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Mar 29

Sapa Cuisine

By guide | WHERE TO EAT

Sapa, the marvelous highland town, is famous for not only its beautiful, breath-taking scenery and multi-colored hill-tribe cultures, but also its variety of delicious foods. Coming to Sapa, you would not want to miss these following dishes, which are Sapa’s signature ones. Excuse me if you see my article at mid-night. I know the temptation is a real struggle.

Com Lam Sapa

Lam sticky rice

Com Lam is one of traditional food of Vietnamese ethnic minorities in northwest Vietnam. The main ingredient is glutinous rice which is put into a 30 cm bamboo tube. Com Lam is grilled for 1 hour; it is ready to serve after the bamboo tube is cracked. Com Lam is very popular thanks to its simple, yet tasty flavor which is a perfect blend of glutinous rice, waterfall water and pleasant scent of bamboo. Don’t be surprised if your stomach is full but you just cannot stop eating more.

Carried-under-arm pork

Carried-under-arm pork

When in Sapa, don’t get surprised if you come across some ethnic minorities carrying one or two pigs under their arms to the local market. These pigs are ordinary pigs. They are not fed in a cage or a farm by locals there; instead, they grow themselves by foraging food in the forest. Thanks to its living condition, the pork made from them has very little fat. There are many dishes created from ‘carried-under-arm’ pork such as grilled pork, steam pork and grilled stuffed pork in bamboo and many more. If you are not vegetarian, you must try one of dishes made from carried-under-arm pork. The distinctive flavor blended with tempting aroma from this special pork can hold you back in Sapa a few more days. The fresh pork is sold in market fairs such as Bac Ha, Sin Cheng. You can come to some local Vietnamese restaurants to try this amazing pork- the crème de la crème of Sapa cuisine. After eating nearly a full plate of grilled pork, I came to realize that how fulfilled my life was at that moment.

Black chicken

Black chicken

Black chicken is the special chicken raised by Hmong people in Sapa. It is called black chicken because its skin, meat and bones are all in black. Black chicken has firm meat since it is running all day in the forest. The most favorable dish made from black chicken is roasted chicken with honey. The strong scent of the dish can make you mouth water and once you eat it, you will understand why it is one of the must-taste dishes in Sapa. The dish can be found at some local restaurants that serve Vietnamese food. They even let you choose the chicken and they will cook it for you. Although I am not a big fan of chicken, I must say the honey-roasted black chicken was really yummy.

Salmon hot pot

Salmon hot pot

Recently salmon has been raised successfully in Sapa thanks to its subtropical highland climate, which is nearly similar to the climate in Europe and North America where salmon is originally found. Unlike imported salmon which typically contains a lot of fat, salmon in Sapa has firm, lean meat with high nutrition. There are many delicious dishes made from salmon, for example, salmon hot pot, raw salmon or roasted salmon. Among these dishes, salmon hot pot seems to capture more attentions from diners, especially for cold, wintry days in Sapa. Salmon is mixed with tomato, pineapple and some wild vegetables that only grow in Sapa, all well-blended in spicy and super tasty broth.  Tasting it is one of definitely bring my 5-star experiences during my Sapa trip.  Salmon hot pot is served at some restaurants such as Lotus Restaurant or Thac Bac Restaurant.

Cải Mèo Sapa

Variety of mountainous vegetable dishes

Going around the open market in Sapa, you will find a lot of fresh vegetables, among which there are several types that only grow in Sapa. ‘Ngồng’ is one of the most popular vegetables there, which is usually boiled or sautéed. ‘Ngồng’ may taste bitter at first, but it gets sweeter as long as you chew it. ‘Cải Mèo’ also is on my favorite vegetable list. It is extremely tasty when sautéed with garlic and beef. Even imagining about it can make my mouth fill with saliva.

Rose Apple Liquor

Rose apple trees grow wildly in Hoang Lien Son Mountain and are harvested by ethnic minorities in Sapa. After gathered, these apples are processed into alcohol. The sweetness blended with the bitterness of rose apple liquor creates an unforgettable flavor. Nothing can beat the taste of rose apple liquor especially after you eat ‘Carried-under-arm’ pork.

These aforementioned dishes are all healthy ones, which are easy to eat and have a pleasant taste.  Furthermore, Sapa is also a home of several bizarre foods that you may not dare to try. Seriously, unless you are unconscious or fond of weird food, then don’t taste them. You may regret once you know what are inside them! I was not aware of how weak my stomach was when I tried ‘Thang Co’- a Hmong’s traditional dish that made from stomach, heart, liver, blood, meat and bone of some animals such as horse, pig and buffalo. Let me guess. You feel disgusted already, right. It actually didn’t taste disgusting at all. The one I tried was served in a restaurant name ‘Thang Co A Quynh’.  It just was not a right fit for my taste and my stomach as well. However, it wasn’t the case for my friend. She ate the whole bowl of ‘Thang Co’ and told me that she loved it. After all, there is no accounting for taste, right?

If you are worried that you may not be able to eat Vietnamese food while you cannot find any other food in Sapa, then throw your worries away because there are a lot of restaurants serving Western and Asian food in Sapa.  Some dishes that you can find in the restaurants in Sapa such as beefsteak, curried vegetable, doner kebab and fresh baguette stuffed roasted vegetables to name a few.

You can find information about restaurants in Sapa, which are renowned for their delicious meals, great services and affordable prices on Tripadvisor. Read the reviews carefully to get a meal that is worth your money.