Top 15 specialties of Ninh Binh foods you must try

Ant egg sticky rice

Explore the rich culinary and natural heritage of Ninh Binh, a must-visit destination on your Vietnam tour. From the unique limestone landscapes reminiscent of Ha Long Bay on land to the diverse Ninh Binh food, this guide, brought to you by Vietnam Tour 247, delves into the delights that make Ninh Binh a treasure trove for explorers and food enthusiasts alike.

Overview Ninh Binh, Vietnam 

Ninh Binh, a hidden gem in northern Vietnam, presents an ideal destination for those who cherish exploring majestic natural landscapes and rich local cultures. Often described as the “Ha Long Bay on land,” Ninh Binh captivates visitors with its dramatic scenery of limestone karsts, meandering rivers, and verdant rice fields. You can explore the UNESCO-listed Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, or experience the enchanting boat rides in Tam Coc, where the rivers take you through cavernous grottoes under towering mountains.

Ninh Binh is also steeped in history, having served as the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and early Le dynasties. Historical sites like the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and the sprawling Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest Buddhist complex in Southeast Asia, are key highlights that showcase the spiritual and cultural essence of Vietnam.

Overview Ninh Binh, Vietnam 
Overview Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Moreover, the local cuisine of Ninh Binh is a delightful aspect of the travel experience here. You must try the region’s signature dish, Com Chay (scorched rice), which is a simple yet flavorful crispy rice dish often served with savory pork. Another specialty is the mountain goat meat, prepared in various styles that truly reflect the unique tastes of the limestone mountainous region.

With its harmonious blend of breathtaking nature, profound history, and unique culinary flavors, Ninh Binh is undoubtedly a must-visit destination on your Vietnamese adventure. Come and immerse yourself in the diverse, picturesque, and inspiring atmosphere of Ninh Binh!

Top 15 specialties of Ninh Binh foods you must try

Ant egg sticky rice

Ant egg sticky rice is a unique and must-try delicacy that highlights the diversity of Ninh Binh food. To make this dish, the people of Ninh Binh prepare it from young ant eggs collected from the limestone mountains of Nho Quan. The eggs are then cleaned, seasoned, and stir-fried.

Ant egg sticky rice
Ant egg sticky rice

This stir-fried young ant egg dish is served with white sticky rice, fried shallots, and scallion oil. Notably, the availability of this dish depends on the ant breeding season and is not always available to enjoy. If you want to try this unique and interesting dish, you should plan to visit Ninh Binh around the second to the third lunar months.

Reference location: The eateries in Ngoc Luong commune, Nho Quan district, Ninh Binh province are most famous for this specialty.

Reference price: 2.05 USD – 4.10 USD per plate.

Ninh Binh scorched rice

Ninh Binh scorched rice is a crispy and flavorful staple that showcases the traditional essence of Ninh Binh food. Unlike other scorched rice dishes, Ninh Binh scorched rice is made from a mixture of dry rice and glutinous rice, which undergoes multiple stages of drying and deep-frying to produce crispy and fragrant batches. Scorched rice is typically served with shrimp paste or stir-fried green onions, or more uniquely, with goat meat and a rich dipping sauce, etc.

Reference locations:

Hoa Lu Scorched Rice: 3 Vo Thi Sau, Dong Thanh, Ninh Binh.

Thu Quyen Scorched Rice Grocery Store: 202 Luong Van Thang, Dong Thanh, Ninh Binh.

Reference price: 1.44 USD – 5.74 USD depending on the weight.

Ninh Binh goat meat

Ninh Binh goats are raised in the fertile Hoa Lu region, known for its many limestone mountains. The goats feed on precious medicinal herbs on the mountains, making their meat not only delicious but also nutritious and beneficial for health. Dishes made from goat meat, such as fermented goat, steamed goat, grilled goat, and goat with lime, are particularly special because of the unique preparation techniques and seasoning. These dishes are often accompanied by fig leaves, green bananas, star fruit, and notably, soybean jam.

Ninh Binh goat meat
Ninh Binh goat meat

Most notably, almost all restaurants and eateries in Ninh Binh are famous for their scorched rice with goat sauce. This is a perfect combination of two local specialties, creating a delicious and unique flavor that is very appealing.

Reference locations:

Chinh Thu Goat Meat Restaurant: Khe Thuong Hamlet, Ninh Thuan Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province.

Thang Long Restaurant: Trang An, Truong Yen, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh.

Reference price: 4.10 USD – 20.51 USD per serving

Ca Kho Gao

Fish cooked with ‘gao’ fruit is one of the unique dishes that embody the regional characteristics of Ninh Binh. The ‘gao’ fruit has a sour and sweet taste with cooling properties; it is often used as a substitute for tamarind and ‘sau’ fruit. With its distinct flavor, the ‘gao’ fruit not only eliminates the fishy smell but also adds a unique fragrance that makes the dish extremely appealing.

