And that's understandable: from the outside, Da Nang looks like any other growing modern city, all shiny office blocks and newly built hotels. But once you look past the swish high rises you’ll find a warren of back streets bursting with tantalising street-food stalls and local haunts untainted by mass-market influence. Here’s why Da Nang should be on every foodie’s bucket list:
For the foodie, this amounts to plenty of authentic, local cuisine to taste. Here, street vendors peddling tasty, inexpensive meals rule the roads, each specialising in one or two signature dishes. Unsurprisingly, this also means that Da Nang is a very cheap city to eat out in – most on-the-go food is under $1, so there’s nothing to stop you trying it all.
The city’s most famous – and most popular – dish is Mi Quang. It’s a classic Vietnamese noodle soup with a twist: the base is made from bone broth and fish sauce, to which turmeric is added (turning the rice noodles yellow), along with fresh vegetables and shallots. Sprinkled on the top, you'll usually find shrimps, boiled eggs and pork (or you may have the opportunity to add eel). Basil, coriander and other herbs are added to create the characteristic fragrant freshness Vietnamese food is famous for.
Come again at night and you’ll find the road crammed with motorbikes, awnings opened, shops lit up and the sound of people enjoying their evening meal. At the end of the road, a tall red arch proclaims the name of the street – this is Pham Hong Thai, and it’s where locals come for Da Nang’s best night-time street food.
And then, of course, there’s the food stands. Con Market is a fantastic place for a snack, with lines of benches in between the stalls offering fresh home cooking. There won’t be any signs in English and service is likely to be brusque, so this is where to go for a really authentic experience.
Ideally located right on the waterfront, Da Nang is the perfect place to try Vietnamese seafood dishes. Many of the city’s specialities are fish-based and it’s a safe bet at any restaurant. Go for bun cha ca, a fishcake noodle soup that is one of the most popular eats.
One of the best is Happy Heart Café, where you’ll find delicious vegetarian food, fry-ups, desserts and even Mexican cuisine – try the generous tacos or Happy Heart pizza. Most of the staff are deaf or handicapped, giving opportunities to people with disabilities, and the US ambassador to Vietnam even visited this year.
Just 20 minutes from the city centre, the stunning InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort already boasts Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire. The hotel restaurant, La Maison 1888, which serves a fusion of French and Vietnamese cooking such as lobster with green shiso or a coconut milk tiramisu, is the perfect place to splash out.