by Vincent Esnoul
The Vietnamese cuisine is very rich and diverse with some 500 national dishes. It is also popular for being healthy, cheap, and fine at the same time. Vietnamese dishes often include a combination of rice, fish sauce, herbs, spice, fresh (and sometimes raw) vegetables and a source of protein. A traditional Vietnamese meal will include a bowl of steamed rice, and some grilled fish or stewed meat.
Many small shops dot the streets and it is possible to eat very cheaply on the sidewalk, sitting on a small stool.
All the dishes are brought at the same time on the table and are shared by everyone at the table. In the menus, there is always meat and fish, it is the principle of Yin and Yang.
It is quite rare to find sweet desserts in the restaurant menus. The Vietnamese dessert is usually composed of fresh fruits. The most common are pineapple, banana, orange and papaya. Other exotic fruits can be offered as well: mango, mangosteen, rambutan, longan, jackfruit, durian.
This is the national drink. It is often offered free in restaurants and cafes or at a ridiculously cheap price. The most common is green tea served in small porcelain cups.
Beer has become very popular and cheap in Vietnam. You can find restaurants serving bia hơi, a beer brewed locally. Saigon, Tiger, 333 (Ba-ba-ba), Larue or Bivina are most well-known brands available in Vietnam.
Vietnam is the world's second largest producer of coffee after Brazil. Coffee is a widespread popular drink in Vietnam, especially the cà phê đá or cafe da, a traditional Vietnamese iced coffee. Also, a growing number of western-style restaurants, cafes and bars serve all kinds of coffees, including espresso and cappuccino.
More information about Vietnamese food (and source of the photo)
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