On chilly evenings in the northwest, there is nothing like sitting down on Sapa’s grilled-food street with a bowl of strong Bac Ha wine and a plate of fragrant grilled food.
The 100-meter stretch of grills known as Ham Rong Street is behind an old stone church near the backpackers’ quarter. The stalls open at dusk. The charcoal-grilled dishes have traditionally been sold in small baskets. People fond of spicy food will love skewers, the most common grilled dish here. Chunks of meat are coated with spices, oil, and chili powder and skewered on bamboo sticks and grill. The fatty and spicy pieces of meat bring a pungency that spreads from the tip of the tongue to the entire body. Since each dish is made using its own unique spices and marinating style, flavors are rarely repeated. Besides perennial favorites like corn, sweet potato, cassava, chicken, and other birds, you can also enjoy sour tofu, round rice cake with tiny shrimps, chicken eggs, and violet sugarcane. Heo cap nach (carried-under-the-armpit pig) is the most famous item on the menu. Though the majority of customers are tourists, the street is also a meeting place for locals because of its friendly and cozy atmosphere, delicious range of foods, and prices of just VND3,000-VND15,000 (US 15-77 cents) per dish. Sellers accept both Vietnamese and American money. Sapa has fancy restaurants serving foreign and Vietnamese cuisines but many tourists prefer the dimly lit stalls perhaps as a way to find hidden corners of a foreign land.