People from Vietnam make up the third largest ethnic group in the Czech Republic–and Nguyen is the 9th most common last name in the entire country! The Vietnamese community has its roots its roots in Communist-era guest-worker programs, but immigration from Vietnam to the Czech Republic continues to this day.
Like many residents of Prague, I have often wondered: If there is such a large Vietnamese community here, then where in the world is all of the Vietnamese food? Sure, there are plenty of cheap Chinese joints (most of which I suspect are actually run by Vietnamese families), but true Vietnamese restaurants are surprisingly hard to find.
Fortunately, my quest for pho and chilies led me to a a place that is often referred to as Prague’s “Little Hanoi” – a giant wholesale Vietnamese market called SAPA. SAPA lies on the outskirts of Prague 4, far from the city center, and consists of a massive maze of small shops selling everything from food to clothing to supplies for small businesses.
I visited SAPA for the first time this weekend with a few friends, and it was quite an adventure. Once we crossed the gates, it no longer felt like we were in Prague.
We beelined to the food shops, where I instantly felt like a kid in a candy store. We stocked up on fragrant herbs, tiger shrimp, jasmine rice, coconut milk, lychees, manioc, rice vermicelli, dried black mushrooms, ginger candy…
After wandering around SAPA for a bit, we took a break for lunch at one of the many restaurants in the complex. We shared ngan nuong, a flavorful soup with roast duck, noodles, and vegetables.
There are plenty of bizarre sights to behold at SAPA, too–including some of the creepiest mannequins I have ever seen!
SAPA is a fantastic place to visit for curious foodies or anyone who is eager to explore a very different side of Prague. It’s well worth venturing outside the city center for this taste of Prague’s cultural diversity.
Trung Tâm Thương Mại SAPA
Libušská 319, Prague 4
+420 602 231 886, sapa.biz
Take the metro (line C) to Kaceřov. Then, take bus 113 to U Libušské sokolovny or Sídliště písnice, OR
Take the metro (line B) to Smíchovské nádraží. Then, take bus 198 to U Libušské sokolovny or Sídliště písnice.