Foreigners surprised by Vietnamese dining culture

Tobias, a Canadian visitor, is surprised to find out that Vietnamese diners can bring food from one restaurant to another to eat.


Photo: Foody

At the end of 2019, Tobias Bremner, 28 years old from Canada, decided to move to Da Nang to live and teach English. While living in Vietnam, he has noticed some interesting differences in dining culture.

Banh mi, with the look of Western cuisine, French baguettes and Vietnamese flavors, is Tobias’s favorite Vietnamese dish. “A perfect fusion of Eastern and Western culture,” he added.

Tobias has his own 4 or 5 favorite banh mi shop, including the one of Madam Khanh in Hoi An. Knowing that customers can buy the banh mi and have it at the close-by smoothies shop, Tobias is really surprised.

Banh mi at Madam Khanh shop in Hoi An Province. Photo: VNE

Curious, he did give it a try and now every time he comes here, he would buy banh mi and have it at the close-by drinking shop. For him, “Banh mi and smoothies are the best combinations,”.

Tobias explained that, in Canada, diners are not allowed to bring food and drinks from outside into the restaurant. Because this might cause cross-contamination of food, resulting in food poisoning. “In my hometown, I can’t bring sandwiches from the outside into the coffee shop. I have to finish the sandwiches outside before getting in,” he said.

Another difference that Tobias noticed is the coffee drinking culture. He assumed that almost all Vietnamese people enjoy spending time at a coffee shop, drinking coffee, chit-chatting or using the phone … At first, he was a little bit surprised since “In Canada, we usually buy a cup of coffee and take it home or to work. Coffee is seen as a catalyst for alertness, not a place for hanging out with friends. Only the elderly or retired people spend much time in a coffee shop,” he said.

Tobias usually travels to the North by motorbike. Photo: VNE

Since living in Vietnam, going to the coffee shop has become part of Tobias’s daily routine. After lunch, he often goes to his favorite coffee shop with a book and orders a cup of iced coffee with milk to drink.

“I love the Vietnamese coffee drinking culture and the taste of Vietnamese coffee. It’s really relaxing just to sit there and do nothing in hours” he shared.