Vietnam has something for everyone, from warm beaches to cooler high altitudes, and delicious food abounds! Da Lat or Dalat is the largest city of Vietnam’s Central Highlands region, and its cool climate has lots to offer.
Let’s start with the essential questions!
What is Da Lat known for?
The popular tourist destination is known for its food, often found in the night market and eateries in every other corner, but also for its laid-back feel and hospitable people.
What food is Da Lat known for?
Without a doubt, Vietnamese pizza is the most popular dish in Dalat with tourists, but there’s much more, from hot pots to stuffed snails! Everything is delightful here, and food is not only inexpensive but readily available. You’ll be eating all day!
How many days should I spend in Da Lat?
Both locals and tourists visit Dalat for its milder climate, especially during the year’s warmest months. You can get to know the city in three days, but you can also stay for a week. Some people spend a month here, and it’s easy to see why — Dalat has something for everyone!
What should I buy in Da Lat?
People know Da Lat for its tea plantations and coffee, and the food is worth looking for, too, especially the city’s specialties, which you’ll find listed below.
Be prepared for some comforting dishes and others that will bring out the real foodie in you. This is an authentic food adventure!
From Rice Paper to Rice Flour and More! Did Someone Say Avocado Ice Cream?
This is a list of food in Dalat, from unique sauces and noodle soups to delicacies to please your sweet tooth, including dried fruit to desserts. From fine restaurants to the lively night market, be prepared to satisfy your every craving!
1. Oc Nhoi Thit (Stuffed snails)
This is one of many traditions left by French colonists. Stuffed snails are a delicacy in Da Lat, where they load the small shells with snail meat and ground pork and serve them in a small bowl as an appetizer or a fun starter.
Don’t say no to snails; these beauties are flavored with lemongrass, so they’re fresh and flavorful, and the consistency is rich and creamy, not slimy at all!
This is one of those dishes you won’t find easily in other parts of Vietnam, so don’t miss out on them. You’ll change the way you think about escargot! These are much nicer.
2. Salad Da Lat
Salads are a big deal in Da Lat, where fresh produce abounds, so expect colorful combinations with balanced flavors and textures. The region’s colder climate makes for fresh produce local cooks use very well.
Expect lighter tossed salads and others topped with a wide variety of meats, from pork to fish. The dressings take Da Lat salads to another level, with a masterful use of fish sauce and every other exciting condiment in Vietnam’s repertoire.
The one thing you won’t find is a dull salad. People take great pride in the veggie dishes, so they’re always awesome!
3. Xap Xap (Dried beef salad)
Amongst all salads in Da Lat, one of the most popular is the fried, shredded beef salad. What looks like authentic beef jerky is deliciously chewy and balanced with a hefty addition of green papaya, peanuts, herbs and a savory dressing. The dressing is made with chili sauce, fish sauce and a dash of tamarind sauce.
This sweet, savory and spicy dish is the perfect lunch, as it’s hearty enough to keep you energized through the day, but it’s not overly filling.
Some places serve it with various dipping sauce plates and other toppings you can add to make the dish to your taste. Who doesn’t like to personalize its meals?
4. Bun Tho (Noodle soup)
Of course, you’ll find fantastic bowls of noodles around Vietnam and all Asia, but the Bun Tho noodles are unique. They’re cooked in a terracotta bowl which adds a specific flavor to the rich broth, and it’s hard to describe!
The secret is in the broth, usually made with pork bones and veggies, while coconut water is fairly common. Tho means terracotta, and what the beautiful dish brings to the table is a warmer temperature.
Expect the terracotta bowl to keep the broth steamy while you scoop out all those springy noodles. Not every restaurant serves noodles in such dishware, but it’s widespread in Dalat.
5. Nem nuong (Grilled pork sausage)
Grilled pork is a Da Lat specialty. It’s smoky, fork-tender and nicely seasoned with garlic, scallions and other local spices.
This is one of the most popular braised dishes, and its smokiness has no equal. You’ll find people grilling nem nuong everywhere, and they use the meat for several other preparations, which we mention below.
Let’s just say this is not your regular barbecue; this is cooking pork on an open flame to perfection! Expect to find the smoky stalls serving this delicacy after dark, as this is a popular evening snack enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
6. Nem Nuong Ba Hung (Grilled pork rolls)
If you think nem nuong sounds good, wait until you try it as a filling inside spring rolls made with fried rice paper.
Let’s call this one a Vietnamese lettuce wrap because they often serve the rolls with veggies and a unique sauce. Garnishes vary, but anything from bamboo shoots to quail eggs goes. The star of the show, though, is the pork meat inside the tasty rolls. Da Lat is unique for this type of street food snacks.
Be prepared to eat more than one grilled pork roll, they’re tempting, and if you’re not careful, you won’t be hungry for dinner!
7. Banh can (Pancakes)
Dalat is known for its unique pancakes known banh can. They’re made with rice flour over hot skillets or griddles, but don’t expect a sweet treat. On the contrary, they fill these fluffy delights with chicken, quail eggs and even beef!
More often than not, it’s the sauce that makes the dish, so expect a savory dip made with spices and fish sauce to liven the pancakes’ personality.
The best part of Dalat’s pancakes is that you’ll find them everywhere at any time. They’re one of the most common street foods, and the best stalls are often surrounded by a crowd! Expect to wait for your turn. It’s well worth it!
8. Lau Bo Ba Toa (Beef hotpot)
Da Lat is cold for Vietnam’s standards, so a steamy bowl of hot pot is the order of the day. The lau bo ba toa hot pot is flavored with beef and has a rich, thick texture and intense flavors.
