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Food and Drink in the Mekong Delta Region

Food and Drink in the Mekong Delta Region

By Wendy Updated Nov. 2, 2022

As your boat drifts through a vibrant floating market, passing piles of freshly-cut flowers releasing aromatic scents and boatloads of fresh local fruit, you will truly experience life in the Mekong Delta. While you’re at it, buy a coconut from one of the vendors and enjoy drinking its milk, as you continue to explore.

Whether you find yourself drinking from a coconut in a floating market or enjoying a rice paper spring roll in a night market, the food and drink in the Mekong Delta offer a plethora of interesting new flavors to try.

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  • Eat locally-grown tropical fruit such as star apples, red bayberries, and others.
  • Drink fresh coconut and fruit juice for refreshment after a hot day.
  • Create your perfect personalized bowl of noodles by customizing various dishes.
  • Eat lunch in a traditional wooden house with a local cook.
  • Enjoy a meal with a view, on a river cruise.
  • Watch local cooks prepare food at their street-side stalls.

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Unique Local Foods

Below is a list of some of the local dishes that originate in or have been popularized by the Mekong Delta region.

Sa Dec and My Tho Noodles

Sa De and My Tho noodles are delicacies that originate in the Mekong Delta area, from the town My Tho, which is on the itinerary of one of our tours. They are noodle soups made with rice flour noodles and served with a light clear broth.

Try the dishes ‘dry’, which means your soup and noodles come in separate bowls, allowing you to make the soup as you please. Toppings may include shrimp, herbs, and pickled vegetables upon request.

Elephant-Eared Fish

The elephant-eared fish is indigenous to the Mekong delta region, famous for its mild flavor. It can be ordered fried, smoked, or boiled, according to your preference. You are recommended to try it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some peppery salt.

There are many local legends surrounding elephant-eared fish and it has a special place in both Vietnamese culture and cuisine. If you have an opportunity to try this delicacy, don’t miss it.

Lo Ren Star Apple

The Mekong Delta is famous for its floating fruit markets and no trip to the Delta or one of these markets is complete without sampling a Lo Ren Star Apple. This fruit can be recognized from its purple husk and milky white appearance.

More fragrant than sweet, the Lo Ren Star Apple will startle you with its unique scent and refreshing taste. It is hard to find outside Southeast Asia and the opportunity to eat one so close to where they are grown should not be missed.

Continue reading for information about a tour that will take you to a floating market where this fruit is sold.

Bot Luc

If you decide only to sample one dish while visiting the Mekong Delta then make it Bot Luc. Shrimp, herbs, citrus, and fish sauce are cooked into a dumpling-like cake made from rice flour. Each cake can be eaten in one big bite, which will allow you to explore many of the Mekong Delta region’s flavors in a few delicious mouthfuls.

Bot Luc can be found in every town and village in the area and is sold both as street food and in restaurants. It is typically eaten as a light lunch, so be aware that you might need to order something else; an excellent opportunity to sample even more of the unique local dishes.

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Unique Ways of Enjoying Local Food

While restaurants are well air-conditioned, consider taking your culinary adventure ‘on the road’, with the following interesting and unique ways of enjoying the local food.

Enjoy Locally Grown Fresh Fruit at a Floating Market

The Mekong Delta is famous for its floating markets, where vendors sell flowers and produce from their boats. Board a bamboo raft or boat and you can meander from seller to seller, seeking out the freshest looking fruit.

This is a truly unique experience that allows you to observe how locals manage to live in an area that is largely invaded by water. As a bonus, you will be trying some of the freshest fruit in the world.

Asia Highlights tours visit Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho, which is highly recommended. Traveling with a tour can prevent unnecessary delays and frustrations.

Grab a Snack While Watching Local Chefs at Work

One of the most interesting by-products of having a lively street food culture such as can be found in southern Vietnam, is that free entertainment is provided every time someone orders a dish. As you wander towns such as My Tho or the larger Can Tho, make sure to grab a snack. Take your time and enjoy watching the cook prepare your food right before your eyes.

Do not feel limited to the vendor you choose to patronize. As you eat, it can be fun to peruse other stalls and watch how other local dishes are prepared. Many of the cooks are showmen and will add flair to their routine if they know they are being watched.

Enjoy Lunch in a Local’s Wooden House

If you travel with Asia Highlights you will have the opportunity to eat lunch with a local in their own home. This truly intimate and rewarding experience will offer you a glimpse of how the people in the area live.

Your host will not only cook delicious and authentic food, but will also answer any questions you might have about local life, resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime meal that you will remember for the rest of your life.

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