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Flavors of Can Tho – foodies tour in Mekong Delta

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I think I’ve fallen in love with the Mekong Delta… I’m amazed by the beauty and peacefulness of the green rice fields, the colorful fruit plantations, the friendly people, the fantastic view on the Hau river, the amazing nature and let’s not forget the tasty food. I’d like to tell you more about the latter,  given that food is not quite an unimportant thing to me 😉

In Can Tho, the biggest city of the Mekong Delta, I got acquainted with the famous delicate cuisine of the south and the huge diversity of fruits and vegetables. Did you know that about half of the total of Vietnam’s agricultural output is produced in the Mekong Delta? I had a craving for trying the best food Can Tho has to offer and I believe there’s no better way than doing this with a little help from a local. We booked us a ‘foodies tour’ at a local organization, called Eco-Tour. This organization is run by some young local people who want to immerse you in an authentic ‘Can Tho experience’. Other than food tours along the best local restaurants and street food stands in the city, they offer cycling tours, boat tours to the floating markets and visits to surrounding villages. The guides are very friendly, their English is fine and they simply know where to find the best spots in town which they love to share with you. I should also mention they only ask for a small tip (excluding the food). I think there’s no better way to experience Can Tho’s amazing and tasty flavors.


Eco-Tour, food tour

Our local food guide: Lee Du
Costs: around 15 dollar per person, including tips (depends how much food your stomach can handle)

We met with our guide Lee at the souvenir shop Dragon Fly at the Ninh Kieu Pier Tourist Market. He would show us around the best local food stands and restaurants. We prepared ourselves for this tour by not eating much during the entire day so we couldn’t miss out any dish.

Curious about the places we’ve visited? I’ve wrote down some nice tips below. Notice that most of them are not on Tripadvisor or don’t have a website since they’re ‘very local’.

Saigon
Address: eatery at the intersection of Dong Khoi and Vo Van Tan street

Simple bakery with the best ‘Banh Cuon’ in town: minced pork and pate meat boiled in banana leaves. We truly loved this ‘signature dish’ of this popular bakery.

Saigon - Food tour

Thuc Don
Address: eatery at the intersection of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Dong Khoi street.

Not far from Saigon Bakery is the popular eatery Thuc Don. This place is packed with local families who come here to taste the traditional dishes of the region. Lee told us the Vietnamese only tend to eat in restaurants that are packed with people. Crowded restaurants stand for a good price/quality ratio. Our guide ordered us Nem Nuóng: grilled pork and meat balls served with rice noodles. We also tried the Cha Gio: warm veggie spring rolls with carrot, sweet peas and sweet potato. We also ate a spring roll made of rice paper stuffed with pineapple, banana, lettuce and basil. It was truly outstanding!

Restaurant Banh Xeo Ca Mau
Address: Lê Lợi, Ninh Kiều, Can Tho

Our local food guide took us to the other side of town where we crossed the river (Cau Ninh Kieu street) and walked towards a large roundabout. We arrived at a less touristic area. Here it was only us and the locals. On our right side, there was a restaurant that’s known for its delicious Banh Xeo’s, a large yellow pancake stuffed with shrimps or meat. Other snacks could be ordered as well yet we decided to order some small pancakes first. Bahn Kot is a very popular snack in the south. These small pancakes are accompanied with different types of fresh leafs. Lee showed us how to prepare the sauce in which you dip the little delicious pancakes. The sauce was made of carrots, cabbage, chilly and fish sauce. The pancakes are prepared with coconut milk, ginger, peas and shrimps. It tastes like heaven…

Then we had the famous Banh Xeo with little pieces of marinated duck. Another huge plate with exotic leafs arrived. Lee told us there are many varieties of plants and herbs the Vietnamese use for cooking. The Bahn Xeo, the yellow pancake, was wrapped in different kind of leafs and each new combination of leafs provided us with a new savory taste. Some leafs I had never seen or tasted before in my life.

Banh Xeo

Quán sân vườn Chị Tôi
Address: Le Loi, behind the roundabout on the left side (Foursquare)

This place is trendy amongst the youngsters of Can Tho. Here it’s all about meeting with your friends and discuss what karaoke bar to visit (there are plenty of them in this neighborhood). This restaurant has tables in the open space, and some tables stood on islands that were connected with little bridges and bamboo fences. It was very nice actually and we felt special because we were the only not locals. Our guide Lee ordered us a dessert called Com Chay Kho Quet, a rice pancake (literally made of rice) which was fried with garlic, sweet and sour sauce, peppers and pork. It tasted a bit strange because of the sweet and sour combination, but it was interesting and I ate quite a lot of it. Then, I was saturated, I couldn’t eat any more. Our tour came to an end…

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The tour covered many streetfood restaurants and we learned a lot about the local cuisine and ingredients that people use. We think this tour was a great addition to our Vietnam experience, not only because we tasted dishes we would never had tasted, but also because we of the opportunity to to ask questions about the Vietnamese customs and things that seemed odd to us or we simply didn’t understand. I would truly recommend you this tour!

Find more information on the Eco Tour Facebook page.

Another food blog I wrote is ‘Vietnam’s gastronomic indulgence’. And don’t forget to check out the Vietnam travel video and my photo’s on Flickr.

 

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