The five unique dishes of Kon Tum making visitors fascinated
In addition to the majesty of mountains and coffee fields, Kon Tum has many unique dishes. Here are the five specialties that are only available in the “great land” of Kon Tum.
The ideal time to travel to Kon Tum
Kon Tum's climate is divided into two distinct seasons, namely the rainy and the dry season. The rainy season starts from April to November, while the dry season is usually from December to March. The latter season is ideal for travelers as the weather is warm and sunny, which is very convenient for discovering.
Kon Tum's climate is divided into two distinct seasons, namely the rainy and the dry season. Photo: blog.traveloka
Specialties in Kon Tum
The locals often say that “Without trying leaf salad, you have not been to Kon Tum”. The dish has existed in the land of Kon Tum in particular and the Central Highlands in general for nearly 30 years.
Leaf salad has up to 30 different types of leaves. Photo: foody.vn
In the dry season, a tray of leaf salad is composed of only about 30 types of forest leaves. Meanwhile, in the rainy season, when the trees in the forest grow well, the leaf salad can include up to 70 types. The dish consists of both common leaves (such as fig leaves, Chinese fever vine leaves, spring onion, and basil) and typical leaves of Kon Tum (such as black plum leaves, vernonia amygdalina leaves, brindle berry leaves, passion-flower leaves, and antidesma ghaesembilla leaves). The dipping sauce is another highlight of the dish. Firstly, fermented glutinous rice, dried shrimp and bacon are pureed altogether. Fry some shallots with a little cooking oil on a pan, then put the above pureed mixture into this pan and stir it over low heat to obtain an attractive yellow viscous sauce.
The way of enjoying leaf salad is more complicated than common dishes. You must enjoy it leisurely by rolling the leaves slowly. First, take the largest leaf (such as mustard green or fig leaf) and roll it into a funnel shape, then add smaller leaves inside. On average, it is advised that each roll should use at least 10 types of leaves. Next, add boiled pork and shrimp into the roll, then sprinkle some dipping sauce on and enjoy it. Have a bite and you will feel the harmony between the freshness of vegetables, the greasiness of meat and shrimp, and the richness of the dipping sauce.
Enjoying leaf salad is “an art”. Photo: kenh14.vn
On average, each tray of leaf salad for four people costs about VND 200,000.
Red noodles is also one of the specialties in Kon Tum. The dish makes diners curious right from its name. The ingredients to make the dish include large and chewy noodles, quail eggs, fried patties, and crab-roe. It is the broth that makes this dish unique. First, stew pork bones, then add some prawn roe which was previously stir-fried with cashew oil to create an eye-catching red colour. The name of red noodle is derived from its broth colour.
Red noodles is a specialty of Kon Tum. Photo: poliva.vn
As compared to other dishes, Kon Tum red noodles are served with water celery instead of common raw vegetables. Some places can offer green mustard and mung bean sprouts for you. In cold weather, it is ideal to enjoy the dish as you can feel the chewy taste of noodles, the richness of quail eggs, crab-roe and patties, and the freshness of raw vegetables. The ingredients seem to be simple, but they are skillfully processed to make an attractive and tasty dish.
A bowl of red noodles ranges from VND 25,000 - 35,000.
An attractive and tasty bowl of red noodles. Photo: langmoi
Fish salad with weaver ants
There are a lot of weaver ants in the residential area of the Ro Mam people - an ethnic minority living mainly in Mo Rai commune, Sa Thay district, Kon Tum province. These people use weaver ants and their eggs to make many dishes, such as weaver ants stir-fried with game meat, salad or soup, but the most delicious one is still the “fish salad with weaver ants”.
Ants and their eggs are the main ingredients of the dish. Photo: poliva.vn
When taking the weaver ant nests on trees, the Ro Mam people put a basin of water on the ground, then they gently tap the nests to make the ants fall into the basin. Next, they separate the ants from the eggs. The weaver ant eggs are milky white, as big as a grain of rice, and have a light fragrance. The locals often look for large ant nests with pale yellow ant eggs as the finished dish will have a richer taste of eggs and a mild sour taste of ants. Next, pound the eggs and ants gently, then dry them in the sun for a while.
