Da Nang Food Specialties: What to Eat in Da Nang

Da Nang is known as a food capital of central Vietnam. This city boasts many yummy dishes, prepared by distinctive recipes and some of them are famous all over the country. Someone says that its culinary culture is influenced by Cham people who learnt something from Indian and French who established it. Due to different weather and natural resources, Vietnamese people here also have their creativities to adapt. Of course, local ingredients (both plants and meats) as a part are to define the difference and specialness of Da Nang’s foods.

All tourists want to try local foods when they travel to Da Nang. In this article, we list all Da Nang’s food specialties and provide details. Their Vietnamese names are shown, to allow travelers easier to look for them and search places to try them. If you are a food explorer, let’s come to Con market. For those who care food safety, this place is not the choice, but only seeing, why not?

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Table of content

Bún Chả Cá (Fried Fish Cake Noodle Soup)

Bún chả cá is one of the best known Da Nang’s local foods. This noodle soup has broth, rice vermicelli, tomato, cabbage, pineapple, bamboo shoot, pumpkin and especially fried fish cake – its soul. The cakes are made of different kinds of fish. After bringing fresh fishes from the sea, people will remove the skin, bones and organs, and use the meat only. Then, they add spices, grind it and make small pieces of fish, before frying them in oil. When visiting Han market, it’s possible to see locals making fish cakes (near the door in Bach Dang St).

Lime, chilli, fish sauce and chilli sauce are used to personalize the flavour. locals add mam tom (shrimp paste) into the soup, to make it more bold. Chopped onion, carrot and garlic pickles are also on the table, and the diners just take if needed. Of course, the eateries serve raw herbs and vegetables, including bean sprouts, lettuce, basil, coriander, spring onion, fish leaf, etc.

At many places, people also serve chả cá hấp (steamed fish cake) and chả cá viên (fried fish balls), making the noodle soup richer and fuller. 

Mì Quảng (Noodles)

Hoi An and Da Nang are in the same “Quảng region”, so Mi Quang is recognized to be a food specialty for both cities. This noodle dish has soft rice noodle sticks, not much broth, meat and some kinds of topping, such as crushed peanut, rice cracker. The sticks are white or yellow (from turmeric) and must be fresh. That’s why, noodle makers wake up in the dawn time to produce and drop them to food sellers later. In street vendors and small eateries, the broth and meats are in same pots. No doubt that the flavour of the broth is bold, little salty and 100% not vegetarian. We advise to be carefully to try if you are a vegetarian or vegan.

Popular meats for Mi Quang are pork, chicken, shrimp, snakehead fish and egg (specifically quail eggs). In Da Nang, Mi quang with frogs is strongly introduced, and this new kind of noodle is liked by many people. Frog’s meat tastes like chicken and is without skin but bones are still kept. Highly recommended to curious foodies!

Locals customize the taste of Mi Quang noodle by lime, red and green chillies, pepper and sauces. In addition, a basket of raw vegetables is also served, to make it more delicious. Veggies often are chopped lettuce, coriander, sliced banana tree, banana flowers, and herbs. Just put them into the bowl and mix.

Read also: The Best Mi Quang in Hoi An

Bánh Tráng Cuốn Thịt Heo (Rice Papers and Boiled Pork)

This dish is one of the most famous Da Nang’s local foods, not only in the city but also the whole country. It comprises four important ingredients: boiled pork, rice papers, anchovy sauce (mam nem) and raw vegetables. All make it a healthy and scrumptious food.

The pork itself is half-fat half-lean (locals belive that is most delicious) and thinly sliced after being boiled, to make people easily roll something later. Rice papers are produced in Dai Loc district, the best “workshop”. To ensure that you will eat correct “Dai Loc rice papers”, just remember: it’s thicker than others! To make them softer to roll, people dip them into fresh water. After that, people will place a pork slice and favourite raw vegetables on them and start to roll. A plate is provided, to keep the rolls clean when people do. Hands should be washed carefully before touching on ingredients.  

Anchovy sauce is a must to complete and have full flavours (someone replaces this smelly sauce by fish sauce). Don’t forget to use lime, chili and sugar to reduce its strong taste. Veggies include cucumber, green mango, green banana, lettuce, coriander, spring onion, mints, basils, and seasonal herbs. They provide different flavours to people who eat: sweetness, sourness, acridness and special ones (from the herbs). Some places serve rice crackers (fried rice papers) or fried spring rolls to wrap as well.  

Probably, travelers will see an authentic set of ingredients and real taste if going to local-style eateries. However, remember to be careful with the anchovy sauce. Stomachache is a common trouble non-local people may face. 

