Food Wonder Vietnam - Bia Hoi

The Vietnamese love me and want me to be happy If you agree with Benjamin Franklin that Beer is a sign that God loves us and want us to be happy, then one of the signs you'll quickly becomes familiar with in Vietnam are those advertising 'bia hoi.' Draft beer. At less than 25 cents for a liter you might be surprised to know that while the brand varies depending on the region you're in, the beer is always of good quality. Maybe that's just the beer talking. . .
In the selfless pursuit of content for the website, Julie and I continually found ourselves conducting research in these rather ratty looking establishments.

As uniform as the quality and price of the beer is the similarity in atmosphere and decor of the places that slosh it out* - blue plastic miniature tables and chairs squeezed into tiny concrete rooms or simply set out on the sidewalk giving the almost exclusively male customers a perfect place to watch the world flow by. The only thing lacking is my Vietnamese, which excludes me from the gossiping, laughing, bonding and merriment going on all around us.
The beer is served either directly in chipped murky plastic cups with ice, or in an even grubbier plastic bottle that serves as the pitcher. In addition to the cheap beer and prime location for watching street life, the 'bia hoi' establishments will often serve low priced snacks ranging from steamed clams to spring rolls to 'pho'**. No corn-nuts though.

*there is one way to tell whether you are in Hanoi or Saigon. You only see men topless in Saigon.

**another three letter word anyone travelling on a budget through Vietnam will learn is 'PHO.' Pho shops sell steaming bowls of noodle soup that are very filling and cost only fifty to seventy-five cents.



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