Fish salad with weaver ants - a specialty of Kon Tum. Photo: 24h
Catch the stream fish (as large as three fingers), then clean and mince them. Remove the water out of the mixture to eliminate the fishy smell, then mix it with unrefined salt, green chili, wild pepper, ants, ant eggs, and some powdered grilled rice to increase the aroma. When enjoying the dish, you can take some fig leaves, roll them with the above mixture and enjoy it. The sweetness of stream fish, the greasiness of ant eggs, the sourness of ants, and the spiciness of chili pepper create an extremely tasty dish.
Dried Pho is served in 2 bowls. Photo: dulichcongvu
Dried Pho, also known as two-bowl Pho, is one of the dishes that should not be ignored when you come to Kon Tum. The name “Dried Pho” comes from the way it is prepared. The noodles are made from rice flour, but not as soft and flat as common noodles. They are as small and thin as glass noodles, but the level of toughness is lower. Next, stir-fry pork mince. Parboil noodles and raw mung bean sprouts, and then put them in a bowl, add some pork and fried shallots to make the bowl of Pho more eye-catching. Different from ordinary Pho, Dried Pho is served with hoisin sauce with a sweet and savory taste, making the dish more tasty.
The broth is stewed from beef bones with a light sweet. The unique feature is that the broth is served in a separate bowl. Therefore, you can add the amount of broth into the bowl of noodles based on your preference. All of the ingredients, including noodles, minced pork, fried shallots, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, hot red chili sauce, broth stewed from beef bones, herbs and vegetables such as sawleaf, basil, coriander, lettuce and mung bean sprout, etc. create a dish with a harmonious taste.
Kon Tum Dried Pho is priced at VND 25,000 - 35,000/bowl.
Sticky rice with bamboo shoots
Sticky rice is a very popular dish in Vietnam, but perhaps sticky rice with bamboo shoots only “appears” in Kon Tum. Take the fresh bamboo shoots from the forest, remove the skins, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. After being processed to reduce the smell, the bamboo shoots are stir-fried with spices and hot red chili to create a taste of both sourness and spiciness. Sticky rice is soaked with turmeric powder for 8 hours to create a beautiful yellow colour before being steamed. The fresh bamboo shoots, combined with the sweetness and richness of sticky rice can easily steal your heart.
The restaurants selling the dish often offer fish stew, so you can choose to enjoy it with sticky rice.
Each serving of sticky rice with bamboo shoots is priced at about VND 7,000.
Sticky rice with bamboo shoots is served with fish stew. Photo: Vnexpress
How to get to Kon Tum
Kon Tum does not have an airport, but you can book a flight to Pleiku airport, which is 50km from your destination. Next, you can travel by taxi or bus to Kon Tum city.
If you travel from Hanoi to Kon Tum, it will take you about 25 hours with a distance of about 1,080km. There are 3 coach companies for you, namely Viet Tan, Hong Anh and Dang Khoa. The coaches depart from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, so you need to be punctual to avoid missing them. The ticket price is around VND 600,000/person.
From Ho Chi Minh City to Kon Tum, with a distance of nearly 600km, it will take you about 12 hours to get to the destination. Some coach companies which can be listed here are Minh Quoc, Viet Tan, Tu Phau, Truong Giang and Nhat Tan. There are about 7 trips a day from 7:00 pm to 6:30 am. The ticket price is about VND 250,000/person.
The distance from Da Nang to Kon Tum is only about 350km, so it will take you about 8 hours to be able to enjoy the specialties of Kon Tum. You can choose Viet Tan or Minh Quoc coach companies with the ticket price of about VND 200,000.
You can travel by coach to Kon Tum. Photo: baokhanhhoa
It would be a pity if you come to Kon Tum without enjoying these specialties. You will definitely be impressed and surprised from the first taste.