What to eat
Favoured by the Mother Nature, Halong is famous for its variety of fresh and delicious seafood specialties such as crabs, prawns, squids and snails. Here we introduce many of the best dishes and beverages at the bay, which are symbols of eating culture of Halong Bay. The information is not only what is the dish, how is made and what is made from, or how tasty is it with unique flavor, but also how to enjoy them in the best way, or what make these dishes special.
1. Chả Mực (Squid Ball – Squid Cake)
Halong Squid Ball is well known not only for Vietnamese but also for international tourists. The main ingredient is, of course, squid. However, not any kind of squid can make the dish as wonderful as Halong Bay's freshly caught squid. The dish, hence, will get the sharp and appealing tang. The crunchy yet chewy texture, juicy taste and attractive aroma of Squid Ball go well with boiled rice, sticky rice or Bánh Cuốn (a type of thin, steamed rice cake). This darling is sold at many stores and stalls around the city and especially at Halong I Market.
2. Ốc (Snail)
Visiting any random snail restaurant/street shop in Halong City, gourmets might be surprised with a very long list of different exotic snails there. Each species possesses distinctive appearance and a very distinctive flavour. All you can do is being adventurous, trying a random dish that catches your eyes or with a local, who can show you the difference among the snails. Good shops for snail can be found at Vuon Dao road, Bai Chay ward (but a bit pricey) or in Hon Gai area, where not only snail but various types of fresh and cheap seafoods are sold.
3. Ngán (A type of hard clam)
If you have a chance to have just one bite of Ngán, its deliciousness would stay in your mouth forever. Amongst all dishes made from Ngán, the most famous one is Ngán wine, which is made by opening the shells of Ngán then letting its blood flow directly into the strong liquor. Visiting Halong, you may have many Ngán dishes like grilled, steamed, sushi, salad, soup, deep-fried with vegetables, porridge, etc. You should not miss the chance to experience this unique seafood when you come to Halong Bay.
4. Tôm hùm (Prawn and Lobster)
With good environment, Halong Bay is blessed with many kinds of prawn, lobster, white pearl shrimp, or tiger shrimp. However, the most valuable and most delicious are prawn and lobster. There are two popular methods of prawn/lobster processing, steaming and breaded frying. However, steaming with using additional ingredients like beer or tubers lemongrass to remove the fishy smell is more preferable because people love to enjoy the natural taste it provides.
5. (Hàu) Oyster
Another well-known seafood in Halong Bay is oyster. Oyster is a nutrition-rich food and provides a plethora of energy for your body. Inside its hard-shell is blood-like red bowel, which carry the most delicious and nutritious part of an oyster. It can be eaten raw with a lemon slice or grilled with cheese.
6. Sá Sùng (A type of sea worm)
This rare and expensive speciality only exists in Quan Lan Island, Minh Chau Island (Van Don, Quang Ninh). Fresh Sá Sùng stir-fried with garlic is a rustic way of cooking of Halong people. Or you can try to taste roasted Sá Sùng, a golden crispy dish with aromatic odour, combined with herb and a glass of beer. Nowadays, this delicacy is brought from the 2 mentioned islands to Halong City, so you are able to taste it right at the city but the price is quite high in compare to other types of seafoods due to its rarity.
7. Bánh Gật Gù (Nodding Rice Cake)
Bánh Gật Gù is made from steaming rice flour mixture. When eating, the cake is dipped in a special sauce, along with a piece of caramelized pork. The feeling of cool, soft cake and juicy pork can enchant even the fastidious customers.
8. Hà (A type of tiny rock clam)
Another proud specialty of Halong is Hà. Hà clam can be made to a delicious sour soup all around four seasons of the year, but most interesting time to eat this soup is still the hot summer days. In addition, Hà can be covered in wheat flour and deep-fried, bringing out a rich and savory taste.
9. Sam Quảng Yên (Horseshoe Crab of Quang Yen)
The meat of Sam can be processed into a lot of different foods, such as pudding crab, crab salad, sweet and sour crab legs, crab sauté with peppers and lemongrass, fried eggs crab, steamed crabs, fried crab, fried crab’s cartilage, stir-fried crab and glass noodle. The endless menu of horseshoe crab is always await the visitors in Halong.
10. Cà Sáy Tiên Yên
Cà Sáy is a hybrid between muscovy and duck, inheriting the taste of both meat kind. Through the Tiên Yên people’s processing method, it becomes doubly delicious. The secret is the aromatic sauce made from fish sauce of Cai Rong, Van Yen, Cat Hai, sassafras concentration of Guangxi and mild spicy ginger grown on Tiên Yên soil.
Make sure to have a full experience to Halong Bay through enjoying all the specialties included in this list!