The four weird but delicious specialties of Gia Lai province

The four weird but delicious specialties of Gia Lai province

Gia Lai - Kon Tum 15.07.2021

Gia Lai is considered to be the province with the most rustic dishes in Vietnam. Both the ingredients and the way of making the dishes are very unique. Let’s discover!

Translated by nguyendo

Written by giangvx

Dried Pho

Dried Pho is a specialty of Gia Lai province. Dried Pho is also known as two-bowl Pho as the noodles and broth are served in two separate bowls. Dried Pho is completely different from the common or mixed Pho.


Dried Pho is also known as two-bowl Pho. Photo: baogialai

The noodles are made from rice, not as flat as common noodles, but round and thin like “Hu Tieu” (another kind of noodles in the South of Vietnam) with a higher level of toughness. Thanks to that, when mixed with broth, the noodles will not be crushed. The noodles are parboiled, drained and then put in a bowl. Next, add the toppings including stir-fried pork mince with shallots, shredded chicken, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, and especially the rich hoisin sauce.


Dried pho with stir-fried pork mince. Photo: @phono.1

The broth also plays an important role in making up the "soul" of the dish. It is stewed from chicken, beef or pork bones, and then seasoned so that the water is sweet and clear.

For each serving of Dried Pho, you will have a bowl of noodles with full toppings and a bowl of broth. You can mix the noodles with the broth, then add some hoisin sauce and vegetables such as water celery, mung bean sprouts, coriander and basil. The chewiness of noodles blends with pork, chicken, peanuts and fresh vegetables to create a very harmonious taste. Have a try and you will remember it forever.


Dried Pho is served with hoisin sauce. Photo: @shankandbone

Each serving of Dried Pho ranges from VND 25,000 to 35,000.

Noodles with crab sauce

This specialty of Gia Lai has a strong smell from fermented crabs, so not all diners can taste it.


Noodles with crab sauce. Photo: tuoitre

Ingredients for the dish “noodles with crab sauce”  include noodles, crabs, bamboo shoots, bacon, spring rolls, fried pork rind, prawn crackers, and anchovy paste. It is noted that crab is the most important ingredient for this dish. Choose fresh crabs, then wash, remove the shells and pound/puree them. Next, extract the water from the above mixture, add some salt and leave it overnight for the crab juice to ferment. Bacon is cut into bite-sized pieces, while fresh bamboo shoots are cut (into small pieces), washed and then stir-fried with shallots. Finally, boil and season the crab juice to have the finished “crab sauce”.


A full serving of noodles with crab sauce. Photo: Thanh Nien News

A bowl of noodles with crab sauce includes noodles, crab sauce, and fresh vegetables such as lettuce, basil, coriander, mung bean sprouts, banana flower and oregano. Some red hot chili and lemon juice will make the dish better. When enjoying the dish, you can feel the rich taste of crab sauce, the saltiness of fish sauce, the chewiness of noodles, and the freshness of raw vegetables.


Noodles with crab sauce have a typically strong flavor, so not everyone can taste it. Photo: Prifri

A bowl of noodles with crab sauce ranges from VND 30,000 to 35,000.

Grilled beef in bamboo tubes

The dish has a typical flavor of the Central Highlands as the beef and vegetables are grilled in bamboo tubes. The way of grilling makes it different from common grilled beef dishes.


Grilled beef in bamboo tubes. Photo:

After being sliced, the beef will be seasoned with salt, fish sauce, red hot chili, pepper powder, monosodium glutamate and sawleaf. Wait 15 minutes for the beef to be infused with spices.


The beef is put in a bamboo tube. Photo: youtube

After that, the beef is put in a bamboo tube and then grilled on a charcoal stove until cooked.


When grilled in bamboo tubes, the beef can retain its original sweetness. Photo: @veryasian

The reason for this dish to be better than common grilled beef lies in the bamboo tubes - as they can retain the original sweetness of the meat as well as the flavors from spices such as red hot chili, pepper, fish sauce, etc.

Another important highlight of the dish is the dipping sauce which is made from fish sauce, sugar, red hot chili and a few other spices. You can also enjoy the dish with pounded peanuts or fresh shredded carrots to increase the flavor.

The price for each serving of grilled beef in bamboo tubes ranges from VND 200,000 to 300,000.

Salt with weaver ants

This is a dish only available in Gia Lai and is made from weaver ants in Ayun Pa forest of Krong Pa.


The salt with weaver ants is a specialty in Gia Lai. Photo:

First, local people choose "populated" ant nests, take the ants, wash them to remove sand and dirt, and then marinate them with red hot chilli and forest leaves. Next, roast the ants on a hot pan (to create the crispness and aroma), then pound them with unrefined sea salt, monosodium glutamate, fresh red hot chili and some other forest leaves. While pounding, try to make sure that the ants are not crushed, but their characteristic sour substance must be thoroughly mixed in other ingredients to create a very unique flavor. The finished product has a very unique blend of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors.

For tourists, this kind of salt is quite weird, but for the people of the Central Highlands, it has been associated with their traditional cuisine for many generations.


The salt with weaver ants can be enjoyed with Gia Lai sun-dried beef. Photo:

The price ranges from VND 350,000 to 400,000/kg

Dried Pho, salt with weaver ants, grilled beef in bamboo tubes, etc. are specialties that may only be available in Gia Lai. Trying the unique local cuisine will surely leave you unforgettable memories on each trip.