11 Foods You Need to Eat While in Vietnam

Ignite your tastebuds with the symphony of powerful and complimentary flavours available in Vietnam. These dishes can be found all over Vietnam and are simply too good to miss.

Pho

Photo by DeaShoot

Phở is primarily made with either beef or chicken. Photo by DeaShoot

Pronounced ‘fuh,’ this is tasty noodle dish served with a hot broth, sprouts, beans, chilli and your choice of meat. Usually a combination of beef and chicken is served with this dish. Pho is a favourite all over Vietnam and while it looks like it won’t fill you up, I guarantee you will be feeling very content after a bowl of this savoury Vietnamese delight.

 

Banh Cuon

banh cuon, vietnamese steamed rice noodle roll

Bánh cuốn is a dish from Northern Vietnam.

Another popular dish in the streets of Vietnam, these steamed rice rolls are cooked in long sheets before being steamed and rolled. Try it with sprouts, shallots, cucumbers or the favourite dipping sauce in Vietnam, nuoc cham a sweet, spicy, sour and fishy sauce.

Goi Cuon

Goi Cuon

Gỏi cuốn is wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng. Photo by Ducson Nguyen

No Vietnamese meal is complete without having a rice paper roll. These are packed with vegetables and lean meat or shrimp to give you a guilt free dish. Dip them in hoisin sauce or nuoc cham.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. Photo by Sodanie Chea

When the French colonized Vietnam they brought baguettes. The Vietnamese had a genius plan to stuff these fresh baguettes with ingredients including pork belly, fish cakes, meatballs, pickled carrots, daikon and the mandatory chilli. Bite into this sandwich and it will be like no other that you have tasted.

Goi

Goi

Goi is different from sa lat and sa lat Nga found in Western-style restaurants. Photo by Amy Nguyen

Light, fresh and packed full of flavour, Goi is the name given to Vietnamese salads. The crunchy, salty and zesty salads will put a spring in your step. The base is made with cabbage pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, fresh mint and coriander. You can make it your own by adding chicken, prawns or pork.

Cha Gio

Cha Gio

Popular in North America and Europe, served as an appertizer. Photo by Ron Dollete

Grab a few of these Vietnamese spring rolls and bite into their crunchy golden shell to reveal the fresh ingredients to make your mouth water. These spring rolls are made with pork, shrimp or crab meat and are filled with grated carrot and glass noodles.

Bun Cha

Outside of Hanoi a similar dish of rice vermicelli and grilled meats is served instead, called bún thịt nướng.

Originating in Hanoi this dish is simply delicious. Tender marinated grilled pork and small pork patties are served on beds of rice vermicelli accompanied by the powerful flavours of lime, chilli and pickled vegetables.

Mi Quang

Mi Quang

Mi Quang comes from the Quảng Nam Province. Photo by Ron Dollete

Originating in central Vietnam, this dish is part salad and part soup. Rice noodles are added to a rich and concentrated chicken broth and crunchy noodles are added. You can add your choice of protein whether it be chicken or fish; if you are brave you can even add chilli. This is a humble dish and will warm you from the inside out.

Cơm tấm

Com Tam

Tấm refers to the broken rice grains, while cơm refers to cooked rice. Photo by stu_spivack

Commonly known as Broken Rice; this dish is made from fractured rice grains. The rice is cooked and often served with lemongrass grilled pork, fish or spicy chicken. Available from street vendors, this dish will fill the void created by the smell of the flaming grill.

Banh Xeo

Bahn xeo

Southern style bánh xèo is larger than the small pan-fried versions in the central and northern regions. Photo by stu_spivack

This fresh and fragrant Vietnamese pork pancake is a popular street food. Named after the ‘sizzling’ sound it makes when poured into the hot pan, these pancakes are sure to make you sniff the air when wandering through the streets of Vietnam.

Banh Cam

Bahn Cam

Banh Cam is enjoyed in various styles everywhere from India to Japan. Photo by sstrieu

Treat yourself to a little dessert and bite into the crispy and golden sesame seed and rice flour outer layer before reaching the chewy mung bean-filled soft centre. Yum!