Diep’s Top Tips for Where & What to Eat and Drink in Da Nang
EAT– Local Specialties for the adventurous traveller
Mi Quang at Phuc My market (pronounced “fook me”!)
Head to this very local market in the morning to get your Mì Quảng fix (before 8am). Mì Quảng is a noodle soup that’s unique to this region (you won’t find it in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City), so you must try it during your stay here! This flavorful Da Nang specialty consists of yellow turmeric-infused rice noodles, slices of moist roasted pork; fresh lettuce and local mint & basil amongst other herbs. All topped with a savory broth which is usually pork-based and flavored with the slight sweetness of Vietnamese fish sauce. The last layer is a sprinkling of local river-shrimp, boiled eggs (the best versions have quail eggs), and crushed peanuts. Look for the vendors that offer a variety of condiments to add to this tasty dish – I love adding pickled shallots (baby purple onions), garlic, crispy onion and chili in fish sauce. All vendors will serve up a plate of fragrant green leaves and fresh chili to add to your Mì Quảng.
Phuc My market is not touristy at all, so if you come here you are in for a bit of an adventure, as the lady vendors don’t speak English and there are no English menus! If you’re feeling brave and want to try out your Vietnamese, then look for ladies cooking noodles and ask them for Mi Quang (me qwang). Alternatively, take the easier option and just look for the words ‘Mì Quảng’ on the signs above each stall! This flavorful local dish usually comes with chicken or pork and should cost you 20,000 vnd. Photo of Café Sua Da/Avocado smoothie
Across from the stall there should be something that looks like a smoothie booth, ask for a Café sua da (iced coffee with sweet milk), which should cost you 10,000 vnd. These drinks stalls also offer great smoothies made from fresh fruit. One of my personal favourites is Avocado smoothie ( sinh to bơ). I know Avocado seems like a strange choice for a smoothie, to you guys from the West, but believe me it is so good and most of my foreign buddies like it too! The creaminess of Avocado works really well with the sweet milk added to it – try it, I am sure you will like it! There are no English menus here, so you will just have to point to the fruit in the glass cabinet to show what you want to drink.
Mì Quảng is so famous that is has its own song (and the market that the singer eats at in the video is is Phuc My!). Check it out, it’s so catchy you’ll be singing the chorus all day!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vTUnLZgGgc
Bun Cha Ca at 109 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Da Nang
Bun Cha Ca is a noodle soup that’s sweet, sour and salty and features fish cakes – since it’s a Da Nang specialty, this dish should also be on your must-try list during your stay in Da Nang! The most famous place to get it is at 109 Nguyen Chi Thanh. They only serve Bun Cha Ca at this place, so you don’t have to worry about problems with communication. Just find a seat and wait for them to bring you over a bowl brimming with rice noodles in a tangy broth that’s sweet, sour and salty thanks to the ingredients of tomato, pineapple, cabbage, bamboo, fish cakes and fish sauce. As with pretty much all Vietnamese noodle dishes, you will be given a plate of fresh and fragrant greens to toss on top and quarters of lime to squeeze over. The particularly adventurous foodies can also add a dollop of the pungent (same may say stinky!) shrimp sauce that Da Nang is famed for! Known as mam rouc, this sauce is a pinky-purple-brown colored paste made from shrimps caught off the Da Nang coastline. It has a super-strong fishy odour and taste, but if you like other strong flavors like Durian and Blue Cheese then you may just like it! Just be sure to only try a tiny bit!
Pescatarians and non-pork eaters beware, the fish-cakes in this dish include some pork in the ingredients.
Tam’s Pub and Surf shop – 38 An Thuong 5, Da Nang, Vietnam
More of a café than a pub, the food is mostly western fare (burgers, fried chicken), but you don’t come here for the food, you come here for Tam, the owner and her amazing war-time stories. Tam was just a girl when the war started and hung out with a lot of the American GI’s – photographic evidence is all over the walls of the place. Order a smoothie and wait until Tam’s not busy (she does all the cooking and serving herself), then ask her about the photos and her experience of growing up in Da Nang during the war – fascinating! Just don’t come here when you’re in a rush, if you get her talking about the war, she won’t stop for at least an hour!
The Village – My An Beach (opposite Holiday Beach Hotel)
This is a new beach bar run by an expat Eric, who has many years of experience living in Da Nang and working in 5 star hotels. It’s a great place to enjoy a cold beer whilst lounging on a bean-bag or hammock with your feet in the sand and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore – heavenly! There’s also live music some evenings.
Minsk on An Thuong 2 Street
This is an uber cool and very chilled bar with recycled furniture that’s run by some laid-back locals, who are big animal lovers (they have a lovely little collection of rescued animals, from chickens to cats and dogs!).