Best food to eat in Vietnam – On your first visit to Vietnam, wondering what to eat? For first-timers, it can be difficult to decode a list of Vietnamese foods. Continue reading to find 15 favorite foods from Vietnam that you need to try during your tour.
Obviously, when people want to discover the essence of culture, they often research cuisine, especially street food and traditional food. The explanation for this is the strong connection of food with the working class – the main part of society. And, in this way, Vietnam, a pleasant and naturally rich country, also has such a diverse and, of course, delicious range of cuisine.
A typical meal includes rice or noodles, meat or seafood dishes, vegetable dishes, soup, and nuoc cham (fermented fish sauce) for dipping, each of which can be personalized according to your preference. Here’s a handy guide to the best food to eat in Vietnam, most of which can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Although most of them are familiar with pho or spring rolls, there is a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes available only in some regions. So, let’s start our journey by going through the list of the 15 best Vietnamese foods that are considered must-eat in Vietnam..
Top 15 best food to eat in Vietnam you must try
Not only is Pho basically the iconic dish of Vietnam, but it is also the quintessential Vietnamese dish. It includes rice noodles with meat and assorted greens in a flavourful soup, plus a side of nuoc cham (fermented fish) or chilli sauce. Tai (beef slices), bo vien (beef meatballs), or nam (beef flank) are included in the simple cup, topped with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and fresh herbs such as basil, mint, coriander, and onions.
You may also opt for more exotic ingredients like gan (beef tendon), sach (thinly-sliced pig stomach), depending on the restaurant or roadside stall (flank with cartilage). Usually eaten for breakfast. Pho is priced in a local restaurant or street market in Vietnam at between VND 20,000 and VND 30,000.
2. Banh Mi
Banh mi is a special French-Vietnamese sandwich that’s perfect when you need a fast lunch. It consists of a toasted baguette sandwich, pickled vegetables, pate, butter, soya sauce, cilantro, chilies, and hot peppers, priced between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000.
Most banh mi sellers also offer a wide variety of meat fillings, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausage), xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork) and thit ga (poached chicken). The best kind of breakfast is a bánh mì sandwich. They’re cheap and delicious—a perfect start to every busy day.
3. Banh Xeo
Banh xeo much like a crepe or pancake. Many people mistakenly believe that the bánh xèo is made from eggs because of its distinct yellow color, but it is actually made from rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric.
You may fill it with vermicelli noodles, ham, pork or beef slices, shrimps, sliced onions, beans and mushrooms. Most roadside stalls, local markets, and restaurants sell a tray of banh xeo for around VND 15.000 to VND 25.000, which typically comes with a side of fresh lettuce or rice paper.
4. Nem ran
There is definitely a reason why this platter is considered to be one of Vietnam’s best foods. It has also been cooked in the past to mark the festive days of Vietnam or celebrate the country’s death anniversary. Nowadays, however, it is popularly cooked in Vietnamese daily meals.
The main ingredients of Nem Ran are ground meat, be it shrimp, pork, crab or snail; mushrooms; chopped vegetables such as bean sprouts, carrots; vermicelli rice; and eggs. After being rolled up in a sheet of moist rice paper, it will be deeply fried until its color becomes golden brown.
Like other dishes in Vietnam, Nem Ran also has many variations of the recipe that differ throughout Vietnamese families and regions. This may be the most fascinating specific of Nem’s recipe. The best Vietnamese spring rolls are truly the perfect mix of sour, sweet, and salty.
5. Mi Quang
Mi Quang may be available in most of Vietnam’s restaurants, but it actually originates from Da Nang. Easily eminent by its yellow-colored rice noodles, this dish is a hearty mixture of bone broth flavored with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot, and garlic, as well as meaty ingredients such as shrimp, boiled quails, and roast pork. Like most Vietnamese dishes, Mi Quang also comes with a range of herbs, including basil, peanuts, coriander, lettuce, sliced banana flowers, and sesame rice crackers.
6. Bun Thit Nuong
Bun thit nuong is made up of thin vermicelli rice noodles, chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled pork shoulder. Unlike other noodle dishes, it doesn’t come in a soup or a broth, but with a side of nuoc cham sauce for diners that can be mixed into a tasty set. Although bun thit nuong is very filling on its own, you can also try another version called bun thit nuong cha gio, topped with sliced Nem Ran.
7. Com Tam
Com tam literally translates to ‘broken rice’ in Vietnamese. Traditionally, it is eaten with a fried egg, diced green onions, and a number of meats. Although it’s a common option for breakfast or lunch, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day as it’s relatively inexpensive, with street markets and roadside food stalls selling 20,000 VND per bowl. Topping options include suon nuong (barbecued pork chop), bi (breasted pork skin), and cha trung (steamed pork and egg patty). Com tam also comes with a side of pickled tomatoes, cucumber slices, and nuoc cham Vietnamese dip sauce.
