Sapa, as a mountainous haven with a rich culinary scene, is an integral part of Vietnam travel. In this article, let’s discover the essence of Sapa food at its best, with the top 15 must-try dishes that showcase the unique flavors of the northwestern region.
1. The best food in Sapa Vietnam you should try
Are you in search of food to eat in Sapa for your Sapa food tour? Below are some suggestions for Sapa local food that you should not miss out on.
1.1. Thang co – a must-try dish in any food tour in Sapa
Known as a distinctive Sapa food with a unique aroma, thang co is a traditional dish of the Hmong ethnic people in Sapa. The primary ingredients include meat, bones, and offals from horses and buffalo, combined with over 20 herbs. These ingredients are cooked until tender in a large pan. Initially, the slightly bitter broth might be a bit strong, but amidst the cold of Sapa, a bowl of thang co will help you appreciate the beauty of this region.
1.2. Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tube (com lam)
Com lam, a kind of Vietnamese sticky rice, is a simple yet delicious Sapa dish commonly found in local markets and street vendors. It involves placing rice inside a bamboo tube wrapped in banana leaves and roasting the tube over hot coals. The fragrant scent of rice and the gentle aroma of bamboo combine to create an enticing dish with an aromatic impression. Com lam is often enjoyed with salted roasted peanuts, grilled pork, or chicken skewers.
1.3. Cap-nach pork (thit lon cap nach) – a delicious Sapa food to eat
Cap nach pork is a renowned specialty in Sapa, often seen carried by locals by their armpits and taken to the market for sale. These pigs are raised naturally in fields or forests, making cap nach pork leaner, less fatty, and more aromatic. While there are various preparation methods such as steaming, grilling, stir-frying, and frying, the best approach is to cook it over charcoal for a crispy outer layer and succulent meat.
1.4. Salmon and sturgeon hotpot (lau ca tam)
Sturgeon hotpot and salmon hotpot are two renowned specialties in Sapa. Sturgeon and salmon in Sapa are known for their firm texture and high nutritional value. Perfectly complementing them is a steaming pot of hot and sour broth made from fish bones, fresh vegetables, and mushrooms grown in Sapa. If you are planning to have a Sapa food tour on a cold day, indulging in salmon and sturgeon hotpot, a unique Vietnamese hot pot, is a must-try.
1.5. Men men – a well-known food in Sapa Vietnam
Men men is one of the quintessential dishes of the Hmong people, prevalent in many mountainous areas in Northern Vietnam. After the maize harvest, the Hmong people grind the corn, mix the cornmeal with water, and cook it in a pan, resulting in a uniquely sweet flavor. Men men is often served with soups like pumpkin soup or bone broth. Alternatively, you can steam men men and pair it with chili sauce and herbs to relish its distinctive sweetness.
1.6. Five-colored sticky rice (xoi ngu sac)
The Tay ethnic group is famous for their five-color sticky rice, a famous Vietnamese food. This Sapa food comprises five different colors of sticky rice: red, green, yellow, black, and white. Symbolizing the balance of yin and yang, xoi ngu sac boasts a chewy fragrance from high-quality glutinous rice, blending harmoniously with the distinct flavors of mountainous herbs such as ginger and turmeric.
1.7. Mam da vegetable – a unique Sapa food for your meal
Mam da is a type of mountainous vegetable in Sapa found only on the summits of high rocky mountains. Its taste is reminiscent of broccoli, but with a better aroma and a sweeter flavor. Typically served boiled and dipped in fish sauce to further enhance the authentic taste of mam da, it is occasionally stir-fried with other vegetables such as mushrooms or mixed with ginger in a soup.
1.8. Grilled stream fish (ca suoi nuong)
Grilled fish is another delectable Sapa food to savor. Using fresh fish caught from the pristine streams of Sapa, the locals marinate the fish with indigenous spices before grilling it over charcoal. The result is a fragrant grilled fish, complemented by the addition of sour leaves, green bananas, pineapples, and a spicy dipping paste. This delightful combination is sure to leave a lasting impression while tourists dine in Sapa best restaurants.
