When it comes to food, Phu Quoc has something for everyone and though the number of restaurants are still relatively modest (it is a small island after all), options will only grow along with tourism here. If you think you have to eat expensive resort food, think again.
Long Beach and Duong Dong Town
Duong Dong town is chock-full of cheap local eats, including noodle soup for breakfast and com tam — “broken rice” with veg and meat — at lunch, all for no more than 30,000 dong a plate. Look for banh canh, thick noodle soup with pork or fish, or Saigon style pho. Try banh xeo, large yellow savoury crepes stuffed with sprouts, spring onions and meat or seafood served with a diluted sweet-sour fish sauce. Wash it all down with a glass of nuoc mia, sugarcane juice, or a fresh coconut.
However, there is nothing quite like digging into grub while digging your feet into the sand just inches from the water. Beachfront restaurants and bars, some linked to guesthouses/hotels, line the length of Long Beach. The busiest hub is at Long Beach village, a popular, central beach access lane lined with guesthouses and restaurants. Alley 118 leads from Tran Hung Dao Street and deposits you right at Phuong Binh House’s restaurant The Sunset Grill. It’s a relaxed joint with inexpensive drinks and tasty Vietnamese food such as stir-fries and curries with fresh seafood, starting at 90,000 dong. Try the prawn with coconut milk, served with steamed rice, for 105,000 dong.
To give you an idea of how diverse Long Beach is, a couple of spots down is Rory’s Bar, which attracts backpackers like flies to honey. The restaurant’s colourful low plastic seats are lined up like it’s a theatre to watch sunset. You can expect burgers, pizzas and panini sandwiches along with the usual pan-Asian menu.
By contrast, its neighbour is La Veranda’s swish bar and fine dining restaurant, The Pepper Tree. Here you can get your foie gras on in a tropical French colonial setting. Fresh local seafood is given a fancy French twist, while Vietnamese fare comes with the white tablecloth treatment. Mains start at 285,000 dong. If you have someone you want to impress, they do candlelit dinners and upscale barbecues in the sand. Don’t forget your wallet.
The sand seems finer here?
Seafood of course is the star of the island. The end of the day not only brings Phu Quoc’s signature sunset, it’s the time when beach restaurants start laying out fresh seafood on ice and fire up the grill. It’s just a matter of taking a stroll to see what tickles your fancy, be it a whole fresh fish, squid, clams or crabs, prepared the way you like. Ask what the price by weight is and they’ll weigh it out in front of you. These joints are catering to tourists so yes, it is overpriced, but it’s something a happy holiday-er can excuse for the great location.
To be continued…