1. Seafood rice noodle soup (Bún và bánh đa hải sản)
Seafood rice noodle soup is a perfect mix of the broth, seafood, vegetables, and rice noodles. It is distinctly delicious thanks to fresh toppings including seawater shrimp, stomatopod, ocean crab, fish cake, squid cake, fried fish, scallop, tofu. In addition, they also top the noodle soup with greens or celery. The rich and smelling broth is one of the highlights of this food. The seafood noodle soup in Halong is served with pickled bamboo shoots, vegetables (lettuce, bean sprouts, herbs), chili pepper. Instead of using rice noodles which are long and thin, they use flat and wide rice noodles (bánh đa in Vietnamese) for the noodle soup. Both Seafood rice noodle soups are delicious and worth your try.
2. Stomatopod rice noodle soup (Bún bề bề)
Similar to seafood rice noodle soup, Stomatopod rice noodle soup also consists of broth, rice noodles, toppings, vegetables. The main ingredient for this food is alive stomatopod (or mantis shrimp). The broth is cooked from pork bones and mantis shrimps, and other seafood such as shrimps, crabs, ocean crabs. Toppings include mantis shrimp meat, other seafood (optional), dried tofu (optional), greens, tomatoes, scallions, and herbs. Stomatopod rice noodle soup has charms lots of travelers coming to visit Halong.
3. Austriella corrugata and rice noodle stir-fry (Bún xào ngán)
Austriella corrugate is a chemosymbiotic lucinid bivalve. It is a specialty food of Halong as well as Quang Ninh province. They can braise or cook soup from Austriella corrugate. The food is made from rice noodles, Austriella corrugate meat, wood ears, shiitake mushrooms, black pepper, and scallions. The food has a special taste and smell which come from Austriella corrugate meat. It is not easy to cook Austriella corrugata and rice noodle stir-fry. The cook must be careful and experienced so that the noodles are not too wet not too dry, not too tender not too hard.
4. Mussel porridge (Cháo trai)
The rice porridge which is rich and yummy, and the seawater mussel meat which is smelling, tender, a little chewy, toppings including coriander, scallions, dried scallions, and youtiao have satisfied most of the people. The food is not only delicious but also healthy. A bowl of Mussel porridge can reduce tiredness, fulfill your stomach, refresh your mind, and boost the energy. Just note that Halong Mussel porridge, which is cooked from mussels caught in the sea, is different from Hanoi Mussel porridge, which is cooked from mussels caught in rivers.
5. Fried squid cake (Chả mực)
Fried squid cake – a specialty food of Halong is the proud of the city thanks to it seductive taste. Fried squid cake is made from squid, Golden-flower glutinous rice powder, black pepper. All of the ingredients are pounded by hand with big mortar and pestle into a smooth and sticky mixture. The mixture is formed into medium round cakes which are fried until yellow, crispy outside. The inner part of the cake is sticky and chewy. The squid used to make squid cake must be fresh so that the Fried squid cake is smelling and sweet-tasty. Fried squid cake is usually served with hot sticky Steamed glutinous rice. The great smell of Steamed glutinous rice blends with the seductive smell of the squid cake.
6. Stuffed pancake with Fried squid cake (Bánh cuốn chả mực)
Stuffed pancake is a traditional Vietnamese cake which is very popular in the country. Stuffed pancake is thin steamed rice flour sheet roll stuffed with scallion oil, ground pork, wood ears, shiitake mushrooms, shrimps (optional). In other regions, they serve Stuffed pancake, which is topped with fried shallots, with vegetables, Vietnamese pork roll, fermented pork, Cinnamon pork pate, and fish sauce dip. In Dalat, instead of pork roll, fermented pork, and pork pate, they serve the pancake with chicken meat and chicken organs. In Halong, Stuffed pancake is topped with fried shallots and served with Fried squid cake, vegetables, dipping fish sauce which is made from fish sauce, giant bug extract (optional), sugar, lime juice, chili pepper, garlic, etc.
