© 2011 Green Kitchen Stories Lotus_flower

Flavors of Vietnam

We are taking a short break in our guest post series (aren’t you impressed by them so far!?), to give you an update from our travels in Vietnam. Our computer is overloaded with travel & food photos, so instead of writing a full story about what we have experienced here, we thought we’d show you.

The main reason why we chose Vietnam was because of its food. Fresh spring rolls has always been one of our favorite foods. As it turns out it is also a favorite for Elsa. Whenever she gets hold of a spring roll she won’t let it go until it has completely disintegrated in her hands.

We posted a recipe for fresh summer rolls a year ago, and after trying it here in Vietnam we must say that our version actually comes pretty close to the original. We had never used freshly grated coconut before, it’s a great addition. And we cannot be more clear about this: don’t forget the fresh mint leaves, they give the most important flavor to the spring roll.

Random shots from food markets that we have visited.

We have tried a number of different restaurants, cafes and street food stalls in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Some of the restaurants were crowded with europeans and americans while the food stalls mainly were visited by vietnamese people. We had a great dinner at Hoa Tuc, their homemade tofu was a favorite. The cafe and lifestyle store L’usine feels very european, but we still found it pretty cool and tasty.

Two new favorite dishes are rice pancakes and vegetarian pho. Rice pancakes are served with fresh mint leaves, salad and sometimes shrimps or chicken, and dipped in sweet chili sauce. Phó is the Vietnamese rice noodle soup with lots of fresh herbs, lime, chili and big chunks of tofu and vegetables. It can be a little bit tricky finding vegetarian versions, since most of them are made on chicken or beef broth. We did however find a very tasty one at Pho 2000. And when we get home we will try this recipe.

Another version of the rice pancakes are these mini coconut rice cakes. They are made in small clay pots. You wrap them in a salad leaf together with fresh mint leaves, and dip them in peanut sauce or fish sauce. You shouldn’t miss these if you are in Vietnam!

Elsa is now used to eating lychee, dragon fruit, fresh coconut and pomelo every day. How will we ever get her to eat oranges, apples and pears when we get home?

To call the traffic in Saigon crazy would be a huge understatement. There are motorbikes everywhere. They usually don’t stop for red light and they drive in every direction possible. Even the sidewalks are occupied by parked motorbikes. Imagine that we were a little bit shaky after our first walk with the stroller. After a while we learned the unwritten rule: Don’t stop once you have started crossing. Even though it feels like they will drive straight into you, they will drive around you. As long as you don’t make any sudden moves.

After a while here we began wondering why we couldn’t find beans and peas in any recipes. That was until we started reading the dessert menus. Soy beans, red beans, black beans and even black rice are all being used in sweet desserts. We bought this dessert from a woman selling it from the back of her bicycle. It’s different variations of sweet sticky rice, with soy beans, chick peas and grated coconut. It’s very sweet and very yummy!

Apart from eating, we have spent some time on the paradise island Phu Quoc, together with David’s sister and her boyfriend. We stayed in small bungalows without hot water and with only four hours of electricity each day. It took a while getting used to the quiet life, but once you are used to it you get completely hooked. Elsa has been practicing her walking skills on the beach. She loves to be on her feet, but she probably has a couple of weeks left until she manages on her own.

We have 1 week left in Vietnam, after that we are going back to Thailand. Our plan is to rent a small house on an island, so hopefully we’ll have a kitchen again pretty soon!


  1. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 08:38 | #

    Fabulous. Looks like you had a great time and the pictures speak of it quite loudly. I’m love with the last picture of the baby on the sand, priceless!

  2. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 09:06 | #

    Love the colourful photos from your trip! Elsa really seems to enjoy it too, that’s wonderful! Safe travels! x

  3. Sanna
    Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 10:04 | #

    Hej David,
    så roligt att få följa er spännande resa och vilka FANTASTISKA bilder!
    Elsa är sååå söt!

  4. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 10:50 | #

    I found Dana’s soup as well and decided to give it a go and cook my very first vegan Pho soup! :) I saw a video in Hungarian how to cook Pho and mixed the video and 2 different recipes and turned out great. You can find my recipe in English in the blog post comments: http://zizikalandjai.blogspot.com/2011/01/vegetarianus-pho-leves.html.

