Flavors of Vietnam

We are taking a short break in our guest post series (aren’t you impressed by them so far!?), to give you an update from our travels in Vietnam. Our computer is overloaded with travel & food photos, so instead of writing a full story about what we have experienced here, we thought we’d show you.

The main reason why we chose Vietnam was because of its food. Fresh spring rolls has always been one of our favorite foods. As it turns out it is also a favorite for Elsa. Whenever she gets hold of a spring roll she won’t let it go until it has completely disintegrated in her hands.

We posted a recipe for fresh summer rolls a year ago, and after trying it here in Vietnam we must say that our version actually comes pretty close to the original. We had never used freshly grated coconut before, it’s a great addition. And we cannot be more clear about this: don’t forget the fresh mint leaves, they give the most important flavor to the spring roll.

Random shots from food markets that we have visited.

We have tried a number of different restaurants, cafes and street food stalls in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Some of the restaurants were crowded with europeans and americans while the food stalls mainly were visited by vietnamese people. We had a great dinner at Hoa Tuc, their homemade tofu was a favorite. The cafe and lifestyle store L’usine feels very european, but we still found it pretty cool and tasty.

Two new favorite dishes are rice pancakes and vegetarian pho. Rice pancakes are served with fresh mint leaves, salad and sometimes shrimps or chicken, and dipped in sweet chili sauce. Phó is the Vietnamese rice noodle soup with lots of fresh herbs, lime, chili and big chunks of tofu and vegetables. It can be a little bit tricky finding vegetarian versions, since most of them are made on chicken or beef broth. We did however find a very tasty one at Pho 2000. And when we get home we will try this recipe.

Another version of the rice pancakes are these mini coconut rice cakes. They are made in small clay pots. You wrap them in a salad leaf together with fresh mint leaves, and dip them in peanut sauce or fish sauce. You shouldn’t miss these if you are in Vietnam!

Elsa is now used to eating lychee, dragon fruit, fresh coconut and pomelo every day. How will we ever get her to eat oranges, apples and pears when we get home?

To call the traffic in Saigon crazy would be a huge understatement. There are motorbikes everywhere. They usually don’t stop for red light and they drive in every direction possible. Even the sidewalks are occupied by parked motorbikes. Imagine that we were a little bit shaky after our first walk with the stroller. After a while we learned the unwritten rule: Don’t stop once you have started crossing. Even though it feels like they will drive straight into you, they will drive around you. As long as you don’t make any sudden moves.

After a while here we began wondering why we couldn’t find beans and peas in any recipes. That was until we started reading the dessert menus. Soy beans, red beans, black beans and even black rice are all being used in sweet desserts. We bought this dessert from a woman selling it from the back of her bicycle. It’s different variations of sweet sticky rice, with soy beans, chick peas and grated coconut. It’s very sweet and very yummy!

Apart from eating, we have spent some time on the paradise island Phu Quoc, together with David’s sister and her boyfriend. We stayed in small bungalows without hot water and with only four hours of electricity each day. It took a while getting used to the quiet life, but once you are used to it you get completely hooked. Elsa has been practicing her walking skills on the beach. She loves to be on her feet, but she probably has a couple of weeks left until she manages on her own.

We have 1 week left in Vietnam, after that we are going back to Thailand. Our plan is to rent a small house on an island, so hopefully we’ll have a kitchen again pretty soon!


  • Hello! I just moved to Vietnam, but will be based in Hanoi, did you have the chance to visit? Do you know any good places to eat / buy food? Love your work! Chloé
  • Aida
    hey - i was wondering which bungalows you were in vietnam? the ones without water and only 4 hours electricity :)
  • Huong
    I really enjoy reading this post, especially the way you described the traffic in Saigon, and all those lovely photos. Talking about Phở which is originated in northern Vietnam , I must say that Phở is a perfect combination of ingredients as you listed except tofu. I don't know where you ate Phở in Saigon but Vietnamese don't put tofu when making Phở in a traditional way. If you want to try a real Phở, I highly recommend you to go to Hanoi:)
  • Alice
    Haha, that's funny for me to read this (beautiful, full of stunning photos!) article now because these last days I absolutely wanted to eat some vietnamese food (what I did indeed). Actually I think that I missed the fish sauce! And eating with my fingers :) Have you tried the vegetarian pho since there? It would be interesting to know how it turned out. For me it's... well it would be a big step to dig in but I think that I have to try once. Actually the only reason why I am not a "real" vegetarian is all my asian background: food is mostly the only link that I still have with my roots. Quite a sensitive topic for me: I sometimes feel that I won't only miss the taste of the meals but also something deeper, something with childhood memories and my identity as well... anyway I still have a long way to go!
  • This is our big dream too, to tour and see the world. Although it is kinds of impossible when I looked at the facts of it, but deep in my heart, I know our dream will come true. Having this feeling makes my heart flutter with excitement.
  • I want to live with your family!
  • vietnam does have good food some times.
  • Karan Bisias
    Besides Vietnam and its food being so beautiful the pictures of your baby were just incredible. Elsa will wonder one day why she loves Vietnam and its beaches so much. And what a nice blog you have. I love it!
  • Ann Choe
    Hello. My first time on your site and I'm already loving it! I just want to say that the rice pancakes are one of my favorite vietnamese dishes too. It's called Banh Beo. I also fell in love with this soup that had OKRA in it. I want to go back!!!!!
  • GORGEOUS post!! I am going to Thailand this year and would love to capture some shots half as beautiful as yours!
  • Sini
    It's really wonderful being able to take part in your journey through all this beautiful pictures. Have a good time enjoying the sun and the blue water. And not to forget all that delicious food! Am eager to hear and see more, Sini
  • Looks like an amazing experience and a journey in many ways. I truly enjoy following along!
  • How beautifully you have captured Vietnam David & Luise! It is so fun getting a peak into your exciting travels and your pictures just get better and better. I love phó, we have several Vietnamese restaurants here in Seattle that are delicious but I doubt arent much compared to where you are :) Thank you for sharing these gorgeous snapshots and I am excited to here more!
  • I have a really good friend whose Vietnamese, I was just wondering if you ever tried 'Balut'? It's duck egg "with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell"... I love your photos by the way, especially the one with the lanterns in the trees :)
  • I'm so jealous! Looks like you're having a fabulous time. LOVE your blog! I just started a blog and you are on my blogroll! :) Safe travels! ❤ -Elle Bomb www.ellebeautiful.wordpress.com
  • Your pictures of people are my favorite. I just have to say that because I think you have an eye for documentary work. That and I want you life. I'm dying to travel.

Leave a comment