I wasn’t sure what to expect food-wise on my trip to Mũi Né, the beach resort town north of Saigon. I checked things to do in the town before going, but didn’t look at anything involving food. I may have eaten more than just seafood, but nothing else was as appealing.
I had expected my hotel to serve a better breakfast than they did, especially as I was the only guest at the time. Fortunately, my friend and her company had an extra space for me to join in for breakfast and lunch at their more impressive resort. The one breakfast I had at Melon Resort was good, but it wasn’t nearly as good as what I got at The Cliff.
While breakfast at my hotel was a little bit of fruit, an omelette, and coffee, The Cliff offered an enormous buffet that I never managed to fully get through. There was a huge selection of local fruit, breads, custom omelettes, cheese, traditional Vietnamese food, and what looked like some Chinese food. There was probably more that I didn’t notice. I focused my energy on the cheese, fruit, and coffee.
While I thoroughly enjoyed breakfast with all the pineapple, dragonfruit, and watermelon I could take, the lunches at The Cliff were even better. It was again a buffet, but with more Vietnamese food to try.
Most impressive was the final day in Mui Ne. We were served a special lunch, which my friend did not know the name of.
This was a combination dish with some spicy marinated fish and strips of other foods that included egg, pork, cucumber, and vegetables that I didn’t know. It was put in a bowl of rice noodles and mixed with a peanut sauce and crumbled rice crackers. We were also given a spicy and sour hot pot broth to put in the bowl as an alternative (I preferred the peanut sauce).
It was a great dish with a mixture of fresh flavors. And the combination of textures with the crispiness of the rice crackers and sticky rice noodles added to the culinary experience. This was my favorite meal of the entire trip to Vietnam.
But there was still more to eat in Mui Ne.
On the first night, my friend and her group took me closer to the town for a seafood feast. There was a line of seafood restaurants that catered to tourists — the food looked pretty good, but it was definitely not the best quality. Much of the seafood was already dead when we picked out what to order.
Overall, the restaurant was good, but it was much more expensive than I expected for Vietnam. We ended up spending almost $30 per person. So, when my friend said they were going back there the next night, I decided to wander out on my own in search of something else.
On that second evening as I wandered the main street in search of a restaurant that looked good, I ran into a group of Chinese tourists who were doing the same. We split a taxi closer to the main part of town, though we realized later that we didn’t go far enough. We ended up at a little restaurant not all that far from my hotel.
It wasn’t quite what any of us had originally wanted, but we shared a good meal of spring rolls, clams, and a whole fish. Unfortunately, the lighting in the restaurant was also not too good for photos.
On the final night, as the group returned to the same restaurant again, I took the opportunity to check out the surrounding eateries. Of course, I ended up right across the street at a simple outdoor spot that had a decent crowd. The food seemed just as good as anywhere else and it was far less expensive than what I got the first night — so much so that I wandered out to check out some bars down the street after dinner.
The best part of that last meal in Mui Ne was the lemongrass clam soup — the light fresh flavor was wonderful on a hot night and went well with my Saigon Beer. It was a lot of clams, too. The chicken dish I ordered wasn’t as good, and certainly wasn’t spicy like it claimed to be.
Certainly a beach resort town is not the best destination for great food in Vietnam. Aside from that lunch at my friend’s hotel, I had much better meals in Saigon and Dalat. I’m sure if I had explored other parts of Mui Ne I could’ve found better food, but being part of a group prevented that.