Halong Bay cuisine is specialized in seafood from both the ocean and fresh water. Thanks to an extraordinary amount of ocean, rivers and lakes, in a very limited geographical area, the locals have developed, over the years, distinctive skills in preparing the fruits of those waters, transforming each of them into little masterpieces.
The best food in Halong Bay
What to eat among multitudes of options? Fired squid pie (chả mực), geoduck clam (tu hài), mantis shrimp noodle (bún bề bề), oyster (hàu), Halong Bay squid (mực) are the must-try dishes!
1. Fried Squid Pies (Cha Muc)
Whenever someone visits Halong Bay, fried squid pies (chả mực) are always on the top list of presents for friends and family back home. Halong fried squid pies have its own flavor, color and taste which cannot be mistaken with those from other places.
Squid paste is traditionally a handmade pounded pie from squid – sometime with shrimp, pork added – and flour. Each shop has its own secret ingredient to season the paste. It’s the family-know-how that specifies the taste of different brands.
Pounded and seasoned squid paste is formed into flat round pies. It takes about half an hour for a person to pound 1 kg of squid into fine thick paste; therefore many shops in Halong have switched to using food processors.
They then are deep-fried into cooking oil for less than 1 minute until they turn into wonderful brown color. The crunchy and delicate texture of this specific variety of squid and the juicy flavor and attractive aroma, are basically unique!
The best way to enjoy fried squid paste is to eat with sticky rice or steamed rice rolls.
The combination of the newly harvested plain rice and fried squid pies’ unique flavor is a great way to indulge in the world of seafood cuisine.
2. Geoduck Clam (Tu hài)
Geoduck Clams, also known as Geoduck, are rare seafood with high nutrition value and special flavor. Not only are Geoduck Clams nutritious but they are also said to be an aphrodisiac, to empower your man. (If you know what I mean ;).)
Geoduck clams are prepared usually with fried onion and spring onions in different ways. This process soaks up the juices when the clams are opened, thus receiving the unique natural taste of the clams.
3. Mantis Shrimp noodle (Bún bề bề)
Shrimp noodle satisfy the customers by its taste of the broth, the aroma of fresh sea shrimp, fish balls, the indispensable smell of betel leaf wrapped pork balls. Especially, the taste of sour tamarind juice can completely replace for the flavor of vinegar and lemon. The noodles are served with many types of herbs and some chilies.
The characteristic lightness and delicacy delivered by ocean and fresh water that mark Vietnamese cuisine is here associated with some of the freshest and varied seafood qualities of all Southeast Asia.
4. Oyster (Hàu)
An additional well-known dish of seafood in Halong is oyster. Oystera are nutrition-rich food and provide a lot of energy for one’s body. Inside its hard-shell is blood-like red bowel, which carry the most delicious and nutritious part of an oyster.
The simplest way to cook oysters is soak it into a rolling boil pot with some blades of lemongrass in it and take them out as soon as air bubbles rise. It’s claimed that boiled oyster is the best way to preserve its finest flavors.
However, why not spice things up a bit? If you love discovering new combinations of the best, try grilled oyster with onions or grilled oyster with cheese.
And of course, if you want to know the rawest taste of it, eat it raw. Some drops of lime juice will help balance the flavors, brighten the taste and create contrast.
5. Halong Bay Squid (Mực)
Grilled squid, steamed squid, deep-fried squid and many other dishes from squid are waiting for squid lovers to try.
Traditionally squid is eaten with the ink inside because the locals say that it amplifies the flavor of the meat. However, nowadays that way of cooking is used only in local kitchens. Restaurants learn to adapt the their dishes to Western cuisine so that they would appeal more to foreigners. If you still want to get a taste of the ink, just tell them to keep it. They’d happy to do that for you.
Enjoy your trip!