Sinh Tố (Fruit Smoothie)
Smoothies are everywhere in Vietnam, and we're not just talking strawberry-banana. You'll find smoothies with fresh dragonfruit, custard apple, and jackfruit, along with ice and condensed milk or yogurt.). You should try the sinh tố mãng cầu (soursop smoothie), a refreshing sweet-and-tart treat made from a fruit that's native to South and Central America and popular in Southeast Asia for a creamy flavor reminiscent of both strawberries and pineapples.
Dừa Tươi (Fresh Coconut)
Coconut water may have just shown up on your grocery store shelves a few years ago, but it's been a popular drink in Vietnam for centuries. You won't see the packaged stuff, though: here, it's drunk straight out of the coconut—and this coconut water is grassier, sweeter, and more full-flavored than anything you'll find in a package—trying it is like drinking raw milk for the first time. Generally, the smaller coconuts are sweeter than the larger ones. Whole coconuts are unwieldy to store, so vendors will chop off the outer green husk and keep the small white inner shell, cut into a shape that won't fall over when put on a flat surface. These white globes are usually kept on ice until you order one, then a giant machete is used to chop a hole in the top.
Nước Mía (Sugarcane Juice)
Not as sickly sweet as you'd expect, sugar cane juice is another drink that's considered "cooling". It's usually sold by street vendors, who use electric squashing machines, not unlike an old-fashioned wringer, to squeeze the juice from stalks of sugar cane. It's usually then mixed with juice from the calamansi, a tiny sour citrus fruit that smells like a mandarin. The finished product has a crisp grassy flavor that's very refreshing on a sweltering hot day. Sugar cane vendors advertise their wares openly, with a bucket of sugar cane stalks in front of their stall. They can also be identified by what looks like a ship's wheel on the side of the stall, part of the electric wringer mechanism that juices the cane before your eyes.
Trà Atisô (Artichoke Tea)
The go-to drink for hungover Vietnamese men, trà atisô is believed to have liver-cleansing and detoxifying properties. There are two versions of the tea, which is usually served with ice—the sweetened yellowish version made from the artichoke flower and the intensely bitter black version made from the artichoke stems. My advice is to avoid the black tea and go for the sweetened version, which has a delicate nutty flavor. Artichokes are grown in Dalat in Vietnam's cool Central Highlands but packets of artichoke tea are available in supermarkets throughout the country.
Nước Chanh (Lime Juice)
Another popular drink you cannot miss in Vietnam is lime juice. It’s so cool and refreshing. You also can sip it with a can of soda. This drink is often served with a glass full of ice. Ask for it with or without sugar (duong). You can also try Soda Chanh (lime soda). Soda chanh hits the spot on a steamy day: essentially, it's a fizzy homemade limeade that's usually served partially prepared. You're served a glass full of ice with sugar and sometimes lime juice in the bottom, with the can of club soda on the side. Sometimes you're given a glass of ice and sugar and a little dish of lime wedges so you can squeeze your own juice into the glass. Fancier places will serve the sugar syrup on the side of your drink so that you can adjust the ratio of sweet to tart to suit your taste.
Cà Phê (Coffee)
Vietnam is the world's biggest producer of Robusta coffee, a variety of bean that most coffee experts consider inferior to the Arabica type, thanks to its bitter and acrid tendencies. But the Vietnamese people know how to make the most of what they have. Vietnamese coffee is prepared using a small metal drip filter, and is most commonly served over ice. You can't walk a block of any street in the country and not see someone enjoying a coffee in one form or another.
The two most popular ways to drink local coffee are cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk) or cà phê đá (iced black coffee). Note that unless you specifically request "không đường" (no sugar) or "ít đường" (a little sugar), the black version will come with four or five teaspoons. You can also get your caffeine fix with a yogurt coffee or the Hanoian specialty, egg coffee, made with whipped egg yolk.
Tea is one of the cultural characteristics of the Vietnamese. For a long time, tea has appeared everywhere, from the urban to rural areas, and has been an indispensable part in the Vietnamese people’s life, from Tet holiday, festivals, wedding ceremonies to funerals. There are two main kinds of tea: fresh tea and dried tea. Both of them have a relaxing fragrance, but fresh tea is a little bit less tart and bitter than dried tea. Besides, nowadays, more flavors of tea such as daisy tea, oolong tea, etc. are produced to meet the diverse taste of customers. Drinking tea is not only enjoying one type of beverage but also being deep in the traditional beauty of a thousand-year-old country.
You can drink hot or iced tea but iced tea (trà đá) are more popular. Wherever you are, a trà đá stall is just around the corner. If you see a small assembly of plastic stools and glasses in Vietnam, you can be sure they serve this iced green tea. To really enjoy it like a local, order a glass with your street food at lunch or dinner.
Nước Sâm (Herbal Tea)
This sweet and nutty Vietnamese herbal tea is usually served over ice, making it perfect to sip in the chaos and noise of a Vietnamese wet market on a steamy day. Believed to have "cooling" properties according to Chinese medicine, the most basic nước sâm recipe contains sugar cane, nettle leaves, grass roots and corn silk—an illustration of the Vietnamese aversion to wasting anything. Variations of this drink can also include dried longan, the flower of the sawtooth herb (also known as spiky coriander/cilantro), and roasted water chestnuts.
Trà Sữa Trân Châu (Boba Tea)
Boba here refers to tapioca pearls, usually made from cassava starch, sweet potato and brown sugar. These edible pearls have chewy and kind of crunchy texture and usually come in black or milky color. Similar to Vietnamese Che (fruit mix), boba tea comes with dozens of different flavors. Beside thousands of Café, travelers also could find hundreds of shop selling Tra Sua (Boba Tea) and wonder “What’s the deal with this land?” Well, to walk inside one of this Boba Tea shop means you are entering the land of teenager and youth. You will see groups of students in different table chatting, playing board game or doing schoolwork with servings of matcha milk tea, creamy mango milk tea with topping,...
Beer is one of the exceptions to the rule that drinks aren't served with food in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, the phrase "di nhau" means "to go drinking." But the term refers to much more than just the drinks; there's a whole range of tapas-style dishes that accompany a Vietnamese drinking session, such as prawns barbecued with chili and salt, clams steamed with lemongrass, green mango with a prawn-chili-salt dip, or coconut snails sauteed with butter and fish sauce.
Many Vietnamese beers are only available in their home region, so your options will vary depending where you travel. In the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, the local beers are Saigon Red, Saigon Special and 333, all lightly hopped and slightly sweeter than beers from other parts of the country. In the central region of Vietnam, the local beers are Huda (the name combines the words Hue, Vietnam's former Imperial capital, and Denmark), and Bia La Rue, a slightly more bitter beer believed to have originated from a French recipe. A visit to Hanoi is not considered complete without a pilgrimage to Bia Hoi Corner (at the junction of Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dinh Liet) to try bia hơi (fresh beer), a low-alcohol draft beer with a clean, crisp taste.