Author Archives: thanhnguyen

Sai Gon beer

SABECO beer producer has factories in every part of Vietnam; however, it is more preferred in the South and Centre Vietnam market than the Northern market. The major products of this producer is bottled beer, however canned beer brand “333” is also popular with a reasonable price. The bottled beer product line of SABECO includes some main brands:

333 Premium

This is a high standard product of SABECO that is not only popular in Vietnam but also in some other countries. The beer is packaged in 330ml glass bottle with the alcoholic level of 5.3 %.

Saigon Export

This is a famous brand of SABECO due to its light tasting flavour and low alcoholic level of 4.9%. The product is packaged in a 355ml glass bottle and more delicious when it is kept chilled, named Sai Gon Beer.

Saigon Special

This product is also called unofficially “Short Saigon” due to its funny design as a green 330ml glass bottle with a short neck. Contrary to the strange yet interesting package is the tasty and high quality beer inside the bottle that can satisfy any customers. The retail price for a bottle of this beer is around 14,000 – 15,000 VND (70 – 75 cents).

Vietnamese wine

With the easing of government restrictions, both commercial and cultural, the past ten years have seen a welcome increase in wine importing and awareness. You can now find a good quality Bordeaux in most upscale and many mid-range restaurants or chic wine bars and shops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Nevertheless, while international wines are making headway, the most interesting vintner we find on the market are local contenders.

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Rice alcohol. Alcohol has been called spirit because it symbolizes for men willingness in the old time. Besides tea, plain rice alcohol is also offered respectfully on the ancestor altar in rituals or ceremonies to show deep gratitude such as wedding parties, ground – breaking, Tetholiday… Vietnamese also drink alcohol to celebrate joy to reduce sadness or wish for blessings.

However, the way Vietnamese drink alcohol is worth mentioning. Unlike Western countries where bigger cups or glasses are frequently used, buffalo – eyed cup is more preferred to serve in Vietnam.

How can rice become wine?

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Yes, Vietnamese alcohol is made from rice so it is called rice alcohol. Firstly, rice is steamed, and then fermented for a couple of days before being distilled. With several traditional methods and materials, you will have many kinds of rice alcohol; however, their flavors are totally different from each other. In some cases, herbs or snakes are pickled in alcohol jar to use as medicine.

Can wine

ruou_viet_nam_4The name can wine comes from the reason that Vietnamese call a stem – a small bamboo straw- to consume wine from the jar. This kind of wine is the most special one in Vietnam even it belongs to minority groups in highland and some other places in Vietnam.

Can wine is special for the way it is made and served.
Firstly, simple available local materials such as cassava, tapioca, sweet potato are altogether fermented by wild herb in a pottery jar for days. Of course, its taste is total different from rice alcohol or any kind of wine – can wine is so bitter or strong that may lead you dizziness. Its sweet taste would make you drunk – a sweet and slow drunk – without any predictable consciousness.

The way can wine is served clearly shows the community unity and hospitality of highlanders. Now, let’s see how Vietnamese drink ruou can to serve dear guests, special celebrations or ceremonies. At these moments, the spirit container would be fixedly placed in the middle of the yard, house or even communal long house (called nha rong – in central highland). Then, both host and guest take seats around while fresh water from a buffalo horn will be slowly leaked out through a small holed. Now, it should be time for the village master to try through one of stems dipped into the jar. In some cases, he can offer it to honorable guests. After that, turns will come to the rest whenever they want. Every body will try to offer stems to each other to show their willingness and respect. The container would never be dry, it always requires fully filled with water by ladies. Besides, there would be gong performance, which is usually accompanied by dancing during the time.

Snake Wine

ruou_viet_nam_2 It is an alcoholic beverage that can be found at Snake Village near Hanoi, any major city of Vietnam as well as other countries across South East Asia. The snakes are immersed in 100% rice wine in special glass bottles and then, they are sealed and stored in a cellar for five years. The wines which contain substances necessary for the human body are high quality tonics. Regularly drinking appropriate quantities of the wines can moisturize your skin, improve your appetite, as well as strengthen your bones, tendons and muscles. They are used to treat general fatigue, hair loss, migraine headaches, rheumatism and neurasthenia. Surprisingly, the tonic wines do not cause dryness syndrome, such as constipation, thirst, dryness of the throat and nose. People of all ages and both sexes, including pregnant women can drink them in four seasons.

Ice Lemon Tea

Spending VND10,000 (US$0.48) for a cup of ice lemon tea, taking a canvas or a plastic chair and talking from 7pm to 11pm: that’s what hundreds local youths have done over the last two months in the area.

The drinks were first sold at some small street coffee shops and then spread widely in Hanoi in recent years. To many young people, you can’t say that you’ve been to the capital city without having a cup of lemon tea on Nha Tho, Ly Quoc Su or Dao Duy Tu streets.

Lately, Hanoi’s tra chanh chem gio, which is considered a local specialty, has come to the southern city. There are several areas where many teenagers gather to enjoy lemon tea, including District 1’s Nguyen Trai Street and the area near Coopmart Rach Mieu supermarket in Phu Nhuan District.

