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Street Food in Northern Vietnam – Cao Bang

Few would argue about how useful an invention the internet has been, from ugly people having sex to spotty virgins becoming gazillionaires (real word), but one thing I’m not always that keen on is how small it has made the world. Type in almost any city, or town into Google an invariably you will come up with hundreds of results about what to eat and where to stay, with the reviewing mafia decreeing what is good, or not, but every now and again you find an untouched diamond in the rough, where net hath not fell. I found Cao Bang.

So to get the review type stuff out of the way Cao Bang is the capital of Cao Bang province, a northern Vietnamese area that borders China. Geography lesson over, I found myself here, Vietnam has great food, and Cao Bang was full of street food! Here’s my take on what to eat of you end up traveling to Cao Bang.

Street Food in Cao Bang!

OK – a fairly obvious choice considering, well this is a street food blog, but at night the semi-bustling streets of Cao Bang come alive with numerous vendors pulling up coverings to protect from the constant rain, and BBQing up a storm! Much meatier, less spicy, and much more rowdy than doing caorou in China.

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Hanoi beer with ice

The Vietnamese are quite tribal with their beers, and whilst the southerners might like Saigon Beer, north of the DMZ its all about Hanoi beer. One crazy quirk that I embraced is from the days before they had refrigeration en-masse where they would add ice to beers, now even if the beer is cold they prefer to drink their beer with ice. Hell, I even added sprite, and made it a cocktail!

Duck, lots of duck

In Cao Bang, as in much of Vietnam they do love a duck, you name a way to cook it, and they do it, it’s fairly rare to have a meal in a restaurant in Cao Bang without there being at least one duck dish.

Banh Mi

Many years ago when I was studying for my TEFL certificate I briefly learned Vietnamese. Banh Mi means bread (with stuff in it like a sandwich), amusingly it sounds like “bang me”. You can buy these baguettes at the sides of almost every road in Cao Bang with the French influence being very apparent. Foisgras was actually invented by the Vietnamese!

Lime, salt, and pepper

This is fairly familiar in a lot of Vietnam, but I embraced it whilst dining in Cao Bang. Fairly simply, it’s a small dish with peppers, salt, and lime, you squeeze the lime into it and then dip your meat at will into it. Salt is my second favourite food after MSG, closely followed by lime and pepper. This is my dream dish.

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So, whilst there is no particular reason to travel to Cao Bang it’s actually a really cool place to stop off if you are on your way to China, or south to Hanoi. The lack of tourists in Cao Bang give a sense of charm, and if you are adventurous there’s a decent Cao Bang food adventure to be had.

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