Bún Mắm Nêm (Anchovy Sauce Noodle)

Bún mắm nêm is one of the signatures of Da Nang’s cuisine. It’s scrumptious for those who can eat but awful for haters due to strong smell of the anchovy sauce. Local anchovy sauce is famous all over the country, thanks to fishermen and their family in Nam O village (15 kilometers away from Da Nang downtown). Fish sauce (nước mắm) is another traditional product. Production of fish sauces there is registered as Vietnam’s national intangible cultural heritage.

In a bowl of bún mắm nêm, the diners will see rice vermicelli, boiled pork slices, grated papaya, boiled jackfruit, peanuts, fried shallots, raw vegetables, and herbs. Sometimes, people will add nem (fermented pork) and chả (pork patty) into it. All together are eaten with anchovy sauce (mắm nêm), one of the most delicious sauces to locals. Fresh chilli or chill sauce and kumquat are used to reduce the “strongness” of this special sauce.

Travelers can see bún mắm nêm at street vendors, market kiosks and eateries, from morning to evening. The price is around 1,5 US dollars.

Gỏi Cá Nam Ô (Raw Fish Salad of Nam O Village)

Gỏi cá or the raw fish salad is the signature food to Nam O fishing village, 15 kilometers northwest of Da Nang center. This is for “brave” foodie because it’s not only “scary” for tourists but also Vietnamese people.

The best fish used to make this specialty food is sardinella (ca trích in Vietnamese). Men in the village catch them in the sea and then bring home to eat. In the beginning, raw sardinella salad basically is in parties they have with friends and family members only. Later, because it’s delicious and special, many people open restaurants to sell, by the highway running through the village. Today, it’s possible to look for this famous dish in Da Nang center.

There are two styles of gỏi cá Nam Ô: dry and wet. In the dry option, locals fillet the sardinella into thin slices and soak them into a mixture of vinegar and lime juice to make rare fishes. After that, they’re pressed firmly by hands to remove the water. Thính (grilled rice powder) and spices are used to mix them, including chilli, ginger and roasting sesame. About the wet option, people do the same to have rare fishes. Instead of, they make a delicious sauce to eat with. It’s made of garlic, chilli, ginger, sugar, lime and fine fish sauce that is produced right in the village.

No matter which style, to eat, locals roll the fish with raw vegetables and dip into the sauce they like. Veggies are cucumber, green mango (or star fruit), green banana, Ming aralia (đinh lăng), etc. Rice wine (rượu gạo) or beer is never missed in any parties and meals.  

Read also: Markets in Hoi An

Bánh Mì Que (Stick Bread)

Bánh mì que or the stick bread sometimes is thought to be firstly made in Da Nang. That’s why many people say “Da Nang stick bread” in other parts of the country. However, origin of this flavourful food can’t be affirmed now.

Compared to common banh mi sandwiches, bánh mì que is longer in length and smaller in width. People still fill it by pate, different meats and veggies, and use sauces to flavour. Meats can be pork or chicken, and veggies may be cucumber, pepper mint (rau răm) or coriander. Chà bông (pork floss) is also added. To have spice taste, travelers can request to have chill sauce (from the bottle) or chopped fresh chilli, just like locals.

One of the most famous places to serve bánh mì que in Da Nang is Banh Mi Ba Lan on Trung Nu Vuong St.

Ốc Hút (Sucking Snails)

Ốc hút or the sucking snails is one of the foods to remind about Da Nang’s local cuisines. To eat them, local people have to suck, making the name of the food. The snails, they are ốc gạo (assiminea lutea), a kind of freshwater molluck not strange to Vietnamese farmers. Although many other similar dishes are seen now around the city, these snails are still bests.

From the fields or markets, people have to soak snails into fresh water with lemongrass and chilli, to clean themselves. Mud and unclean things will be removed if they ar hungry and open their mouths. This stage can last up to a few days. When the snails are clean, people wash them again and then cook them with lemongrass, lemon leaf, chilli and other herbs.

The sucking snails are placed on a plate and topped with crispy fried shallots and sometimes coconut flesh. Local people will squeeze kumquats to make them more flavourful. Those who don’t like sucking, can use toothpicks to eat.

Chả Bò (Beef Patty)

Chả bò or beef patty or beef sausage is a favourite food for both locals and tourists. Local makers have to use extremely fresh beef to make it (they call “hot beef”). Their rule is taking the beef from butchered cows immediately and then washing. It’s chopped, pounded and grinded by hands traditionally (not by machine like in other cities). They aim to keep the qualities of the meat ingredient as much as possible. So, all works need to be done quickly and men often are chosen to do. Well-grinded beef later is shaped to like “a bottle” and wrapped by banana leaf. The whole thing will be steamed properly later. For that reason, Da Nang’s beef sausage is famous. Black pepper is also used to make this snack more tasty.

