Viet Nam News
by Hồng Vân
It’s often said Cồn market in the central city of Đà Nẵng is a foodie heaven.
Located in the centre of Đà Nẵng City, the three storey market faces Quang Trung and Ông Ích Khiêm streets and is easy to find. It’s open from 6am till around 7.30pm.
Like other traditional market, this is where you find a variety of fare – fresh fruit, dried seafood and clothes to name but a few.
It is not merely a place for buyers and sellers but also a favourite spot of visitors who want to try a local dish and learn about lives of the locals.
Life here is always bustling.
The late writer Thanh Tịnh once said: “When one travels to a new place, they should look for the local market. It is the place that shows you not only the economy but also a cultural slice of the local residents.”
While Hà Nội is well-known for its Đồng Xuân Market, HCM City with Bến Thành, Đà Nẵng is all about Cồn.
Those old enough to remember will regale you with tales of how before the market came into existence, the area was an abandoned sand dune with wild cactus and beefwood trees.
In the wartime, it was the place where the French colonialists punished Vietnamese soldiers to warn other locals. Later, the area became a place to buy and sell. In 1950s and 1960s, the market was surrounded by fancy shops selling jewelry, coffee as well as groceries.
With a petroleum station and two major bus stations nearby, Cồn Market soon became a busy trading place for both locals and residents of other provinces.
Văn Hóa (Culture) Book Store, Xướng café house, Ông Tý’s bánh mì shop, Quansh Hưng Sweet Shop or Thái Ngư’s phở shop were all the familiar and nostalgic names for Đà Nẵng people.
Nowadays, it’s the place where one can try almost all delicacies of Đà Nẵng and other regions at affordable prices – bún thịt nướng (noodle with grilled pork), bún mắm (fresh rice noodle served in broth with shrimps and herbs), mỳ quảng (Quảng Nam-based rice noodle), snails, bánh xèo (sizzling crepe with shrimp and pork filling), bánh căn (little round pancake made of rice flour, eggs and shrimp and served with dipping sauce and herbs), gỏi khô bò (salad with dried beef). Each dish ranges from VNĐ15,000 to 50,000.
The symbol of Huế
Like Cồn Market, Đông Ba is a symbolic market of the neighbouring Huế, the land of royal citadels.
It first opened 120 years ago, stretching from the iconic Tràng Tiền to Gia Hội bridge covering more than 47,000 square metres.
The market was maintained and upgraded in 1987 and that same look is how visitors will see it today. With more than 2,500 booths and nine blocks of houses surrounding it, the market is the biggest in the Thừa Thiên-Huế Province.
This place seems to offer something for everyone. There’s an area for vegans with affordable dishes and a place for those with a sweet tooths. Local women also come here for some of the best spices around.
If one comes to visit the market on the first day or the fifteenth day of lunar month, they would be in awe by the flower corners and aromas of incense for worshipping.
Visitors can also find local specialties to bring back home as souvenirs, including dried lotus seed and sweets.
Đông Ba also has some of best food of Huế including cơm hến (rice with mussel), bánh bột lọc (steamed dumplings made of manioc flour with shrimp and pork filling), bún bò Huế (noodle soup of Huế style), bánh ram ít (glutinous rice pancake) or the so-called chè (a dessert with various toppings of banana, lotus seed, green bean, or ginger).
Visitors can get some conical hats from the craft village Phú Cam, steel and iron farming tools from Hiền Lương blacksmith village, items of Kế Môn blacksmith village, pottery products from Phướng Tích or mats made of bamboo from Bầu La Village.
The booths selling fermented shrimp and shredded pork are also worth a visit.
The most colourful corner of this market is where locals sell vegetables – different types of fresh herbs, bamboo shoot, gourds and figs.
Huế is synonymous with conical hats and áo dài (traditional long dress) and Đông Ba is the best place to buy them.
Put on your áo dài, wearing a conical hat and get out your mobile phone as there are selfie spots aplenty in Huế.
Visitors are recommended to go to the market from 3pm as that’s when many of the food booths come alive. — VNS