The Da Lat City is one of the most visited places in Vietnam because of its romantic atmosphere, cool climate, and regional food. It is located in the Central Highlands, specifically in the Southeast area of Vietnam.
Before we talk about food, it is nice to know some other quick facts about the Da Lat. For those who are not familiar with the place, the Da Lat can really get romantic similar to the vibe in the city of Paris, France. Also, adding up into the vibe of Da Lat are the several European style establishments it houses.
People love the cool climate in Da Lat which reaches around 18 Celsius all-year round. With this cool climate as well as its fertile soils, the Da Lat is able to grow flowers, crops, vegetables, and fruits and produce coffee, tea, and wine. With these fresh produce and products, no wonder the Da Lat is making a buzz in travel and food industry.
The WsTF-Dalat Food Tour, through our local guide Binh, accompanied us to local and modest food stalls, eateries, and family restaurants, which are often hiding in small alleyways in Da Lat. These are less touristy places but pretty much are among the best food in Vietnam.
Read more about our experience below.
1) First Stop: Xap Xap and Banh Beo
In our first stop of our night food tour in Da Lat, we ordered Bánh bèo. The Bánh bèo is one of the staple street food in Vietnam and believed to have originated in the city of Hue, Central Vietnam.
Basically, the Bánh bèo is a steamed rice cake topped with dried shrimps, crispy pork skin, scallion oil and partnered with a dipping sauce. In the eatery we visited in Da Lat, the Bánh bèo is softer and smoother since they used tapioca flour only. The steam Bánh bèo in Da Lat then went with dried shrimp and the eatery’s signature fish sauce.
I absolutely loved the combination of the smooth and flaky texture of the Bánh bèo. It only came in a small size that I wanted asked for more.
Also served in the same eatery is the Xắp xắp. The Xắp xắp is made up of thinly sliced green papaya, pork intestine jerky, five spices, and basil. It is a Vietnam staple street food but when prepared in Da Lat, it is prepared with tamarind broth. So, Xap cap was refreshing.
Binh shared that the Xắp xắp was a family recipe. The mother wanted to think of something to call it — and she came up with the term “cap cap” from the sound of the scissors.
These first two were both appetizers. Binh said that in Da Lat, eateries and restaurants don’t sell random dishes. Usually, they serve only one or two signature dishes.
Before we moved to the next stop, Binh taught us how to say thank you in Vietnam which is, basically, cảm ơn bạn.
Second Stop: Da Lat Pancake ( One of my faves)
Only a few steps from where we started is our favorite stop which is the Bánh Tráng Nướng or the Da lat Pizza. Here, we got to try and make our own pizza.
Da Lat uses thin and crispy rice paper instead of using a dough. Then, they top the rice paper with cheese, egg, beef jerky, spring onions, and more — this is really addicting. And, then, this will be grilled over charcoal. To eat it, you can eat it as is or you can roll it like a spring roll.
Binh said you have never been to Da Lat if you haven’t tried this. Well, I was lucky I got to try it. The next day, I immediately craved for it that I wanted to go back. My friend, Ruth, also really enjoyed this stop.
On our third stop is at a corner eatery patronized by locals. Here, they have Nem Nướng. It is similar to the wrap and roll we ate during our Vespa Adventures food tour in Ho Chi Minh City. Both are served with vegetable fillings and glass paper. The difference though is that in Da Lat the glass paper was fried and served with grilled pork patties and crispy pork skin.
If you haven’t tried the Nem Nướng, you’ll just have to put all the fragrant herbs such as basil, mint leaves, perilla, chives, and lettuce and the root crops like the shallots, carrot, and radish as well as the meat over the rice paper. Then, you’ll have to roll it yourself.
Binh also taught us about the vegetables and how to wrap and roll. And, even to dunk it into a fermented peanut sauce.
See, these are things I appreciate in a food tour. I remember when we were in Elephant falls we ate something good in the side streets but we didn’t know how to eat it. In food tours with local guide, we get to be taught.
The fourth stop is very local. They have lots of skewers that we usually see such as pork, chicken, shrimps, squid, and duck. Then, they also have intestines, chicken feet, and liver. They were very delicious and cheap.
Binh made us try the Bo La Lot which was beef wrapped in a medicinal leaf of betel. Also, grilled over the charcoal. The leaf can be a bit bitter. But overall, I loved it. It is one of my favorites.
Binh wanted us to try out more but I wasn’t just up for other exotic food challenge. So, instead of us, he himself tried out the Chicken feet which he said was so tasty.
Fifth stop: Dessert
Our last stop for our Da Lat Food Tour is the dessert. Good thing, Binh called the stall ahead to have this reserved because we had the last one.
We tried one of the Vietnam staple sweet dessert which is Chè. It is a sweet beverage, though in a form like a pudding. It is usually made with coconut milk and tapioca and added with other colorful ingredients such as mung beans, jelly, and any fruit like banana, mango or jackfruit.
Binh didn’t bring us to tourist traps or fancy places. Rather, he took us to purely local places in the side streets. The food was so good. It was obvious as a lot of people were patronizing the stalls and restaurants to take home.
All the stalls and restaurants were very local and chill. The locations are somewhere we wouldn’t find or bump into on our own. They are mostly located in smaller alleyways only but all the food was rich in flavors.
We also got to see a lot of interesting things along the way. It’s a bit of a long walk so its best that you wear your comfy shoes.
I’m glad I did this on our first day in Da Lat. I had time to go back to that pizza place if I wanted to and believe me you will want to. Oh, it’s a local Da lat style Vietnamese pizza, not the Italian one we are used to.
We ended our food tour at just 7 minutes away from our hotel so we just walked back. We definitely had a good night and I recommend this food tour. Binh is so friendly and very helpful. Before we went our separate ways, he gave me and my friend important travel tips as we plan the rest of our Da Lat tour without a local guide. This is definitely worth your money and it is cheap for what you get.
Da Lat Food Tour
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