- Yellow "BBQ Grill Island Style" hut near mile marker 35
- Gogi Food Truck
- Like Poke Truck at the Saturday Swap Meet
- Foodie spots on the Road to Hana...see separate map below for those
Wow. Just wow. You know, you have to be careful with expectations when you travel. Sometimes you build things up so much in your mind and expect the food and ingredients to be so much better than what you've had that you set yourself up for disappointment. I am here to tell you that I fully believe that is impossible to do with this Bánh Mì in Hội An. It. Is. Amazing. But be forewarned...so amazing it may ruing all other Bánh Mì for years to come.
Oh, Hanoi! Hanoi! How I totally fell in love with this city! Honestly, it was completely unexpected...so much so that Katherine and I were lamenting as we planned out trip about how we were wasting a night in Hanoi because of our Halong Bay boat cruise instead of using that extra night in Saigon or Hội An. What was wrong with us?! Why did all of our friends tell us there was nothing in Hanoi and it would be fine if we skipped it?! I'm here to tell you, don't fall for that...Hanoi is amazing. There is the beautiful mix of French Colonial and Vietnamese architecture, a gorgeous European style promenade around the centrally located Hoàn Kiếm Lake, the air is cooler and less humid, the people are even friendlier and more fun-loving than everywhere else in Vietnam (which I honestly didn't think was possible) and the food is some of the best I had in all of Vietnam.Oh, the food! This is where it gets tricky. Since Katherine and I did end up with only one night (16 hours including sleeping time to be exact) in Hanoi as soon as I started researching the food I knew we had a problem on our hands. Too much food and too little time! But Katherine was a trooper and let me drag her all over the city to have not one, but three dinners plus street food plus another spot for dessert. Yeah, I get a little crazy when it comes to experiencing an amazing place through food...but trust me the marathon foodie sprint was worth it! So let's get eating... First up is the not-to-be-missed Bun Cha! Bun Cha is my new favorite Vietnamese dish that has fatty grilled pork, white rice noodles, herbs, a delectable mixture of pickled garlic and chilis and a slightly sweet dipping sauce. I mean honestly, this pickled garlic and chili component alone had me distracting my fellow diners with my groans of enjoyment as I ate! This was our first dish of the evening...and we knew we had a few more spots to hit after this so we were really trying to restrain ourselves and not eat it all but we just couldn't. We slurped up every last bit smiling the entire time. The crispy spring rolls too...some of the best I had while in Vietnam.
So, about that food...let's get on with my photo culinary journey through Saigon! If you recall, I had a very aggressive foodie itinerary, which you can see here, and while I'm incredibly proud of the damage Katherine and I did there are still lots of local treats on that list that I'll need to check off on my next trip. That being said we did pretty well...sometimes eating upwards of 5 meals in one day! The locals often doubted us as we ordered and we often proved them wrong. Don't let our petite size fool you, Katherine and I are can put it down! Thank God for that because the food in Vietnam is simply incredible...there is no other word for it. Fresh and simple yet complex all at the same time. Some dishes have simply been ruined for me forever back in the States...like banh mi. Oh my, the banh mi was out of this world. But I'm getting ahead of myself, you'll have to read my upcoming Banh Mi post for that!
Let's start our journey here in Saigon...and if this makes you hungry and curious about visiting Vietnam yourself make sure to check out all of my favorite photos from the whole Vietnam trip here as well as my Hanoi post, my An Hoi Cooking Class post and my Banh Mi posts all soon to be published. Happy visual feasting! This was our very first breakfast and meal in Vietnam. It was at a place locals recommended called Quan An Ngon which is super fun because the owner essentially designed it around bringing all the famous street vendor foods together under one roof. So things you typically can only find in Northern or Central Vietnam you can find here...and for those of you squeamish about eating street food this is a great way to try it all without the risk. So what did our first meal consist of? Clockwise from the top left we have bánh cuốn with Cha Ca dipping sauce, Shredded Pork Skin and Broken Rice & Grilled Pork Breakfast. I wish I knew what that rectangular thing encased in yellow was in that last picture because it was freaking delicious, but try as we might we just couldn't get an answer we could understand. The bánh cuốn was amazing...the rice sheets were so delicate and thin and the vegetarian filling was so flavorful. Then there was the side of pork skin...boiled, not fried yet with such a unique and fabulous texture. We couldn't get enough of this stuff!
Welcome to the 5th and last post in my South Korea foodie travel series! For a quick recap in case you missed some, the first was my South Korea Foodie Itinerary that I created prior to heading on my trip, then upon return I shared a quick teaser summary with highlights from both my Vietnam and South Korea trip. Then I dove a bit deeper with a post that allowed you to follow me, Eating My Way Through South Korea and finally shared a video of SavoryGirl Exploring the Noryangin Fish Market and eating live baby octopus. This last one highlights a food tour that I took while in Seoul and is honestly one of my favorites in the series...read on and I think you'll see why!