The ‘gao’ fruit is sliced into small pieces and placed at the bottom of the pot, then the fish is laid on top and covered with a layer of thinly sliced ‘gao’ fruit. The taste of the dish can vary depending on the flavor of the ‘gao’ fruit at different times, making the fish have a mild sour or slightly astringent taste. Because of its uniqueness and characteristic flavor, Fish Cooked with Gao has become a favorite among many diners.

Reference location: Huong Que Restaurant: 05 Nguyen Luong Bang, Tan Thanh Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province.

Reference price: from 4.10 USD per serving.

Ninh Binh mountain snail

Mountain snails are a species that live in caves and limestone mountains and have a taste distinctly different from river or sea snails. They inhabit the limestone regions of Tam Diep, Yen Mo, and Nho Quan. These snails only come out to forage during the rainy season, from April to August. Mountain snails can be prepared in various ways to create different dishes, such as grilled, stir-fried, steamed with ginger, boiled, or mixed into onion salads.

Ninh Binh mountain snail
Ninh Binh mountain snail

The flesh of mountain snails is chewy and crunchy, with a flavor reminiscent of traditional herbs, and is often boiled to preserve its distinctive taste. Each crunchy and sweet piece of snail meat dipped in fish sauce with lemon and chili will surely provide a unique and memorable flavor experience.

Reference locations:

Van Bao Ngoc Restaurant: 86 Luong Van Tuy, Tan Thanh Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Cuc Phuong Restaurant: Cuc Phuong forest road, Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh

Reference price: 3.28 USD – 4.10 USD per plate.

Mien Luon Ninh Binh

A Ninh Binh specialty you should also try is ‘mien luon’ (eel vermicelli), with a broth made from eel bones and pork bones simmered for hours to create a natural sweetness. It has an attractive dark brown color, a natural richness, and a robust flavor.

The eels used as the main ingredient are small ‘com’ eels, with pinkish-brown backs and dark yellow bellies. You will enjoy the fragrant and fatty pieces of eel meat. Though small, the meat is firm and delicious. This delicious dish is typically served with shredded banana flower, all blending together to form a famous specialty of the region.

Reference locations:

Dung Thanh Restaurant: 999 Tran Hung Dao, Van Giang Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Mien Luong Tam Hien: 336 Nguyen Cong Tru, Van Gia Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Reference price: 0.82 USD – 1.44 USD per bowl.

Read more: Mua Caves Ninh Binh – A Breathtaking Natural Beauty

Nhech Fish Salad

Snakehead fish salad is a delicious and famous dish of the local people in Kim Son, Ninh Binh. The salad is elaborately and meticulously prepared, undergoing multiple stages to remove the fishy smell and give the fish a sweet taste that blends with the aroma of the herbs.

The snakehead fish salad can be eaten with various types of leaves such as star fruit leaves, peach leaves, guava leaves, clerodendrum leaves, and fig leaves. Add some fish, some herbs, a bit of chili sauce, then wrap it up for dipping. With ‘cheo’ fish sauce or sweet and sour fish sauce, you can fully enjoy the delicious, sweet, rich flavor combined with a memorable deep taste. ‘Cheo’ sauce is made from fried, crushed fish bones cooked with pickled vegetables, pork belly, eggs, and various other spices.

Reference location: Vu Bao Ninh Binh Restaurant: 6A Phat Diem Dong Street, Phat Diem Town, Kim Son District, Ninh Binh Province.

Reference price: 5.33 USD – 10.26 USD per plate.

Banh Da Perch

Another traditional specialty you must try when visiting Ninh Binh is the Bánh Đa Cá Rô, a prime example of Ninh Binh food at its best. In the low-lying areas of Ninh Binh, where roach fish are abundant, locals have crafted this incredibly appealing dish. The roach fish meat is carefully deboned and mixed with spices such as salt and pepper, then simmered with dried onions to enhance its rich flavor. A bowl of Ninh Binh’s Bánh Đa Cá Rô is typically served with vegetables and fish cake.

Banh Da Perch
Banh Da Perch

Reference location: Huyen Linh Restaurant: Alley 52 Pham Van Nghi, Dong Thanh Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province.

Reference price: 1.64 USD – 2.46 USD per bowl.

Nem chua Yen Mac

The origin of Yen Mac nem traces back to the royal nem of Hue from the Nguyen dynasty, making it a distinctive part of Ninh Binh food. Unlike other types of sour pork roll, Yen Mac nem uses finely chopped pork ham instead of ground meat. The meat is mixed with thinly sliced cooked pork skin and some family-secret spices, then wrapped in guava and banana leaves. Accompanying the nem are various types of leaves like fig leaves, clerodendrum leaves, and peach leaves, dipped in chili sauce or garlic chili sauce to add a spicy and sweet flavor.

Reference locations:

Yen Mac Sour Pork Roll Production Facility: No. 70, Street 11, Van Giang Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Tuan Binh Restaurant: Hamlet 4, Dong Son, Yen Mac Commune, Yen Mo District, Ninh Binh Province

Reference price: 2.05 USD – 4.10 USD.

