What to eat in Halong

Halong Bay is famous for its fresh and delicious seafood. Restaurants serve fresh seafood which usually comes right out of fishing boats in the early hours of the morning. There are many good restaurants located in Bai Chay Town (Halong Bay Town) and most are situated in desirable beachfront positions. These eateries offer mainly Vietnamese and Chinese dishes with a good selection of fish, shrimps and oysters. You will also find a variety of international dining options.

Ha Long Squid-pie (Cha muc Ha Long) 

Squid pie or Cha muc has been well known for a long time as a specialty of Ha Long and in the list of 50 best dishes of Vietnam. The main ingredients of this delightful delicacy are fresh squid, lard, fish sauce and black peppercorns. Firstly, these ingredients are pounded into paste using mortars and pestles. Then the paste is divided into many small piece and shaped into thick morsel by hand. Finally, each piece is fried until the delicious smell appears and it is fried golden brown.

Locals usually eat cha muc with sticky rice or steamed rice rolls.

Place to eat: Cha muc can be found in almost restaurants and markets in Bai Chay area or Ha Long center. If you go to the city center markets (Ha Long I or Ha Long II market), you can see a series of Cha Muc shops among which Cha muc Thoan and Cha muc Thoa are the two biggest and most famous shops.

Austriella corrugate (Ngán biển) 

Austriella corrugate (Ngán biển) is a special type of mollusca living in sea, bigger than the clam with a white shell and a big tentacle. It can be found in some places where has estuarine mangrove forests but if you wish to enjoy this most delicious and tasty dish, you must go to Quang Ninh in summer and autumn. It can be cooked in many ways such as grill, steam, soup or stir-fry with noodle or vegetables. Another speciality related to austriella corrugate is drinking wine called “Ruou ngan”. It is a pink drink with distinct spicy, sweet and aroma.

Place to eat: This food is easily found in the summer and autum. In the winter, it is difficult to collect austriella corrugate since it is lain deeply in mud due to cold weather. You can order this food in a seafood restaurant along Ha Long road or in Vuon Dao area. If you pass Bai Chau bridge to Ha Long center city, you can eat fresh seafood in restaurant in region boundaries of sea “cot 5”.

Peanut worm (Sa Sung) 

It is a kind of marine worm that has a local name “sa sung”. It lives in coastal areas of Van Don and Mong Cai, hidden deeply under the sand and caught in the early morning as soon as the tides has just gone out. It is an expensive food to everyone, 1 kg of dry Sa Sung cost around USD 150 or even double when the demand dramatically increases in Tet holidays. The sa sung can be processed in various way. You can stir-fry with vegetables or grill to serve with beer. Some Pho restaurants will use some marine worm in order to make broth sweeter and more fragrant.

Place to eat: Although it is a special dish of Quang Ninh, it is not always available at restaurants in Ha Long city due to high price and limit supply. In center city markets, you can find it in some dried food shops.

Horseshoe crab (Sam bien) 

Sam bien is a species of sea crab, living in the deep water area. They have hard shell and eight legs in lower abdomen; often live in pairs which the male sticking on the back of the female.

From the main ingredient which is meat of horseshoe crab, it can be processed into a lot of different dishes, such as blood pudding, salad, sweet sour crab legs, sauteed crab, fried “sam” eggs, etc.

Place to eat: Preparation and processing of meat horseshoe crab, is a meticulous and difficult process. Therefore, not many restaurants offer this dish. There is a famous small restaurant for Sam food for locals located in 25/4 street, Bach Dang ward, Halong City.

Snout Otter Clams or “Tu Hai” 

Tu Hai is a kind of shellfish with high nutritional value, but it is not popular even to Vietnamese in other provinces. It is a speciality of Van Don Island district, Quang Ninh. If you enjoy this valuable seafood once time, you will never forget its distinctive taste – savory flavor and a crunchy texture. There are various way to cook it: steamed, soup, grilled or raw; however, steamed is the most simple method to process “tu hai” while keeps its sweet and savory flavor and normally chosen as an appetizer in seafood menu in Van Don district.

Place to eat: If you cannot go to Van Don district to taste this dish, the most well-known places to eat the dish in Ha Long are areas which are near Cao Xanh market and Bai Chay market.

“Gat gu” cake

“Gat Gu” cake is made from rice powder which is similarly used to make Pho or steamed rolled rice pancake but adding a secret ingredient of cold rice to make it more delicious. The name “gat gu” originates from shape of long roll nodding repeatedly when you hold it. If you enjoy this dish in its hometown- Tien Yen district (Quang Ninh), there is a customs that you should make each roll nod repeatedly three time before eating. Each nod represents for satisfaction toward this dish.

Another secret to make this delicous and unique flavor dish is sauce. The savoury fish sauce is steamed with chicken fat, onion and chili. This perfect combination creates a special dipping sauce and make the dish even more exotic with unique aroma.

Place to eat: The best place to enjoy “gat gu” cake is its hometown – Tien Yen district. It is about 80 kilometer far away from Ha Long City toward the east. There are some small vendors in Ha Long I city center market selling this special dish but not always. Therefore, if you have a chance to pass Tien Yen for your convience, do not miss this food.

Ms. Tuyết – No 32, Hoa Binh street, Tien Yen district

Sea snail 

It is not overstated to say that dishes from sea snails is a half of Ha Long cuisines. It cannot estimate exactly how many types of sea snails in Ha Long but it is more than 20 kinds, the number confirmed by many local fisher. There are many restaurants selling sea snails but the most successful ones have its own special sauce even though being made from same ingredients such as fish-sauce, ginger, peppers and lemongrass. Each snail kind has its own flavors and different processing ways

Place to eat: Bai Chay market and Cao Xanh market (pass to Bai Chay bridge) are the most popular places supplying sea snails with the best quality.

“Be be” roasting with salt 

“Be be” looks like a shrimp or mantes, therefore, sometimes it is called “sea mantes”. Its meat is very sweet and no matter of whether it is grilled, steamed, roasted with salted or tamarind, it is absolutely a must-try dish when you visit Ha Long.

The most delicious processing way is roasted with salted. This dish is quite sophisticatedly processing including spices such as citronella, oil, salt, pepper … but making this dish reach to level 10 of delicious heavily depends on the art of controling fire. When finished, the dish is aromatic, chewy and juicy.

Place to eat: You can order this popular dish in any restaurant in Bai Chay or Ha Long city.

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