Vietnamese Cuisine in Prague
The culture and delicacies of Vietnam beyond pho soups and spring rolls
Vietnamese cuisine is known mainly for their pho soups and tasty spring rolls that are widely available as fast food. Since the Vietnamese make up the 3rd largest minority in the Czech Republic, their cuisine is fairly common all over the country. Prague especially has a wide selection of tasty Vietnamese restaurants, bistros and fast foods.
Pho is definitely the star of their cuisine: it is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup serves in generous portions. According to CNN, it is also one of the 50 most delicious foods. Pho is generally made with either beef or chicken, a few simple herbs, rice noodles (bánh phở) and broth. The relatively new food originated in the early 20th century and spread from northern Vietnam to the rest of the world by the refugees that fled from Vietnam after the 1955 – 1975 war.
Pho is also used in the name of several restaurants in Prague. Pho Vietnam is a popular chain with two locations in Prague: Anglická 529/15 and Slavíkova 1657/1 both located in Prague 2. The restaurant on Anglická is a proper sit-in location while Slavíkova is a bistro right by Jiřího z Poděbrad. Pho Bo (beef soup), Pho Ga (chicken soup) and Bun Ga Mang Moc (mixed meats, bamboo shoots and rice noodles) are the most popular on the menu.
Another Pho starring restaurant is Pho Family located at Slezská 11 (Prague 2). Pho Family has an extensive menu with soups containing beef, pork, chicken, asparagus, mushrooms, fish and tofu. They offer plenty of vegetarian meals and meals containing phở (flat noodles), bún (round noodles) and miến (glass noodles). Typical pho usually contains chicken or beef, bun often contains duck and mien contains pork. However there are also soups containing seafood: súp tôm cay is a spicy soup with shrim, súp cá is fish soup and súp lươn is made with eel.
Pho Nam Nam, located in Prague 6 (Brevnov) is a restaurant that combines a great selection of food, great service and nice portions. The restaurant offers a daily menu on work days as well as Saturday. They also have an impressive selection of spring rolls: veggie, non-fried, fried crab and regular fried.
Gao Den located in Prague 5, a sit-in restaurant offering the most popular main meals on the menu as well as three oriental deserts: Banh Che Xanh, Chuoi Ran and Xoi Xoai. They also offer Sinh To, Vietnamese milkshakes with the options of avocado, mango, strawberry and matcha. Finally, they also have a variety of Vietnamese coffees for anyone who wants a thorough taste of Vietnamese cuisine.
The delicious Vietnamese coffee involves a French drip filter (phin) that is places on top of the cup and trickles strong coffee made from coarsely ground beans into the cup that contains sweetened condensed milk. After the cup is full, which can take up to 10 minutes; the contents are stirred until the milk is fully dissolved. You can try this coffee at Remember Vietnamese Food for example. In addition to great coffee they have delicious deserts such as deep-fried bananas!
Sapa, Prague’s “Little Vietnam"
Restaurants are not the only way to experience Vietnamese cuisine. You can discover a lot about their culture by taking a trip to Sapa. Home to around 7,000 people, Sapa is more than just a market – it’s a community with schools, social and cultural activities and it also happens to be a warehouse where Vietnamese businesses purchase their store supplies. Open every day of the week including public holiday, Sapa is a great place to buy clothes, household supplies, toys, food and even gardening supplies at retail or discounted prices.
The maze of stores spanning 35 hectares, markets and the occasional restaurant offer a great assortment of foods including fresh seafood, exotic fruits (including the famously stinky but tasty durian) and Asian products such as miso, bean paste, seaweed and buckweat pasta. Meanwhile mochi and other delicious deserts peer out temptingly from the freezers next to the giant shrimp.
The selection of drinks is also great: sake, plum wine and Vietnamese beers fill the shelves. The coolers by the cash registers offer pulpy aloe drinks and coconut water. Even though most of the stores offer regular products that you can find on the shelves in any supermarket or potraviny store, walking through the Asian-style Sapa gates feels like teleporting into the heart of the Far East.
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