By Mia Buck, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
Vietnam was the most relaxed country our voyage has gone to so far—probably due to the insanely cheap beer that seems to flow infinitely. It is also a great place to enjoy an abundance of street food, as well as fresh seafood that is grilled right in front of you. I was able to eat lots of tofu and vegetables that were rarely heavily seasoned, but were always accompanied by soy sauce and a spicy red chili sauce. My first culinary experience in Vietnam was pho, which I was able to get without meat—something that has been surprisingly easy in every country we have been to. I had pho three times in Vietnam and each time it was slightly different. The first time it was just noodles and broth, but after ordering real ‘vegetarian pho’ I received a bowl filled with fried tofu and various vegetables. It was filling and definitely tasty.
Nearly everything I ate in Vietnam was delicious: the noodles, the rice, the tofu, the fried pancakes, the grilled street octopus, the spring rolls, and even the pizza. In Vung Tau, a beach town about two hours away from Ho Chi Minh, there were dozens of seafood street vendors within three blocks. Customers could choose from crawfish (that was still moving), snails, clams, octopus, crab legs, even a whole fish. The chosen item was then thrown onto a grill and lightly seasoned with lime, placed over a bed of greens, and served with a spicy sauce. It was a simple but delicious way to enjoy fresh seafood, which is often battered and fried in the United States. Overall Vietnam was a phenomenal culinary experience and I definitely want to go back.