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South East Asia Dining Highlights: Penang, Vietnam, Chiang Mai

It's been a while, folks. But I am back and ready to share so much deliciousness to share to a) make you jealous but more so b) to be encourage you to travel to SE Asia to eat all the things! Here is a photo recap of my month in South East Asia-

Starting the trip off in Penang, my first lesson was that roti is much more available at breakfast time.

pre flight breakfast street roti

a muddy colored bowl of fish laska at the bottom of Kek Lok Si (awesome Buddhist temple built in to a mountain)

fried spinach and cheap seafood at the Red Garden Food Paradise- especially the grilled tiger prawns

The ridiculousness that is the Food Museum- one big photo opp for people who love food.

Non food highlights: Jetty Village, Kek Lok Si, Snake Temple


Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City was a special feeling. I finally made it to Vietnam, a place I have wanted to go for years!

One of my earliest, most beautiful and most memorable Saigon meals was at the Lunch Lady stand. Sitting at tiny plastic chairs I enjoyed her tangy seafood soup of the day and a cold beer.

Non food highlights: Pasteur Brewery, War Remnants Museum & Independence Palace


A few hours south of HCMC, in the Mekong Delta, is the Can Tho floating market. Locals carry prepared foods, tea, and produce on their boats and sell to each other. I was so lucky to find Susan Bui, a local lady who guided us on a small boat to have lunch at this floating market. We also toured local food markets, a fruit farm, a tiny local rice noodle factory, and spent the night cooking with her family at her parent's rice patty farm. I can't sing her praises enough, an unforgettable experience.


Creeping back up north, Hoi An was the next stop. I had no expectations about this beach side town but ended up being blown away by its charm and food.

Like the overnight tour with Susan, my highlight here was food related- a 6 hour cooking class with Green Bamboo where we learned to make 11 dishes, including cao lau- a pork and noodle dish only found in Hoi An.

Pho Lien

Ms. Ly's white rose dumplings

Other Highlights:

Mango Mango/Mango Room Happy hour

Madame Kahn Banh Mi

Non food highlights: renting bikes and exploring, pina coladas at the beach, side trip to Marble Mountains

Pro Tip: While getting clothes made is a fun novelty here, its an exhausting process requiring a lot of your time (multiple visits) and the end results are not always what you were hoping


In Hanoi, a lot of eating was done in the street.

Obama and Bourdain approved grilled meats and noodles at Bun Cha Huon Lien

Sizzling dilly fish at Cha Ca Thang Long

Non food highlights: Women's Museum, Bia Corner (drinking cheap beer in the street), overnight cruise to Halong Bay (gorgeous)


Saying goodbye to Vietnam, I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Like in Hanoi, most of my meals were on the street.

Khao Soi Lamduan Fa Ham

mango sticky rice

street sausages

Non food highlights: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Sunday Walking Street, Wat Doi Suthep (up mountain), self guided Wat tour on bike- Wat Chiang Mun, Wat Pra Sing


If you were wondering- "did you eat durian?" I sure did. On Koh Samet, a lovely island a few hours south of Bangkok. Tasted a little like fruit that has turned, but not nearly as bad as the smell.

So friends, have you eaten around South East Asia? What were your highlights? And for anyone planning a trip- I'd be happy to share my itinerary and other tips- just ask!

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