Vietnamese Culinary Tour: Imperial Cuisine

Vietnam culinary tour

Imperial Cuisine – Remnants of a time gone by

We don’t know about you, but for us, the weekend calls us into the kitchen for a little culinary celebration between travel dates. This week our offices in Washington State have experienced a Spring heat wave and our minds are on the spicy and exotic foods of Vietnam and our Vietnamese culinary tour.

Our Vietnam tour is a true gem. Over the course of nine days, guests explore the flavorful regions of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi.  Each region has it’s own distinct flavor signature and we find it hard to pick a favorite. However, Hue in particular is known for its imperial history, architecture, the physical city scars of two Indochina wars and not least, it’s cuisine. This imperial city beckons the culinary traveler.

Foods here reflect the recipes that would have been served to royalty in the 19th century before war ravaged this nation. Plating and presentation are as important in Hue as the ingredients. Clam and rice, wide noodles, chilis and beautifully pickled vegetables all work together in Hue’s cuisine to create literal rainbows on the plate.

Hue served as the imperial capital to the Nguyen dynasty, which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. With splendid emperor’s tombs, ancient pagodas, and the remains of the Citadel, the city retains its royal heritage and charm amidst the remains of war. Today reconstruction efforts are underway to preserve its former glory.

Some classic dishes to seek out while in Hue:

Nem lui

Finely ground beef and pork served in half-moons of rice paper with vegetables and sauces.

Crisy banh khoai

A pan-fried crepe that is typically stuffed with shrimp and pork belly.

Bun bo hue

Pho’s equally tasty brother, this soup is worth exploring and features round rice noodles in a stock made from beef and/or pork bones, flavored with lemongrass, annatto seeds, ginger, fermented shrimp paste, sugar and chiles, fresh herbs and sauces.

*This list was compiled from the excellent travel foods website Food Republic.