Seven delicious local dishes at Pleiku night market
When coming to Pleiku city in Gia Lai province, not only can you admire the majestic beauty of “the basalt land” in the Central Highlands, but you can also discover its typical cultural identities, among which Pleiku night market is a place you should definitely visit to enjoy the delicious local dishes.
Pleiku night market - a place of the local culture
Pleiku night market is located at 40 Nguyen Thien Thuat street, Dien Hong ward, Pleiku city, Gia Lai province, which is near the main gate of Pleiku City Trade Centre. The market is often open from about 5pm-6pm to past midnight, but sometimes it is still crowded until the early morning. The laughter of people mixed with the sound of car horns create a bustle in “the grand mountain town”.
The market is often open from about 5pm-6pm to past midnight. Photo: Vlog Gia Lai
As a wholesale market, the place provides a wide range of items, for example food, household goods, fresh fruits and seafood. When walking around the night market, you will be able to see stalls full of ripe fruits, fresh flowers and vegetables.
The market mainly serves locals, so there are no souvenir shops. Photo: @v_hnam
Unlike other night markets for tourists, the one in Pleiku mainly serves local people, so there are no souvenir shops, and at the same time the prices of items are also very affordable.
Many food stalls at Pleiku night market. Photo: Pham Ly
Discover the diverse cuisine of Pleiku night market
It can be said that the food court of Pleiku night market is “the miniature world” of Gia Lai cuisine as you can easily find tasty dishes or typical snacks of this land, such as Pho Hai To (two-bowl noodle soup), Bun Cua (crab noodle soup), grilled meat, sticky rice with chicken, summer rolls, balut and salad.
Pho Kho Gia Lai (two-bowl noodle soup)
Pho Kho Gia Lai is also known as Pho Hai To (two-bowl noodle soup) because it is presented in two bowls for noodles and the broth. In Gia Lai, there are a range of restaurants offering Pho Hai To, but you have to enjoy it at the Pleiku night market to fully “experience” its flavour.
Pho Kho Gia Lai is also known as Pho Hai To (two-bowl noodle soup). Photo: vemaybayphunhuan.blogpost.com
The noodles are made from rice flour but when compared to other common types with thin and flat fibers, the ones in Pho Kho are round, thin and tough. The noodles are put in a bowl together with mung bean sprouts, cracklings, pork, minced beef and fried shallots to make it more eye-catching, while the bowl of sweet broth is added with some spring onion. An indispensable condiment of this dish is the mixed soy sauce - after these complicated steps, the pureed soybeans are made into a very unique sweet and salty sauce with a dark brown colour. It can be said that this sauce is the "soul" of the dish, making Pho Kho more flavorful.
The unique two-bowl noodle soup. Photo: @dohaichi
Bun Mam Cua (rice noodles with crab sauce)
Originating from Binh Dinh province, Bun Mam Cua was brought to “the plateau” by the immigrants and it has gradually become a specialty dish of this city.
Rice noodles with crab sauce. Photo: baogialai.com.vn
The process of making Bun Mam Cua requires a lot of meticulousness. First, carefully choose the big, strong and freshfield crabs; then wash them, remove the shells to get the body and meat. Second, pound these parts to get the extract, then season it with spices and then ferment the juice for 24 hours. That is why the crab sauce is very smelly and only some can stand it, but once getting used to it, you will find the dish extremely attractive.
Rice noodles with crab sauce. Photo: Gia Lai Newspaper
In the bowl of Bun Mam Cua, there are a lot of things such as bamboo shoots, cracklings, spring rolls, chopped fermented pork rolls, fresh white noodles and some crab sauce on top. When enjoying, do not forget to add some fresh lemon juice, hot chilli peppers and raw vegetables to enhance the flavour. With about VND 10,000 - 20,000, you can enjoy a full bowl of Bun Mam Cua with a range of toppings.
Gia Lai rice noodles with crab sauce. Photo: @vanikem8x
Nem Lui, grilled beef, grilled pork
A barbecue stall at Pleiku night market. Photo: We25
These snacks are favoured by many people, especially the young in Gia Lai province. You can easily find the stalls selling these rustic dishes thanks to the charcoal stove with aromatic meat skewers and grilled spring rolls. Notably, as Nem Lui (a kind of grilled pork skewers) is served hot with rice papers, raw vegetables, fresh noodles, sweet and sour tamarind sauce, you can fully enjoy its unique flavour.
Grilled “Ram” and pork at Pleiku night market. Photo: Metrip.vn
Grilled beef with guise leaves and grilled pork are also the dishes that you should not ignore. The pork is seasoned and marinated well, then is grilled until it is soft and sweet; meanwhile, grilled beef with guise leaves is fragrant without being greasy, which can easily stimulate your appetite.
Grilled beef with guise leaves. Photo: Vietreview
Banh Bot Loc Nong (Hot Rice Dumpling Cake)
The hot rice dumpling cakes wrapped in green banana leaves are also a must-try dish. Peeling off the banana leaf, you will see a small and transparent cake with an attractive red-orange shrimp inside. You can enjoy the cake with some spicy chilli fish sauce to enhance the flavour. Notably, as each cake is relatively small with the size of only two fingers, you need to eat at least ten cakes to be somewhat full.
Hot rice dumpling cake. Photo: Vietravel
Com To is a popular dish chosen by many people when they come to Pleiku night market. The dish is not presented on a plate or tray like those in other places, but is served in quite a large bowl (“To” in Vietnamese). The dish is composed of hot sticky white rice and other dishes made from meat, vegetables and shrimp. Com To is served with a small bowl of soup and pickles.
Com To is one of the typical features of the Pleiku night market. Photo: baogialai
Although the taste is not too special, with a unique presentation and affordable price, Com To has become a dish you should try when coming to Pleiku. After a long day of visiting Pleiku, dropping by the night market to have a tasty bowl of rice will be enough to satisfy your hunger.
A Com To stall at Pleiku night market. Photo: Pham Ly
Walking around Pleiku night market, stopping at a restaurant with flavourful rustic dishes, watching the night scenery and chatting with friends are interesting experiences in this peaceful city that you should not miss.