Vietnamese food is distinct and unforgettable. The cuisine relies on a balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavours, achieved through use of nuoc mam, a fermented fish sauce, cane sugar, the juice of kalamansi citrus fruit or tamarind and chilli peppers. Dishes use plenty of fresh herbs but tend not to be overly spicy, as chilli sauces are served separately.
1. Pho – Noodle
Vietnam’s national dish a the country’s great staple is pho, a noodle soup eaten at any time of day but primarily at breakfast. The basic bowl of pho consists of a light beef or chicken broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, to which are added broad, flat rice noodles, spring onions and slivers of chicken, pork or beef.
2. Xoi – Sticky Rice
“Xoi”, or “glutinous rice”, “sticky rice” in English, can be found in many South East Asia food stalls or luxurious local restaurant. In Vietnam, Sticky rice is commonly popular breakfast item and give you a boost of added energy.
The glutinous rice comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), but almost always with a scattering of dried shallots on top. The most common combination is included chicken meat, sausage and scallion oil.
You can find this wonderful dish on several vendors around Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi City or try it at
3. Banh mi – Vietnamese baguette Sandwich
Commonly well-known along with Pho, Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, called Banh Mi, have attracted a growing fan base around the word. The uniqueness of Banh mi not only lies within the light and crispy baguette, but also the variation of flavors Vietnam fillings bring out the most amazing flavor.
This baguette sandwich filled with greens and a choice of fillings, including pâté and freshly made omelet, is so delicious that it’s been imitated around the world. In the north chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein—bread, margarine and pate—but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.
Be prepared for long waiting lines of this popular Banh Mi store for both locals and tourists.
4. Bun cha
A Hanoi specialty, you’ll find bun cha at food stalls and street kitchens across the city. Essentially a small hamburger, the pork patties are barbecued on an open charcoal brazier and served on a bed of cold rice noodles with assorted foliage and a slightly sweetish sauce.
5. Nem ran – Fried Spring Rolls
Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention.
The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce gets the gastronomic juices flowing before a main course. In the north these parcels go by the name Nem ran while southerners call them Cha Gio. They are most commonly stuffed with minced pork and diced vegetables, though some places use crab, tofu, or even mashed jicama or taro root.
6. Bun Bo Hue
If you are a soup lover then you will be pleased to learn that Bun Bo Hue is another classic Vietnamese dish. Whether North, South or Central, “Bun” also creates unique and specific dishes in each region. However, in Hue, they like “bun” rather than other one because of style of “bun Hue”. Hue style not only is the elegant, sophisticated, precise dishes but also feel the spirit of the processor. Coming to Hue, either morning or afternoon, walking along the small streets, people can find easily “bun bo Hue”. This thick slippery rice noodle can be found countrywide.
7. Goi cuon (Raw spring Roll)
Salad roll ranks among Vietnam’s most famous foods and is very agreeable to the taste. Each translucent spring rolls packed with greens, coriander and various combinations of minced pork, shrimp or crab. In some places they’re served with a bowl of lettuce and/or mint. A southern variation has barbecued strips of pork wrapped up with green banana and star fruit, and then dunked in a rich peanut sauce – every bit as tasty as it sounds.
8. Banh Cuon – Steamed Rice Cake
Taste the French influence in this famous and delicious recipe made of wheat, egg and dairy products. Vietnamese especially from the North, take pride in their steamed crepe made from rice flour and water. Ground pork, wood-ear, onion and seasoning are stuffed inside this savory meal. Most of the chefs make it right at the entrance door using the steaming method. Banh cuon is served with a mixture of fish sauce including sugar and lime.
9. Banh xeo – Sizzling cake
Banh Xeo are giant savory pancakes that literally translate to sizzling cake because of the noise they make when they are being cooked. A good sizzling cake is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.
10. Com tam – Broken rice
This simple meal, is one of the most popular dishes from South Vietnam at any time of the day, but particular in the morning. It is usually served grilled marinated pork chops, plus a mixture of thinly shredded pork and pork skin over broken rice. On top of the meat, there are several customary ingredients such as: finely sliced cucumber, tomato and pickled vegetables, along with prawn paste cake also known as steamed pork and egg custard or pork meatloaf with egg, fried egg, and grilled prawns.
As a dry dish, it would normally be served with a small bowl of fish sauces on the side.
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