Vietnam – my street food diaries

Street Food, Vietnam

Probably the thing I liked best about visiting Vietnam was the food, and in particular the street food.

I basically made it my mission to only eat from the street vendors and not to go to restaurants. This was in an attempt to find the real food of the country and not the glorified ‘made for westerners’ fayre. I also thought it might be a neat way to get chatting to locals and experience how life is for your average Joe. Oh, and dare I mention, if you are travelling on a budget this is also the answer to your dreams, as most meals coming in at around £1.

 

Street food, Vietnam
Fresh shrimp rolls with a sweet and sticky soy, peanut and chilli dipping sauce

 

So, after reading this excellent post by Jodi Ettenburg at Legal Nomads, I set off to try my first street food Pho, excited and intrigued to meet ‘Prison Granny’

I should probably also point out here that I did not stick to a plant based, vegetarian diet for this trip, opting to go local style.

I’m sure there are a plethora of good vegetarian, even vegan options in the country but it is not traditional Vietnamese and I wanted to try authentic dishes as previously highlighted.

My search for Prison Granny ended in vain – I was definitely on the right alleyway (or ‘Bis’ in Vietnamese) but I could not spot any Pho joints. So I employed my own tactic, which I like to call ‘follow the local/office workers’  – in Ho Chi Minh this worked a treat as I stalked young office folk on their lunch breaks and basically just ate wherever they did!

 

Com, street food, Vietnam
My first point and smile meal was braised beef and carrots, morning glory, rice (the ‘com’ part of the dish) and a morning glory watery soup.

 

Street food, Vietnam
Second office lunch ‘Com’ with cabbage, pork, boiled egg – and a bonus banana!

 

I also found two very good food courts, a little more on the tourist trail but full of enough locals to keep me happy, these I felt more comfortable visiting at nighttime as a single female traveller rather than ducking down dimly lit alleys.

 

Pho, Street food, Vietnam
My first Pho was pretty good, and light on the beef. I love that you add your own herbs and spices to taste

 

 

Canh Bun, Street food, Vietnam
Crab Canh Bun (I think!) This was a perfect mix of sweet and sour – delicious and one of my favourite dishes of the trip

 

 

The best part about my follow the local trick was I had pretty much no idea what the things I ate were called – it was a case of point and smile, the places I have learnt since are called ‘Com Ta’ which is basically a buffet of plates you choose what you like and get given a humongous portion of rice to accompany as well as a watery soup and sometimes fruit and cold tea.

I also tried my fair share of Pho, and other noodle dishes, and of course the obligatory fresh rolls (which varied in flavour and freshness from place to place)

 

 

Street food, Vietnam
This lady was very popular so although I had no idea what this was I ordered one anyway,  it was a sweet puffed rice pancake with treacle and coconut lathered inside. Too sweet for me but I like to take a chance from time to time!

 

 

In Hoi An I discovered the wonderful dish ‘Cao Lau’ the melt in your mouth White Roses, Shrimp pancake rolls, and of course plenty of lovely tea and coffee cafes.

 

White Roses, Banh Vac, Street Food, Vietnam
The delectable White Roses, my favourite dish of the trip….
‘banh vac’ is a dumpling stuffed with shrimp and spices and then steamed in a shrimp broth. The resulting taste is delicate and just a little bit sweet, the dumplings are topped with fried onions giving it a little crunch and saltiness

 

Banh Xeo, Pancake, Street Food, Vietnam
Banh Xeo, is a shrimp pancake, like ‘Crispy Peking Duck’ you lay a flat noodle sheet out, place the pancake on, add cucumber and herbs, sweet hoi sin sauce and roll. Wonderful.

 

Banh Xeo, Street Food, Vietnam
All rolled up and ready to eat!

 

Street food, Vietnam
Choices in the Indoor Food Market at Hoi An

 

Drinking Tea and Coffee (mainly iced) were some of my favourite things to do. Just sitting in a cafe, reading, cooling off and watching the world go by: this is what ‘travelling’ is all about for me, which, ironically, is the most static of activities!

 

Ice Tea, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam
A break from the heat with a Passion Fruit Ice Tea

 

Cold Brew coffee, Street food, Vietnam
Cold Brew Coffee, Hoi An Roastery

 

Reaching Out Tea Rooms, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam
Stopping for a cuppa – the beautifully presented Oolong Tea at the wonderful Reaching Out Tea Rooms in Hoi An.

 

I hope this has inspired you to travel to this wonderful country. I would love to hear back from you on your food travels, in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world. Please leave me a comment with your favourite places to eat and drink.

Climate Change – it’s real, and deadly serious

Before the Flood, Climate Change

As part of the blog I want to focus on you, the reader, getting a healthy mind and body, and sharing tips on how I do the same. However, all the spirulina digesting and yoga practicing in the world is going to be fruitless unless we all start taking some positive action towards saving the planet.

Ban Ki-Moon, Seceratary General of the United Nations sums it up thus:

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all.”

This is a real problem, and action is needed by everyone, NOW.

I implore you – watch this movie, and more importantly, if you have them, make your children watch this movie, and then sign up to show your support.

EDUCATE YOURSELVES AND YOUR CHILDREN (click here to watch the movie)

The ‘Before the Flood’ website states:

Research at Standford and other major universities is showing that we can in fact quickly transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050 making fossil fuels obsolete. When we stop burning fossil fuels the climate will gradually cool off again. It may take a bit of time to get back to a stable climate, but if we act now we can do it.

Write to your goverment representative asking them to support using alternative energy sources, eat less red meat and diary, offset your carbon emissions (if you live in the US this is live here) just do whatever you feel is going to make a postitive impact on the rest of your life, and the lives of our future generations. But please do something. If you can’t change the world – change yourself.

