Every region of Vietnam has unique food, and something special. In the north you’ll find bánh cuốn and phở, and here in the Mekong region you’ll find tons of new foods. Below of some of the dishes I personally tried and highly recommend! These were all part of my Mekong backroads trip completed by motorbike.
This is famous in Cần Thơ, it’s a noodle soup with shrimp, fish cake and sometimes squid. It’s got a delicious broth and not as fishy as it sounds. I recommend adding a few red chilli peppers to make it truly excellent! I tried it for 30,000 VND.
Bún Thịt Nướng
This noodle dish is served with fresh herbs and a grilled pork skewer on top. It’s simple and delicious. I ate this at the Cao Lãnh market and it was about 25,000 VND
This noodle dish can be served with or without broth. The noodles are topped with shrimp, pork, green onions and accompanied by a big plate of greens pm the side. Mix in your favourite herbs and enjoy! I ate this in Sa Dec near the market for 30,000 VND.
Sugarcane Juice (Nược mía)
The best way to cool down is to enjoy sugarcane juice. You can find it at nearly every cafe and in every city. Look for a big metal cart with a press in it (pictured), or keep your eyes peeled for sugarcane bundled together along the road. It’s refreshing, delicious, and cheap – costing 5,000-10,000VND per glass. This particular stall was in Sa Đéc, but once you know what to look for you’ll see them everywhere.
Durian (Sầu riêng)
It’s not as hard as you think to eat this controversial fruit! When we drove towards Cái Bè, the air was filled with the smell of durian. It’s easy enough to spot due to it’s spiky appearance and pungent smell. You gotta try it! If you stop somewhere to buy it, the seller will cut it up for you and then go nuts! It’s a bit messy but worth it because this fruit is so unique to this area. It should cost about 80,000-100,000 VND per kilogram.
Other Fruit is abundant in this region. If you want to eat local, you can easily find the following: Mangos, coconuts, rambutan (so good!), pineapple, starfruit, guava, dragon fruit, jackfruit and more. It’s astonishing how much can grow here.
So if you see some fruit being sold on the side of the road, take advantage! Because you’ll never again be able to buy these things locally.
Meals with locals
If you stay in a homestay or get invited into a new friend’s home you might get to enjoy a very special home-cooked meal. These meals often involve a lot of different dishes like hotpot, fish, meat, various vegetables, tofu with tomatoes, and more. In my lucky experience we had a friend-of-a-friend who invited us into their home for the night. We ate with the family on the floor of their older home and were treated with such amazing hospitality. That night involved a lot of food, beer, and karaoke. It was really incredible to see this family still cooking in an old fashioned kitchen outside, complete with a wood fired stove.
What did I miss in the Mekong? This is just a sampling of the many foods, and in particular, the examples unique to this region. Let everyone know below!