To be perfectly honest, I've never done a food tour before since I fancy myself pretty expert in this space myself (check out all of my foodie itineraries here), but since I was solo in a big city who's culture around food is all around being social and sharing I thought this might be the perfect time to try one out. And, wow! I honestly might do one of these every time I go to a major new city in the future. What a great experience...not only for the behind the scenes spots and foods you get to experience, but for a glimpse into the true food culture and all of the great insight you get from a local, particularly if you're chatty like me! You even learn how to pronounce things and what proper manners are related to food and alcohol which can be incredibly helpful as you continue your travels throughout the region on your own afterwards. If interested, I did the Korean Night Dining Tour with O'ngo Food Communications and would highly recommend it. Onto the first stop of the food tour...Nakwon Market, which strangely enough I can't find any information on anywhere online. This is not the Nakwon Music Arcade, but instead an underground food and cooking supplies market in the Insadong neighborhood. It has a great mix of food & house ware markets combined with an abundance of spots to eat, where it appeared lots of business men came after work to enjoy. Doesn't that handmade tofu look just delicious?! And a foreign market just wouldn't be complete without a shot of some kind of animal head! Now onto Korean BBQ! This is why the food tour was perfect for me, no way could I order this all by myself! And while I've certainly had it in the States, it was important to me to try it out in Korea and I'm glad I did. It was certainly similar, but so delicious. And I learned all about how to properly layer and wrap everything and make sure it all fits in one neat bite (did you know that? I didn't!). I also didn't know that the different lettuces you get are for different purposes...so there's lettuce for the outer wrapper, but then there are also Perilla leaves which are a bit thicker and more coarse and have a lovely mint/arugula flavor. So our guide taught us to layer that on top of the lettuce, then smear the doenjang (Korean bean paste) and then layer in the meat for a perfect bite. So yummy and educational!
I'm back from my whirlwind 2 week tour through Vietnam and South Korea! I'm not quite ready to share all of my foodie photos and stories just yet, but wow...what an amazing trip. Despite how many great things I've heard about Vietnam I was still completely blown away. So much so that I already know I want to go back again...and that's incredibly rare for me to say since there are still so many new places to explore! Then South Korea completely exceeded my expectations in terms of food, people and Seoul being one of the cleanest and safest cities I've ever visited.
While there were certainly many non-food highlights from both portions of my trip, you are in for a treat with my upcoming posts about the incredible food I ate while traveling. From traditional dishes like pho and bibimbap to the adventurous indulgences of fertilized duck embryos and live baby octopus still squirming and suctioning as I put them in my mouth! I'll also be sharing my first new SavoryGirl video in almost three years. I honestly can't believe it's been that long...but this will be a great one to get videos back in the rotation again.
In the meanwhile, the photo collage above is a sneak preview...consider it the many happy faces of SavoryGirl eating her way through Vietnam and South Korea! This is truly me at my happiest: exploring new cultures, trying new foods, meeting new people and making great new memories from around the world that will last a lifetime. Stay tuned, lots more adventures from Vietnam and South Korea to come!
What an adventure I have coming up! After a week-long, whirlwind trip with my girlfriend to Vietnam, I decided to turn our 20 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea on the way back into a 5 day layover for myself since I had extra time I could take off. So I'm headed to South Korea...and I'm doing it all alone! Since I only have a week I'm focusing on Seoul and Gyeongju only for this trip, but even if I just stayed in Seoul the whole time there's a lot of great food experiences to fit in!
Many people say that Seoul is 6 cities crammed into one...and if I'm just judging by the variety of food alone that I'm going to be challenged to fit into my tummy shown below I can already see how overwhelming this city may prove to be. But have no fear, SavoryGirl is up for the challenge! That being said, I'm going to be a bit more flexible with this itinerary than with others that I have done and instead of focusing on restaurants, I'm going to simply focus on the types of food I really want to make sure I don't miss. There are a few restaurants I'm going to try to make as well, but on this trip that's lower priority than simply sampling as much authentic South Korean cuisine as I possibly can!
If you like what you see, feel free to check out my other foodie travel posts here. And make sure to check out my Vietnam Foodie Itinerary to see what I ate during week one of this vacation!
This year, however, my focus is a bit more on mental health than on food, physical health or fitness. Why? Because I feel like I inadvertently dabbled in this space a lot in 2014 as I went through my hardest year yet. And every time I dabbled, it felt really, really good. So good that I want to make this focus a more central part of my life and routine. In 2014 I crossed an item off my bucket list and went to Amansala's Bikini Boot Camp, I took a 6-week meditation class, I got back into therapy after 10+ years off, I read a couple of really empowering and fantastic books (The 5 Things We Cannot Change and Nonviolent Communication for those interested) and I just genuinely focused on improving myself in areas where I was feeling a bit shaky.
So to start off 2015 I'm heading to a 3 day yoga and meditation retreat to try to lock in all of that cumulative goodness that I acquired in 2014 and really start this year off right. I'm super excited to take a solo and leisurely drive up the coast, have a few days with no cell service, practice lots of yoga and meditation, eat all organic, vegetarian meals, have time to hike in beautiful Salt Point State Park and then cozy down each night with a good book and a warm bubble bath all while surrounded by the beauty that is coastal Northern California. I mean really, doesn't that sound divine?
But before I head out, I thought I'd leave you with a few links to my blog posts, below, summarizing what I focused on in January 2013, two years ago. That year the focus was on food, so I did the 3-week Whole Living Detox which was amazing. A lot of prepping and cooking each Sunday, but so worth it as you'll see in my four summary posts below which are chock full of all of the amazing recipes and photos. And the three habits that seemed to make such a difference for me back then, I'm proud to say are still 80% a part of my life 2 years later! When I return from my 3-day yoga and meditation retreat I'll be picking out a few of my favorites from that detox to include in my weekly menus throughout the rest of January to keep my healthy momentum going, so stay tuned.
So all of this nostalgia means that our visits to San Diego tend to be a little different than our typical Gastronomic Globe Trotting. Instead of trying to track down the latest and greatest restaurant or looking for an authentic "taste of place" we tend to just stick to our old haunts (mostly in/near Pacific Beach) and hang out with friends. That being said, a lot of our old haunts are the perfect taste of San Diego to us (and pretty darn cheap since we were so poor!) so I think you'll enjoy some of our favorites when you're in town as well: