My first time to Vietnam with Y was in mid August this year, with a girly getaway trip with some of our closest pals to Danang, the idyllic coastal city known for its sandy beaches. Our focus was on food rather than on sights for our 3 nights stay here, and we did all we could to take in the best of what the city had to offer. I have to give a special shoutout to Summer Le and her other blog site Danang Cuisine, which helped me to distill what I wanted to eat in Danang. She’s definitely the go to person if you are finding your way around on where to eat for the first time in Danang. Hoi An is also a must visit when coming to Danang and it can be easily accessed just 45 minutes away by car. A Unesco town with many of the streets car-free, you can walk freely and admire the mix of Chinese and French colonial architecture, filled with many shops, cafes and eateries. It’s best seen at night when the lanterns in the streets are lighted up daily after the sun sets.
A definite must visit to the beautiful beaches of Danang, just outside my hotel Furama Resort.
Meet up and chatting with Summer Le at her Restaurant Nen.
Bun Bo – a richer and better kind of Pho
Yes, before you think that you can find good Beef Pho in Danang, sorry to disappoint you, but good Beef Pho is pretty much non-existent in Danang as it’s not quite their local food. What you will find in Danang is Bun Bo, which is more of a rich beef stock, which originated from Hue and some places do it in a spicy version as well. I wasn’t able to check out one of the places known for this on my hit list as it had a weird opening time at 2 pm, but was so stoked to discover a pretty amazing version at Summer’s own restaurant – Nen where she’s the chef and owner! We were lucky enough to be one of the few diners to visit her restaurant when it just opened, and we enjoyed a wonderful 8 Course Refined Vietnamese Menu – which showcased her own twist on classic Danang food. As Summer has pretty much eaten through the best of all the Bun Bos in Danang, her version of the Bun Bo is really quite something. The broth is amazingly rich and tasty (NO MSG, I have to qualify), and has just the right amount of spice and heat, served with some tender pieces of beef shank, it was the highlight of the tasting menu which was pretty well priced at US$33. Nen Restaurant (Lo 20, My Da Tay 2, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Tel: 0905743070, Reservations preferred at email@example.com)
The beef stock for the Bun Bo is served separately in a classic French press – echoing the coffee culture of Vietnam.
You will find the full images of the dishes I had at Nen Restaurant in the slideshow below.
The only place to have Breakfast – Minh Trang (14 Le Thanh Ton Street, Hai Chau 1 Ward)
Minh Trang serves up their own Western take on breakfast, with their signature hearty breakfast dishes. The must eats here are the Bo Ne, a beef steak served with a meat ball, beef pattie, an egg and some onion on the side, all served on a sizzling hot plate. The Bo Ko (a kind of beef stew) is served with similar items like the beef meat ball, fried egg, potato and carrot in a metal bowl. Both dishes go so well with the baguette that’s served with them, and we ended ordering extras cos we just couldn’t get enough of it. I would say hands down one of my favourite breakfast and overall eats in Danang. You might see the owner Ms Van who’s super spirited for her age (50s) and she loves talking especially to tourists. Come early as it only opens from 6 am to 11 am.
Super delicious Bo Ne and Bo Ko with crispy baguettes at Minh Trang.
Bo Kho (Beef stew)
Bo Ne (sizzling breakfast beef steak)
Bahn Xeo at Ba Duong (K280/ Q. Hải Châu, 14 Hoàng Diệu, Phước Ninh, Q. Hải Châu. Open daily from 9 am to 9.30 pm)
Located at the end of a small alley at Huong Dieu, I researched that Ba Duong is the place to try this classic Danang dish. Bahn Xeo is simply a fried pancake made from rice flour and turmeric powder and filled with bean sprouts, shrimps and vegetables. We ordered the pork skewers which was super delicious and the Bahn Xeo. It can be a little confusing when it all comes to the table with the various condiments. The way to eat it is to first open up one pancake and place it on top of a sheet of rice paper, top the pancake with fillings like the grilled pork sausage, followed by the assortment of vegetables and then roll it all, and dip it in their amazing peanut sauce which is super yumms!
Remember this alley way to get to Ba Duong.
At Ba Duong enjoying the signature Bahn Xeo (pancake) plus the right way to roll it with the condiments!
Bun Cha at Ẩm Thực Hà Nội 58 (58 Thái Phiên, Hải Châu)
Other than the classic Beef Pho, I really love Bun Cha, which is a more a dry style rice vermicelli dish, served with grilled pork and lettuce on the side. To be honest, I hear that Hanoi is still better for this, given it originates from there, but if you are like me so super craving for this dish in Danang, this is the place to go!
Enjoying the Bun Ca, finally my craving is resolved!
Checking out the sizzling pork belly on the grill.
Centralised place to enjoy Danang classics – Madam Lan (4 Bạch Đằng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Tel: +84 90 569 75 554. Reservations can be made)
If you haven’t noticed by now, some of the best street eats in Danang are one menu one shop type, ie. one place serves Bahn Xeo, another place serves noodles, and so on. It can be difficult if you are travelling in a big group or different people want to eat different things, and you just want something easy and still get a decent experience of the food Danang has to offer. Our concierge at Furama Resort recommended Madam Lan, which we enjoyed on our last day in Vietnam before heading to the airport. It’s a large restaurant space, and definitely geared for the tourist crowd. Dishes were decent overall and best of all convenient to get to.
Last pig out at Madam Lan!
To me, it’s almost a mortal sin not to have at least once the classic dripped coffee when in Vietnam. Given Y and I are such coffee addicts, we had to go check out the popular coffee spots and I would highly recommend these 2 when you visit Danang.
