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  • Writer's pictureTravel Vietnam Local Guide

Top 15 must-try Sapa local foods for every Foodie

Updated: May 11

Sapa's diverse food scene promises a culinary journey like no other. From savory grilled delights to tantalizing local specialties, the cuisine here embodies the rich flavors of the region. Prepare for a gastronomic adventure that celebrates the culinary richness of Sapa, Vietnam.


01 Thang co - a must-try local food in Sapa

Thang co - a must-try local food in Sapa
Thang co - a must-try local food in Sapa (Source: Internet)

Thang Co, a signature Sapa delicacy with a distinctive aroma, is a traditional dish of the Hmong ethnic people. Made with meat, bones, and offal from horses and buffalo, along with over 20 herbs, this hearty stew is cooked until tender in a large pot. While the slightly bitter broth may seem robust at first, amidst the chilly air of Sapa, a comforting bowl of Thang Co offers a taste of the region's unique beauty.


02 Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tube (com lam)

Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tube (com lam) Sapa
Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tube (com lam) Sapa (Source: Internet)

Com lam, a traditional Vietnamese sticky rice, is a delightful Sapa specialty commonly found in local markets and street stalls. This simple yet delicious dish involves stuffing rice into bamboo tubes wrapped in banana leaves and roasting them over hot coals. The fragrant aroma of rice mingling with the gentle scent of bamboo creates an enticing sensory experience. Com lam is typically served with accompaniments such as salted roasted peanuts, grilled pork, or chicken skewers, enhancing its savory flavor profile.


03 Cap-nach pork (thit lon cap nach) - a famous dish in Sapa

Cap-nach pork (thit lon cap nach) Sapa
Cap-nach pork (thit lon cap nach) Sapa (Source: Internet)

Cap nach pork, a famous delicacy in Sapa, is often transported by locals under their armpits to the market for sale. These pigs are raised naturally in fields or forests, resulting in leaner, less fatty, and more aromatic meat. While there are several ways to prepare cap nach pork—such as steaming, grilling, stir-frying, and frying—the preferred method is cooking it over charcoal. This technique yields a crispy outer layer and succulent meat, elevating the flavors to perfection.


04 Salmon and sturgeon hotpot (lau ca tam, ca hoi)

Salmon and sturgeon hotpot (lau ca tam, ca hoi) Sapa
Salmon and sturgeon hotpot (lau ca tam, ca hoi) Sapa (Source: Internet)

Sturgeon hotpot and salmon hotpot are two beloved specialties in Sapa, renowned for their firm texture and nutritional value. These dishes are complemented by a steaming pot of hot and sour broth, crafted from fish bones, fresh vegetables, and locally grown mushrooms. If you're embarking on a Sapa food tour on a chilly day, treating yourself to these unique Vietnamese hotpots is an absolute must.


05 Men men - a well-known food in Sapa

Men men - a well-known food in Sapa
Men men - a well-known food in Sapa (Source: Internet)

Men men is a quintessential dish of the Hmong people, found in many mountainous areas of Northern Vietnam. After the maize harvest, the Hmong grind the corn and mix the cornmeal with water before cooking it in a pan, creating a uniquely sweet flavor. Men men is commonly served with soups like pumpkin soup or bone broth. Alternatively, you can steam men men and enjoy it with chili sauce and herbs to savor its distinctive sweetness.


06 Five-colored sticky rice (xoi ngu sac)

Five-colored sticky rice (xoi ngu sac) Sapa
Five-colored sticky rice (xoi ngu sac) Sapa (Source: Internet)

The Tay ethnic group is renowned for their five-color sticky rice, a celebrated Vietnamese dish. This Sapa delicacy features sticky rice in five vibrant hues: red, green, yellow, black, and white. Symbolizing the balance of yin and yang, xoi ngu sac exudes a chewy aroma from premium glutinous rice, perfectly harmonizing with the unique flavors of mountainous herbs like ginger and turmeric.


07 Mam da vegetable - a unique Sapa food

Mam da vegetable - a unique Sapa food
Mam da vegetable - a unique Sapa food (Source: Internet)

Mam da is a rare mountain vegetable found exclusively on the summits of high rocky mountains in Sapa. Its flavor is reminiscent of broccoli but with a more enticing aroma and sweeter taste. Typically, mam da is boiled and served with a side of fish sauce for an authentic experience. Alternatively, it can be stir-fried with other vegetables like mushrooms or incorporated into soups with ginger for a delightful twist.


