In the daytime, Da Lat charms visitors with its colorful flowers, green pine forests, beautiful lakes and fresh highlands air. Tourists often make side trips to outlying areas to see flower villages, mountains and magnificent waterfalls. When the sun sets, it’s time to relax and warm up with local food, perhaps the favorite attraction of this highlands city. Justin Colebrissi, a tourist from the US says: “I love Da Lat compared to Sai Gon, a beautiful city and people are much more friendly. I think the overall atmosphere and the weather are nicer. We’ve been doing a little bit at night market. We eat food and buy new things to take home. It’s good. It’s one of interesting things and prices are much better, too. Tomorrow, I think of a plan to do a little sight seeing and may be go to rent a car to the waterfall, take in a little bit of culture and then drink”.
Many tourists agree that no tour of Da Lat is complete without exploring the local night market and its street food stalls. While tourists in Sai Gon and Hanoi usually go to a restaurant to sample the local cuisine, in Da Lat, it’s the open food stalls in the central market where visitors find something hot to eat to warm up while they observe the street activity.
The food stalls in the central market are tiny with just a couple small tables and chairs, but that doesn’t bother the customers. Ms. Loan, who has been selling soy milk in Da Lat’s central market for 10 years, says: “A variety of food is offered in the Da Lat market. Tourists usually come to the market between 5 and 10 pm to enjoy soy milk and Banh trang nuong or grilled rice papers. Soy milk is a Da Lat specialty. The milk is mixed with sugar, coconut milk and ginger. This is a favorite treat of Da Lat tourists. They drink it hot to warm themselves against the cold Da Lat night air”.
Bánh tráng nướng is the most popular dish with Da Lat tourists- large sheets of rice paper grilled over smoldering coals and topped with some contributions of egg, pork, beef, scallions, chili, pounded shrimp, mayo, or cheese. Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh, who sells Bánh tráng nướng (Grilled rice papers) at the market says: “This dish was created by Da Lat people. I sell from 3 in the afternoon until 11 at night. My shop is the most crowded from 8 to 10. Most of the customers are tourists. Local people visit my shop only on the weekend. This dish is easy to eat and very popular among tourists. Some people call it Vietnamese pizza. Different cooks have different ways of cooking this dish”.
Barbecue shops are another place Da Lat visitors shouldn’t miss. Each shop owner has his own special grilled dish recipe but they are all tasty. Food prices at the night market are quite reasonable. A piece of grilled rice paper is only 30 cents and a glass of soy milk is just 25 cents. So there you have it. The tasty and affordable street food in Da Lat should keep you busy through many cold evenings.