Danang Days - Food
This is a post about the time I spent in Danang, Vietnam. Today I will focus on the food that I saw while living there.
I was very blessed to make a lot of friends in Danang. There are English Speaking Cafes in Danang that make it really easy to make friends. The locals go there to practice English and many of them are eager to show off their city and culture. It seems like I made dinner plans every time I visited the cafes. Here are the meals that I took pictures of.
The first place was found downtown. I can't be more specific because it took all of my focus to keep up with my new friend from the cafe. The crazy city traffic on a scooter is intimidating to me, but locals just zip through everything like it's nothing. I had mentioned that I like food that you wrap up with rice papers.
These are grilled pieces of pork with rice papers and vegetables. You pull the meat off the stick with a rice paper, then you add whatever vegetables you want.
Fried shrimp rolls, fish sauce with chili, papaya and carrot (I think), and cucumber.
Everything rolled up and ready to be dipped.
I was surprised when my friend told me to roll the fried roll into a new roll with veggies. It turned out much better than the fried rolls alone. The sauce was a peanut sauce that I added chili sauce to. This was a great meal. I don't know the prices for most of the meals in this post because my friends usually insisted on paying. I've recently learned that this is bad manners and that I should have fought to pay the bill. I did offer to pay, but I didn't fight for it. I'd bet that this meal was less than 5 USD.
The next restaurant is one that I think was newly opened. I don't remember exactly, but it seems like my friends were friends with the owner.
An assortment of meats and vegetables on sticks. The colors of the sticks denote different prices.
This was a fun place, but fairly smoky. It's cool to grill up your food sometimes. I wish I had paid better attention to the different kinds of animals that they were offering. It seems like they had some strange animal parts for sale. All in all, I thought it was a fun experience, but it's not my favorite way to eat.
Next up is a drink that I loved. It's salted lemonade. I had tried one or two variations of this drink in Vietnam, including a bottled version. They're all a little bit different. This one was found on the docks in Hoi An.
Salted lemonade with a salted plum at the bottom.
An interesting drink for an interesting place. I had 2.
I don't know what it's called in Vietnamese, but I call it salted lemonade. I think they make it like normal lemonade, but they replace most of the sugar with salt. This drink and the one I had in Hue included a salted plum at the bottom of the drink. I love salted plums from Mexico, so this was great. In Hoi An they added salted lemon pieces as well. I think they were lemon pieces that had been salted instead of candied. I loved it!
After we had drinks by the river, we went to a riverside restaurant.
This meal was good and spicy. The protein was a small shelled animal that lives in the river. To eat it, we used crispy rice wafers to scoop it up. Similar to chips and salsa. This dish was one of the few seafood dishes that I liked. I don't like seafood, but these little things didn't taste like the ocean or a river.
We followed the meal with some dessert.
This was a sweet pudding made mostly of corn. It tasted good for being sweet (I don't like sweet foods). It's interesting how different cultures treat different foods. Even though we get most of our sugar from corn, we don't think of it as something to include in a dessert. In Vietnam, I guess it's more of a sweet thing to eat (like the candy below).
This wasn't part of the riverside meal, but I'm including it for relevance. This candy was in a bag that had about 10 different fruit flavors and one non-fruit flavor, corn. The flavor was actually good. It tasted like caramel.
The three of us had planned on going to a different restaurant, but it was closed. We went to this one instead. I got the impression that this was a special place because the noodles in the soup weren't the normal shape.
My friends from the cafe.
1. An unsweetened donut. 2. Noodle soup. 3. Hard boiled quail eggs. 4. Fermented pork meat wrapped in a leaf.
This meal was enjoyable, but the noodle soup seemed like regular Pho to me. The donuts were great. The quail eggs seem like a lot of effort for a small reward, but they tasted like chicken eggs to me. The fermented meat was interesting. After you unwrap it, it has a rubbery texture. The taste was like a pickled sausage.
Another friend took me to a restaurant that she said is popular with the university students. I may be getting my memories mixed up, but I think this is the place where we got sliced pig face. It's possible that it was sliced pig fat instead.
My friend who worked at the hotel I was staying in. I think she felt sorry for me because I spent so much time in my room.
Me on a tiny stool, eating a tiny yogurt. Sometimes I felt like giant in Vietnam.
1. Several flavors of yogurt with salt. 2. Rice papers. 3. Sliced pig fat (or face). 4. Crispy rice wafers. 5. Fried rolls with veggies.
A close up of the main dish. I think it was pork skin maybe? I don't know. It was pig though, that I'm sure of.
The meal was pretty good. The sliced pork tasted fine, but my brain wouldn't let me enjoy it. The texture was too much like seafood for my taste. The rolls were good and seemed on par with the previous roll restaurant, but this place was missing a sauce or two. The yogurt was excellent. I would never have thought of salting yogurt, but it was delish!