Locals like enjoying the beef party with beers, especially in the festivals. In daily meals, they also have some pieces to eat with steamed rice. Just to try, tourists can come to Han market.

Bánh Khô Mè (Dry Sesame Cake)

Bánh khô mè or the dry sesame cake is made of rice, glutinous rice, sesame, cane sugar, ginger and cinnamon. It’s produced in local families living in Cam Le district, south of the Da Nang airport. For locals, Ms Liễu (Bà Liễu) sells the most tasty cakes in the city.

To make bánh khô mè, local people use the powder mixed of rice and glutinous rice, with a proportion as secret of each workshop and then small squared pieces are mounded. The next step is steaming them in a few minutes. To have drier cakes, the artisans will grill them twice on hot charcoals. The first time aims to make them dry and the second time allows the cakes crispy. And of course, the proper cakes are not burnt.

Bánh khô mè also has a sweet caramelized sauce that is made of cane sugar and sesame. Spices like ginger and cinnamon are used a litte bit to flavour. Due to dry, crispy and sweet textures, locals enjoy this cake with hot green tea. There are many Vietnamese tourists buying it to bring home as gifts to family members (kids), friends, co-workers and relatives.

Bún Cá Ngừ (Tuna Noodle Soup)

Bun ca ngu, the tuna noodle soup is different from bun cha ca (fried fish cake noodle soup) by the main ingredient – the tuna. Small-size tunas are used, and local food makers will wash carefully and cut them into slices. They are marinated by fish sauce and spices, and then cooked with pineapple, tomato and bamboo shoot. Not only to make the broth rich, these veggies purposely are used to reduce fishy flavour. Called “bun ca ngu”, rice vermicelli (bun gao) is its main noodle.

Locals add lime juice, chilli or shrimp paste until they feel delicious. Then, they use chopsticks to take raw vegetables or pickled onions into the bowl and enjoy. Rice cracker (banh trang) and bread are not used in this noodle soup.

Bun cha ngu is sold in street stalls, markets and eateries you see along main streets. It’s available in places where bun cha ca (fried fish cake noodle soup) is on the menu.

Bánh Xèo (Rice Pancake)

Bánh xèo basically is the rice pancake. It’s sold in the noon onwards, so travelers can try it for lunch or dinner. Its name means “sizzling cake” in Vietnamese language because while people pour the rice milk into hot pans, the sizzling sound is emitted. The rice milk is made of fine rice (after being grinded well), fresh water and turmeric powder to make the cakes yellowish (colorful). So, the cake itself is totally vegetarian. In Da Nang, it’s thicker and more crispy than northern and southern styles. Somewhere, people fold or cut the cakes into 2 and somewhere, people serve the round one directly.

Traditionally, bánh xèo is known for fried rice cakes topped with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts. Over time, people have a twist. They use other meats and seafood, including chicken, squid, fish.

To eat bánh xèo, local people make a flavourful dipping source by fine fish sauce (if possible, produced in Nam O village), garlic, chilli, lime and cane sugar. They also prepare raw and fresh vegetables to roll the cakes with rice papers, including cucumber, green mango, green banana, herbs and whatever they like. These sauce and veggies make the diners taste better and can eat more. In Vietnamese traditional cuisine, this is a way to reach the balance between elements, giving a healthy meal.

Mít Trộn (Jackfruit Salad)

This tasty street food (snacks) has the main ingredients as boiled jackfruit and boiled pork rind. Both of them are sliced or chopped into small pieces to mix easier with herbs, fried shallots, chilli and sauces. Local people always enjoy the salad with crispy rice cracker (bánh tráng). They place it on the cracker and grab then.

In full moon days when many locals eat the vegetarian food, mít trộn is absolutely vegetarian (just no pork rinds).  

Mực Rim (Caramelized Squid)

Fishmen in Da Nang catch a lot of seafood every fishing season. If they can’t sell to eat or produce nước mắm (fish sauce), they sun dry leftover seafood. Dried seafood is thought to be a kind of reserve food in local families, especially in rainy season (typhoon months). One of ways to make them tasty is cooking them with caramelized cane sugar, sauces and spices. Besides eating it alone, people also eat this sweety-salty snack with steamed rice or make mango salads. The most popular seafood are squid, small crab, fishes and shrimps.

If liking to try, let’s come to markets, including Son Tra night market by the Dragon bridge. 

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