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Besides lemon tea, a group of vendors are always willing to serve customers famous street foods, including banh trang nuong (barbecued rice paper), ho lo nuong (barbecued meat balls) and pho mai que (fried cheese stick). Since they originated in Hanoi, lemon tea shops in HCMC also bring their customers a taste from the northern city through specialties like sua chua nep cam (yogurt mixed with sticky rice), nuoc sau (melon juice) and hat huong duong (fried sunflower seeds).

Green tea- Trà xanh

In Vietnam, tea is said to appear in almost every social activities: from wedding, birthday to anniversary and ritual ceremonies. A cup of hot tea in the early morning after breakfast, some iced tea at “quán cóc” – the roadside-make-shift shop while waiting for a friend, or a whole day chilling out in a teahouse; that is the way tea penetrates into Vietnamese’ daily life.

Drinking tea with the old Vietnamese


Let’s spend a few minutes on the time machine travelling back to the past, to observe Vietnamese’ tea drinking habits and apprehend the first days of tea appreciation’s art.

Vietnam tea

In the period of 13th to 15th century, Vietnamese believed that tea assumed many philosophical values, since it was a source of spiritual purity. Reading book and consuming tea had been chosen by many Vietnamese scholars as a means to escape from the petty concerns of chaotic life, to achieve enlightenment and peace of mind. Drinking tea was thought to help improving one’s character, polishing one’s manner, and assessing one’s personality. People who drank concentrated tea were regarded to have fine manners, while tea artisans with the ability to pour tea into bowls arranged in a circle without spilling a drop were admired by their peers.

Vietnamese tea drinking style is very diverse with no fixed standard and creatively conveys the depth of language among people. Through times, tea gradually has its own place in everyday lives of people, aristocrats and the ordinary, living in the city and in the countryside alike.

Tea at home


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Besides special celebrations such as wedding, funeral or other traditional rituals, tea is served several times each day in every Vietnamese home. Waking up in the morning, many elderlies would love to have a cup of hot green tea before starting a new day in the hope of refreshment and sound of mind. Patio or garden in the backyard is among the most favorite places for tea appreciating for its closeness to nature, as some fresh air can give extra flavor to the tea.

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Vietnamese believe that tea binds people together and express hospitality; hence people often invite their friends or neighborsround for a chat over a cup of tea. Tea is also used to calm down heated quarrels by diluting one’s anger. Moreover, consuming tea after meals, especially dinner, is also a habit that is loved by many people, when family members can gather round, talking about what they have done during the day.

Teahouse culture


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Nowadays, with the rising income and living standard, people have a tendency to learn more about the traditions and culture, to recall the nostalgia feeling of the good old days, which explains why more and more teahouses appearing in Vietnam recently, diversely in styles, from Chinese, Japanese, to traditional Vietnamese teahouse.

Distinctive in architecture, those teahouses are attractive to ones who wish to enjoy their tea in a unique space designed exclusively for tea buffs and tea lovers. In the room decorated like an old house in Vietnamese countryside, customers take their time, sitting under the eaves, and letting the slender smoke from the teapot easing all the troubles in life. At teahouse, people are free to choose whatever kind of tea to consume, from the traditional green tea, scented tea, herbal tea, to exotic imported tea, depending on the teahouse’s style; and spend hours conversing with their peers about issues regarding tea.

Steamed bun dumpling cake- Bánh bao

Bánh Bao is a Chinese steamed bun dumpling cake, but we Vietnamese grow up and enjoy this dish very much. It is sold at Vietnamese market, Vietnamese fast food store, Chinese, Vietnamese restaurants, and virtually you can find it everywhere there is an Asian community.

Simply, it’s convenient: you can eat it for breakfast, for snack, and big enough to consider it a light lunch or dinner, at home, on the road, everywhere. This is probably the most popular Chinese dish that is loved by Vietnamese.

Bánh bao (literbanh-bao-4ally “enveloping cake”) is a ball-shaped bun containing pork or chicken meat, onions, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables, in Vietnamese cuisine. It often has Chinese sausage and a portion of a hard-boiled egg inside. Bánh bao are generally smaller than baozi, and are filled with savory fillings, the most popular of which is seasoned ground pork. A vegetarian version of bánh bao also exists.

Green bean cake- Bánh đậu xanh


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On every first day of the lunar month, market vendors produce these little cakes for sale at their stalls. They’re a popular offering at altars for the ancestors and can, of course, be enjoyed by the living after the joss sticks have burnt down.

 

In addition, the green bean cake (Banh Dau Xanh) is usually served as snacks, just like tea biscuits, when drinking tea. The sweet flavor of the cake blending in with lotus tea is a perfect match when we enjoy a sip of tea. This combination really has the power of bringing people closer in a warm atmosphere. And to stress the difference among Banhs, Banh Dau Xanh is made purely of sugar and mung bean powder – imagine the making of macaroon elsewhere in the world!