7. Quang Yen Fermented pork roll and Fermented pork skin (Nem chua, nem chạo Quảng Yên)
Quang Yen a county-level town of Quang Ninh Province is famous for Fermented pork roll and Fermented pork skin. Fermented pork roll. Ham cut from pigs which are farmed in the countryside, fed with vegetables and bran is chosen to make Fermented pork roll. The pigs should not too big not too small, not too old not too young so that its meat is firm but tender. Pork skin used to make the food should be white, not too hard, and chewy. Ground ham, very thin boil pork skin strips, “thính” – toasted glutinous rice, rice, soybean powder, salt, etc are mixed into a mixture. Then the cook wraps parts of the mixture in guava leaves and banana leaves. The food is ready after 1-4 days depends on the temperature. Fermented pork roll is pink in color, sticky, crunchy, salty, sweet, and sour enough. Fermented pork roll and Fermented pork skin are served with rice paper, sweet-sour fish sauce dip, vegetables such as green starfruits, heartleaves, marjorams, shiso, fig leaves, Paederia lanuginose leaves, Polyscias fruticose leaves. Use rice paper to wrap Fermented pork roll or Fermented pork skin, vegetables into a roll, dip in the sauce and tuck in.
8. Snail dishes (Ốc)
Halong has many kinds of snail: ốc đĩa, ốc hương, ốc mít và ốc đá, ốc điếu, ốc mút, ốc bươu, etc. Halong people have created various dishes from these snails: Stir-fried/grilled/steamed/boiled snail with chili sauce/soy sauce/lemongrass/tamarind sauce/coconut milk. Snail dishes are usually served with a special sauce cooked from gingers, chili peppers, and lime leaves. Snails must be fresh so that the snail dishes are smelling and tasty. The snails are carefully washed, soaked in water in order to remove dirts inside the shells. In many regions of Vietnam, they use bamboo toothpick to remove the snail meat from the shell. In Halong, a safety pin is used to get the snail meat out of the shell.
9. Horseshoe crab (Sam)
Horseshoe crab is a specialty food of Halong. The horseshoe crab has a hard carapace, a long hard tail, five pairs of legs for swimming, walking, and moving food into the mouth. Although it has a strange looking, its meat is great. Horseshoe crabs go in pairs so that they can catch, cook, and serve pairs of horseshoe crabs. There is a wide range of amazing foods from this kind of seafood that you should not miss in Halong: Sweet-sour horseshoe crab stir-fry, Horseshoe crab stir-fry with chili pepper and lemongrass, Horseshoe crab eggs cake, Steamed horseshoe crab, Grilled horseshoe crab, Horseshoe crab salad, Fried horseshoe crab eggs, etc.
10. Peanut worm (Sá sùng)
The rare, strange, sweet-tasty, healthy, expensive peanut worm is considered as “earth ginseng” in Vietnam. Peanut worm in Vietnam, is about 5-40 cm long, 20 cm in diameter and 1-3 kg. When being caught, it turns itself into a ball. Its skin is tender and cool, it changes its color in different environments. To process fresh peanut worms, wash them carefully many times. They cut them in order to wash inside until all of the dirt has been removed. Fresh peanut worm can be used to cook porridge, soups, stir-fried, deep-fried, baked dishes. Dried peanut worm which is crunchy and tasty can be grilled, toasted and eaten with chili paste or a mix of salt, chili, lemon juice as a snack while drinking beer. Adding dried Sa Sung into Pho beef noodle soup’s broth makes the noodle soup special and more flavorful. Many people soak dried Sa Sung in liquor to make Sa Sung wine which is very good for human health.
