When you’re in a foreign country, the food is drastically different from back
home. If you’re struggling to pronounce the names correctly, it isn’t worth worrying about, as long as you can eat them. “So what should I eat for breakfast?” We hear you ask. Wonder no more. Feast your eyes (literally) on these 5 typical breakfast meals local folks eat in Da Nang and prepare to drool into your keyboards. Each one will get you out of bed faster than any alarm and there’s no snooze button for a rumbling tummy.
1. Mi Quang (Quang noodle)
We’re here to shout it from the rooftops: Mi Quang – one of the culinary specialities of Da Nang. ‘Mi’ means noodles. ‘Quang’ stands for Quang Nam province. (In case you don’t know, in the past, Da Nang used to be part of Quang Nam province).
The noodles are made from rice flour and come in white or yellow (infused with turmeric) colour but the taste is the same. The important part is the broth – the allure of the dish, is made from various delicious ingredients such as chicken, shrimp, pork, hard-boiled quail eggs, pineapples and tomatoes. The meat is gently simmered for hours in water and seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot and garlic. It’s incredibly fragrant! Sometimes turmeric is added to give the broth a yellowish colour. This bright and cheerful red broth is usually thick and has an intense flavour which is quite different from Pho and other Vietnamese noodles, so we only need a small amount of it, about 1 – 2 ladles per bowl.
Mi Quang is served with vegetables and fresh herbs including basil, cilantro, chopped banana flower, coriander,…garnished with roasted Vietnamese sesame rice crackers and crushed peanuts. The locals usually squeeze some lime juice in it and add chili peppers to enhance the flavours. Mi Quang also has a vegan version.
This harmonious combination of ingredients that adds depth to Mi Quang is in itself an art of Central Vietnam’s cuisine that will tantalise the most stubborn of palates.
2. Com Hen (Baby clam basket rice)
We swear that this is one of the most scrumptious rice dish our tongues have ever tasted. ‘Com hen’ is a sophisticated colourful rice dish with 20 ingredients: crunchy plain rice, baby basket clams, fermented shrimp paste, pork crackling (fried pork fat), grease, salted shredded meat, roasted peanuts, crispy fried noodles, cashew oil, sour carambola (star fruit), fried shallots, chili pepper, lettuce, mint herb, basil, banana flower, roasted sesame seeds, spices and hot clam broth.
Hoo boy, that’s a lot of belly rubbin’ goodness right? It’ll be a party in your mouth, consists of sweet, salty, buttery, sour and peppery flavours. Seems like you have all the goodness in the world in just one dish!
Plus, guess what? ‘Com hen’ is also a medicinal food which helps cleanse the intestine and liver, support diuretic process and detoxification of the body. Sounds like this dish would cost a small fortune but it’s actually highly cost- effective for the savvy spenders. One bowl of com hen comes to the royal sum of 15,000 VND which is equal to 0.65 USD.
3. Banh mi (Vietnamese baguette)
“A little-known secret is that the world’s best sandwich isn’t found in Rome, Copenhagen or even New York City, but on the streets of Viet Nam.”– The Guardian (2012) –
This meal makes us squeal with joy but also makes us very hungry. Crunchy on the outside and tender overflowing filling on the inside, banh mi is an authentic Vietnamese food you will find wherever you look in Vietnam, from street vendors to fancy coffee shops and restaurants. First introduced in the 1950s, banh mi has become part of our cultural identity and developed a great reputation around the world. It has earned the title of the ‘World’s top 10 best street food’ by Lonely Planet. In Vietnam, it’s a humble and nourishing food, popular among students and manual workers because of its cheap price, convenience and deliciousness.
Our iconic baguette has a range of over 15 scrummy-in-the-tummy versions, so each day on your trip you can try a different version, sounds exciting right? Banh mi isn’t always savoury. You can simply break the warm rolls with your fingers, dip a bite in condensed milk or smear peanut butter and margarine on it. Kids love to eat the squishy part inside of the bread. They often scoop out the centre and leave out the crust.
Three regions in Vietnam (North, Central and South) offer various flavours but they still share a lot of commonalities. The savoury baguettes are stuffed with a choice of protein including sunny side up eggs, pâté, pork sausage, pork floss, roasted pork, ham, fried fish patty, meat balls, chicken and canned sardines. Accompanied by fresh vegetables and herbs such as coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro with a drizzle of soy sauce, gravy, mayonnaise and some sprinkles of chili, black pepper.
Doesn’t it make you want to have a mouthful immediately?
4. Fish cake noodle soup (Bun cha ca)
Where else would you find the freshest fish to make appetizing fish cake than in the coastal city of Da Nang? Fish cake noodle soup is a signature dish of Central Vietnam. With less ingredients and condiments, this dish is simple, hearty, delicious and maybe lighter for you than the ones above. Yet it’s surprisingly complex and loaded with flavours from the saltiness of fish cake and crab paste, sweetness of pumpkin cubes, sliced tomatoes and pineapple, crunchiness of bamboo shoots, heat of crushed garlic and chili, tanginess of herbs, chewiness of vermicelli and freshness of vegetables.
This is one hell of a delicious meal that is not just moreish but also nutritionally balanced. This dish contains less cholesterol and is packed with Vitamin A and D, protein and amino acids. Honestly, we think we might have a bowl of fish cake noodle soup tomorrow morning. It’s so irresistible!
5. Vietnamese steamed rice roll (Banh cuon)
This is the food stuff that dreams are made of. Ladies and gentlemen, may we present . . . the most exciting culinary discovery of modern times…Banh cuon. It’s basically thin sheets of steamed rice batter with fillings of minced black mushroom with a glaze of scallion oil and a sprinkle of crispy fried shallots on the outside. We often have it with Vietnamese meatballs, sliced cucumber and fresh greens but the crucial role belongs to the warm bowl of fish dipping sauce. Salivating yet? Simple, elegant and deadly delicious, we are pretty sure steamed rice rolls will satisfy your hungry stomach in the morning.
As the saying goes: ”When you’re in Vietnam, eat like the locals” (We made it up). We’ve devised an amazing food tour for you so you won’t even have to think about what and where to eat in Da Nang. Give yourself a chance to savour these breakfasts. That’s all we need to say about this. We’re going to go and calm down now.