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Da Nang Digested food tour

Our rating:

Despite Da Nang’s wide boulevards and seemingly straightforward geography, it takes a good serving of local knowledge and a motorbike to discover the best places to pull up a stool, and if your plan is just to spend a day or two in the city of bridges, your best strategy is to sign up for a food tour.





Banh trang-- a new Da Nang street food favourite.

Banh trang — a new Da Nang street food favourite.

Da Nang Digested is a small group, 4.5 hour food tour with a big emphasis on the journey. Guides are local, with great language skills and a pride in their home city that’s really infectious. For transport you are offered either a family-friendly jeep or the back of a responsibly driven motorbike. The price is the same for both and international standard crash helmets are provided for bikers.

Look Mum! No hands!

Look Mum! No hands!

Our tour kicked off in a riverside cafe, where we were introduced to our guides over coffee. We set off at sunset to the first stop: an industrious family’s city centre kitchen, made famous countrywide for a spicy pork delicacy cured in guava leaves (we aren’t allowed to tell you the name). As our guide talked us through the complex process involved in the curing, the lady of the house switched off her Korean soap opera and whipped up a batch of the finely sliced pork served with a fresh mint salad and a side of smokey chilli jam. The flavour was winning, but the crunchy pig ear-like texture takes a bit of getting used to.

Due to censorship on the cured pork we’re filling in space here with a banh kep pate bo kho shot.

Due to censorship on the cured pork, we’re filling in space here with a banh kep pate bo kho shot.

Then it was back on the bikes for a dusk city tour taking in the bridges and landmarks before pulling up streetside to a popular stall serving banh trang, a northern speciality unusual in the area. It’s basically pizza slice-shaped rice crackers topped with, for instance, fresh herbs, pate, fried quail eggs and fuzzy pork. The pavement kitchen was like theatre and the vibe was great.

Plain old delicious banh trang.

Plain old delicious banh trang.

The next stop took us through dimly lit alleys and over the railway track to a raucous spit-and-sawdust-style bia tuoi joint, where the local bia hoi brewed on site accompanied the delicious Da Nang-style beer snacks: sauteed frogs legs, fried ostrich in lemongrass and chilli and bo thit nuong, or spicy grilled beef.

This is ostrich. It’s blurry because it was served at a bia hoi joint.

This is ostrich. It’s blurry because it was served at a bia hoi joint.

A couple of jugs to the wind later, round three (weather dependent) was a great lakeside seafood barbecue shack. We toured the bubbling buckets filled with freshly caught sea jewels, including the biggest scallops we’ve ever laid eyes upon, big fat crabs and a rather enthusiastic octopus. Most of the above was expertly culled, gutted, majestically marinated and grilled by the time we’d plonked ourselves down with another local beer.

Crab by moonlight.

Crab by moonlight.

The chances are you’d be quite full by now, which was a mistake we made that would have been avoided if we’d paid attention to our guides a few hours back – something along the lines of ‘save space for dinner’. Fortunately there was a 20-minute city tour to work on getting Da Nang digested before the next round of belt slackening goodness, served up in Da Nang’s most trendy, modern restaurant (think hipster, with Ho Chi Minh beards).

Crispy pork belly, a bad time to point out that there are vegetarian options available?

Crispy pork belly. This tour is not recommended for vegetarians.

Needless to say, the phone-ahead order of crispy pork belly, claypot caramelised prawns and a herby pork salad was so good we didn’t worry about small things like popping buttons. From here it’s up to you to make the call on waddling back to your hotel or joining the Da Nang trendies for a tower or two of Tiger beer. The guides will make arrangements for getting you back to your hotel safely should you decide to stay on.

Although pricey, we’d rank this as a Da Nang city must-do. It’s more than just a food tour, as you get to see the whole city through a local guide’s eyes and you really couldn’t do this tour on your own. So don’t just assume that the over-hyped, culinary capital town of Hoi An is where you need to focus on eating — give buzzing Da Nang a chance too!


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Da Nang Digested food tour
T: (0906) 555 903 
http://www.danangunplugged.com/
Admission: US$89

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