Cong Caphe (96-98 Bạch Đằng, Hải Châu; have other locations too) This hipster coffee place is heaving with people all day long, especially Korean tourists. At first I thought is it a tourist trap? Well the Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Milk is just so good, that we came back again on our last day for this. Not to be missed especially in the sweltering heat.
Long Coffee (123 Lê Lợi, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu. Look out for its signature red signboard) A definite departure from Cong Caphe’s hipster vibe is this super local coffeeshop, which has it’s own culture, with its signature low tables and seats set in a large airy shophouse space. It’s filled with the chitter chatter of mainly male customers who seem to dominate the coffeeshop. I was just wondering where are the women? And someone told me the women work in factories while the men just chill out the whole day in the coffeeshops. Back to the main point – how’s the coffee? I had the drip coffee – hot style, and it was excellent, robust with a nice sweet finish, good enough for us to buy a few packets home.
At the sea facing location of Cong Caphe, cooling down with Iced Coffee.
Enjoying some robust coffee in local coffeeshop – Long Coffee.
Best Banh Mi in Hoi An at Banh Mi Phuong (2B Phan Châu Trinh, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000, Open 6.30 am to 9.30 pm)
This humble eatery got elevated to cult status when Anthony Bourdain first went there back in 2012. Having tried a separate Banh Mi stall in Danang earlier (see next point), I gotta say this is the real deal. The array of condiments and stuffings you can choose for the humble baguette is just amazing and they taste good, especially the grilled meats. This eatery is also crazy crowded with both locals and tourists, it’s basically the only eatery which had a queue in Hoi An. Of the selection, my favourite is the beef & Phomat (cheese) which has enough spice and punch. Be sure to order this, and as I quote Anthony Bourdain – “it’s a symphony in a sandwich!” I took a tour of the kitchen which smelt pretty good! It’s not hard to spot, located at the far eastern side of Hoang Dieu Road, near the carpark waiting area.
The buzz and chaos at Bahn Mi Phuong and enjoying my baguette!
The menu at Bahn Mi Phuong.
Back up Banh Mi at Banh Mi Ba Lan (62 Trưng Nữ Vương, Bình Hiên, Danang, Open 3 pm to 11.15 pm)
If you are too lazy to go to Hoi An and craving a Banh Mi for supper in Danang, you can check out this other place Banh Mi Ba Lan. A street stall, I was pretty fascinated with how fast the auntie placed everything inside the baguette. Still a decent sandwich for a late supper.
Streets at Hoi An.
Com Ga in Hoi An at Bà Buội’s Chicken Rice (22, Phan Châu Trinh, Minh An, Tp. Hội An)
One of Hoi An’s specialties is this simple humble dish we call Com Ga, or chicken rice. In Singapore, we have our Hainanese chicken rice and Vietnam has their Com Ga. What I like about Vietnam’s one well showcased here at Ba Buoi is the rice is tinged yellow thanks to all the broth and chicken fat that’s been boiled down, resulting in some really addictive flavourful rice there. The whole chicken is typically cooked- boiled with green onions, ginger, turmeric, and salt and shredded by hand. It’s served with sliced onions, liver and chopped herbs on top of the rice and a soup on the side, making it really easy to eat (no bones to navigate around!). Despite apparently hearing some “chicken fever” illness that had struck Vietnam a while back, most of us still ate this after having just devoured the Bahn Mi at Bahn Mi Phuong.
The yummy Com Ga, and how it’s all prepared!
There’s still lots of other yummy eats that Hoi An has to offer except I was too stuffed. You can walk down the streets and head to the Central Market area to check out the local market vibe and if you are game to try their food stalls there, not sure how good it is though. In general, the Hoi An area feels a tad touristy with the shops, but was still nice to soak in the general vibe and it’s nice to walk down the car-free streets. The lanterns at night makes it especially beautiful.
Local stalls in the Central Market in Hoi An.
Is this my street?
Night scene in Hoi An.
Enjoying the night mood at Hoi An.
In between eating – Fab massage at 51 Spa (51 Ho Xuan Huong Street | Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang, Reservations is better: +84 93 245 87 89)
Given my experience with massages, I gotta say this place is seriously pretty good if you like strong massages like me! Much needed with all that walking and eating. A 90 mins full body massage cost 500K VND which is about US$25. Thanks to our hotel butler’s recommendation, we came here not once but twice. Their interiors may be a bit daunting initially, red lantern lights, and strange looking massage outfits for guests, but the service is great and their massage beds are really comfortable. And they even offer free shuttle service to and fro from Furama Resort and nearby hotels.
If you like to stock up on local food products like me, remember to swing by to Lotte Supermart (6 Nại Nam, Hòa Cường Nam, Hải Châu) yes the famous Korean chain is in Danang. It’s super convenient, and beats bargaining with the market stall holders, we realised not necessarily is buying at the market always the cheapest.
In front of the signature pool at Furama Resort.
My own private pool in my villa.
It was a relaxing eating escapade in Danang, and I think a weekend was definitely sufficient to experience the whole place. And we were pretty happy with our choice pick of Furama Resort, where we stayed at the 3 bedroom garden villa with it’s own pool! A special shout out to our butler Hang (Phoebe) who was so helpful to us during our stay there. This place is pretty good for big families and friends and it’s even got its own private beach access which is a super plus point!
Enjoying a fresh coconut at one of the many pools at Furama Resort.
On this special note, I just wanna say my prayers to the locals, tourists and businesses who suffered from the awful flooding and Typhoon Damrey just a few days ago. I pray for peace for the families and local businesses and hope they can get through this terrible disaster.
Hope Bahn Mi Phuong in Hoi An isn’t affected badly by the floods. Prayers to everyone in Hoi An!