just walk out your door. */
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.
Last updated May 2014