One of the more pleasurable things to do in NhaTrang is to eat. In fact, much of the Vietnamese culture is based on the social interaction while eating or drinking. If you befriend a local at 8 am, you will probably be eating and drinking by 11. Breakfast and lunch are usually just a normal meal, but an afternoon or evening meal can take the rest of the day. And if the evening meal was consumed at home, the rest of the evening is often spent at coffee shops, Ice cream parlors, bars, and roadside setups that offer all kinds of different edible snacks. I have on many occasions gone to restaurants where 4 hours were used to consume about 12 courses, and as many beers. I will do a page on strictly Vietnamese food at a later time. For now, I will speak to you of what is available here for the tourist.
Firstly, there has to be more hotels and restaurants per capita than any other city. Not only does NhaTrang offer a extremely high number of quality seafood and specialty restaurants, It also boasts ethnic restaurants (ethnic being us) from almost every region of the globe. There are many people who are very concerned about what they put into their body, or have set in their mind what is palatable and what is not. Not to fear….. NhaTrang has something for everyone. And not just clones of what Vietnamese think a Italian or North American food should be like…. But the real deal. I have been pleasantly surprised at how good these restaurants are. So far, I have had very few disappointments with the food. I have run into some cleanliness issues and will not go to those places again, but all in all they have been very good. So far I have gone to Italian, Tex-Mex, seafood, Irish, and Vietnamese restaurants. All very good. I have yet to try the French, Greek, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, or Russian establishments. I have not yet seen any Chinese restaurants….. hmmmm…. China is next door…… hmmmmm…. I will have to try to figure that one out. In Saigon, fast food places have started to appear. I saw a KFC and I heard of a Pizza Hut. We tried a Vietnam version of a burger joint. It was OK, but you would have to eat a lot of burgers to get full. Of course chicken burgers are much more available than beef. Fast food has not reached NhaTrang yet. I imagine it will one day.
About the meat quality. Beef is expensive here. This is not cow country. There are cows here, but they are scrawny and eat whatever they can find. I have actually seen a cow untie a plastic bag to get at the banana peels inside. Someone remarked to me that the beef could be good here, but the time from slaughter to market is same day. Beef in North America can be aged for 21 days for tenderness. The specialty tourist restaurants have beef suppliers that ship from the Unites states. Pork is a much more common meat and like in North America, it can be tender and delicious. Many pigs have escaped into the country and live wild, so you will see wild boar on many menus. Chicken is prepared in many ways, almost all of them delicious, however, most chicken here is as hard as shoe leather. I have been told that there is tender chicken here, but I have not found it yet. That is probably due to the fact that most of my meals are either at home or in Vietnamese restaurants. I very rarely go to the foreign places. Probably the freshest and the best food here in my opinion is the seafood and the variety of it. I have had fish steaks that are the size of and cut like a beef steak. Smaller ocean fishes of all kinds are available. There is a large variety of shellfish from your standard scallop and clams, to giant snails the size of your fist. The oysters are smaller here and a bit expensive. Most crabs here are small, however, you will not see bigger shrimp in all the world, both freshwater and saltwater. If a person is as adventurous as I am, you can enjoy Frog, eel, snake, and yes….. even dog. The weirdest thing I have ever had was deep fried tarantulas.