The beautiful coastal city of Da Nang is located in Central Vietnam, and is the country’s third largest city. It is blessed with long stretches of beach, beautiful sea views and gorgeous landscapes. Days in the city can be spent lazing under the sun at one of the many luxury seaside resorts, climbing the mountains and exploring the caves, getting lost in the many back lanes in the town center; and of course, my favorite part of all — looking for the best, unique and most popular Vietnamese dishes. When it comes to food, the Vietnamese do it well. Very very well indeed.
Street food in Da Nang is relatively cheap, a meal for one person usually costs about VND30k – 50k (US$1.50-2.50). I had so much fun discovering all the delicious fares the city has to offer; sometimes I had more than 5 meals a day because I wanted to try them all! So here’s a list of some of my favorite and most memorable eats in Da Nang — when you visit the city, try them all too!
1) Mi Quang
Nhà Hàng Năm Hiền
Phuoc My Area: 225A Nguyễn Văn Thoại, Quận Ngũ Hành Sơn, Da Nang.
Recommended: Mi Quảng Ba Vị
Hai Chau Area: 166 Lê Đình Dương, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
When in Da Nang, eat Mi Quang. This is one of the most important dishes in Central Vietnam, and is a turmeric noodle dish. A little bit of turmeric bone broth is added to the bowl of noodles, giving it a slight yellow tint; and is topped with shrimps, pork (sometimes chicken, fish or beef), an egg, beansprouts, several herbs like basil and coriander, peanuts, shallots, garlic and rice crackers. The dish is a feast for the senses — there is just so much going on in that one bowl.
There are several popular mi quang restaurants around town, but I visited a random restaurant just beside my hotel near the My Khe Beach; and for VND30k (US$1.50) a bowl, I was thoroughly satisfied. I had some mi quang to-go in my hotel room for supper too!
2) Vietnamese BBQ
Quán Cơm Huế Ngon
Hai Chau Area: 65 Trần Quốc Toản, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
I won’t stop raving about this awesome BBQ restaurant — Hue Ngon is the best place to get a taste of barbecued meat, Vietnamese style. Diners have their meals on small tables and chairs, while grilling their seafood and meat slices atop a tiny charcoal grill stove next to the table.
We ordered a whole lot of stuff from the menu — pork chilli (VND39k), pork (VND49k), octopus (VND49k), beef (VND49k), and frog (VND49k). The marinated meats come with a generous side of lettuce, quail eggs, crackers and dipping sauces; and it all goes down well with some beer. The locals come with crates and crates of beer, and spend the rest of the night chatting, eating and drinking at the restaurant.
3) Banh Xeo and Lemongrass Pork Skewers
Bánh Xèo Bà Dưỡng
Hai Chau Area: K280/23 Hoàng Diệu, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
Ba Duong is a local Da Nang institution — it’s extremely popular for its delicious Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) and Nem Lui (lemongrass pork skewers). Banh xeo is a little like crepe, made out of rice flour and filled with meat slices, shrimps, onions, beansprouts and mushrooms. All you need to do is wrap both the banh xeo and the pork skewer with a thin rice paper, dip it into the accompanying thick peanut sauce — and then bite into it for a wonderful mouthful of flavors. I loved it!
On our hunt for Ba Duong, we nearly missed it as it is situated right at the end of a quiet narrow alley — but once we entered, we discovered that the place was packed to the brim! The banh xeo costs about VND40k-55k (~US$2) per plate, and the skewers are VND5k (US$0.20) per stick.
4) Bun Ca Cha
Bún Chả Cá Ông Tạ
Hai Chau Area: K113 Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
Bun Cha Ca is fishcake noodle soup, and is a local favourite. I was introduced to Ong Ta Restaurant by the receptionist at the hotel I was staying at — she told me that it is her father’s favourite food joint. The dish is made up of vermicelli rice noodles with large pieces of fishcakes and bamboo shoots, soaked in a fish flavored broth. A plate of lettuce, beansprouts, mint leaves, lime and fish dipping sauce is served on the side.
Ong Ta is just one of the many Bun Cha Ca restaurants along the Nguyen Chi Thanh Street — most of them have been running for many many years. A bowl of Bun Cha Ca costs VND25k (US$1), and makes a simple light meal.
5) Chicken Rice
Cơm Gà A.Hải
Hai Chau Area: 100 Thái Phiên, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
I love chicken rice, so there was no way that I was going to miss out on the chicken rice at A.Hai. Even before ordering my meal, I was salivating at the mere sight of the mountain of chicken pieces on the stove, and those hanging at the stalls. You can choose from either the steam chicken or the fried one (among other dishes at the restaurant), and I decided to try the more popular fried chicken rice. The meal comes with a side of watercress soup, pickled cabbage and garlic chilli sauce.
I absolutely enjoyed my meal — the chicken meat was soft and tender, with extra crispy skin; and the rice had a light orange tinge to it and was pretty good too. A plate costs about VND48k (US$2). They also have a small take-away shop at the corner of the street.
6) Banh Beo
Quán Bánh Bèo Bà Bé
Hai Chau Area: 100 Hoàng Văn Thụ, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
Banh Beo is now one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes; and there is no better place to try it than at Ba Be. Banh beo is a local cuisine from the ancient royal capital of Hue in Central Vietnam, and is also famous in Da Nang. It is steamed rice cake in tiny discs, topped with dried shrimp and crispy shallots in fish sauce; and you can add chilli sauce for some added uhmph! The dish is served in a tray of about 6 discs — I only had 4 though, it was really good but pretty filling.
Ba Be also serves several other steamed rice cake dishes like bahn nam (wrapped in banana leaf), and banh bot loc (tapioca dumplings). The waitress was really friendly despite the language barrier, and even showed me the right way to eat the banh beo!
7) Bun Bo Hue
Quán Bún Thịt Nướng Kim Anh
Hai Chau Area: 125 Hoàng Diệu, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
Recommended: Bún Bò Bà Diệu
Thanh Khe Area: 17 Trần Tống, Thanh Khê, Da Nang.
Kim Anh is actually famous for its signature dish, Bun Thit Nuong, which is a salad-like dish of cold rice vermicelli noodles topped with grilled pork. However, in the early mornings, the restaurant serves up absolutely delicious bowls of Bun Bo Hue. This beef noodle dish originated from the nearby Hue; and is Central Vietnam‘s version of the famous pho — the noodles in bun bo are much thicker.
The bun bo broth is usually boiled with beef ribs for a considerable amount of time, and then poured onto the noodles with beef parts like the steak, flank, tendon, meatballs and even blood. I love beef noodles, so I had Bun Bo at some random places around Da Nang as well, and they were all delicious. A bowl costs about VND30k (US$1.5).
8) Bo Ne
Bò Né Minh Trang
Hai Chau Area: 14 Lê Thánh Tôn, Hải Châu, Da Nang.
The name of this dish makes me laugh; and well, it is a dish with lots and lots of meat, and usually eaten for breakfast — so I guess the name sorta fits. Bo Ne is a big hearty meal of beef steak, beef patty, meatballs and egg served on a hot iron plate; and comes with a banh mi (Vietnamese baguette). It doesn’t look like a typical Vietnamese dish, but it is popular among the locals.
Minh Trang is one of the more famous restaurants to get a plate of bo ne. During my visit in the early morning, it was the only dish being cooked outside the restaurant, so I didn’t have much trouble with my order.
9) Rice Dishes
A famous rice dish in Da Nang is Com Tam — it translates to broken rice, and is actually rice made from fractured rice grains. The dish is usually served steamed, with grilled pork and vegetables; but I had a plate of fried broken rice instead — Com Chien. The rice is stir-fried with meat, seafood and vegetables. Broken rice has a little crispiness to it, compared to the softer white or brown rice.
I also dropped by one of the many stalls along the streets of Da Nang that has a variety of dishes displayed in front of the restaurant. They serve Com Dia, which refers to a mixed rice plate — and I get to choose my own selection of meat to go on my steamed rice. I had grilled pork, shredded chicken and an egg pancake; it was pretty alright despite the food being cold from being left out in the open.
10) Grilled Chicken Wings
Chân Gà Nướng Hai Còi
Phuoc My Area: 55 Nguyễn Văn Thoại, Quận Ngũ Hành Sơn, Da Nang.
I have to include Hai Coi in the list — I had such a good time here. Come night, the restaurant gets packed with groups of family and friends enjoying barbecued wings over beer and conversation. Hai Coi looks like a typical Vietnamese food joint with small tables and chairs, and is a great place for a late night snack — if you can get over the dirtiness with trash and chicken bones thrown all over the floor.
The food makes up for it though — the barbecued wings are absolutely delicious, and if you are daring enough, try the chicken feet too. They cost VND15k (US$0.5) a piece, and you can watch them grill it over a charcoal fire outside the restaurant. I enjoyed nibbling on the little bones, drinking my mug of beer, and joining in a little part of the Vietnamese life.