Vietnam: More than just incredible Pho

Ok, ok we get it. Pho is incredible. It's amazing. It's delicious. And best of all, it's cheap. When visiting Vietnam, Pho can become so addictive that you often have to force yourself to try something new.

But trust me, there is a lot more to Vietnam than a bowl of this delicious soup.

So once you've had your Pho fix, here are the three other things you simply must try:

Banh Beo
This is a really popular little appetiser, originating from the central regions of Vietnam and Hue.
The name means "water fern cake", named after the thin, perfectly round water lily found on the surface of many ponds.

True to its name, the dish consists of a thin, white, round cake made from powdered rice and manioc (cassava). It has a dimpled shape that comes from saucer it's steamed in.

The cake is then filled with combinations of fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil and finished off with a light fish sauce.

Banh beo is served in a number of ways; you might get it in a "chen" which is a little condiment bowl, or on a "dia" or plate. We dare you to stop at one serve…

Bo nhung dam:
This is like a Vietnamese fondue, where you dip thinly sliced pieces of beef into a hot, vinegary broth and wrap them up in rice paper.
Each dish will come with lots of little accompaniments, including rice vermicelli, mint, lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrot and sometimes shrimp and squid.
The nice thing about this dish is you prepare it yourself at the table, so it's great if you're travelling with a bunch of people. Everyone can help themselves and you'll soon be swapping your favourite combinations and discussing the possibility of ordering another one or two rounds. 

Just make sure you get some mam nem (Vietnamese fermented anchovy sauce) to dip it in.

Oh, and if you're wondering what the little bowl of water is for, it's to wet your rice paper so it sticks together when you roll it up.

Ca phe sua da
After a day of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of this fascinating country there surely can be no greater reward than a refreshing ca phe sua da - Vietnamese iced coffee.

Whether bought from a vendor on the street or at an upscale coffee house, this delightful beverage is meant to be savoured - so resist the urge to slurp it all down in one go!

At its simplest, ca phe da is made with finely ground Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee. Single servings are brewed through a metal filter fitted over the top of a glass. It takes a good 5-10 minutes to produce a decent cup - but it will be worth the wait.

Coffee was introduced into Vietnam by French colonists in the late 19th century. It quickly became a popular exporter of coffee with many plantations springing up in the central highlands

Fresh milk was not always widely available, so they started using sweetened condensed milk instead.
A little of this rich coffee goes a long way, and you'll be blown away by its incredible buttery aroma and flavour. The perfect end to any Vietnamese meal. 

What's the best thing you ate in Vietnam? Have you tried any of the dishes mentioned above? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Then head to Facebook or Twitter and share it with the rest of the Peregrine community. You could even post a photo of your favourite meal!

Read another blog on the flavours of Vietnam then head to the website to browse all our trips. 

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