I’m sure there are few items that are the most recommended when it comes to souvenir list in Vietnam. But today, I’d like to suggest a rather unusual and most probably unheard of item to travellers!
It is a prominent Vietnamese side dish called Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt that is a beloved dish nationwide. Mắm Tép is shrimp paste and Chưng Thịt is condensed minced pork meat and these are the two main ingredients.
This food has a very unique flavour and texture that goes along very well with plain rice, sticky rice and banh mi bread. I’d say it’s like kimchi in Korea and pesto in Italy for its ability to be enjoyed at any time of the day for a meal and to instantly make a meal much more appetising.
The most famous shop selling Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt is Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt Duy Anh located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This shop has their own secret recipe that allowed them to become the most notoriously known brand among Vietnamese people across the country.
You can find their products in supermarkets, airports and other shops as they distribute to them. However, if you’re in Hanoi, I think it’s definitely worth paying a visit to the original shop because it’s in the city centre and inside a very local Hanoian building. So the visit itself will be a fun experience.
The location of this shop is on 67 Hang Be street very close to Hoan Kiem lake. As you can see on the picture, it is not something people would recognise when passing by. You’ll have to go into the narrow alley into the local homes and there are signs to lead you the way.
You’ll be surprised to see how it looks more like a normal family house than a shop. There is not a huge shelf for the Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt, but I felt that the simplicity of the place somehow demonstrated the devotion and professionalism of the owners who take pride in their products.
There were three different sizes – 100g, 200g and 500g for 40,000VND, 70,000VND and 175,000VND respectively. The main ingredients are minced pork meat, mắm tép (shrimp paste) and a mixture of spices. It’s best kept in a cool dry place at room temperature. And the owners reassured me that I can take it back home if I check in the luggage on the plane.
Although Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt is a popular dish here in Vietnam and eaten in local homes, I have not seen any restaurants serving this as a side dish. So I thought it would be a perfect recommendation for travellers to try and bring as a souvenir or present for their family and friends back home.
Mắm Tép Chưng Thịt Duy Anh
Address: 67 Hàng Bè, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 11011, Vietnam