There is no shortage of delicious food options in Danang, Vietnam. And street food is not just tasty, it’s also cheap. So I highly recommend gathering a list of places specializing in all the good Vietnamese dishes local to this region, and wandering about eating. But in this post I’m going to talk about my experience cooking with locals in Danang.
With all the great places to eat for cheap you might question why I would also book a food experience through Traveling Spoon. But one thing you can’t get at the food stalls and restaurants is the opportunity to talk with locals and learn to cook. That’s where Traveling Spoon comes in. They’ve been in the business connecting travelers with local chefs for five years. These are not commercial tours. Instead it feels like a chance to learn about local food and culture from some new friends.
My Danang Traveling Spoon experience was right in the heart of downtown. With the help of a pin on a google map, I found my way down a small alley off of a bustling street. At the end was Diep’s parent’s house. I’ve done a lot of peer to peer food experiences, including tours, cooking classes, and in-home meals. And Diep wins for the easiest person to talk to. When I arrived I was welcomed into the courtyard of their home by Diep and her mother. I was offered a cold guava juice and a seat in their lovely gardens. And Diep and I started talking. I learned about her job and family, and how she got into hosting visitors for meals.
After a while we moved into the kitchen to start cooking. Diep’s mom, who doesn’t speak English, came in and out to monitor our progress and offer cooking suggestions. She’s the master chef in the family, according to Diep. I learned about some new ingredients like Colocasia Gigantea, Giant Elephant Ear. I still have no idea what the stalk is called in English but it’s a mild-tasting vegetable with an interesting spongy texture.
When we were almost done cooking Diep’s father appeared in the kitchen. He speaks some English and was super friendly. We put all the dishes on the table and sat down to a meal. Most of my conversation over lunch was with Diep, but her father also jumped in a bit and everyone offered me pointers about how to eat various foods: the river fish required some careful de-boning, and the fish soup was meant to be added to the rice bowl after eating the fish separately.
We ended up with five dishes, four cooked together and one prepared in advance since it required an hour of simmering. A feast of delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
I’ve enjoyed cooking with locals in cities around the world. Traveling Spoon is just one of a number businesses facilitating of peer to peer meals and activities. Check out my spreadsheet for a list of options for your next trip.