Roasted field crab with lolot leaves

Grilled field crab with betel leaves is a famous Ninh Binh food specialty known both domestically and internationally. This rustic dish combines the crunchiness of field crabs with the aromatic flavor of betel leaves. Field crabs are commonly caught by locals in the rice fields of Ninh Binh. The meat of these crabs is firmer and more flavorful than other types of crabs. Especially when grilled, the crabs become very crispy, and when mixed with the fragrant and spicy betel leaves, they create an irresistibly delicious dish. Despite its simple preparation, this dish of field crabs with betel leaves leaves a lasting impression on diners.

Reference location: Nhu Y Restaurant: Tan Trung residential area, Tan Thanh Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province.

Reference price: 2.87 USD – 4.10 USD per serving.

Bun Cha Quat Ninh Binh

While Hanoi is famous for its Bun Cha, Ninh Binh also boasts a delicious version known as Bun Cha Quat, a significant part of Ninh Binh food. Bun Cha Quat leaves a lasting impression on diners with its richly marinated flavors in each piece of meat. The pork belly is seasoned heavily and grilled until aromatic. Bun Cha Quat is typically served with sliced rice noodles, crispy pickled vegetables, and freshly grilled pork patties. The “soul” of this dish lies in the dipping sauce. A good sauce can double the flavor of the meal.

Bun Cha Quat Ninh Binh
Bun Cha Quat Ninh Binh

Reference locations:

Bun Cha Quat: 540 Tran Hung Dao, Mia Street, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Bun Cha Tuan Anh: 168A Nam Thanh, Tan Thanh Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province.

Reference price: 1.03 USD – 2.05 USD per serving.

Banh Troi Ninh Binh 

In Ninh Binh, Banh Troi is a traditional dish made from rice flour dough, but what sets this version apart is the filling combined with sugar syrup, peanuts, and chrysanthemum leaves, creating a unique flavor. Banh Troi has a mildly sweet taste enhanced by the gentle fragrance of moldy chrysanthemum leaves and pomelo flowers. The appealing round white cakes paired with the nutty flavor of peanuts make this a delicious dish that attracts many diners, highlighting the diverse Ninh Binh food scene.

Reference location: School Street No. 2, Van Giang Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Reference price: from 0.41 USD each.

Banh Xeo Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh’s version of Banh Xeo is prepared similarly to other regions but has a distinctive twist: it is typically served with grilled pork sausage (nem nuong). When you enjoy Banh Xeo in Ninh Binh, you’ll immediately notice the crispiness of the crust mixed with the sweetness of the meat and the aromatic flavor of the grilled sausage. It’s served with a rich dipping sauce and pickled accompaniments to stimulate the palate. This unique combination makes Banh Xeo a particularly appealing and memorable part of Ninh Binh food, captivating visitors with its delightful flavors.

Reference location:

Banh Xeo Ut: 25 Hoang Hoa Tham, Van Gia Ward, Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh Province

Reference price: 2.46 USD each.

Grilled Banana Fish

Although grilled banana fish is a simple dish in Ninh Binh, it attracts many diners. Banana fish, known for its large, round body and firm, sweet meat, is best grilled immediately after being caught. The uniqueness of this dish lies in its preparation without additional spices, allowing diners to enjoy the natural sweetness of the fish. Grilled banana fish is typically served with fresh vermicelli, raw vegetables, peanuts, and a dipping sauce, making it a distinctive part of Ninh Binh food.

Grilled Banana Fish
Grilled Banana Fish

Reference address: Van Long stilt house – Gia Van, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province

Reference price: from 4.10 USD/piece.

Nho Quan Can Wine

In addition to the array of traditional dishes, Ninh Binh is also home to the famous Nho Quan can wine, highly popular among tourists. This wine, produced by the Muong people in Nho Quan, is unique in that it bypasses the distillation process common in other wines. Can wine is typically made from ingredients like sticky rice, regular rice, potatoes, or brown rice. These are cooked and ground, then mixed with juices from pounded forest leaves or vegetables such as ebony, guava leaves, and ginger, and left to ferment in large bottles for at least three months, resulting in a wine that is flavorful, delightful, and not overly strong. To enjoy, drinkers use bamboo stems to sip the wine directly from the bottle.

Reference addresses:

Various locations in Nho Quan Town, Nho Quan district, Ninh Binh province

Thang Long Restaurant: Trang An, Chi Phong, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh

Reference price: from 2.26 USD/liter

As you plan your next adventure with Vietnam Tour 247, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Ninh Binh a place where the beauty of nature and the richness of culture converge. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or culinary enthusiast, Ninh Binh offers an array of experiences that cater to all. With its stunning landscapes and distinctive Ninh Binh food, this region promises memories that will last a lifetime. Visit Vietnam Tour 247 to book your journey to Ninh Binh and discover the heart of Vietnam’s natural and gastronomic heritage.

Read more: Travel Agency Vietnam: Best Travel Agency for Vietnam Tours

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