Central Vietnam is beginning to gain the recognition it deserves. The Imperial Capital of Hue, the majestic Marble Mountains, and the charming coastal town of Hoi An, have become popular sights to check off the typical tourists’ list. However, Đà Nẵng is the fastest growing city in Vietnam and is unfortunately often seen by travelers as a mere gateway for its airport and train station. After maneuvering amongst throngs of foreigners through the bustling, cramped alleys of Hanoi the week prior to my arrival in Đà Nẵng, it was rather refreshing to find myself in a city where I felt as if I was the only westerner present. Đà Nẵng boasts enormous fire-breathing dragon-shaped bridges that connect the city to the nearby beaches, which have been voted some of the most beautiful in the world. Although, after my first few tastes of the local cuisine there, it became clear that I must forego any time spent on this famous beach and delve deeper into the streets.
The cuisine of Đà Nẵng is uniquely vibrant, encompassing clean and bold flavors, while striking an impeccable balance of sweet, savory, and spicy in each bite. It’s up to you, though, to incorporate rau thom: mint, basil, bean sprouts, and lettuce, piled high on a plate accompanying everything you order. This fresh herbal element sets Vietnamese food apart from its neighbors in Southeast Asia. A certain dish, Bánh Xèo for example, is packed with herbs and served with tương gỏi cuốn, a pork liver and fermented soy bean sauce only found in Đà Nẵng. Numerous other regional dishes are prepared in street-side stalls and deep winding lanes where there is no menu and only a singular item available. There, the cooks specialize in crafting that one dish by making it hundreds of times daily and analyzing each element to follow a tradition that is regionally distinct.
Rent a motorbike to get around Đà Nẵng, as it is relatively spread out yet easy to navigate. With this scooter costing only five dollars per 24 hours, you can still eat 4 meals with semi-cold beers and spend less than fifteen USD every day. Don't miss a stop at Han Market, where you will find countless unfamiliar meats, fish, snacks, and sights. Having the motorbike also makes it easier to cope with arriving at an address supposedly offering some revelatory dish, when in fact, that location is actually a store that sells coat hangers. This will happen. Twist the throttle and move onto the next one.
After spending months dedicated to searching out the most delicious food in Southeast Asia, this city stands above the rest in Vietnam. Đà Nẵng is a destination that should not be overlooked or underestimated by any means. Explore it now as a brave minority to get a taste of central Vietnamese cuisine, true to its origins.
M Qung Ba V: Bà Vị
166 Lê Đình Dương, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
A bowl of thick noodles bathed in a light meaty broth topped with shrimp and toasted sesame rice crackers. Also, order the crab spring rolls here to go along with the Mì Quảng.
Banh Xeo Ba Dng: Bà Dưỡng
K280/23 Hoàng Diệu, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
Bánh Xèo is a hands-on experience. Build your layered rice paper roll with grilled ground pork, raw baby banana, and pickled papaya with a turmeric rice crepe packed with shrimp and bean sprouts. Park your motor bike on the left before walking down and be sure to tip the attendant.
Bánh Xèo is sold all along this narrow alley but Bà Dưỡng is at the far end before the street cuts to the right.
Banh Beo: Bánh Bèo Bà Bé
Bánh Bèo, Bánh Nậm, Bánh Bột Lọc
100 Hoàng Văn Thụ, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
Steamed rice cakes served in small dishes eaten with nước mắm, crushed peanut, and shrimp. Try the steamed shrimp in tapioca wrapped in banana leaves too.
Bún Thịt Nướng
277 Đống Đa, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
A perfect representation of Vietnamese cuisine, showcasing charcoal grilled pork, fresh rice noodles, herbs, and nước mắm. The stall is near the Ông Ích Khiêm and Quang Trung intersection by the highschool.
Hoa T Seafood Restaurant: Hoa Tu
Bộ Tài Chính
17 Huynh Thuc Khang, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
Raw meat of any kind is not common in Vietnam, however the Bộ Tài Chính is executed flawlessly: raw beef slices marinated in an explosive sauce of lime, chili, and culantro.
Bun Ch Ca Ba Phin (Ba Tha): Chả Cá Bà Phiến (Bà Thừa)
Bún Chả Cá
63 Lê Hồng Phong, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
A turmeric fish soup, served with black pepper fish pâté, thin rice noodles, and fried tofu.
119 Trần Phú Hải Châu 1, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
Red Cornetfish, one of the many foreign finds deep in the mess of the hectic market.
Almond Milk Tea with Yogurt Agar Jelly
A1 Nguyễn Văn Linh nối dài, Đà Nẵng, Thành Phố Đà Nẵng, Việt Nam
This bubble tea bar has a great energy on Friday nights, packed with young locals.