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What to eat and drink in Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine is very diverse and is popular world-wide, as shown by the abundance of Vietnamese restaurants in big cities such as New York, London and Berlin. It is a mixture of traditional Vietnamese, Chinese and French food, with a plethora of regional variations. As in many Asian countries, rice or wheat areas often provide the basis of a meal. It will also come as no surprise that the fish dishes are plentiful. Great pride is taken in the cooking, with in-season fresh fruit and vegetables being used.


Specialities:
• Breakfast usually porridge or a meat soup noodle locally known as 'pho'.
• Nem (spring rolls, pork mixed with noodles, eggs and mushrooms wrapped in rice paper fried and served hot).
• Banh chung (rice, pork and onions wrapped in large leaves and left to cook for 48 hours; it can be eaten cold at any time).
• Fish sauce (Vietnamese food is not complete without fermented fish sauce).
• Bun cha - grilled pork, cold rice noodles, fried rolls and a big bowl of lettuce leaves.


Tipping:
Tipping is customary, especially in the tourist sector, and is much appreciated in a country where wages remain low. The more high-end restaurants and hotels may add a 5-10% service fee onto the bill.


Regional drinks:
• Soda lime is a refreshing soda served with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar and ice - often served in tourist restaurants and clubs.


• Vietnam's coffee is grown in the Central Highlands, and is served thick, strong and black through a trickling filter. Sometimes it is served with condensed milk to sweeten.


• Vietnamese green tea is light and refreshing; it is generally served at the end of the meal.


• Alcohol Can (rice wine) is made by members of the hill tribes of Vietnam, and is drunk directly from the bottle - it is fermented in ceramic jars through bamboo straws.


• Draught beer or fresh ice water is produced daily and served in small bars and restaurants. The beer is quite alcoholic.


Drinking age: N/A

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