6 Must-Try Vietnamese Drinks
Vietnamese cuisine is world-famous, but few visitors to the Southeast Asian country think about what they'll be sipping on the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. That's a mistake: the country's drinks are as delicious and diverse as its cuisine.
Sugar Cane Juice (Nước Mía)
It is a famous drink sold on every street of Vietnam. This yummy treat is freshly squeezed using an electric squashing machine. Surprisingly it is not as sweet as you would expect it to be. The drink is usually served with Calamansi, a tiny sour lime found naturally in Southeast Asia. Sugar cane juice is not only delicious but also rich in electrolytes and antioxidants to fight dehydration. You will find sugar cane juice vendors everywhere, advertising their goods openly on the streets. They usually have buckets of sugar cane stalks displayed in the front of their stalls. An easy way for you to find sugar cane juice vendors is if you notice where there are schools, universities, markets or parks, etc., sugarcane juice vendors never are far away!
Fresh Coconut (Dừa Tươi)
Coconut water has always been a popular drink in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia. In Vietnam you will not see coconut milk packaged like the ones you see in grocery stores. Coconut water is served straight from a coconut with the vendors chopping the fruit once you order it. Generally smaller coconuts tend to be sweeter than larger ones.
Herbal Tea (Nước Sâm)
Herbal tea in Vietnam is one of the most loved drinks. It has a sweet and nutty taste, and is usually served to compliment rice dishes. Nước Sâm usually consists of locally found ingredients like nettle leaves, grass roots, sugar cane, and corn silk. Some variations can also include other local ingredients such as dried longan, roasted water chestnuts, and spiky cilantro. You may find many street vendors with metal stalls wherever you go.
Pennywort Juice (Nước Rau Má)
Pennywort is a member of the carrot and dill family. In reality this drink tastes more like cucumber water and is served in most restaurants throughout the country. This drink will keep you hydrated under the humid Vietnam weather while you are touring the country. Finding this drink is just the same as locating sugar cane juice street vendors. The best place to go is wherever there is a crowd, particularly schools, universities, markets, around the parks, etc.
Cold Sweet Soup (Sâm Bổ Lượng)
Sâm bổ lượng is originally a Cantonese dish but it has become so famous in Vietnam, using the same original ingredients that are also readily available in the country. The recipe may vary from city to city, but most often it contains dried longans, Job’s tears, thinly sliced seaweeds, water, sugar, and crushed iced.
Coffee (Cà phê)
Never leave Vietnam without trying their one-of-a-kind coffee. Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of Robusta beans. Coffee is served with a small metal drip filter over ice and condensed milk. The black one is called “cà phê đen đá” whereas the brown one (with condensed milk) is “cà phê sữa đá”. There are many places where you can find the best coffee around Vietnam or you can easily try to make your own. It is said that when it comes to local food and drink, you should go wherever the crowds is.
Traveling to Vietnam is a feast of experiences, culture, sights and taste. One word of caution, most of these drinks are served with ice. Most experts will tell you to avoid taking anything with ice when in Southeast Asia, but today most of the ice served in restaurants and street stalls are manufactured using the safest standards. Most foreigners living in Vietnam regularly have these drinks or indulge in the typical local way of drinking beer with ice, and do fine. To have a complete and thorough experience while visiting this country, try these unique drinks through a street-food tour with local guides that will drive you to the safest and tastiest spots.
Source: David Demartin