We found the street food around Ninh Chu beach to be hit and miss, though it certainly is atmospheric. Every evening, tables and chairs are set up all along the footpath of Yen Ninh Street, some even with a projector and screen to show Vietnamese shows. Look for regional specialties banh canh, noodle soup with thick rice noodles and fish. You’ll also no doubt see banh can, mini savoury rice pancakes, usually topped with seafood and served with a dressing for dipping.
One great find is at 166 Yen Ninh, a plastic table and stool joint that is mostly frequented by men, but well worth it for all travellers to venture here for delicious, cheap eats. The grilled octopus with a tangy barbecue sauce was sensational, and a plate of it with an extra plate of vegetables, rice and beer only cost us 90,000 dong per person. No English spoke, just point to the pictures on the menu. Look for the sign “Ninh Chu Quan”.
A block from Minh Duc Guesthouse at the beach is seafood (hai san) restaurant Thuy Tien. It’s a popular spot for Vietnamese tourists and locals to feast with friends and family – long tables, crustacean and peanut shells blanketing the floor, the sound of talking and clanking glasses mixed with the hum of fluorescent lights and waves. The live seafood is on display in tanks and the price by weight written on the board. Otherwise, point at what you want and write down how many kilos you want. The seafood was great, the veg dish not so; stick to the seafood. Be warned, the price of coveted items such as lobster tom hum is very expensive, over a million dong per kilogram.
Located across from Aniise Villa Resort, Le Napoli is a cheerful Italian restaurant owned by a Frenchman who speaks English. The pizza is perfection, a basic margherita only 95,000 dong and one with toppings around 145,000 dong. Drinks are also reasonable, a beer is 20,000 dong. There’s ice cream to boot, all enjoyed in a restaurant with comfortable tables and chairs for Western-sized bottoms. They can also do take out and delivery.
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar is the new kid on the beach but they are trying their darndest to make Ninh Chu into a destination. It’s definitely a great spot to hang out, relax and swim with a perfect view of the sand and water. Located east across the bridge, 2.5 kilometres from the main concentration of Ninh Chu accommodation, the huge lofty space is jazzed up with colourful murals, comfortable chairs, a billiard table, watersports and a fine patch of white sand. The menu is a combination of western and Vietnamese dishes, 60,000 dong and up. Rent a stand-up paddle board for US$10 an hour. Strong winds from March to November make it heaven for kitesurfers (note: this is the exact opposite of popular kitesurfing spot Mui Ne). Lessons are available for beginners year round. We had heard that they also offered camping on the beach but when we visited in March 2016, we were told the tents were broken.
Phan Rang Thap Cham
Find yourself in the city? Head to Khanh Ky for com ga, cheap, cheerful chicken rice of champions. A local brought us here and it does not disappoint. You get a heaping plate of chicken boiled in flavourful broth, a plate of rice, a bowl of soup, lettuce, cucumber and pickles. They’ll deliver a whole lot of chicken but you only pay for what you eat, 37,000 dong per piece. It’s located at 61 Tran Quang Dieu Street, just around the corner from Anh Xuan Mini Hotel.
Mi Quang isn’t a local specialty – it originates from Central Coast Vietnam – but some folks from Tam Ky moved here and opened up a shop that will hit the spot. If you haven’t had it before, here’s your opportunity. It’s a delicious noodle soup with wide, yellow rice noodles, a meat broth with hard boiled egg, prawns, topped with herbs and peanuts. Find this 25,000 dong bowl of mi quang Tam Ky at A. Thao, which is across from 11 Nguyen Trai Street.
A. Thao: across from 11 Nguyen Trai St, Phan Rang; open 05:00-11:00 & 15:00-22:00.
Le Napoli: Yen Ninh St, Ninh Chu, Ninh Hai Town, across from Aniise Villa Resort; TL (090) 5413 565
Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club & Bar: T: (068) 627 2727; http://www.ninhchubay.com/; open daily 10:00-22:00.
Ninh Chu Quan: 166 Yen Ninh St., Ninh Chu
Thuy Tien: Truong Han Sieu St, Ninh Chu; T: (068) 3874 549; (090) 8404 601