On one evening, my friend who worked at my hotel asked me if I wanted to have a beach picnic with her. I thought that sounded great and agreed. When we discussed food options, she mentioned grilled "chicken legs" which sounded great to me.
Throw up them dubs!
Grilled chicken feet with plants.
The "chicken legs" ended up being chicken feet, with finger nails. I really tried to eat at least one chicken finger, but I couldn't do it. My friend was biting off fingers and eating them whole like it was nothing. The feet came with cucumbers (in the bag) and some salt/pepper mix. I mostly ate that. This is not a dish that I would order again.
Next up are two desserts.
Avocado ice cream with toasted coconut.
The first dessert that we had was avocado ice cream. It's actually ice, sweet cream, and avocado topped with toasted coconut. I love avocado and this dish seemed like blasphemy to me. I want my avocado flavor to be spicy and salty, not sweet. I never saw avocados used in Vietnam for anything but sweet dishes.
The dish wasn't bad, but all I could taste was the sweet cream and coconut. It seemed like a waste of avocado to me.
If you know what flan is, then you know what this is because it's flan. This was a great dish! I love Mexican food and I associate flan with Mexican food. I think I had two of these, they were excellent.
If you don't know what flan is, it's a sweet custard usually topped with a caramel sauce. This flan also has some sort of sweet cream applied to it.
The next restaurant had quite a few options.
Spicy chopped frog (searved with baguette).
Seafood hot pot.
The first dish that we got was spicy chopped frog. The flavor was really good, but it was way too bony for me. They just chop up the frogs and the dish is full of tiny bones. I was a vegetarian for many years and I still don't like meat on bones.
The hot pot comes with a pot of boiling broth, noodles, veggies, and a platter of seafood. I can't say that I'm a fan of fish heads, but this didn't bother me too much. The soup that came out of the hot pot was great. I think I enjoyed the tofu the most out of the platter, but the meal was a good one.
In Boun Ma Thuot I had this simple, but excellent chicken dinner for under 5 USD.
Half a chicken, rice, veggies, soup, sauce, salt/pepper chili lime.
This was a great meal. I had been out drinking and this was one of the last restaurants on my street before I got to my hotel. The restaurant didn't look like much from the outside, but the meal was terrific. Everything was very simple and done perfectly.
Up next is a place that is known for its fried pancake things. The restaurant was a sidewalk pop-up right next to a sign that said food vendors were prohibited.
Fried pancakes with goodies inside on the right. Rice paper behind and veggies on the left.
I'm not really sure what these "pancakes" are, but they're great. They are filled with a little meat and other things you'd find in an egg roll. The cook cuts them all in half with scissors. To eat them, you take some of a pancake and wrap it up with veggies in rice paper.
The wads of paper are just squares of paper, like post-it notes without glue. That's what most restaurants use for napkins.
This next restaurant was a Korean place. Like almost everyone in Asia, my friend loved Korean music and TV so she wanted to go to a Korean restaurant.
This was a very flavorful and hearty soup. It had 4 kinds of mushrooms and kimchi in it. I love mushrooms and kimchi, so this was perfect for me.
Beef hot pot
This is another hot pot restaurant. The different kinds of meat are served with different plants and vegetables. Usually, you cook the meat pieces one or two at a time, then eat them when they become ready. It keeps the meat from getting over cooked in the broth.
One evening we went to a dock to have a picnic. We went a little bit out of our way to go to a favorite duck restaurant. We bought half a duck and continued to the port where the dock is located.
Eating duck on a dock
The duck came with leaves and vegetables to eat, as well as some salt/pepper mix. Duck isn't something I eat very often, but this was a fun way to do it.
We went to a graduation celebration on one evening. One of the girls from my hotel graduated and a bunch of us went out for drinks and food.
I just like this picture. I have no idea what the food is. I mostly ate quail eggs.
Huda beer and hard boiled quail eggs.
My favorite Vietnamese beer with a bar snack of quail eggs. Huda beer is from Hue which is close to Danang. The name is mix of the words Hue and Danish (or Dane?).
Hmmm.... Fanny ice cream?
At first I was disapointed that Salsa Express wasn't a Mexican restaurant. Luckily the sign turned out to be gold. I hope a British person will confirm that this is actually funny. In England the word fanny means pussy.
This is robot water. That's all I'm going to say about it.
And finally, my favorite coffee on the planet. Sorry Italy, Turkey, and Colombia. Vietnamese coffee is better.
My last coffee in Vietnam
This is my last coffee in Vietnam. It's made by slowly dripping powerful coffee into sweet milk. Ice cubes are used to chill and dilute the drink. Usually, the ice is served on the side and are used to adjust the strength of the drink.
So there you have it, my big food post. I hope you saw something new! I'll probably post one or two more posts about my time in Danang, then I'll have to decide on what to write about next. Until then, ride safe!