    Also check out Em’s recipe as well: http://kitchen-em.blogspot.com/2011/01/vegan-pho.html.

    Vietnam is my dream place! I’m sure one day I’ll have an opportunity to try these wonderful dishes you write about. Your blog is wonderful, love it so much!

  5. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 10:57 | #

    Det ser helt underbart ut! Fina bilder och god mat ser det ut som. De där kokos-riskakorna ser riktigt goda ut. Tycker det vore jätteintressant med recept på efterrätter med bönor, har varit sugen på att testa det ett tag nu…

  6. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 11:45 | #

    Hi there, I came upon your blog a couple of weeks or so ago and have read a few of your archived posts since then. First of all, what an awesome-looking site and well laid out. Secondly, your food philosophy and vegetarian recipes are right up my alley! Finally, such beautiful photographs to accompany your writing. I am utterly impressed with your ’round-the-world journey with your gorgeous baby. Now on my bookmarks list, I’m off to make a list for a recipe or two to try today. Thank you for sharing so generously! (And thank you for introducing me to My New Roots!) Safe journey, and healthy & happy eating!

    • Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 04:20 | #

      Thank you so much Grace for your overwhelming comment!
      I hope you will enjoy the recipes too!

  7. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 13:05 | #

    Your blog features some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen!! Honestly :)

    And that vegetarian pho looks incredible right about now…mmm tofu, i miss it! it is a rare find in Spain!

  8. Hjördís
    Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 13:09 | #

    soo great pictures, and I hope you are having a great time,
    cant wait for new recipes, and I hope youll get a kitchen,
    have a great time and save travel!

  9. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 13:13 | #

    The picture of the foot sticking out at the market is by far my favorite… but all of your work is just stunning. Looks like a wonderful, food-filled trip.

    • Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 04:06 | #

      Hi Brian & Nicole!
      The funny thing about the photo of the foot in the market is that it was Luise who took it. She never wanted to learn how to use my “complicated” camera, so I am the one taking 95% of the photos. But that day at the market it was very difficult to drive the stroller, so I did it while she carried the camera. I didn’t even notice that she took that picture until later that day. I love that shot too, and I realize that I should let her carry the camera more often!

  10. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 14:48 | #

    so beautiful! Love the photos! Makes me want to go there now, so many fresh veggies yum <3 I especially love the shot of the man's foot in the market. I would like a print of that please :)

  11. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 14:55 | #

    How beautiful. Thanks for sharing your travels!

  12. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 17:31 | #

    Wow. I am so impressed and envious of your travels, especially with the wee one! It sounds like such an adventure. My husband and I were just in Nicaragua and promised to bring our children (we don’t have any yet!) to interesting places and not be scared!

    All your photos are such a pleasure to look at, thank you so much for sharing!

  13. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 17:34 | #

    The photos are simply outstanding! Elsa is so darling. I love the picture of her in the sand. And the food! Yum!

  14. Viveca Carlsson
    Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 17:54 | #

    Wonderful, wonderful pictures!
    And I am so glad to know that you like Vietnam and Vietnamese food. The Vietnamese way of combining different fresh herbs to spice food is so inspiring.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  15. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 18:17 | #

    You set a great example by taking kid to travel (from Stockholm all the way to Vietnam?) and exposing them to a different culture–street food and wet market! oh the rice cakes look great!

  16. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 19:19 | #

    How beautiful Vietnam is! I wish I’ll go soon! Your pictures are breathtaking and so colorful!

  17. v
    Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 20:48 | #

    Ya’ll seem like the perfect family. I’m excited to see what other kinds of foods you discover on your travels. Thank you for sharing and beautiful photos!

  18. Posted 24 Jan ’11 at 22:05 | #

    Thank for your sharing this incredibly inspiring and delicious journey with us. Did you have any tea while you were there? I’ve heard artichoke tea is a traditional sip.

    • Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 04:16 | #

      Hi Alexis, Luise drinks vietnamese green tea all the time. She is actually talking about writing a post about it, but I think we would need to consult you first. Expect an email from us sometime soon.
      We haven’t found any artichoke tea yet, but if you know where we should go to try it (in Saigon) we’d love to have the address.

    • Posted 29 Jan ’11 at 16:12 | #

      Hi David, So happy to hear that Luise is enjoying the green tea in Vietnam and writing a post about it. Even though I’m sure you don’t need my consultation (since your posts are always beyond incredible), feel free to email me at any point [email protected] Unfortunately, I don’t have a specific location for the artichoke tea. A friend brought it back from Vietnam for me. I’ll try to find out… Looking forward to reading more of your edible adventures. Sincerely, Alexis

  19. Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 01:11 | #

    Is it really that beautiful and charming there or are you just such a great photographer that you can make it look incredible? Or some of both?

    I can’t believe how big Elsa is getting! You three make such a beautiful family.

    • Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 04:12 | #

      Thanks Teri!
      Actually it is so beautiful here that you really would have to try hard not to take good pictures ;)

  20. Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 01:59 | #

    I’m so jealous of you guys now!! Vietnam looks wonderful, absolutely gorgeous photographs :)

    Though I have never been there I’m a fan of Pho, and here is the link to the vegetarian Pho from my blog, check it out!


    Have fun!!

  21. Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 05:47 | #

    Wow! Your food and scenery photos are amazing! I’m ready to book a trip to Vietnam.

  22. Chelsea
    Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 07:06 | #

    I stumbled upon your blog in the summer, and I’ve been checking it everyday since (i got my mom addicted too). As a twenty year old college student it’s not necessarily the norm to be in love with organic vegetarian foods, but you guys definitely keep me inspired! Hope you all enjoy the rest of your travels (don’t forget to post more amazing pictures!).


  23. Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 13:22 | #

    Vietnam looks so beautiful and your photos are so stunning! I agree you should let Luise carry the camera more often…the photo of the foot in the market is a winner. I also love the photo of the three of you- so sweet.
    I’ve traveled in Japan but never SE Asia- you are making me want to go so very badly. The surroundings and food just look spectacular.
    I have a vegetarian pho on my blog, too, btw—I love pho!!!

    • Posted 29 Jan ’11 at 15:47 | #

      Hi Winnie, that’s hilarious! I went to look for your vegetarian pho recipe and when I found it I realized that I had seen it before, bookmarked it, and even left a comment on it. And then I must have forgot all about it. It looks so good. I will for sure make your Pho Chay as soon as we get home.
      Thanks for reminding me!

  24. Posted 25 Jan ’11 at 21:12 | #

    Brings back memories…Miss you, miss Vietnam, miss being on holidays – so ENJOY! It’s cold and dark in Sweden…

    kram på er


  25. Posted 26 Jan ’11 at 07:57 | #

    As usual, your food photos are compelling and beautiful. Thanks for allowing us to explore Vietnam visually.

  26. Posted 26 Jan ’11 at 16:03 | #

    SOOOOOOO beautiful you guys!!! Wow. I want to dive into those pictures. Thanks for sharing all the beauty with us.

    All the best, Sarah B

  27. Posted 27 Jan ’11 at 15:21 | #

    I love the Foodie!

  28. Posted 27 Jan ’11 at 15:25 | #

    I just stumbled upon your blog – and loved it right away!
    I myself am a mom of a little daughter about the same age as Elsa (born last April), love to cook, eat out and also travel!! Lot’s of things in common, that’s why I really enjoyed reading some of your posts. I’ll definitely be back regularly for your travel updates, new recipes and restaurant recommendations.

  29. Monica
    Posted 27 Jan ’11 at 16:30 | #

    Hello! Curious about how you began introducing food to Elsa? Vietnam looks AMAZING – looking forward to more pictures of the remainder of your trip.

  30. Posted 28 Jan ’11 at 19:45 | #

    What breathtaking photos! I feel like I’m there too. I think the one of Elsa in the sand is my favorite.

    I love Vietnamese food so I think you made a great choice. Happy travels!

  31. Posted 29 Jan ’11 at 07:49 | #

    Your pictures of people are my favorite. I just have to say that because I think you have an eye for documentary work.