8. Banh Cuon
Also known as rolled cake, banh cuon is perfect when you feel peckish when sightseeing in Vietnam. Made from large round sheets of steamed rice flour, gathered around minced pork and wood-ear mushrooms, and gently folded and chopped, the banh cuon is a delight. This tasty treat is always fresh-to-order, topped with fried shallots, and served with a side bowl of fish sauce with pork sausage. Enjoy it as a local breakfast and feel free to add fresh herbs to the mixture and brighten up your bite. Due to its popularity among tourists, you can easily spot a lot of roadside vendors selling banh cuon close to tourist attractions and nightlife districts.
9. Xoi Xeo
Xoi xeo is a sweet-smelling Vietnamese snack, usually topped with green mung bean paste, soy sauce, and fried shallots. Many restaurants now sell a range of ingredients for a larger meal, such as pate, boiled chicken, cha lua (Vietnamese ham), marinated pork belly, or preserved eggs. The basic bowl usually costs VND 15,000, while the add-ins range from VND 15,000 to VND 30,000. Xoi xeo can also be enjoyed as a dessert consisting of dried coconut shavings, roasted sesame seeds, and crystallized sugar.
10. Ca Kho To
Ca kho to is a must-try if you’re a fish lover, a catfish filet that’s braised and served in a clay pot. Mostly available in cities in southern Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh, this dish is prepared by slicing the whole catfish into filets before caramelizing it in a thick sauce made with a combination of soya sauce, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic and various spices and seasonings. Ca kho is known for its strong sweet-salty taste, so this dish is often served with a plate of white rice and fresh greens.
11. Bun cha
Bun Cha is a prime example of the cuisine of Hanoi. It’s one of the finest Hanoi food specialties not to be missed. The key ingredients are rice vermicelli, roasted pork, fish sauce, and all the herbs you might ever like. It’s an easy meal, but sometimes it’s the best.
This classic northern dish consists of cold bún (rice vermicelli); slices of seasoned pork belly; a mountain of fresh herbs and salad greens; and, last but not least, medallions of minced pork floating in a bowl of fish sauce. A go-to method is to scoop small bundles of bun into your broth bowl and rotate between the noodles, the pork, and the greens.
12. Cha Ca La Vong
Cha Ca La Vong is a popular Hanoi dish that features a form of catfish grilled in a turmeric marinade and then served with noodles. Another feature that distinguishes Cha ca La Vong from many other popular Vietnamese food is that it can be found almost exclusively in restaurants rather than in street food stalls.
Cha Ca La Vong is also unique in that its history is quite easily traced back to a family in Hanoi who made this grilled fish dish that was so popular that their neighbors encouraged them to open a restaurant. The restaurant is still there today, still called Cha Ca La Vong, and still serves only one of the dishes – even though a lot of others have popped up around it. The street was also renamed Cha Ca Street because of the famous dish.
13. Bun bo Hue
Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is known for the way in which its local dishes find a wonderful balance of flavors—spicy, sour, salty, and sweet—and Bun bo Hue is an excellent example. It is made by simmering beef bones with lemongrass and fermented fish sauce. The dish is then served with beef, pork, thick noodles, and too many herbs and vegetables. Chili is also added to the spicy kick because the Hue people love their spicy food. Bun Bo Hue is a powerful demonstration of both beauty and taste.
14. Cao lau
Cao lau, a dish unique to Hoi An, is beyond comparison. Hailing the history of the coastal trading port from which it originated, this sensuous bowl of noodles is a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese influences. Slices of Chinese barbecued pork are fanned with noodles of Cao lau. These thick noodles, with the same heft as the Japanese udon, are then drizzled with spice-laden broth and topped with fresh herbs and crushed pork cracklings. Cau lau is said to have been made from the water found in the thousand-year-old Ba Le well in Hoi An, rumored to have magical properties. As you make your way through Vietnam, Cao lau is a must—and so is this dish.
15. Bun bo Nam Bo
A light and refreshing dish, Bun bo Nam Bo recently is Vietnam’s finest street food, originating from Southern Vietnam. Fine rice noodles are piled on top of a bed of fresh lettuce and covered with beef, bean sprouts, onions, and herbs.
A sweet broth of fish sauce is then ladled over these main ingredients and topped with roasted peanuts and dried shallots. Any new mint is a welcome addition, and like a lot of Vietnamese street food, chili, garlic, and lime are served on the side. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sour flavors, with only a touch of spice.