On Being Chickentarian in Indochina

Being chickentarian* in Vietnam and Cambodia involved some challenges, but in general it wasn’t too difficult. I think that being vegetarian, on the other hand, would be much more difficult.

A few observations:

  • Interestingly, I had an easier time finding good chickentarian food in the north than in the South (perhaps nowhere was as easy as Hang Ga)
  • The chickentarian options on the Santa Maria Cruiser (Halong Bay) were fantastic and plentiful.
  • Hue seemed to be a pho bo town for some reason — it was very hard to find ga, except at Pho 24 (more about Pho 24 in a later post).
  • There are also many “Hue specialties” — food dating back to Imperial Vietnam — almost all of which contain pork. FWIW, they look very good.
  • There was all kinds of seafood to be had in Nha Trang, which was all kinds of goodness.
  • We had two meals in the street stalls in Vinh Long, one before and one after our boat trip. Vinh Long is somewhat remote, and very few people spoke English there. The first time it was a bit difficult to find anything — but a nice vendor made me a banh xeo (pancake that normally contains shrimp and pork) without the pork, in response to some very creative sign language on Kenny’s part. The second time, we had com ga (rice with chicken), which was fine, if a bit boring.
  • Back in Saigon, it wasn’t especially easy to find chicken, and when we did, it was often a bit plain. In Saigon and elsewhere, we had a couple of dishes called “chicken with chili and lemongrass” that were disappointing (although we had an amazing version of the same in Hanoi!). Our three (!) meals at Pho 2000 were the exception — this was probably the highest quality chicken we had on our entire trip.
  • One time while we were in Saigon, we sat down in a restaurant without inspecting the menu first. After we saw the menu, we noticed that there was nothing for me and had to walk out!
  • There’s a lot of pork in Cambodia, especially if you stick to Khmer food. Fortunately, there’s always amok (with fish or chicken — I recommend fish)!
  • I’m certain that there were a few times, in both Vietnam and Cambodia, that I unknowingly consumed dishes cooked with meat. C’est la vie.

In general, both the chickentarian (me) and the meatatarian (Kenny) ate very well in both Vietnam and Cambodia.

*This term means different things to different people. For me, it means: poultry and seafood are fine, but no mammals.