Although Phan Thiet is a relatively new resort destination, the food scene here has literally exploded in the past ten years. It seems like a new restaurant is opening every other day and the variety of cuisines reflects the diversity of its migrant residents.
Because the area has attracted so many people from all over Vietnam as well as fromcountries around the world, many of whom have decided to settle here and open restaurants, the entire sixty kilometer coastline from Ke Ga to Mui Ne now has hundreds of restaurants offering dozens of different cuisines.
The diversity of choices is one of the main reasons that Phan Thiet is such an attractive place to live, as well as a popular destination for both Vietnamese and foreign tourists. The diversity of Vietnamese and international cuisines can be found throughout the 18 wards and communes of Phan Thiet, however, the preponderance of international cuisines is located between the city center and Mui Ne ward.
After the war ended, the first group of people to move here came from the north of Vietnam. Initially, it was because the government in the north sent northerners to settle in the south as government and police officials. Because northern cuisine is quite different from southern cuisine, there was an overnight demand for restaurants serving the type of food that the newcomers were accustomed to eating.
As the city was still almost entirely built around fishing and the production of fish sauce, all of these ‘northern’ restaurants opened in the city center. Many of them still exist to this day, serving Hanoi cuisine.
After Doi Moi, Saigon residents began to flock to Phan Thiet looking for seafood and an overnight beach holiday. Seafood restaurants and cheap basic guest houses and accommodations began to spring up along the beach. Some of the restaurants began to receive bus load after bus load of people escaping from the city for a day or two.
In the mid 1990s, the first real international standard resorts began to appear in the city center and along the coast towards Mui Ne ward, offering not only Vietnamese cuisines, but also international cuisines. However, there were still no independent international restaurants anywhere in Phan Thiet. Therefore, international visitors had a choice of either eating in their resorts or eating Vietnamese cuisine.
Not many more restaurants, hotels, resorts or guest houses opened in the years immediately following the Asian economic crisis of 1997. However, as the economy improved after the turn of the century and more international tourists discovered the area, the first international restaurants began to appear between the city center and Mui Ne ward. Some of those early restaurants are still in business today.
The opening of new Vietnamese and International restaurants had really taken off all along Nguyen Dinh Chieu in Ham Tien ward by 2006. Since that time, literally hundreds of restaurants have opened throughout all the wards of Phan Thiet.
The city center notonly has some great Vietnamese restaurants, but has also followed suite with the bigger cities and opened a number of international fast food restaurants. The food scene around Lotte Mart has really taken off in recent years, with a number of large outdoor Vietnamese barbecue restaurants.
The Bo Ke restaurants near the beach were the original ‘in-spot’ for young locals, but the crowds since moved to the cafes and restaurants near Lotte.
By early 2016, the hundreds of restaurants and food stalls throughout all the wards and communes of Phan Thiet offered the following cuisines:
1) Vietnamese cuisines from most of the regions of the country, including:
a. A huge variety of fresh seafood
b. Beef, Seafood and Goat Hot Pots
c. Barbecued meat and seafood restaurants and food stalls
d. Hanoi Cuisine
e. Hue Cuisine
f. Phan Thiet specialties
2) Chinese Cuisine
3) Japanese Cuisine
4) French Cuisine
5) Indian Cuisine
6) German Cuisine
7) Italian Cuisine
8) American Cuisine
9) Mexican Cuisine
10) Greek Cuisine
11) Turkish Cuisine
12) Mediterranean Cuisine
13) Spanish Cuisine
14) Latin American Cuisine
16) Vegetarian and Vegan
So no matter what one’s preference many be, everyone will be able to find something to like here, as Phan Thiet has become a food lover’s paradise.
Article by Steve Raymond
(GM of Pandanus Resort, Mui Ne)