Can’t believe it has been already half a year since I spent two months in Vietnam. I totally miss the warm weather, the beaches, the chaotic lifestyle and of course the food! So this post is about Vietnamese food and shows a restaurant that is typical in so many ways. I bet that you will come across a very similar one when you travel through the country. I don’t know the name of this particular restaurant and I guess I have never known it. And if I did know the name, by now I would have forgotten how to pronounce it haha. So below are five characteristics of a lot (if not the majority) of restaurants that you will see when visiting Vietnam.
5 Characteristics of The Typical Vietnamese Restaurant in Vietnam
PLASTIC CHAIRS IN RED AND BLUE
First of all there is the plastic chair culture and to be fair this is a good womb chair replica but you can’t beat a comfy seat. You can choose from tiny blue and red plastic chairs. They are for kids you might think. But no, they are not. They are for everyone. Sometimes, when you are lucky, you find a restaurant with larger chairs, like this one. I personally don’t mind the little chairs but I have seen lots of guys (especially the taller or bigger ones) sitting on these chairs and they didn’t look so comfy.
PLASTIC AND/OR METAL TABLES
The tables have the same great quality as the plastic chairs. Ok, maybe a bit better than the plastic chairs. But they are just never stable. So try to not bump into the table after you have had some beers. This nicely leads to point number 3…
LARGE BEER GLASSES WITH ICE CUBES
The glasses can also be filled with coca cola if you don’t like beer :). But mostly you will see a warm Saigon beer poured over a bunch of ice cubes that the waiter has taken from a big bucket with which he walks around regularly to supply everyone with ice cubes. I actually prefer the beer like that. I am not a big beer fan except for the German Weizen beer which I would definitely not like with ice cubes. But the Saigon beer diluted with a bit of water is actually quite refreshing to drink.
WET WIPES INSTEAD OF NAPKINS
Well, this wet wipe is your actual napkin. It is not thought to be just for wiping your hands before you eat. It serves as your napkin throughout the entire meal. And don’t necessarily expect to find toilet paper or tissues in the bathroom. It is always a good idea to bring a few tissues yourself. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer either as there might not be soap either in the bathroom :)
YUMMY & FRESH VIETNAMESE FOOD
My favourite part! I love Vietnamese food. It is my second favourite cuisine after Japanese food.
Don’t be put off by what the restaurant looks like. The previous four characteristics are absolutely fine and totally normal. In fact if you come across such a place and then also see a lot of local people sitting in there, the odds are great that the food is amazing. My experience was that if you want the same quality and freshness of the food in a fancier interior, you actually have to move up a few levels and go to a very fancy restaurant with prices like 10-15x as much as you’d pay in the normal Vietnamese restaurant. If you just go to a prettier place that caters more to the Western ‘needs’, chances are high that the food is just not as yummy and you still pay at least 5x the ‘normal’ price. So try it out and do as the locals do. Be a traveler, not a tourist :)
If you are in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, try out this amazing snail restaurant, called Oc Dao. It’s a lot bigger than the one shown here but of course with the similar characteristics of an ‘authentic’ Vietnamese restaurant and AMAZING food. Below a photo of the restaurant: