1) Pho (Noodle soup)
Arguable Vietnam’s most famous dish, Pho is a delicious concoction that is found worldwide. Originating in the early 20th Century near Hanoi in the Nam Dinh Province, although according to locals it was eaten by villagers long before this. As the popularity of Pho developed, people began to see the French influence in the dish, such as the more common use of beef. Like most Vietnamese dishes, Pho is cooked differently at every restaurant you will find it. Additionally interesting is that regions of Vietnam tend to prepare pho differently; Saigon is known for its sweetness, the Central for its spiciness and the north for a more bland flavor! Ultimately, making the perfect Pho is scientific in a way, where measurements of each ingredient are critical!
Pho can be made with chicken, beef and other ligaments (although less common). It has a specific cut of white rice noodles, where the broth is added. The broth is made from simmering beef bones, charred onion, oxtails charred ginger and anywhere up to 5 spices. The most common garnishes are bean sprouts, lime, garlic, chili, cilantro and Thai Basil, although you will find just about anything else used depending on where you are!
2) Banh Mi (baguette)
Just like our number 1 Pho, Banh Mi is a delicious, fresh bread roll than can now be found worldwide and has been strongly associated with Vietnamese cuisine. It was introduced during the French colonial period in Vietnam (you wouldn’t have guessed), however, it differs from the French baguette. Banh Mi contains both rice and wheat flour, unlike in France where only wheat is used. Although the exact birth date of the Banh Mi isn’t known, by the 1950’s it began being sold in its modern form by street vendors in Vietnam. Coincidentally, Vietnamese people living in France began selling it shortly thereafter.
As mentioned earlier, the base and the most crucial ingredient is the fresh baguette. Although many variations once again depend on the region, the key ingredients tend to be steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted pork belly, sausage, grilled pork and pate. Eggs are often added to the mix also, depending on preference! The garnish is where the majority of the flavor will come from using fresh cucumber slices, cilantro, pickled sliced carrots and white radishes. The most common condiments include chili sauce and mayonnaise (though personally, I think it already has enough flavor!)
3) Chả giò (spring rolls)
Known as Nem Ran in the North, this small but diverse food is said to have been reserved for royalty – once given the nickname of “imperial roll”. Said to have some Chinese influence due to its similarities to Chinese spring rolls, Cha Gio history is hard to trace. Despite this, they are consumed all over the world, often as an appetizer to a main Asian cuisine dish.
Rice papers used in Cha Gio are the biggest distinction from other similar spring rolls. The key ingredients offer a tantalizing combination of chopped cabbage, bean threads or sprouts, carrots and sometimes mushrooms, always with some form of meat added. The rice paper is then deep-fried until a crispy golden brown and served with lettuce and condiments. Nuoc mam is the most popular condiment served with Cha Gio, a blend of vinegar, garlic, chili pepper, sugar and water.
4) Bun Bo Hue (beef rice noodle soup)
This specialty dish is labeled as one of the most diverse meals in Vietnam and for good reason! Originating in the central coast city of Hue, once the capital of the nation, Bun Bo Hue is still found throughout the country and as popular in other regions as it is in its original town (though never as delicious). Another ‘royal meal’ assembled in the style of the Royal Court, Bun Bo is famous for its balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour flavors.
The tantalizing broth is made by simmering beef shank, chunks of oxtail and pigs knuckles (yes, pigs knuckles are a common thing here), and can also contain concealed pigs blood in the form of a tofu-shape piece. It is served with rice vermicelli, sliced onions, lime wedges, red cabbage, mint, basil, Vietnamese coriander and other herbs depending on where you eat it. One of the key components of Bun Bo is Chili oil, which is added later during the cooking process.
5) Bánh xèo (sizzling cake)
Its name perfectly indicates exactly what this dish is – a delicious sizzling pancake-style cake that is simple yet has the intended effect. Popular in Cambodian cuisine, Banh Xeo still originates in Vietnam. Like Bun Bo Hue, Hue city in central Vietnam gets the recognition for this delectable dish, although others have speculated it has origins in Indian cuisine way back in the first millennium.
This crispy crepe-shaped pancake is stuffed with, every single time, 100% fresh and local ingredients. Served bulging with pork, shrimp and egg, it is the fresh garnish that gives it the Vietnamese authenticity label. Most frequently, it is served with lettuce and shredded carrot, then dipped into a thin satay sauce, usually mixed with fish sauce and chili.
6) Bún chả (Grilled pork noodles)
Pho might be the most popular dish when it comes to the people of Saigon, but when it comes to the capital Hanoi, Bun Cha is number one. Not to be mistaken with Bun Thit Nuong, Bun Cha is deeply ingrained in Hanoi culture and is eaten daily by many people.
A typically fatty portion of pork (shoulder and belly) is served with fresh rice vermicelli, pickled vegetables and herbs and a unique dipping sauce that consists of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, stock, crushed garlic, chili and any other ingredients the seller see fit. The sauce is arguably the key player in Bun Cha, giving it a distinct sweet and sour taste that keeps the Hanoians fixated on this dish.
7) Op La (fried eggs)
No, this isn’t any old fried egg. The Vietnamese way of preparing fried eggs is creative and caters to anybody’s tastes! In terms of history for this dish, it is difficult as eggs have been used worldwide for a very long time. Op La originates from a French term, which means “sunny side up”. Normally consumed for breakfast, this is another meal you’ll find all over Vietnam that you simply can’t miss.
Typically the dish is served in a shallow tray sizzling with all ingredients. Eggs, sunny side up; Either thin slices of beef, fish, sausage, meatballs or all of the above! Fresh Banh Mi is served on the side which can be used to either dip or fill with the ingredients. Often served with caramelized onions and some form of fresh pickled garnish (per the norm in Vietnam) which seems to marry with the My Op La perfectly!
8) Com Tam (broken rice)
This isn’t any old fried rice. Com Tam is made using fractured rice grains, which gives it a distinct difference from regular fried rice in Vietnam. Interestingly, it is a cheap grain of rice that has been typically damaged during milling and is normally used as a food industry ingredient in the USA and Europe. In Africa and Asia however, it is used for direct human consumption. Don’t worry – it has the equivalent nutrients as unbroken rice and is just as delicious!
Normally served with Vietnam’s favorite meat, pork as well as thinly shredded pork skin for extra flavor and texture. Added to the mix are the usuals pickled greens and vegetables and also a prawn paste cake which is rich with taste. Grilled prawns are the icing on the cake for this diverse dish, and if that wasn’t enough, served with a bowl of broth with chives to cleanse the palate!
# Cao lau
It’s a little like the numerous cultures that came to Hoi An during its heyday when it was a bustling commercial port. A nod to Asian flavors may be seen in the thicker noodles that resemble Japanese udon, the crunchy wonton crackers and pork, and the broth and fresh herbs. Only water from the Ba Le well may make authentic Cau Lau.
In Hoi An, where it was invented and still reigns supreme, you may try Cau Lau.
# Mi Quang. (Quang Noodle)
Mi Quang (Quang noodle) is a dish produced in the Quang style, similar to Bun Bo Hue. The central Vietnamese region of Quang Nam is the birthplace of this particular kind of noodle. Quang Noodles have a flat shape and a distinctly yellow tint, unlike other rice noodles.
To begin, consider the form of the noodles. Pieces of a rice flour layer are, in reality, Quang Noodles. Quang Noodles are prepared by thinly slicing this layer, which is then cut into numerous little pieces (the ideal width of these “pieces” should be 2 millimeters, such a perfect size!). As with other Vietnamese broths, this one is colored yellow by adding turmeric to the water after the bones have been simmered. This unusual ingredient enhances the color of the soup, but it also improves the taste.
Even though Quang Noodles are comprised of broth and noodles, several additional ingredients must be used to achieve the dish’s full potential. First, there are herbs, noodles, and lastly, various meats that include anything from pig to frog to snakehead fish. Before the yellow broth is put into the bowl, fried shallot and ground peanut are added. It’s amazing how well those difficult-to-combine things make such a spectacular meal.
# Com Ga (Chicken and rice)
Rice and chicken are tried-and-true meals. However, in Hoi An, this incredible combination is heightened by fresh ingredients from the rural areas. To accompany a dish of turmeric rice, strips of delicate chicken are shredded and combined with fish sauce and onions. The Rice chicken comes with a side of pickled shallots, radish, and herbs. There are a variety of techniques used by chefs around the nation to make their turmeric rice unique. To counteract the tangy marinade and the tender, young eggs in the traditional Hi An chicken rice, a few leaves of Vietnamese coriander and spicy mint are sprinkled on top. Golden chicken rice is the ideal reward for an end to a long day of walking about the ancient city.
# Goi Cuon
These light and healthful fresh spring rolls are a healthier alternative when you’ve had too much-fried cuisine in Vietnam once the salad greens, pork or seafood, and coriander are placed in the transparent pouches before being wrapped dipped in Vietnam’s favorite condiment, fish sauce.
# Banh khot
The same flavorful components can be found in this smaller version of a Vietnamese pancake, but it’s just a tenth of the size. Each Banh Khot may be slurped down in an exhausting but rewarding bite. Typically, the filling includes shrimp, mung beans, spring onions, and a sprinkle of dried shrimp flakes on a coconut milk-based crispy exterior.
# Nom chuoi
Compared to a regular salad of mixed greens, Vietnam’s banana blossom salad delivers a powerful punch. Cubed chicken is tossed with peeled and thinly sliced banana blossoms (the purple lumps that will grow into banana bunches later on), papaya, carrots, and cilantro in a salty-salty fish sauce dressing with crunchy peanuts.
# Pho Xao
However, the finer the details, the more delicious and nutritious this Pho Xao may be. Pre-boiled quick pho noodles don’t become as crispy as their flat, smoother relative. Crisp outside edges contrast with the soft and gooey interior when done correctly. Adding a fried egg and some chile or soy sauce to this meal makes it better.
# Ca Phe Trung (Vietnamese Egg Coffee)
Although nominally an aperitif, Vietnamese “egg coffee” is more appropriately classified as a sweet. Egg white foam on top of the thick Vietnamese coffee will have even those who aren’t ordinarily drawn to a cup of joe licking their spoons with joy.
The best way to see Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi is to use a narrow alleyway between two cheesy souvenir stores on Hang Gai 11 and climb many increasingly treacherous flights.
#Che (Sweet Soup)
Che is the perfect way to end any meal. Some individuals consume it as a kind of entertainment or conversation starter. In its purest form, Che consists of mung beans, black beans, sweet corn, taro, and other ingredients. Making these components sticky and sweet will be done in a unique method. Toppings are presented in a large glass or a bowl, and guests may customize their order depending on their preferences. You can see layers of components being layered on top of each other with this method, which is more fascinating than the standard method.
Xôi, Vietnamese sticky rice, is a deviation from the region’s other renditions of the moist rice dish. Sweet or savory, the heavier, thick glutinous staple is available in both flavors. Savory xôi, often known as xôi mn, is Vietnam’s standard and economical breakfast option. Are you craving something a little sweeter? It’s possible to be mesmerized by more than 20 varieties of xôi. The natural plant extracts are used for the five-colored version of the color, Xôi Ng Sc, to create a kaleidoscopic swirl of purple, green and red, yellow and white.
# Banh Beo
Banh Beo, a snack from Hue in central Vietnam, is more of an appetizer. Like Vietnamese tapas, these steamed rice cakes are served in bite-sized portions. The shrimp and mung bean paste are layered on the delicate, chewy disks. Croutons or crunchy fried pork fat can be added to the cakes. A good Banh Beo should have a dimple in the middle, indicating that the batch was properly steamed.