11. Austriella corrugate (Ngán)
Austriella corrugate has rough shell and sweet-tasty, tender, a little chewy meat. This bivalve is one of the most expensive seafood in Halong. As mentioned above, Cellophane noodle stir-fry with Austriella corrugate is one of must-try food in Halong. Besides, Grilled Austriella corrugate in silver paper, Austriella corrugate porridge,
12. Stone crab (Con Cù Kỳ)
Stone crab is also called Thunder crab because it is very fierce and many people believe that it only releases the food when there is thunder. It has 2 very big pincers, brown shell, green and bright eyes which make it distinguished from others of its kind. It has become a specialty food of Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam. There is much meat in its pincers, there is not much meat in its body of the crab. There are various yummy dishes from this crab: Noodle soup with stone crab, Steamed stone crab, Toasted stone crab with tamarind, Grilled stone crab, Stir-fried cellophane noodles with stone crab, Stone crab meat floss.
13. Sea crab, Ocean crab, Squid, Oyster (Ghẹ, Mực, Hàu)
Although seafood such as sea crab, ocean crab, squid, oyster dishes are popular and can be eaten in many places in Vietnam as well as other countries, you should not miss a chance to enjoy delicious dishes from very fresh seafood in Halong: Steamed ocean crab, Stir-fried ocean crab with wild betel, Noodle soup with ocean crab, Grilled dried squid, Grilled Oyster, etc.
14. Tien Yen hill chicken (Gà đồi Tiên Yên)
They name the chicken Tien Yen hill chicken because the chicken is grazed on hills in Tien Yen district, Quang Ninh province. The chicken must find foods in nature themselves so that its meat is firm and smelling distinctly. Although Tien Yen hill chicken can be cooked into many dishes, boiling is the best method to cook it. After boiling, the chicken’s skin is shining, yellow, thick, sweet-tasty, and crunchy. Boiled Tien Yen hill chicken is usually served with Nodding cake.
15. Nodding cake (Bánh gật gù)
Strange and flavorful is what can be told about Nodding cake in Halong. To make this cake, ground a mixture of glutinous rice, cold steamed rice, and water into a smooth batter. Steam very thin sheet from the batter, roll the sheet into a cylinder which is called Nodding cake. When you hand the cake, it nods up and down so that they name it nodding cake. Some believe that diner should nod up and down to dip the cake in the dipping sauce. The soul of this food is the yellow, greasy, and smelling dipping sauce which is made from fried shallots, ground pork, fish sauce, black pepper, chicken fat. The cake is usually served with boiled chicken, Braised pork in caramel.
16. Glutinous rice, ginger, and peanut cake (Bánh tài lồng ệp)
Bánh tài lồng ệp is a specialty food of San Diu people in Quang Ninh. The cake is made by steaming the dough from glutinous rice, rock sugar, ginger for 6-12 hours. The dough is topped with peanuts before steaming. Bánh tài lồng ệp is in yellow-brown color, sticky, tender, and crispy. The cake goes well with tea. It is eaten on normal days as a snack. It is also an offering to ancestors at Vietnamese festivals and important occasions.
17. Ash cake (Bánh gio Tiên Yên)
The cake is called ash cake because the glutinous rice is soaked in ash water overnight in the cooking process. The glutinous rice should be Golden-flower glutinous rice which is sticky and smelling seductively. They use the ash of spiny amaranth, glutinous rice straw, pomelo peel. Wrap the soaked rice in Phrynium placentarium leaves or banana leaves into a pyramid shape, boil the pyramidal cakes in water. They put a layer of Phrynium placentarium leaves at the bottom of the pot of water in order to make sure the cakes are not burnt and enhance the flavor of the cakes. The cooked cake is translucent yellow-brown, soft, and a little sticky. It is better to be served with honey.
18. Yogurt with tapioca pearl (Sữa chua trân châu)
When you order Yogurt with tapioca pearl – a famous dessert in Halong, they will bring you a small jar of cold yogurt, a bowl of hot coconut milk sauce and tapioca pearls. Just mix them together and enjoy. The dessert is a perfect blend of smooth, sweet, and sour yogurt, greasy coconut milk and chewy tapioca pearls.