1.9. Con sui – a famous food in Sapa Vietnam with unique tastes
Con sui is a dish originating from the Chinese community in Sapa, often referred to as dry pho Sapa. This dish consists of rice noodles, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, herbs, chili, beef, and sauce. To enjoy con sui, you can pour the sauce onto the rice noodles. Freshly harvested vegetables often accompany con sui, and adding a bit of chili sauce will enhance its deliciousness in a way particularly fitting for Sapa’s cool weather.
1.10. Black chicken (ga den)
When in Sapa, it is highly recommended to try black chicken meat, a unique Sapa food from the rare black chickens. It can be prepared in various ways. The most popular way is grilling black chicken marinated with honey. The chicken is grilled over hot charcoal, resulting in perfect crispy skin and an impeccable combination of sweet flavors from the chicken and honey, providing an unforgettable culinary experience.
2. Famous Sapa street food to eat in your trip
Refer to this Sapa food guide to discover the best Sapa street food and options for cheap food in Sapa Vietnam to enhance your trip.
2.1. Chestnut cake (banh hat de) – a cheap Sapa food to try
A food tour in Sapa would not be complete without chestnut cake, which is one of the best Vietnamese cakes. Handcrafted with a dual-layer structure, this cake features a crispy outer layer made from beautifully-browned fried wheat flour and a filling composed of pureed chestnuts. Be sure to savor this delightful treat and buy it as a thoughtful gift for friends and family.
2.2. Sapa fruits
Sapa, a land of mountains and forests, offers a tempting selection of fruits. One of the local specialties is mac cop, a wild pear with a sweet and slightly sour flavor. Additionally, during the summer months, don’t miss out on Ta Van plum, known for its soft, sweet red flesh and refreshing taste. You can also relish the pink peaches of Sapa, which exude a fragrant and crunchy appeal.
2.3. Grilled food
Indulging in grilled delicacies at night has become a quintessential part of Sapa’s nightlife. While strolling through the night market in Sapa, you can enjoy a diverse array of meats and vegetables, from pork and chicken to corn and tao meo. These Sapa street foods are seasoned and marinated in unique ways, resulting in distinctly delicious flavors.
2.4. Dried buffalo meat (thịt trau gac bep) – a good food in Sapa Vietnam to buy as gifts
Thit trau gac bep is the most popular dried meat in Sapa. The Black Thai ethnic people marinate the buffalo meat with local spices and herbs to create an exclusive flavor, then hang the meat in their kitchens for about eight months to a year. The smoke from the kitchen imparts an extraordinary smell and flavor to the buffalo meat. Enjoying it, you can relish the sweetness dancing in your mouth.
2.5. Tao meo wine
Tao meo wine is well-known in Sapa and the northwestern region of Vietnam. To craft tao meo wine, assam apples undergo fermentation for six to eight months, resulting in a distinct mountain flavor and a rich brown color. Beyond its appealing taste, tao meo wine offers a balanced combination of sweetness, bitterness, and acidity. Don’t forget to enjoy this unique beverage during your culinary journey in Sapa!
Indulging in Sapa food is a sensory journey, where each dish tells a story of tradition and flavor unique to the region. In the enchanting settings of Sapa best restaurants, from bustling markets to street vendors, every bite of the best food in Sapa Vietnam unveils the rich tapestry of Sapa’s gastronomic heritage, leaving a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to explore this mountainous culinary paradise.
When in Sapa, apart from exploring the delightful Sapa food, make sure to visit renowned tourist attractions such as Ham Rong Mountain, Ta Phin Village, Cat Cat Village, Fansipan Mountain, O Quy Ho Pass, Thac Bac Waterfall, Tram Ton Pass, and more.
Once you have savored the best food in Sapa Vietnam, you can broaden your travel horizons by exploring other prominent tourist spots across the country, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long. In these destinations, you can elevate your stay with comfort and luxury by choosing Vinpearl’s hotels and resorts. From spas, golf courses, shopping malls, fine dining restaurants to conference centers, Vinpearl offers a world of international-standard amenities.
Additionally, for boundless fun, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the entertainment complexes of VinWonders, where a diverse range of thrilling games and cultural festivals await.