The Mekong Delta, or better known as the Nine Dragon Rivers Delta (Dong bang song Cuu Long) in Vietnam, has always been among the country’s most popular destinations with tourists. It charms visitors by the enchanting landscape, the sweet nature of Southwestern locals… and of course, food in Mekong Delta. Let’s find out how this land keeps its place in Vietnam’s top cuisine capitals.
Banh Xeo is traditionally made with coconut milk and eggs batter, pork, shrimp, beans… and eaten with a variety of fresh Vietnamese herbs and fish sauce, which cut nicely through the rich flavor, and provide an interesting contrast in texture with the crispy cake. You can eat the best Vietnamese Pancake for lunch or dinner in Sa Dec (Dong Thap province), Can Tho, Ben Tre, and Chau Doc…
The bite-size pancakes
Banh Khot is very similar to Banh Xeo in terms of ingredients and how it is eaten. However, the size is much smaller in comparison to “banh xeo”. A special mold, quite similar to a takoyaki mold, is used to produce bite-sized pieces of goodness. Many adore Khot Cake for its convenience, crisp and deliciousness. Mini Rice Pancake is more commonly known as a specialty in Vung Tau but you can try this generally anywhere in the Mekong Delta region.
Fish noodle soup
A beloved noodle soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Mekong Delta, especially An Giang and Chau Doc. This dish originally came from Cambodia, but through time and various modifications, fish noodle soup has become a staple food in the Mekong Delta. You will surely enjoy this dish for its perfectly balanced sweet and sour broth made from fish bones. Along with freshly caught fish fillets and assorted herbs, fish noodle soup will give you the much-needed energy to start your Mekong adventure!
My Tho noodle soup
Another famous cousin of the Nam Vang noodle soup (Hu Tieu Nam Vang), Sa Dec / My Tho noodle soup brings to the table a distinctive taste thanks to its chewy, al dente noodles. It can be both eaten in a soup or dry with soup on the side. This is probably one of the most vibrant dishes among food in Mekong Delta, with greeneries, seafood and most importantly, fried minced garlic. You can find this dish anywhere but the best place to eat is in Sa Dec and My Tho.
Vietnamese Gumbo is a seafood noodle stew, with fermented fish sauce and an assembly of squid, roast pork, eggplant, shrimp and aromatic herbs… But don't be fooled by the name, the dish doesn’t taste nowhere near as “fermented” as the name suggests thanks to the variety of ingredients. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and umami coming from the rich broth, chewy noodles, and an assortment of signature fresh seafood. Enjoy this flavorful plate in Can Tho, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu.
Crab noodle soup
Flower crab noodle soup
Two other famous members of the noodle soup family and must-tries especially when you’re in Ha Tien (Kien Giang). This is considered one of the best Vietnamese dishes, and most luxurious food in Mekong Delta since crab is generally quite expensive in Vietnam. The dense broth is cooked with crab roe which gives it its eye-catching red color, crab meat (whole shell or shredded), and chewy noodles… If you long for an authentic Southwestern experience, slurping steaming hot soup while breaking down king-sized crabs in the middle of nowhere may just be what you need.
See Where to Try the Crab Noodle Soup here
Mud roasted chicken
The chicken is covered in foil and then in the mud.
No cooking utensils are required; a whole chicken is prepared with some lime drops and lemongrass, slathered with mud from rice paddies (and a layer of foil if you worry about hygiene, as in restaurants), covered in hay and roasted for about an hour or so. After peeling the dried mud off, you will get a perfectly roasted chicken, moist and tender with a fresh, aromatic smell coming from within. It is definitely a dish that proves Vietnamese’s ingenuity and quick wit when it comes to food. The best mud roasted chicken can be found in Dong Thap province.
Don't freak out just yet; we're talking about field rats, whose diet consists of rice and tree buds… so their meat is clean, lean, and flavorful. The meat can be either grilled, deep-fried, or cooked down into coconut curry… We know it sounds intimidating but once you are brave enough to try, you will discover that rats actually taste buttery and savory. In the Mekong Delta, rat meat is considered a cheap and tasty grub that can be found nowhere else. So grab a bottle of beer and chow down this unique find in Dong Thap or the Rat meat market in Phu Dat - An Giang.
It’s not a coincidence that the Mekong Delta is regarded as one of Vietnam’s major food capitals. From the rich, flavorful to the extreme and intimidating, this region offers it all. So whether you’re a foodie or not, jot these down your itinerary, as you may become one after the trip!
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© Written by Ngan Mai for itourvn.com
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