When we came out here, we loaded up a shipping container with all sorts of exciting things that we thought would be hard to buy here. In some cases we were right – but a lot of the time we were wrong. Of course, the price for imported goods is often prohibitive!
Belgian beer is very popular here, and Leffe or Chimay are generally available in your local supermarket. Prices vary from about 45,000 VND for some of the Interbrew brands such as Leffe, to nearer 100,000 or more for specialist beer.
It’s also possible to buy some of the other large European brands such as San Miguel or Heineken. But in general, these are around 40,000 / bottle or can as well, and local beer is just as flavourless as these lagers…
British beer is tougher to get hold of. Sometimes Annam in the Syrena Center has some Black Sheep, and there’s a rumour that some Fullers is on its way. American and American style craft beer is non-existant, which is a little surprising. The hoppier flavours, and the ease of shipment and storage would go well here. In any case, whether you’re a fan of the Kernel, or Ommegang, you’re generally out of luck.
Marmite and Weetabix
Yep, both of these are around. Weetabix is common in most supermarkets (certainly in Aeon Citymart), and Marmite can be found in L’s Place. Marmite in particular is pricey, but when you need that yeasty fix…
Vegemite is inexplicably available too – alongside the superior Marmite. I guess it’s in case you’re Australian.
Most Vietnamese coffee is made with some Robusta. This is the stronger flavoured – and more highly caffeinated – bean that’s found in instant coffee, or stronger continental style espresso. Its chocolately notes go well with ice and sugar or condensed milk – so it’s popular here. Indeed, 97% of coffee grown in Vietnam is Robusta, and Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of this type of bean.
If you prefer your coffee lighter, and in the style that’s more popular in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, then you’ll be wanting to find some arabica. If you’ve given up looking on the supermarket shelves, then you’ll probably want to try somewhere like Oriberry, who take some of the remaining 3% of Vietnamese coffee production, and don’t charge too much for it. They’ve stores near the cathedral and in Tay Ho.
It’s probably a safe assumption that the fruit and veg you buy at the side of the street or in stores is not organically produced. While this might not bother me in the EU, where at least there are limits on chemical use, I’ve no idea what I’m eating here. We’ll routinely peel tomatoes if we’re eating them in bulk, which is a pain.
Rau Thanh Xuan will deliver locally produced and organic vegetables to your door. They also seem to offer organic chicken. Although their website isn’t the best, they’ve never failed to deliver. They seem to be a bit lax on payment, although they do tend to catch up with us eventually!
Annam also have a small selection of organic frozen meat, and I’ve heard that Vinamart have started stocking some organic produce.