What to Eat in Sapa
Not only well known for its spectacular natural beauty and landscapes with cool and fresh air, Sapa is also famous for various specialties that have mesmerized a great number of either locals or international tourists.
With its special location, Sapa is home to many kinds of sub-tropical vegetables such as white cauliflower, reb beet, chayot, etc. Traveling in Sapa, it is a huge flaw if you miss the chance to experience boiled chayote consumed with sesame. The dish will be the most delicious while it is hot, and it’ll be tasteless if it’s undercooked or overcooked. “Ngồng” or vegetable stock is always sold like “hot cake”. There might be garlic or chayote stock and it’s much tastier when being cooked with meat.
Dry mushroom that can be found all 4 seasons is also considered one of the best dishes of the mountainous are. It swells in water but it retains its original flavor. Local people usually cook dry mushroom with meat or dry squid to create a dish that will certainly leave deep impression of each of the enjoyers.
“Lợn cắp nách” or the pig carried under armpit is a tasty dish in Sapa. It’s called “cắp nách” because of its weight of 10kg. Though is “home pig”, it’s raised in the field or in the forest, so its meat is very delicious and fatless. Such a pig, killed and spiced before frying, is very tasty and the meat is tender but sweetish.
Located high in the mountain, but Sapa is also famous for its fish caught from streams of Mường Hoa and Mường Tiên. Sapa fish varies in species such as white fish, black fish, even spoted fish. Normally, Sapa fish is not big, just as a finger or so and it doesn’t get stinky. It can be barbecued or fried. Sapa salmon is originally imported from Finland and Russia, raised in local streams. Nothing better than a hot-pot on cold days in Sapa.
Cơm Lam -
Bamboo Cooked Rice
Bamboo Cooked Rice is a typical dish of ethnic minorities in mountainous area of Northern Vietnam. Originally, Lam rice was invented as a kind of food for long journey in the forests. Upon the journey, ethnic people can cook rice in a bamboo pipe instead of a pot. Then it has become popular, and is preferred as impressive blend of rice, stream water and slight scent of bamboo. Lam rice is made from sticky rice which is grown on the hills. Sticky rice is put in a bamboo pipe and added some water. For more flavor, ethnic people usually use stream water and add some salt in. The bamboo pipe then will be sealed up by banana leaves and roasted above red coals or hot fire. That process will be done within about 30 minutes. Lam rice is served with grilled chicken or grilled pork with some sesame and salt toppings.
Lợn Cặp Nách - Sapa's Pork
Around Sapa Market, you can easily see local people selling small pigs whose weight is less than 15kg so that people can put into the baskets, even put in the armpits. The pigs are free to find their food in the gardens or up hills including corns, cassava, tree's roots, leaf...just like the wild pigs.
It is served as grilled, steamed or fried...
Grilled Dishes in Sapa
Grilled dishes are available everywhere, but enjoying that particular treat in the chill of the mountainous area and immense view of terraced rice fields and the magnificence of mountains and hills is an amazing experience. Grilled dishes in Sapa are simple affairs such as grilled corn, grilled sweet potato, eggs, and chestnut to many kinds of meat such as chicken, pork, salmon or beef.
The ideal time to enjoy grilled dishes in Sapa is at nighttime when the town is blanked in mist, winds blow straight through tourists’ hair as they sit near to the fire stoves to rub their hands and warm their face. At that time, the fragrance from grills and seduction from the smoke will make diners lick their lips, along with the aroma of many indigenous vegetables.
Thắng Cố - Mixed Soup
This is one of the most famous dishes of the H’Mong in the northwest of Vietnam. Thang Co usually uses for festival or special days. During weekends, it is available at the fairs. Its name means a pot of soup which includes meat, organs of horse, vegetables and local spices.
Local whisky is always recommended for men when enjoying thang co and women often have it with rice ball.
It is quite strong flavor for the strangers.
Lẫu Chua Cá -
Salmon Sour Hotpot
Salmon is not a local fish but it is sucessfully bred in Sapa. It is served in sour hotpot with the local vegetables and sip a cup of hot jasmine tea is a great way to warm up in the cold weather of Sapa.
Where to eat:
- Little Sapa, 38 Cau May, Sapa
- Sapa Moment, 33 Muong Hoa
Rượu Táo Mèo -
Local Whisky of H'mong
It is made from Fructus Crataegi which soaked very carefully and then they use this water juice from Fructus Crataegi to make whisky.
In Sapa, Fuctus Crataegi grows on the Hoang Lien Son range. It is the natural gift that the heaven give the H’Mong. Besides, it has a different name “love fruit”. After drinking this whisky, the men and women were intoxicated, they will share all kinds of flavors in life. Fructus Crataegi starts to blossom in the end of spring (March to April).