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Plain rice flan- Bánh đúc

Plain rice flan- Bánh đúc is considered one of the most rustic and simple cakes in Hanoi cuisine, but the way to serve it varies thanks to Hanoian gastronomists.

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“Bánh đúc lạc” is the most popular in the north. The main ingredients are non-glutinous rice flour or corn-flour and peanut. Firstly, grind soaked rice with water in a grist mill; next, add lime juice to the flour solution with fine proportion to bring the cake a certain glutinous degree; then boil the solution, add peanuts to enhance nutty flavor, and stir it continuously to prevent it being burnt. When well-done, bánh đúc has a jelly shape and mild flavor.

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It is served either hot or cold, commonly with soy sauce and sometimes with tofu. The buttery taste of peanut, rice flour, the spicy sweet flavor of soy sauce and the cool of soft tofu are mingled perfectly together to bring us a cool dish in hot days. It is also interesting to relish a hot bow of bánh đúc topped with ground pork, grilled ground spawns, fried onions, roasted sesame seeds and herbs, called “bánh đúc thịt”, a good treat in the winter. In the southern, instead of being ivory-white, bánh đúc is distinctive itself with green color extracted from fragrance grass and the cool sweet taste coming from syrup or coconut juice.

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Vietnamese donut- Bánh rán

Vietnamese Donut – “Bánh rán” is a delicious finger food for breakfast inVietnam. banh-ran-2

There are two main kinds of bánh rán, namely salty cake and sweet one with the latter being much more common than the former. While the filling of sweet cake is sweet mashed mung bean, that of salty cake is quite similar to pillow cake‘s, a mixture of minced meat, prawn, glass noodle, veggie and etc.

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What is more, among different types of sweet cake, the cake coated with sesame seeds is the best choice due to its moderate sweet taste, crispy cover and subtle fragrant. The dough is a blend of glutinous rice flour, rice flour, mashed potato and sugar. Mashed mung bean filling is rolled into ball shape, wrapped inside the dough and then rolled over a plate of sesame to make its sesame coat. After deep-fried, the cake is getting golden brown, crispy and aromatic. Hiding under that crispy cover is the sweet and nutty flavor of potato, rice, and mung bean. So just relish it and discover how tasty it is!

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Banana Blossom Salad – Nộm hoa chuối

It is used to a rustic dish that now turns to be a specialty in Vietnam cuisine. In the south, it is called “gỏi hoa chuối”. It is such a lifetime experience being exposed to its explosion of different flavors and amazing texture contrasts.

The cooking this Banana Blossom Salad– Nom Hoa Chuoi begins with the tough, outer layers of the banana blossom peeled off and discarded. Banana blossom is crunchy with subtle, slightly floral fragrance. Next, slice it into fine julienne strips; soak it into large bowl of cold water and white vinegar or lemon juice to prevent it from browning. Then sliced boiled pig ears or boiled shredded chicken breast is prepared and let it cool. Sour star fruits are sliced thinly, combined with bean sprouts, banana blossom, sliced big ears, mint, and cilantro.

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To make the dressing, along with sugar and vinegar, garlic, lemongrass, chili, lime juice and fish sauce are mixed to a fine proportion. When the dish is relished, the salad is placed into a banana blossom bowl, tossed finely with the dressing and topped with chopped roasted peanuts and fried shallots. It looks more than an artistic work. Just enjoy every bite and make the most of the subtle flavor of herbs, the crispiness of banana blossom, and big ears, the chewy and tender taste of chicken, the nutty flavor of roasted peanut and the harmony of the seasoning…

Vietnamese fermented pork roll- Nem chua

Wandering around the Old Quarter in the evening, you can easily be intrigued by the appetizing aroma and the greasy sweet taste of sizzling fermented pork roll grilled on barbecue over charcoals.

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It is well known that the traditional fermented pork roll is not less unique and addictive compared to its grilled one and that each region in Vietnam brings you different nem chua flavors, all of them are indeed delicious.

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Made from rustic ingredients, namely ground pork thigh, minced pork skin, chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt, those are mixed, pressed and then naturally fermented by tender fig or guava leaves, Vietnamese fermented pork roll- Nem chua has a very characteristic sour, acquired sweet, garlicky and salty taste with a nice crunch of pork rinds. While the fig leaf cover can be eaten with nem chua, creating a special acrid taste, the banana leaf cover makes its flavor more subtle and attractive. Both traditional nem chua and grilled one are served with chutney mingled with squeezed kumquat or spicy fish sauce added lemon juice.

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Besides, it is common to enjoy the grilled with fruits such as star fruit, green mango, jícama, not only reducing fatty taste but also whetting appetite. Just a look is enough for guests to salivate over the thought of savoring each bite of nem chua. More interestingly, while nem chua of the north in general and of Thanh Hoa province in particular is in favor of sour taste and has subtle fragrance of fern-leaf aralia, the southern one prefers sweet and spicy added by powered grilled rice and pepper. Therefore, there are more choices for gastronomists to enjoy.