    That and I want you life. I’m dying to travel.

  32. Posted 29 Jan ’11 at 22:53 | #

    I’m so jealous! Looks like you’re having a fabulous time. LOVE your blog! I just started a blog and you are on my blogroll! :) Safe travels!

    -Elle Bomb

  33. Posted 1 Feb ’11 at 15:31 | #

    I have a really good friend whose Vietnamese, I was just wondering if you ever tried ‘Balut’? It’s duck egg “with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell”…

    I love your photos by the way, especially the one with the lanterns in the trees :)

  34. Posted 1 Feb ’11 at 18:46 | #

    How beautifully you have captured Vietnam David & Luise! It is so fun getting a peak into your exciting travels and your pictures just get better and better. I love phó, we have several Vietnamese restaurants here in Seattle that are delicious but I doubt arent much compared to where you are :) Thank you for sharing these gorgeous snapshots and I am excited to here more!

  35. Posted 1 Feb ’11 at 22:43 | #

    Looks like an amazing experience and a journey in many ways. I truly enjoy following along!

  36. Sini
    Posted 3 Feb ’11 at 18:05 | #

    It’s really wonderful being able to take part in your journey through all this beautiful pictures. Have a good time enjoying the sun and the blue water. And not to forget all that delicious food!

    Am eager to hear and see more,

  37. Posted 9 Feb ’11 at 05:22 | #

    GORGEOUS post!! I am going to Thailand this year and would love to capture some shots half as beautiful as yours!

  38. Ann Choe
    Posted 8 Jun ’11 at 21:11 | #

    Hello. My first time on your site and I’m already loving it! I just want to say that the rice pancakes are one of my favorite vietnamese dishes too. It’s called Banh Beo. I also fell in love with this soup that had OKRA in it. I want to go back!!!!!

  39. Karan Bisias
    Posted 10 Dec ’11 at 19:03 | #

    Besides Vietnam and its food being so beautiful the pictures of your baby were just incredible. Elsa will wonder one day why she loves Vietnam and its beaches so much. And what a nice blog you have. I love it!

  40. Posted 6 Apr ’12 at 21:17 | #

    vietnam does have good food some times.

  41. Posted 13 Jul ’13 at 17:52 | #

    I want to live with your family!

  42. Posted 26 Sep ’13 at 01:29 | #

    This is our big dream too, to tour and see the world. Although it is kinds of impossible when I looked at the facts of it, but deep in my heart, I know our dream will come true. Having this feeling makes my heart flutter with excitement.

  43. Alice
    Posted 29 Jan ’14 at 22:28 | #

    Haha, that’s funny for me to read this (beautiful, full of stunning photos!) article now because these last days I absolutely wanted to eat some vietnamese food (what I did indeed). Actually I think that I missed the fish sauce! And eating with my fingers :)
    Have you tried the vegetarian pho since there? It would be interesting to know how it turned out. For me it’s… well it would be a big step to dig in but I think that I have to try once. Actually the only reason why I am not a “real” vegetarian is all my asian background: food is mostly the only link that I still have with my roots. Quite a sensitive topic for me: I sometimes feel that I won’t only miss the taste of the meals but also something deeper, something with childhood memories and my identity as well… anyway I still have a long way to go!

  44. Huong
    Posted 19 Mar ’15 at 08:36 | #

    I really enjoy reading this post, especially the way you described the traffic in Saigon, and all those lovely photos. Talking about Phở which is originated in northern Vietnam , I must say that Phở is a perfect combination of ingredients as you listed except tofu. I don’t know where you ate Phở in Saigon but Vietnamese don’t put tofu when making Phở in a traditional way. If you want to try a real Phở, I highly recommend you to go to Hanoi:)

  45. Aida
    Posted 25 Aug ’15 at 11:25 | #

    hey – i was wondering which bungalows you were in vietnam?
    the ones without water and only 4 hours electricity :)

  46. Posted 19 Feb ’16 at 13:36 | #

    I just moved to Vietnam, but will be based in Hanoi, did you have the chance to visit? Do you know any good places to eat / buy food?
    Love your work!

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