Before the Flood – TAKE ACTION

Where to eat in Canggu – my top choices to eat in Canggu

Ok, I’ll stop harping on about Canggu after this (did you book your flight yet?) but eating for me in Canggu was on a par with the surfing and yoga – in fact I could say it was the highlight to my stay!

As you may have realised I’m passionate about eating a healthy diet, and Canggu has plenty of inexpensive options of places to eat and nourish your body and mind. So here is a guide to my favourites:

Peleton

Entrance to Peleton Cafe 'Supershop' Canggu, Bali

 

I visited Peleton for my first lunch…and I thought wow! the rest of the places I’ve researched have a lot to live up to! I could have just eaten here for the whole week it was that good. They serve a mixture of healthy vegan food – breakfasts like the Biker Bowl, The Tandem Toast and Pedel Power Pancakes. They have a range of lighter dishes and amazing salads, hot drinks, juices and smoothies. A pretty impressive plethora of food and drink.

What I ate: The Fuel Good Salad, a mean mix of FUEL GOOD Kale, Spinach, Purple Cabbage, Capsicum, Broccoli, Mild Chillies, Carrot, Beetroot, Green Onion, Toasted Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, Sesame, Smashed Pumpkin and Hummus. Quite possibly the best salad I have eaten. EVER.

Fuel Good salad, Peleton Cafe, Canggu, Bali

close up of Fuel Good Salad, Peleton cafe, Canggu Bali

 

I also got food  envy of the table next to me who were eating the Burn Out Burger – it looked so damn good. The decor in the place is as you would expect bike orientated. The staff were so lovely and friendly and the place had a more chilled vibe and was quieter than the places along Batu Bolong as it is a little more out of the main drag on Pantai Berewa. If you go to Canggu or even staying in nearby Seminyak, you MUST try Peleton. It rocks.

inside Peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

wall monuted single gear 'fixies' at peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Crate Cafe

Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Well, having to meet my expectations set at Peleton, Crate Cafe did not disappoint. Full to the brim with the post yoga and surf crowd I had to wait a while to get a table, but it was a great people watching place so a wait so I did not mind – This is the place where the cool kids like to hang out.

I had an ah-maze-ing flat white (again something I had been missing on Koh Phangan) and a breakfast bowl, a deliciously thick, creamy fruit smoothie with fruit, granola and coconut on top, (the name of which can’t remember) and then went back the next day to have the ‘Peas Please’ a huge chunk of sourdough bread with peas, spinach, feta, avocado and a perfectly poached egg balancing on top.

flat white - yeah life is crate at Crate Cafe, Bali

 

breakfast bowl, lifescrate, Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Peas Please, brunch style at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

The decor is industrial graffiti and there is a real buzz in the place. The friendly attitudes of the staff here is wonderful, something that unfortunately I had been lacking in Thailand of late. Crate I salute you. Life certainly is ‘crate’ here.

wall menu at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Betelnut Cafe

Betelnut Cafe at Sunset, Canggu

 

Betelnut is probably the most ‘famous’ of the cafes in Canggu, and is in the ‘centre’ of Batu Bolong, opposite Deus Ex Machina so easy to find. Having a small air-conditioned downstairs section the main seating area is upstairs where you can see across the rice fields to sunset in the early evening, when I visited for an early dinner.

A good menu of comforting burger and wraps, salads and juices, the standard for all these places in Canggu. I had a divine Turmeric Lemonade and the Falafel Wrap with Fries.

Turmeric Lemonade at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Falefel Wrap, Betelnut Cafe, Canggu

 

The upstairs view was pretty awesome

The Sunset View at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

The Shady Shack

The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

wave after wave

 

I was recommended The Shady Shack by a Canggu local who came to eat at The Yoga Retreat in Koh Phangan, she told me it was her favourite place to eat, and I see why. A fabulous menu in a beautiful space. Again a vegan and vegetarian healthy choice paradise, Canggu you are really spoiling us with these places!

I ate the ‘Signature Shady’s’ from the All Day Breakfast menu – Onsen eggs with sprout, carrot, beetroot and fennel salad. The herby, lemony dressing was TO.DIE.FOR – the gluten-free bread and smashed new potatoes made it a meal I deserved after an Ashtanga Practice AND a surf.

signature dish at Shady Shak, Canggu, Bali

 

Onsen Eggs - poached to perfection, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

The decor was so nice, and again, that Balinese welcome from friendly staff made you feel at home, and, I have to say, the best cafe toilets in Canggu! I love a good bathroom tile!

 

interior, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

bathroom blues, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

Little Flinders

Little Flinders, Canggu Bali

 

For my final choice I went to Little Flinders, a bit further south on Batu Bolong from Crate and Betelnut. It is more of a restaurant than the cafes, and also has meat and seafood on the menu.

I had a refreshing Ginger Ice Tea and the Rosti Burger (naughty but oh so nice) and as they didn’t have any wedges left I had mashed potato – delish!

 

veggie burger and mash, Little Flinders, Bali

 

ginger tea

 

It was beautifully decorated and I was lucky to hit it just before the evening rush and had the place almost to myself so I was able to take some nice interior shots

beautiful floor tiles, Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

soft seating interiors at Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

If this post hasn’t convinced you to go to Canggu then I don’t know what will. There were many other places to eat and of course drink, Old Mans, Deus, Avocado, Local Warungs, but these were my top choices, as I am always trying to look for the healthy options. Most of the dishes will set you back about 50/60k Indonesian Rupees, that’s about £4 – so it’s still cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Canggu – it was a brief love affair, maybe someday we can have a longer term relationship??