Adventures in Eating – Vietnam Part II

Because I’m full of wind and can’t control myself, I divided this too long post into two parts. See the first part here if you missed it.

Eating Like a Local – Hole in the Wall Restaurant

After a hot and frustrating morning in an almost futile attempt to solve our money woes, we followed our app (a great little app that does not need wi-fi) to a restaurant clearly marked as Vietnamese. Once we crossed the street, we actually passed on the little hole in the wall shop. It was at the front of a small alley and had one long table beside the small open kitchen. The menu board was in Vietnamese and offered five choices, one of which was bia (beer).

Great Food – shop closed (hence tarp to the left) for the afternoon while we were eating


5 items on the menu

Too adventurous maybe. It was only our second day after all and we still didn’t know if there’d be consequences from the previous night.

Hannah changed it with a snappish bit of frustration over our indecision. So in we went. We barely made it as the little joint was closing at 1 p.m. following their lunch rush. Apparently we had two choices – small pho or regular pho. Sitting directly beside the open kitchen, we watched as a young man made our delicious soup in a basic but sanitary cooking area. It was super delicious and pretty cool to be eating like a local (160,000 VND for five pho and two bia).

Somehow while we were dining, I missed the motorcycle driving through the four feet of space left in the alleyway. Hannah’s eyes may be a little damaged because she rolled them hard at my oblivion. I could ask her where the photo is.

I would so return to this little alley restaurant. Excellent pho, clean and no consequences. And I appreciate an easy decision so the five menu items were perfect. Food prepped right beside us. I’m quite pleased with myself even though it wasn’t my idea. Thanks Hannah.

Our Staple – Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)

Not so adventurous but local and delicious….

Popular Sandwich Shop


Banh Mi (19,000 VND or $1.06 CAD)

Other InEdible Animal Parts

We ate pig’s ear.

I have no pictures to prove it. You’ll just have to believe me. Hannah describes it well… just as you’d imagine chewing on an ear, cartilage and all. I don’t know what we were thinking.

Well, I do…

The helpful staff at the Hanoian Hotel where we stayed three nights, recommended a specific restaurant. I asked if it had Vietnamese cuisine and was told “well, it’s for tourists”. Why do they do that?!

When we got to the Vietnamese restaurant he decided was safe enough for us, it had a long line that wasn’t moving. Though a long line is a good sign, most of the patrons were tourists so we decided to pass. I paused at the entrance two doors down to see what they had on offer. A young Vietnamese diner and her group of friends were sitting on small plastic chairs inside enjoying some meat, rice wraps and a wonderful mound of herbs.

She teased in almost perfect english, “would you like some pig ears wrapped in rice wraps?” and gestured to the plate in front of her.

She was making fun of me.

Up for the challenge, I made everyone sit down. Everyone being Hannah and Rob (Emma succumbed to a cold and Ben was keeping her company). Suitably impressed, the young Hanoian helped us order. Pigs ears of course, a beef and noodle dish, and a mango beef salad.

To our surprise (and the Hanoian’s) the noodle dish came from the adjacent restaurant. Both it and the mango salad were delicious and I would have liked more. I did enjoy the pig’s ear. Initially. Until Hannah couldn’t help but describe the texture of an ear.

That was it for me.

I’m still in for more eating adventures. But I’ll pass on future pig ears. And pig belly. And that Mekong fish thing. It was all tasty. But they just don’t seem like edible food parts to me.

I’ve promised myself to try local foods and new things, even if they’re weird. I’ve eaten termites in Dominican Republic (peppery). I’m going to try chili-lime grasshoppers in Mexico. Fortunately we’re not going to the Philippines this trip because they like animal eyeballs in their soup (I don’t like things that pop when you bite into them and like that’s the only reason I’m happy to pass on it).

Cambodia has fried tarantula. I do plan to try it though I’m not sure how to deal with the hairy parts.

What questionable animal parts have you eaten?

9 Replies to “Adventures in Eating – Vietnam Part II”

  1. Fried Termites in Uganda and a mystery stew in South Sudan (pretty sure it was snake). I was offered dog in China but declined. The best was pigs knuckle in Germany, so much better than it sounds.

    1. We’ll have to pass on any house pets for sure. Rob just told me he had pig knuckles in Germany as well. I loved pork hocks as a kid. I still don’t know what they are though. Maybe pig knuckle.

  2. Ecuador:
    Carne de calle (“Carnay de cah-yay”) is from street vendors, essentially kabobs (I think it was pig, but there was quite a variety of types of meat). Delicious!
    We would eat a ‘standard’ lunch and supper meal from local shops, which was always cheap and similar (soup, plate of 1/3 rice, 1/3 veggies, 1/3 meat, plantain, bit of dessert and fruit juice). The soup was often chicken soup, with the flavour being from the head and neck. As you ate the soup, the head would become visible, and at some point we’d stop eating it.
    I had fish, which is quite normal, except that it was only gutted and the guy next to me asked for mine after I’d picked it clean, at which point he cracked open the skull and sucked out the brain.
    I ate quite a bit of Ecuadorian food that was odd – “morocho” was a glass of corn ‘oatmeal’ for breakfast, and I remember the woman selling coffee had a giant vat of it, a pile of coffee cups, and a bin of soapy water for the returned cups – but it was all quite good. I’d love to go back!

    Ecuador also had churros, which I bought in a paper bag, and they were like timbits on crack (fluffier, and the bag was full of the sugar coating so you could shake it up). I’ve had churros from other countries, but they never compared.

    Also for Ecuador – you can get guinea pig, but I’ve never tried it. Apparently it was full of tiny bones.

    1. That fish story is pretty funny. And you may have us topped for food adventure. I read about guinea pig in Ecuador. And the photos are quite graphic. They look exactly like a skinned guinea pig on a stick.

  3. I’ve eaten rice birds in China! That was when I decided I didn’t like to eat bones! 🙂 Sounds like a wonderful trip — enjoy!

  4. Well, lets see what have I eaten…oh yes …cod tongues in PEI, blood sausage in Ireland, raw scallop in PEI (not really an animal but it was raw, tartare (raw steak) in Firenze and head cheese (cow’s brain) with my dad in Ottawa. Except for the raw scallop (very chewy and salty) they were all delicious. I think I would like the soup, and noodles but not the pigs ear. My hat is off to you on that not to mention your intention to eat tarantula! I am not sure I am brave enough for that type of cuisine. How is the beer? That is something I would brave at any exotic location. I imagine your in for more tasty treats on your trip and I look forward to reading about them. Good on Hannah for charging in but I am curious did you all eat a big pho or a small pho?

    1. Hi Don. Rob has just informed me that a beer post is forthcoming… once we’ve tried enough beer types. Regular Pho for Rob and Hannah. Small for the rest of us. We tried some awesome Hoi An specialties today. Super delicious.

  5. Lol Rob shook his head when i read to him the different foods you have tried or are willing to try…. he has said a million times that if we wver did survivor or amazing race i would have to do any of the food challenges( little does he know i wouldnt tell him what things are lol)…. i dont remember where but I do remember dad saying he had sheeps brains somewhere in his travels

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