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Indochina on a Plate

| Words by Ellena Johnstone | , ,

We hope you're hungry...

The best (and most fun!) way to get under the skin of a destination is to immerse yourself in its cuisine. The Indochina region – made up of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – represents a melting-pot of culinary influences, flavors and traditions. Travelers to the region will never be short of options when it comes to delicious food. 

Here is our definitive guide to eating your way around Indochina:

1. Pho - Vietnam

Pho

Arguably Indochina’s best-known dish, Pho (pronounced ‘fur’) is a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup served with either beef or chicken. In the south of Vietnam, Pho is predominantly a breakfast dish, while in the north it can be eaten at any time of day. On our popular Vietnam Small Group Tours, we will take you to sample Pho in a traditional local-style eatery. Delicious!

2. Jeow - Laos

Jeow

In Laos, no meal is complete without a dipping sauce. Known as Jeow, these delicious sweet or spicy dips are eaten with vegetables or sticky rice. On our popular Highlights of Laos tour, travelers will enjoy making Jeow dips at the beautiful Tamarind Cooking School in Luang Prabang with delicious local ingrediants (pictured).

3. Vietnamese Coffee - Vietnam

Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam is famous for its delicious coffee, and it’s not hard to see why! The strong, flavorful coffee is made by passing water over coarsely ground beans in a French-style drip filter. The strong resultant brew is then mixed with sweetened condensed milk and enjoyed chilled. For the best coffee, head to Hanoi’s Trie Viet Vuong, known as ‘coffee street’ to sample a brew.

4. Noodle Soup - Laos

Noodle Soup, Laos

A traditional breakfast is a must while traveling through Laos. Like their Vietnamese neighbors, Lao people are also fans of the breakfast soup, and in Laos this is made using flat rice noodles, topped with minced pork, tomatoes, peanuts, chillies and a splash of Pho broth.

5. Deep Fried Tarantulas - Cambodia

Spiders, Cambodia

Yes, fried tarantulas really are considered a delicacy in Cambodia! For those brave enough, a fantastic place to try this delicacy is Romdeng restaurant in Phnom Penh where they are served with a tangy lime and pepper dip.

6. Banh Mi - Vietnam

Banh Mi, Vietnam

Banh Mi – essentially a Vietnamese sandwich – is a culinary icon in Vietnam, and a product of its French-colonial past. The baguette is filled with pickled carrots, cilantro (coriander), cucumber and cold meats, such as sliced pork, sausage or pate, and served as a street-side snack.

7. Cambodia - Amok

Restaurant, Cambodia

Unlike its neighbor Thailand, Cambodian cuisine is much milder and its signature dish – Fish Amok – is a perfect example of this. ‘Amok’ refers to the process of steaming a curry in banana leaves, normally made using coconut cream, galangal and Mekong river fish. The banana leaf parcel is then served directly onto the plate, and the creamy curry eaten with rice. It’s a must-try while in Cambodia.

8. Sticky Rice – Laos

Sticky Rice, Laos

Sticky rice is the staple dish of Laos – you will be hard-pressed to eat a meal without it! The glutinous rice, served in a small bamboo basket, is normally balled with the fingers and dipped into sauces. Black sticky rice (pictured) is also eaten as a dessert, mixed with coconut milk, and served with mango, banana or durian fruit.

9. Traditional Snacks - Laos

Market, Laos

What better way to enjoy Lao cuisine than sampling tasty local snacks at the market? Well, that’s exactly what we arrange on our fantastic Laos Small Group Journeys. With the help of our local guides, travelers can enjoy a variety of traditional snakcks, like deep friend buffalo skin, and crispy riverweed sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s especially delicious dipped into Jeow for a truly Laoation flavor.

10. Bun Cha - Vietnam

Tianmen Mountain Skywalk

Bun Cha is a famous Vietnamese street-side dish, made using grilled pork and noodles, eaten with fresh herbs and a tangy dipping sauce. Even President Barack Obama has been spotted enjoying a meal of Bun Chat on a recent visit to Hanoi. If it’s good enough for the President, it’s definitely worth a try!

Tempted by these culinary delights from Indochina? Check out our full range of Small Group Journeys and Private Travel itineraries today.