Top 10 Specialty Foods from Ha Giang You Need to Try

July 18, 2020 8 mins to read

Ha Giang is not only known for its majestic and romantic landscapes but also renowned for its rich culinary scene. Blessed with abundant natural resources, Ha Giang’s cuisine has become its distinctive feature.

That’s why Ha Giang’s specialties always entice travelers far and wide, thanks to the region’s diverse and rich culinary culture. Let’s join as we list the top 10 delicious dishes from Ha Giang to explore the specialties of this land of buckwheat flowers!

Ha Giang is a province located in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam, 23 km from the Vietnam-China border and 320 km from Hanoi.

With its unique geographical location and natural highland terrain, Ha Giang is famous not only for its terraced fields, triangular flower fields, and ethnic cultural identity but also as a paradise of rich cuisine. These factors blend to create outstanding delicacies of Ha Giang that captivate people’s hearts.

1. Thang Den

The main ingredient of Thang Den is fragrant sticky rice from Yen Minh district. This type of rice is large, round, and firm, producing an aromatic and delicious taste when cooked.

Inside the sticky rice balls are fillings, from green beans to red beans,… When you chew, you’ll feel the chewiness, light sweetness, and faint aroma of sticky rice.

For an even more mouthwatering experience, add a little ginger flower syrup or coconut milk, sesame, and roasted peanuts.

The recommended location is 154 Tran Hung Dao – Thang Den Ba Beo.
Price range: 25,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl.

2. Thang Co

Traditionally, Thang Co is made from horse organs. However, to cater to tourists and ensure a taste suitable for everyone, the proprietors here have used ingredients such as buffalo, beef, and pork instead. Because the main component is meat, Thang Co translates to meat soup.

The essence of Thang Co lies in the broth – simmered from bones and five organ meats. If you try this dish for the first time, it might be challenging to eat due to its strong aroma of animal organs. However, the more you consume, the more addicted you become!

To create the delicious and nutritious Thang Co, locals often use a combination of 12 characteristic mountainous spices: lime leaves, cloves, cardamom,… With the rich taste of meat, the spicy broth, and the unique aroma of blended flavors, it has enchanted countless travelers.

Recommended location: Dong Van Market – Dong Van Town, Ha Giang.
Price range: around 30,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl.

3. Dried Buffalo Meat

Dried buffalo meat is the traditional dish that has made Ha Giang’s specialty renowned. Dried buffalo meat embodies the culinary style of the Thai ethnic group.

This isn’t just a daily dish for folks living in the northern highlands, it’s also commonly found in festivals, ceremonies, and offered as gifts to esteemed guests.

The flavor of dried buffalo meat lives up to its name – marinated with spicy Sichuan pepper, the buffalo meat is tender, sweet, and carries the distinct smoky aroma of the highlands. The meat’s exterior is dark brown, but inside, it’s eye-catching red and rich in taste.

The average price of a kilogram of dried buffalo meat ranges from 800,000 to 1,100,000 VND. Recommended spots: Local markets or inquire at households.

4. Smoked Pork Sausage

Locals here often smoke pork sausages to preserve them longer. The main ingredient of smoked pork sausage is lean pork shoulder. The sausage filling is made from minced pork shoulder or ham, seasoned with fragrant minced garlic and Sichuan pepper.

As a result, the dish has a meaty, smoky flavor with a deliciously sweet taste. To produce the final product, locals continuously smoke it over the stove for 12 to 14 hours, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat.

My recommended spot is Xin Man Market – Coc Pai Town Center, Ha Giang.
Price range: 250,000 – 300,000 VND/500g.

5. Sour Pho

Originally a breakfast dish in China, sour pho later made its way to Vietnam, especially in northern mountainous regions like Ha Giang, Lang Son, Bac Kan, etc. The main ingredients of sour pho are fragrant sticky rice and a sweet and sour sauce combined with barbecue pork, roast meat, smoked sausage, and stir-fried chili.

To achieve the distinctive flavor of sour pho, locals often make sweet and sour sauce from a mixture of vinegar, sugar, arrowroot powder, and mountainous spices. You can enjoy it with fresh mint, garlic, shredded papaya, etc., to fully experience the Ha Giang specialty.

Recommended spot: Dong Van Market.
Price range: 30,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl.

6. Buckwheat Cake

Buckwheat is famous as one of the iconic flowers of Northeast Ha Giang. Buckwheat cakes have, therefore, become a specialty of this land.

You can find these cakes anywhere in the local markets. They have the characteristic purple color and come in white and yellow varieties.

When you bite into one, you’ll taste the cake’s rich, fluffy texture and the distinctive aroma of buckwheat flowers. To fully enjoy the flavor, you can pair it with cured pork or braised meat.

