Sapa Prague is a large Vietnamese market with a bunch of unremarkable clothing stores, but mainly around 30 food stalls, a big supermarket with Vietnamese groceries, and a few small shops. When I was here for the first time long ago, I was a bit scared to come alone. I felt like I would definitely get lost and be an intruder there without experienced company. However, that time is long gone, Vietnamese cuisine is popular, many Prague locals and tourists come to Sapa, and I can at least not get lost here anymore. I love Vietnamese food, so I just have to visit Sapa occasionally!
Sapa, sometimes nicknamed as Little Hanoi or Little Saigon, officially known as TTTM Sapa (Trung Tâm Thương Mại = shopping center), has its charm. Unlike the Vietnamese food stalls in the city center, there are many specialized ones here – some stalls only cook a single dish, some only cook from a single type of meat. Exactly as I know it directly from Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine uses every part of the meat. They never throw away bones, but make broth from them. A great delicacy is chicken feet skin salad, and internal organs are a common ingredient, and pork feet can be added to the soup.
My favorite (and also the first one I visited) bistro is Hải Hà, where you can get the best bún chả I’ve ever had. Yes, paradoxically, I haven’t had better-refined meat even in Vietnam. It’s almost hard to miss – the grilled pork belly from the outdoor grill smells really far away.
At Dũng Liên, they specialize in duck. They use every piece of the duck meat. You’ll often see bowls of red sauce – that’s duck blood mixed with salt to thicken it. I didn’t try it as it’s considered a manly thing to eat, as it’s served with strong alcohol to kill any possible bacteria. I had their excellent roasted duck, flavored with galangal and sesame seeds, served with iceberg lettuce, Vietnamese basil, and a broth with coriander and spring onion. The meat is dipped in soy sauce with chili and garlic, and of course, served with noodles.
The only food in Phương Phượng is bánh cuốn breakfast dish, steamed rice rolls. They are really luxurious rolls, stuffed with minced pork, black mushrooms and sprinkled with fried onions. In addition, they serve chả lụa, slices of minced meatloaf.
Larger restaurant with a more varied menu, make meals here in two possible sizes: normal and small portions. Small is enough, still very big. They have excellent Bún bò Nam Bộ (also a variant with chicken, which I still don’t know how to say correctly in Vietnamese). And then also Vietnamese coffee, which I prefer instead of dessert. Vietnamese coffee is complemented by a significant portion of condensed milk.
Again a specialized restaurant for soups phở bò (beef) and phở gà (chicken), to which they sell such fried bread.
Tamda Foods a Thực Phẩm Thắng Liên
In addition to packed uneaten food, I also like to take some groceries from Sapa, they have special Asian stuff as well as common ones. It is good to go shopping here on weekdays or Sundays. Vietnamese people come to shop here on Saturdays for their bistros, it’s quite crowded, and the “tourist way of shopping” delays traders. Everything from herbs, fruits, vegetables, and meat, through the coffee to dishes, is available.
What to buy in Sapa Praha
You can find almost anything at Sapa, but I go there for:
- herbs and exotic fruits,
- Thai pastes,
- coconut milk,
- spicy sriracha sauce and other sauces,
- rice noodles and rice paper for spring rolls.
- the food is usually shared, so it is taken from the common bowl with the other side of the chopsticks (unless we eat with the family, where it doesn’t matter),
- the meal begins with the youngest inviting the elders to eat (or each younger invites each elder), something like ours “bon appetite!”,
- a good Vietnamese host will not leave you an empty plate, he will always refill, so if we are full, it is good to leave a little something on the plate (this doesn’t apply to restaurants, no one will run there with another portion).
How to get to Sapa Praha
Sapa Praha is in Libuš, so for those who do not stay in the southeastern part of Prague, it will be a bit out of hand. Right in front of Sapa is the Sídliště Písnice bus stop, which is served by bus 197 from Smíchov Railway Station, via Chodov. But better take an Uber if you don’t have a car here.
Any day of the week including weekends.
Vietnamese food. Bun cha, Pho bo, Bánh cuốn, Vietnamese coffee.
For excellent Vietnamese cuisine specialties and shopping for (not only) Asian groceries.
There are many parking spaces directly in the area, but especially on weekends you may have to look for a vacant spot for a while.