TV chef Anthony Bourdain travelled around the world to make taste-memories, armed with an open eye and an empty stomach. But it was Vietnam that proved “life-changing” for him. He spoke of its street food as if in rapture. “It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go,” he famously said.
To trace Bourdain’s footsteps in Vietnam, hop between Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Hanoi. In Ho Chi Minh, visit Cơm Niêu Sài Gòn for com dap (clay pot rice). Watch as a waiter breaks a clay pot and sends it flying to another standing far away. The guy will catch it, and as soon as your heart rests, dig into rice topped with fish sauce, scallion and sesame. Crispy outside, soft inside, and totally worth the drama. Bourdain also loved their lobster grilled with paprika sauce, crabs fried in sweet basil, and zucchini blossoms stuffed with ground pork dipped in batter and deep fried.
Anthony Bourdain sampled Vietnam’s piquant flavours with all his heart, be it pho (in photo) in Ho Chi Minh or clay pot rice in Saigon. Photo by: Vietnam/Moment Open/Getty Images
No Bourdain fan will miss the pilgrimage to Bún Chả Hương Liên, where the chef and Barack Obama ate barbecued pork swimming in fragrant broth, served with noodles and greens. When in Hue, to try what to Bourdain was “in the hierarchy of delicious, slurpy stuff in a bowl… at the very top.” Bún bò Hu, the pork and beef bone soup was made maddeningly delicious by shrimp paste, noodles, chilli and—congealed pork blood cubes. Go nowhere but to Dong Ba Market for this badass bowl.
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loves stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall bookshops, old towns and collecting owl souvenirs in all shapes and sizes. She is the former Commissioning Editor of Nat Geo Traveller India.
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