The three Vietnamese kitchens
Vietnam has a long geographic land with 3 main regions: North, Middle and the South. Each region has its own style of cooking and kitchen. Moreover, there are big differences in culture, traditions, foods, dialects and lifestyle. It is interesting for not only tourists but also Vietnamese to experience the special and distinguishing local foods from different regions.
Hanoi foods (northern)– simple and authentic
Hanoi has a long cooking history which has been strongly influenced by Chinese and French kitchens. Hanoians are not used to combine many kinds of spices, herbs and foreign ingredients in one dish. The main tastes in Hanoian cuisines is salty, umami and sour, and they usually use salt and fish sauce for salty taste and “sau,” “me,”and “giam bong” for sour taste. They do not use too much hot and spicy in their foods. Their dishes matches with those new to Vietnamese food or are trying it for the first time. Hanoians still maintain the same cooking style as many years ago. In Hanoi, you can easily find many restaurants that has cooked the same dishes for 3-4 generations.
Cha ca La Vong (Fried Fish with herbs)
Bun cha Hanoi (BBQ pork and meat ball with rice noodle)
Hue (Middle of Vietnam) – sophisticate and complicated decoration
Hue used to be the old capital of Vietnam. Many generations of Kings were born and ruled the country from Hue. That is not surprising to see how dedicate the Hue women are to preparing foods for their family. In the past, they had to cook special foods to offer to the Kings and through their talents (cooking, sewing, dancing, and singing), they hoped to be selected as Kings’ wives or concubines. They normally use many special herbs, hot chilli, “mam ruoc” (tiny shrimp paste) which create a strong and pungent taste of “sour, spicy, salt, sweet”. They are very skilful with crafting vegetables, food decoration, and vegetarian foods because they are strong Buddhist believers. There are many Hue Buddhists who eat vegan foods their whole lives and this is an ideal destination for those who want to learn vegan-cooking style within Hue royal kitchen.
Bun bo Hue
Banh Hue (Banh nam, beo, bot loc, cha cua, banh it tran)
Com sen Hue (Lotus rice)
Saigon (Southern) – Mixed and various tastes
Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam, which has approximately 10 million inhabitants. It is used to a place for French and American, who worked and stayed with their families, so it offers a lot of international restaurants and night time entertainment. Saigon people are open and friendly. Its cuisines reflect openness with new cooking trends and styles. You can easily find western foods, such as Indian, Chinese, Japanese, etc. luxury restaurants in Saigon. Saigon foods normally combine 5 tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Spicy, and Bitter in their delicious cuisines. The dishes are influenced by many big kitchens in the world such as French, Chinese and Thai but retains the taste of local people. People use a lot of coconut milk and juice, fish sauce, soya sauce, tamarin, and seafood in their dishes. Saigon foods are not hot and spicy as Thai foods, less oily than Chinese foods, and not as dairy-based like French foods. It is a good combination of moderation and harmony of tastes. Saigon River which connects to the East Sea and Mekong Delta offers other options for transportation, goods exchange, seasonal foods according flooding season, river cultures and lifestyles, etc.
Banh xeo Nam Bo (Rice pancake with seafood)
Com tam bi suon cha (Broken rice with pork ribs, egg and steam ham)
Banh mi Saigon (Saigon baguette with pickle, pork ham and meat slices)
Café sua da (Coffee with condensed milk and ice)