Memos from Asia

5 Best Cuisines in the Port City of Hai Phong to Delight Your Taste Buds

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Hai Phong, a famous port city located 102 kilometers southeast of Hanoi, is gaining a bigger fame thanks to the iconic Lan Ha Bay off the coast of the city. Known as an off-the-grid destination in Northern Vietnam, Hai Phong is now pulling in tourists with its prime location and splendid seascape. However, for the local Vietnamese, Hai Phong means a lot more than just a serene scenery. We are talking about its phenomenal culinary delights that set the city apart from other neighboring equivalents. If you’re a big foodie setting out to Hai Phong for the first time, read on to reveal five of our favorite local dishes in Hai Phong!

Brown Rice Noodle with Crab (Vietnamese Name: Bánh Đa Cua)

Hailing from Hai Phong, Banh Da Cua is a hearty noodle soup that makes a perfect pairing with a cold rainy day. A full-on serving of Banh Da Cua comes with hot pork-based broth and topped with a blanket of ground crab meat, fresh veggies, pork balls, pork cakes, and grilled beef wrapped with betel leaves. A typical bowl of Banh Da Cua cannot go without a bed of brown rice noodle sheets that give the dish a vivid color of light red shade.

Just like any other Vietnamese soup, Banh Da Cua is never complete without a generous serving of lettuce, purple perilla, sliced chilies, and lime juice. Whenever the port city of Hai Phong is soaked in the rains, what you want to treat your belly is just a smoky hot of Banh Da Cua from a small vendor down the street and your day is complete!

Where to eat: 26 Ky Dong Street, Hong Bang, Hai Phong.

Spicy Banh Mi Stick (Vietnamese Name: Bánh Mì Cay)

Banh Mi – now we are talking! This all-time favorite iconic street food has been making global headlines for ages and it shows no sign of simmering down. Inspired by the traditional French baguette, Banh Mi may come with a diversity of stuffing depending on where you get it. But today in this article, I want you to take on another version of Banh Mi that not many travelers know about – spicy Banh Mi stick.

This version comes out small and thin, but the real magic lies behind this humble shape! Crunchy and hot on the outside, spicy Banh Mi stick is caressed by a hearty layer of butter, fragrant pate, and a squeeze of chili sauce. Everything is twisted in a sweet way that delivers a mouthwatering flavor to wake up your taste buds. Each stick is drizzled with oil and quickly grilled atop charcoal fire to come out with a crusty finish.

Where to eat: Banh Mi Cay Ba Gia – 57 Le Loi, May To, Ngo Quyen District, Hai Phong.

Plain Rice Flan (Vietnamese Name: Bánh Đúc Tàu)

Coming next in the list of must-try dishes in Hai Phong is plain rice flan. Are you craving to indulge your tooth in the greasy and aromatic texture of flan but seeking a new flavor at once? Come over Hai Phong and treat yourself a serving of plain rice flan right away!

Sitting underneath a generous topping of cabbage turnip, fried shrimp crackers, and minced pork, plain rice flan is soaked in a bowl of home-made sauce with a mix of sourness, spiciness, and sweetness at the same time. If you’re new to the food and hesitant whether or not you’re ready to try, with just the first bite in and you will sort it out! The sauce is mild and rich while the flan is hot and soft. This perfect combination will surely light up your day!

Where to eat: Cat Dai – 159 Cat Dai Street, Le Chan District, Hai Phong.

Hai Phong Hotpot with Freshwater Minced Crab (Vietnamese Name: Lẩu Cua Đồng)

Considered as the heart and soul of Northern Vietnamese cuisine, Lau Cua Dong has gained a big reputation for the port city of Hai Phong thanks to its fresh and tenderly sweet tasting profile. The broth is infused with a huge portion of fat crab paste and sprinkled with green onion.

There are so many solid elements swimming inside this pool of broth. We are talking about beef, fried tofu, and fish cakes. But do you know what the best part is? The fresh herbs! We have a mixture of banana blossom, spinach, water spinach, and many other tropical veggies ready to delight your taste bud.

The right way to enjoy Lau Cua Dong is to dip your favorite veggies into the boiling hotpot, take a small portion of vermicelli or noodles into your bowl, mix them all well and you’re ready to go!

Where to eat: Lau Cua Dong Minh Quynh – 188 Van Cao, Dang Giang, Ngo Quyen District, Hai Phong.

Fried Sea-Crab Square Roll (Vietnamese Name: Nem Cua Bể)

Last but not least, Nem Cua Be is a fun and fatty cuisine in Hai Phong. It is an equivalent of the world-renowned fried spring rolls that have been taking the world by storm for past years.

However, unlike the thin long shape of that roll, Hai Phong crab roll comes out in a perfect square hiding a generous stuffing of minced sea crab in its core. It can be a bit tricky if we challenge you to name what comes inside the stuffing. Other than just minced sea crab, you’ll have shrimp, pork, egg, onion, mushroom, glass noodles, wood-ear mushroom, all of them are wrapped inside a thin layer of rice paper.

This cutie pie would be deep fried in a large pan of boiling oil until it turns golden and crispy on both of its sides. Rather than just consuming solely by itself, you want to pair it with rice noodles and dipping cooked fish sauce before indulging your tooth in its hearty texture!

Where to eat: Nem Cua Be Nga – 92 Tran Nhat Duat, Cau Da, Ngo Quyen District, Hai Phong.

Make sure you won’t forget to check out the exact places I’ve listed above. I fell in love with these little places and I can guarantee they won’t taste the same in the big restaurants out there!

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