When I was there last we walked around looking for restaurants that had only/mostly locals in.
If you don't mind the spice this is the way to go! It works out to be cheaper in most cases too for food that is so much better than the western 'local food'.
#3 murphy_213 has been a member since 6/7/2010. Posts: 3
It's pretty easy to avoid Western-style local food in Hanoi - and I assume in Dalat and HCM - even in the middle of the touristy old-quarter you'll find pho and bittet shops tucked away down back alleyways and you can be assured that these aren't set up for tourists. As previous posters have said - in Hanoi you must try Bun Cha, and also there's a great little place along Hang Dieu called Bun Bo Nam Bo which does a beef noodle dish for 35,000. Or try the Bia Hoi places on the junction of Bat Dan and Duong Thang. Regarding more expensive places - I should think most of them will be to some extent tailored to foreigners / tourists (as local food is cheap food) but Highway 4 is worth a go.
You can see food pics at noodlepie.com and stickyrice.com
Love that Bun Bo Nam Bo!
#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,114
Yes Bun Bo Nam Bo is the king of local foods in my opinion, even though it's actually a Saigon dish. Hang Dieu St is the best place for it, about number 65 I think. In this area is the best Pho Bo in town as well. If you will be into your authentic local food I would recommend staying on this street or in the close area, you can get just about everything around there.
The food is fantastic everywhere in Vietnam....
The street stalls are fantastic for breakfast and snacks and for dinner just look for the places full of happy locals, most of the restaurants are out on the street so you can see the good ones.
At the truly local eateries you won't get a menu (or at least one you can read). I just sat down for a while, looked at what dishes came out and then ordered by pointing, lots of fun. You never knew quite what you were getting.
Equally there are lots of restaurants that have their menues translated into English... and sometimes the English leaves a bit to be desired. At one restaurant in Hoi An, the four of us each ordered a dish for which the translation was a bit screwy... The "prawn wrapped sugar can outside" was to die for
#8 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
Sorry, I forgot to mention in my earlier post that each region has its speciality dish... find out what that is (simply ask in a restaurant) and go for it! Some that spring to mind are the Fried Elephant Ear fish in Vinh Long and Pho Bo in Hanoi, but they are everywhere and I was never disappointed.
In a month in Vietnam, I only had one meal that wasn't superb. That was in Khe San - it was a seafood hot pot, the flavour was great, but there were lots of little bones and unidentifiable bits in it that put me off.... I think it cost less than 60 cents Australian, so the experiment was worth it.
#9 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
The food in Dalat is a little different because of the strong French influence (Dalat was a French resort many years ago). Visit the central market for wonderful dried fruits of all sorts and fruit concentrates. I just pour the passion fruit concentrate over crushed ice for a fantastically refreshing cooler. Every night in Dalat I ate at the wonderful Long Hoa Restaurant (French/Vietnamese) close to the central market area - the BBQ Shrimp and BBQ Pork were out of this world! Dalat has wonderful self-serve bakeries located just across the street from Long Hoa.
#10 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,114