# Bun Rieu
Bun Rieu is a special meal because of its unique combination of crab and tomato. Slippy noodles, fresh crab, blocks of tofu, and stewed tomatoes all go into this hearty soup, brimming with acidity. Bun Rieu is a labor-intensive dish to make from scratch. The crab shell is first crushed using a mortar and pestle before being squeezed through a fine-mesh strainer to make the broth. Minced crab, ground pork, and egg float in the dish, and they melt on your tongue like pillowy puffs of heaven.
# Hu Tieu Nam Vang
In the southern United States, this is a common street food dish. Hu Tieu is a Vietnamese noodle dish that is similar to the Cambodian and Thai dishes Kuy Teav and Guay Tiew. It may be eaten either wet or dry. Hu Tieu noodles are traditionally served with a pig bone broth. Hu Tieu Nam Vang’s version of h tiu is unquestionably the best. It asks for pork ribs, quail eggs, and shrimp in the dish. If you’re apprehensive about eating congealed hog blood pieces, ask your server to hold off on serving them to you. There is also a distinct sweetness to the spicy broth, thanks to the inclusion of rock sugar.
# Mi Hoanh Thanh
It’s safe to assume that China and Chinese people aren’t very popular in Vietnam. Vietnam’s northern neighbor has a long history of meddling in the affairs of its southern counterpart. Recently, the new Vietnamese government did not trust the ethnic Chinese residents of Vietnam after the American War ended in 1975, and many were forced to leave the country while others escaped. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping attempted to “teach Vietnam a lesson,” as he put it. At least 10,000 individuals were killed in a 27-day conflict.
The Vietnamese were always on the lookout for valuable recipes throughout their turbulent history. This led to Mi Hoanh Thanh, a Vietnamese variant of the Chinese wonton noodle soup, which is now a staple throughout Vietnam, especially in the south, where most Chinese people resided. In this meal, the ingredients are yellow cylindrical noodles that have been flash-fried, and they’re served with some wontons, some chives and a single lettuce leaf, and some minced pork, minced pork, minced pork, and rice crackers. Despite its seeming simplicity, Mi Hoanh Thanh, like many famous Vietnamese dishes, is the result of a bitter battle.
# Bun Dau Mam Tom
“Poverty alleviation.” In the post-American War era, Hanoians referred to Bun Dau Mam Tom. Trade embargoes in 1975 meant that food was limited and the meat was highly prized. In comes Bun Dau Mam Tom, a meal of chilled rice noodles, tofu, and fermented shrimp paste that is inexpensive and easy.
Fried tofu is served. It may be fried as much or as little as you choose. The mm tôm (fermented shrimp paste) adds a spicy, electric charge to the meal, but the mix of textures elevates this dish and anybody who eats it. It may be a symbol of poverty, but Bun Dau Mam Tom is one of the city’s most famous street foods.
# What Is It About Vietnamese Cuisine That Is So Special?
VietNam results from its rich history and cultural impact that can be seen in its broths, inventive recipes, and farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. A wide range of cuisines is available in this nation, from cheap Vietnamese street food to high-end gourmet dining.
First-time visitors to Vietnamese food will be awed by the variety of sweet and savory dishes. Because Vietnamese cuisine menus are almost always written in Vietnamese, the diversity of traditional Vietnamese food might be a bit of a problem.
Most Vietnamese individuals eat out at least once a day, if not many times. The flavors are enormous, and the costs are so cheap that one can’t blame them. In addition to Pho, many Vietnamese people enjoy various cuisines as their first meal of the day.
You can eat alongside locals at open-air cafes, where you’ll sit on tiny plastic chairs and share a table or two with other diners if you’re brave enough. These dishes are sure to be favorites of budget-conscious diners due to the high-quality ingredients and unique dining experiences.