Looking to maximize your cultural and scenic exposure but are concerned that Sapa might be a little bit touristy for your liking? Moc Chau Plateau in Son La Province is the perfect alternative. Situated about 200km Northwest of Hanoi at an altitude of 1,050m above sea level, Moc Chau is the largest and most beautiful plateau in North Vietnam with lush green mountains and tasty unique delicacies!
Half the fun of traveling is trying the authentic food. Thus, sampling local delicacies is critical for a wonderful trip to an exotic destination like Moc Chau. Let’s explore some of the most iconic delights of Moc Chau, as well as the mountainous Northwest part of the country with helloVietnam tour operator.
Bê Chao – Deep fried veal
Since bulls can’t get pregnant and be milked, they are slaughtered for their meat. The veal is cut into thin slices, seasoned with chopped lemongrass, ginger, condiments, and then deep-fried. The best Bê Chao dish is made from a 7-day old male calf, feeding on his mother’s milk only so the meat is tender while the skin is crunchy. A special sauce including minced lemongrass and ginger is served alongside. Overall, this yummy dish is not greasy, but it is naturally sweet and fragrant.
Be Chao (Source: Internet)
A dish of Be Chao ranges from 70,000VND to 100,000VND and can be found in almost every restaurant in Moc Chau, especially along National Highway 6. Some restaurants that have the best Be Chao are: Restaurant No. 64 – Lan Hong Quan, Restaurant No. 70 – Nam Hung, and Restaurant No. 181 – Xuan Bac.
Thịt Trâu Gác Bếp – Buffalo meat hung on the stove/smoked buffalo meat
First originated in Moc Chau by Thai people, the exotic smoked buffalo meat is a considered a luxury dish and is reserved for special guests only. The chewy dish is made from the flesh shank of buffaloes. For starters, the shank is vertically sliced; seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, chili powder, condiments, and the indispensable “Mắc khén” seeds; and is then hung on the stove (from 8 months to 1 year) until the meat turns black and shrivels to achieve its trademark chewy texture and naturally sweet taste.
Smoked buffalo meat (Source: Internet)
1kg of smoked buffalo meat starts at 800,000VND.
Xôi Ngu Sắc – Five-color steamed glutinous rice
Five-color sticky rice is a very popular delight of almost every ethnic minority in the mountainous regions of Northwest Vietnam. The name may vary from one ethnic group to another; however, the dish always has 5 distinctive colors symbolizing the five basic elements of Oriental philosophy and the harmony of nature. All the colors are created by natural ingredients using leaves of different forest trees. Not only do these leaves produce the desired colors, but they are also healthy while adding extra flavors to the dish.
Xoi Ngu Sac (Source: Internet)
Cá Suối – Stream fish
The rustic stream fish dishes are one of the best selling dishes in Moc Chau. The locals are very creative when it comes to applying cooking methods with a list of recipes using stream fish. No one really knows their name, they’re just regarded as stream fish. The fresh fish which are about the size of a finger or two are cleaned and gutted. Fried stream fish is the simplest and easiest dish found in restaurants. Grilled fish are spiced with special herbs, clamped by two bamboo sticks, and then roasted over charcoal.
Cai Meo is a type of leafy vegetable that only grows in spring and winter. It is traditionally used for regular meals as well as to treat guests. Although Cai Meo is quite bitter at first, the initial bitterness is quickly replaced by a naturally sweet taste. Over the past few years, Cai Meo has become well received amongst visitors, and the locals have started to grow them for sale as well.
Regarded as the dairy farm of Vietnam, Moc Chau people take pride in their dairy products, especially their 100% pure fresh cow milk. The most nutrient-rich milk is taken within 3 days after the cow gives birth to the calf. With selective breeding, extra care, a strict and balanced regimen, standard process, and modern technologies, Moc Chau dairy products (including fresh milk, cakes, candies, butter, yogurt, and cheese) are assured to be top-notch quality.
Dairy cows grazing on the Northwest hills (Source: Internet)
When visiting dairy farms, not only will visitors have the chance to watch herds of dairy cows grazing on northwest hills or being fed grain at the farm, they will also have a chance to feed and hand milk a cow.
Moc Chau Plateau is famous for its stunning view of endless tea plantations spreading over several hills, covering an area of 3,000km2. All year round, the plateau is covered in a beautiful green color with humble stilt houses scattered here and there. Thanks to the cool climate, high humidity, and rich soil, Moc Chau tea is pure, fragrant, and bittersweet. Don’t miss the chance to try San Tuyet tea, brewed with the leaves of 150-year-old tea trees. There is also O Long tea, Kim Tuyen tea, etc. Each has its own distinctive fragrance and taste like no other tea.
Tea plantation in the shape of a heart (Source: Internet)
Along with the picturesque valleys of different types of flowers such as plum, peach blossom, cherry blossom, mustard, and sunflowers, the vast verdant green fields of tea bushes will also capture your heart at first sight. Although North Vietnam is home to many famous tea lands, namely Thai Nguyen, Phu Tho, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, and Tuyen Quang, Moc Chau tea farms are the most distinct as they’re associated with a very special image – the heart, the symbol of life and love.
There are 3 heart-shaped tea plantations in Moc Chau that allow visitors to take photos, join a tea picking session, and watch the process of drying tea buds and leaves: Taiwanese tea plantation, Moc Suong tea plantation (Tan Lap 1 and 2), and Tan Lap 3 tea plantation.