Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by the geography of the country. If you look at a map, you’ll see that Vietnam is a long, skinny country that hugs the coast. In fact, the country features 3,000 kilometers of coastline. Not surprisingly, fish is a major staple in Vietnamese cuisine. In the north, Vietnam shares a border with China. In the west, Laos and Cambodia are situated next to Vietnam. These geographical distinctions influence the subtle differences in cuisine you’ll find in Vietnam’s various regions. Northern Vietnamese Cuisine Since the northern part of the country shares a border with China, northern Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. You’ll find more stir fries and noodle-based soups in northern Vietnam. Northern Vietnamese cuisine tends to be on the salty side, and not very sweet. Black pepper is a commonly used spice. Northern dishes also tend to feature less meat and fish compared to southern dishes. Central Vietnamese Cuisine As you move farther down the country, you’ll encounter spicier dishes. Central Vietnamese cuisine is known for complex, distinctive flavors. The capital of Hue (pronounced “way”) in particular is revered for having a rich culinary tradition with colorful, spicy foods that rely heavily on chili peppers and shrimp sauces. Southern Vietnamese Cuisine The southern end of Vietnam is influenced by Cambodia and, to an extent, Thailand (although Thailand and Vietnam do not share a border). Southern Vietnamese cuisine tends to be sweeter. You’ll find sweeter broths for the pho dishes, for example, and palm sugar is often used in savory dishes. Southern Vietnamese cuisine is also influenced by the climate. The warmer climate is capable of sustaining jackfruit trees, coconut groves, and rice paddies, allowing for these ingredients to be readily incorporated into the regional food. If you’re in the mood for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, you can head over to Noodles & More Saigon Café. This Pan-Asian restaurant, located in downtown Steamboat Springs, also features a full sushi bar. To inquire about their hours or menu selections, call (970) 870-1544.