10 Exotic Foods to Try in Vietnam

Posted on September 09, 2014 by Admin in Vietnam Food tagged Vietnam Food
10 Exotic Foods to Try in Vietnam

Vietnam is an excellent place to both discover and try new adventures. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to drive a motorcycle before, but never really had the opportunity... If you can stomach the traffic, Vietnam is the place to go for it! Maybe you’re looking for some adventure sports? Everything from surfing, diving and parasailing to mountain trekking, rock climbing and spelunking can be done between the mountains of the north, caves of the central region (the world’s largest cave is found in Vietnam!) and the coasts of the south central region. For the gastro tourists and foodies who are looking to take their palates on vacation… Vietnam will not let you down.

Specialty foods differ between the regions you’ll be traveling, so make sure you know what you’re looking for and where to find it. Hanoi is famous for slinging the best bowl of pho in the country, while the central/south central coast has the best seafood and Saigon is known for its Hu Tieu, Bun Oc and other noodle dishes. But that’s not why we’ve gathered here in this blog post…

Vietnam offers quite the range of “exotic” food options that may surprise, challenge or even overwhelm some travellers. But remember: customs, palates and food availability differ greatly all around the world (and even within Vietnam), so leave your judgments at the arrivals lounge!

10. Starting off easy: Frog

Frog is eaten in many different parts of Vietnam... and it’s not just the legs that are being consumed either. Giant bullfrogs are often skinned, gutted and grilled whole for a crispy and delicious beer-side meal. If you’re not interested in eating the entire creature, spicy frog legs with herbs are found on many menus as well.

9. Snails

OK, still not overly exotic, but all different forms of snails are actually quite popular all throughout Vietnam. Eaten with lemongrass and herbs, stuffed with pork/mushrooms or scooped out with a toothpick by the bagful (sea snails; market ladies love this style in Hoi An)- you're bound to bump into some snails somewhere along your travels!

8. Pig’s Ear

This one is pretty self-explanatory and makes use of even the strangest parts of the animal. Pig’s ears are actually consumed all over the world (plus other strange parts of the animal), so exotic foodies might not be wowed by this one. For the less-adventurous eaters, impress your friends by ordering up the pig’s ear salad, it’s actually quite delicious!

7. Jellyfish

A popular dish along the coastline of Vietnam, jellyfish comes out resembling thick, glassy noodles and is served in a “fresh salad” form. Wrap it together with unripe mango, chili and fresh herbs, dip it in a specialty sauce and bite into the somehow crunchy, yet Jell-O-like texture.

6. Snake Products

This speciality can be found on our Hanoi streetfood tour with a visit to the Le Mat Snake farm. Here you can eat snake meat prepared in a number of different forms or try out the iconic “snake wine."

5. Weasel Coffee

While we’re on the beverage train, one of Dalat’s most popular products is Weasel Coffee. It’s actually pretty basic… a weasel eats the coffee beans, excretes them out (undigested), they are cleaned and then processed to make your morning cup-o-joe. Don’t knock it til you try it, because this coffee is some of the most valued in the world!

4. Bugs

As you wander through southern Vietnam, why not pick up a small bag of deep-fried crickets or silkworm, or maybe even a few scorpions/tarantulas? Deep-fried bugs, arachnids and other seemingly non-edible creatures are seasoned to deliciousness and eaten like popcorn, especially in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.

3. Duck Egg Embryo

This is a popular late night snack or quick pick-me-up that’s filled with nutrients. A boiled duck’s egg that is no longer an egg… yet not fully grown into a baby duckling. It’s, well, an embryo!

2. Rat

What scares some… others believe to be a delicacy! In both the Mekong Delta region as well as some of Vietnam’s northernmost locales, all different forms of “prepared” rat are considered quite the treat for a special occasion! Don't worry though, you won't find yourself eating this on any of our tours… unless you ask, of course.

1. Dog Meat

Though many travellers are opposed to this (usually as lifelong dog [pet] lovers), it’s a popular cuisine (generally eaten amongst men) that can be found all over the country- especially in Hanoi. Again, it won't be included on any tours and you will never be "tricked" into eating it… but if you're interested, it won't be hard to nose out!