Often livened by a wide variety of condiments and toppings, including fish sauce and green scallions, Dalat’s hot pot is a community meal that will feed a crowd.
This is no soup, though, but a main course, and it’s as hearty, filling and satisfying as any whole meal you’ll find in town. If you’ve never tried a Vietnamese hot pot, you’re in for a surprise!
9. Banh Uot Long Ga (Steamed rice paper with chicken tripe)
Here’s where things get weird for the inexperienced. People in Da Lat have a specialty made with chicken organs, and it’s often referred to as a wet cake.
I know this doesn’t sound appealing. Still, think of the wet cake as the merger of moist steamed rice paper and cooked chicken flavored with chili sauce and many other delicious condiments. The chicken organs are pretty tasty, especially if you don’t know what you’re eating.
Show this wet cake some love and try new things! Who knows when you’ll be back in Dalat? Make the most out of your trip!
10. Banh beo (Fern-shaped cake)
This dish is somewhat of an oddity, but locals love it. Think of bahn beo as moist cakes made with rice flour and tapioca starch with a nice bite that’s not too chewy or dry — it’s exactly right.
The steamed buns are topped with a colorful sauce made with pork broth, and they’re served with a lovely dipping sauce. This is not your everyday snack, but it’s good!
Rice cakes are typical in Vietnam, but this one has no equal; this is an authentic Da Lat specialty, and you’ll soon find yourself in love with it.
Do you like tamales? Well, this is the Vietnamese version!
11. Banh mi xiu mai chen (Banh mi dip with meatball soup)
The Banh mi is the country’s signature dish, but not all baguettes are served in the same way. In Dalat, people serve the tender bread with its classic golden, crackly crust along with a hearty meatball soup for dipping!
And if this sounds like a hearty lunch, it’s actually quite common for breakfast. It comes without saying the soup is flavorful and topped with fresh herbs, while the meatballs are juicy and fatty, just like you want them.
Yes, dipping a baguette in a meatball soup is a thing in Da Lat, and you’ll find it incredibly rewarding!
12. Ram Bap (Fried corn rolls)
You know you can never have enough fried rolls, and these are no exception. Ram bap is a unique take on the fried finger food. It’s stuffed with a mixture of sweet corn kernels sautéed with shallots and other aromatics for a very satisfying first course.
The filling varies from one spot to the other, and it can be quite hearty and flavorful, so expect nothing less than an explosion of flavor in every bite.
Often garnished with green onions and served with steamed rice, these corn rolls let you know you’re not anywhere in Vietnam; you’re in Da Lat.
13. Banh xeo Da Lat, more pancakes!
If you’ve traveled through Vietnam, you surely know the crackly banh xeo pancakes. The dish’s name means sizzling pancakes, and that’s because they cook the yellow batter to crispy perfection before stuffing it with lots of goodies!
The version you’ll find in Da Lat is a bit smaller but equally delicious! The stuffing varies, from prawns to pork or a wide variety of veggies, but what all banh xeo have in common is their addictiveness.
Yes, you’ll fall in love with the two-biters and their crunchy texture. This is Vietnamese street food Da Lat style!
14. Banh trang nuong (Vietnamese pizza)
You don’t know Da Lat until you try the Vietnamese pizza. Better described as grilled rice paper, banh trang nuong is a flat dish with a wide variety of toppings from crispy fried shallots to shredded chicken or even quail egg.
The grilled rice paper serves as a base to hold everything together, just like pizza, and both tourists and locals call it that.
This is not your everyday pizza, the ingredients are uniquely Vietnamese, and it can be light when topped with veggies or hearty when topped with sausage, dried beef or prawns.
This is pizza like no other! That’s the banh trang nuong.
15. Dau lac (Strawberry shake)
Strawberries are delicious already; they’re amongst the most lovable berries in the world, but you’ve never tried them as they serve them in Da Lat.
Halved strawberries tossed with shrimp salt and sugar become a fantastic all-natural snack people call shaken strawberry.
The perfect combination between sweet, tangy and savory comes together in this popular snack that shows how lovely Dalat’s produce can be — these are perfectly ripe, red strawberries. The people here have really found a way to make them even taste better!
Do you think you know how strawberries taste like? You don’t until you try this snack!
16. Kem bo (Avocado ice cream)
Talking about strange, sweet treats and desserts. There’s a unique ice cream made in Da Lat, and no, it’s not the creamy coconut ice cream you’d expect but avocado ice cream.
This light green, creamy treat shows people in Da Lat know how to have fun with their food, and the ice cream works! It’s delicious, and it doesn’t taste like avocado at all.
Thinking about it, it’s somewhat herbal and nutty and incredibly buttery. Why did no one think about making ice cream with avocado before? I don’t know, but I’m glad the folks in Da Lat did. It’s wonderful!
17. Che (Sweet soup)
Let’s end this list with another sweet dish from Da Lat, and this one is a bit uncommon as well. This one is called Che, and it’s a sweet soup?
A sweet soup? Yes, and it’s fantastic! People often make this cold soup with corn of sweet rice dumplings, and there are many versions of it.
Mung beans and bananas are common ingredients but don’t expect an overly sweet soup but a balanced concoction designed to be enjoyed in a cold Dalat evening.
From salads to sweet soups, that’s Dalat, and you’ll love it! So visit and experience the unique Vietnamese cuisine! Here is a couple of great restaurants in Da Lat, check them out when you're there!
Da Lat is waiting for you!