Vietnam Through Food

Where you’ll go & what you’ll taste—joined in one sensory experience


When Lindblad Expeditions’ Executive Chef, Ana Esteves tells us we can look forward to incredible experiences on our Along the Vietnam Coast: From Ha Long Bay to Ho Chi Minh City expedition, we believe her: she spent 3 years as the Executive Chef of the Saigon Gourmet Group with restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Watch the video for a preview of what you can expect. And read the story below for regional food insights and highlights:

vietnam_food_ana.jpg“I am thrilled that Lindblad is doing this itinerary—most companies tend to focus on the Mekong Delta, but this coastal itinerary is genuinely unique. You’re going to have incredible food, get a chance to visit local, and floating markets, eat at incredible restaurants, sit in a corner sipping on café suda — high quality Robusta bean coffee beans mixed with delicious condensed milk. And, aboard National Geographic Orion, my team will be preparing food that will incorporate all the special flavors of the region."

Here’s a sneak preview of some highlights:

vietnam_food_1.jpgNorthern Vietnam food highlights (Days 1-4 in the itinerary: Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ha Long Bay) is sophisticated, traditional and well balanced, (not too sweet, not too spicy and not too salty). The north has the biggest Chinese influence, and the region is an important producer of peppercorns. The North is home of two widely known dishes: Vietnamese Pho, a star anise and cinnamon-spiced clear beef broth, served with thinly sliced meat, rice noodles and finished with fresh herbs, chilis and lime juice. And bun cha, a bowl of thin rice noodles, char-grilled pork patties, sweet and sour fish sauce, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and peanuts.

vietnam_food_2.jpgCentral coast food highlights (Days 5-8: Vinh Moc, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An) is known for its rich, spicy and imperial influences, the region relies heavily on dipping sauces (each dish has its own dipping sauce so it feels like a feast! And lots of sustainable fresh coastal seafood, both fresh and preserved. Hue is famous for its bun bo hue, a spicy soup of beef, crab meat balls, tomatoes and noodle, plus amazing dumplings (again, each with its own dipping sauce of course). Another highlight of the area, mainly in Da Nang and Hoi An are the Mi Quang and Cao Lau, wide or thinner turmeric-flavored stir-fried noodles submerged in a few spoonful’s of broth (so not a soup), topped with grilled pork, shrimp or chicken, fresh herbs, quail eggs, crushed peanuts and crispy rice crackers — usually with a side of garlic-sautéed rau moung morning glory (young water spinach).

vietnam_food_3.jpgSouthern food highlights (Days 9-14: Van Phong Bay, Con Dao Island, HCMC) it is probably the closest one to my heart because it's where I lived. Food in the south is sweeter and spicier than the north. Because of the year-round temperature and latitude, a lot more fruits and vegetables are available year-round. And the French influence is most prominent, which explains the popular banh mi—a crusty baguette, pillowy on the inside, stuffed with grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables and sometimes even an omelet! Or the banh xeo, a thin, sizzled rice flour and turmeric crepe, filled with mung beans, sliced pork, and mushrooms, eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves and herbs, and dipped in fish sauce. Flavors layered with sugarcane, tamarind and coconut products makes this region’s flavors completely unparalleled.

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