Moreover, you can buy these cakes and take them with you on your travels or back to your resting place to enjoy later. A small tip when traveling to Ha Giang is to choose and book your accommodation in advance. You can check out hotel bookings on Traveloka for a great place to stay and enjoy delicious cakes!

Price: 15,000 VND/piece.

7. Five-color Sticky Rice

If you’re wondering what specialties Ha Giang has, Traveloka has the answer: five-color sticky rice. This dish has defined the identity of the highlanders and symbolizes the majestic mountains.

Five-color sticky rice is mainly made from fragrant glutinous rice, so if left for a long time, it can become complex and doesn’t require additional seasoning. Five-color sticky rice has been a traditional dish of the Tay people in Ha Giang for ages. It’s an indispensable dish for family ancestral holidays, Tet,…

Five-color sticky rice comes in 5 different colors: white, purple, blue, red, and yellow, corresponding to the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The coloring ingredients include glutinous rice, magenta leaves, gac fruit, ginger leaves, pomelo peel, turmeric, and black glutinous rice leaves.

Location: Meo Vac Market or Dong Van Old Town.
Price range: 10,000 – 15,000 VND/portion

8. Dong Van Old Town Steamed Rolled Cakes

Steamed rolled cakes are often eaten for breakfast and lunch, not only by locals but also by tourists. The cake crust is made from thin, smooth, and fragrant steamed white rice flour. Inside the cake is minced meat and wood ear mushrooms.

Unlike in the plains, Dong Van steamed rolled cakes are served with bone broth. When eating, you should enjoy it with dried onions and aromatic herbs.

Location: Mrs. Ha’s Steamed Rolled Cakes – 31 Old Street, Dong Van.
Price range: 30,000 – 50,000 VND/plate.

9. Au tau Porridge (Aconitum fortunei porridge)

Au tau porridge is made from soaked taro roots boiled with rice and simmered. The rice, minced pork, and taro produce a light brown, fragrant porridge when cooked.

Au tau is naturally high in toxins, but with traditional processing techniques, au tau becomes a particular ingredient, rich in nutrients and good for health.

To enhance the sweetness of the broth, locals often simmer taro roots with fragrant glutinous rice and pork knuckles. Thus, au tau porridge not only brings the distinctive taste of Ha Giang but also helps to nourish health. When eating, you can pair it with an egg, pepper, chili,…

Location: Group 5 Tran Hung Dao, Nguyen Trai Ward, Ha Giang.
Price range: 30,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl

10. Hunched-over Square Cake

Hunched-over square cakes are a famous specialty of Ha Giang and a cultural symbol of the Red Dao people. The “hunch” symbolizes the hardship, diligence, and endurance of women in the highlands who carry loads daily on their backs to harvest corn and rice,…

Carrying deep cultural significance, Ha Giang’s hunched-over square cakes cannot be confused with any other type from other regions. The main ingredients for hunched-over square cakes are glutinous rice, green beans, and fatty meat.

Unlike traditional square cakes, hunched-over square cakes are only wrapped in one layer of leaves. They are mainly wrapped in dong leaves, so they have a distinctive green color that is eye-catching.

Location: Meo Vac Market.
Recommended price: 20,000 VND/cake.

In conclusion, Ha Giang’s culinary treasures offer a delightful journey into the heart of Northern Vietnam’s rich flavors and cultural heritage. From the savory delights of dried buffalo meat to the aromatic allure of smoked pork sausage, each dish tells a story of tradition, craftsmanship, and the vibrant tapestry of local life. Whether exploring bustling markets or savoring a steaming bowl of sour pho, Ha Giang invites you to indulge in an unforgettable culinary adventure. So pack your appetite and embark on a gastronomic exploration of Ha Giang’s hidden gems – a journey sure to leave you enchanted and craving more. Let guide you on this epicurean odyssey through the flavors of Ha Giang, where every bite is a discovery and every meal is a celebration of Vietnam’s culinary heritage.

Đặc sản Hà Giang

Specialties of Ha Giang (Collected photos)

Trâu gác bếp

Kitchen buffalo (Photo collection)

Thắng dền

Thang amaranth (Collected photos)

Cháo ấu tẩu

Congee porridge (Photo collection)

Lợn cắp nách

Pigs steal armpits (Photo collection).

Phở chua

Sour Pho (Photo Collection)

Bánh tam giác mạch

Triangle Cake (Photo Collected)

Rêu nướng

Grilled moss (Photo collection)

Cơm lam

Lam rice (Collected photos)

Cam Sành

Cam Sanh (Collected photo)


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