08 Grilled stream fish (ca suoi nuong)

Grilled stream fish (ca suoi nuong) Sapa
Grilled stream fish (ca suoi nuong) Sapa (Source: Internet)

Grilled fish is another mouthwatering delicacy to enjoy in Sapa. Using fresh fish sourced from the pristine streams of Sapa, locals marinate the fish with traditional spices before grilling it over charcoal. The outcome is a fragrant grilled fish, enhanced by the addition of sour leaves, green bananas, pineapples, and a spicy dipping sauce. This delightful medley of flavors is certain to make a lasting impression as tourists dine in Sapa's finest restaurants.


09 Con sui (pho kho Sapa)

Con sui (pho kho Sapa)
Con sui (pho kho Sapa) (Source: Internet)

Con sui, also known as dry pho Sapa, is a dish originating from the Chinese community in Sapa. This flavorful dish features rice noodles topped with fried shallots, roasted peanuts, herbs, chili, beef, and sauce. To savor con sui, simply pour the sauce over the rice noodles. Freshly harvested vegetables often accompany this dish, and a dash of chili sauce adds an extra layer of deliciousness, perfectly suited for Sapa's cool weather.


10 Black chicken (ga den)

Black chicken (ga den) Sapa
Black chicken (ga den) Sapa (Source: Internet)

When visiting Sapa, don't miss the opportunity to savor black chicken meat, a distinctive local delicacy sourced from rare black chickens. This specialty can be prepared in several ways, but one of the most popular methods is grilling the black chicken marinated with honey. Cooked over hot charcoal, the chicken develops a perfectly crispy skin while the sweet flavors of the chicken and honey blend harmoniously, creating an unforgettable culinary experience.


11 Chestnut cake (banh hat de)

Chestnut cake (banh hat de) Sapa
Chestnut cake (banh hat de) Sapa (Source: Internet)

No Sapa food tour is complete without indulging in chestnut cake, one of the finest Vietnamese delicacies. Crafted with meticulous care, this cake boasts a dual-layer structure—a crispy outer layer crafted from beautifully-browned fried wheat flour and a luscious filling of pureed chestnuts. Be sure to treat yourself to this delightful confection and consider purchasing it as a thoughtful gift for loved ones.


12 Sapa fruits

Sapa fruits
Sapa fruits (Source: Internet)

Sapa, known for its lush mountains and verdant forests, presents a tantalizing array of fruits to tempt your taste buds. Among the local specialties is the mac cop, a wild pear boasting a delightful blend of sweetness and slight sourness. During the summer months, be sure to indulge in the Ta Van plum, prized for its soft, sweet red flesh and refreshing flavor. And don't forget to savor the pink peaches of Sapa, offering a fragrant and crunchy treat that's sure to please.


13 Grilled food - enjoy the street food in Sapa

Grilled food Sapa
Grilled food Sapa (Source: Internet)

Partaking in grilled delicacies at night has become an essential aspect of Sapa's nightlife. As you wander through the bustling night market in Sapa, you'll encounter a diverse selection of meats and vegetables, including pork, chicken, corn, and tao meo. These Sapa street foods are seasoned and marinated in distinctive ways, imparting uniquely delicious flavors that are sure to delight your palate.


14 Dried buffalo meat (thit trau gac bep)

Dried buffalo meat (thit trau gac bep) Sapa
Dried buffalo meat (thit trau gac bep) Sapa (Source: Internet)

Thit trau gac bep is the most sought-after dried meat in Sapa. Prepared by the Black Thai ethnic group, this delicacy involves marinating buffalo meat with local spices and herbs to create a unique flavor profile. The marinated meat is then hung in their kitchens for approximately eight months to a year, allowing it to slowly air dry. During this time, the smoke from the kitchen imparts an extraordinary aroma and flavor to the buffalo meat, resulting in a truly exceptional culinary experience.


15 Tao meo wine

Tao meo wine Sapa
Tao meo wine Sapa (Source: Internet)

Tao meo wine is a renowned specialty of Sapa and the northwestern region of Vietnam. Made from assam apples, this wine undergoes fermentation for six to eight months, developing a distinctive mountain flavor and a rich brown hue. Beyond its enticing taste, tao meo wine offers a harmonious blend of sweetness, bitterness, and acidity. Be sure to savor this unique beverage as part of your culinary adventure in Sapa!


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