Top 10 Must-Try Vietnamese Dishes

Vietnamese traditional food is renowned worldwide for its healthy and flavorful qualities, thanks to its generous combination of fresh herbs and greens, paired with rice, noodles, meat, and seafood. While cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City boast fine-dining restaurants and extravagant settings, the best authentic Vietnamese food culture is found in street restaurants, vibrant markets, and local stalls.

A typical traditional Vietnamese meal includes rice or noodles, a meat or seafood dish, a vegetable dish, soup, and Nuoc Mam (fish sauce) for dipping. Here’s a helpful Vietnam food guide on what to eat in Vietnam, most of which can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

1. Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette Sandwich)

Banh Mi is a unique French-Vietnamese sandwich perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Priced between VND 25,000 and VND 40,000, it consists of a toasted baguette filled with pickled vegetables, pate, herbs, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chili sauce, and hot peppers. Meat options include roasted pork belly (heo quay), fried egg (trung op la), grilled pork loin (thit nuong), fried fish (cha ca), boiled sausages (cha lua), Chinese barbecued pork (xa xiu), and chicken (thit ga).

2. Vietnamese Pho (Rice Noodle Soup)

Pho is Vietnam’s most famous dish, comprising rice noodles in a flavorful broth with meat and various greens, served with a side of fish sauce or chili sauce. A basic bowl contains chicken or beef, topped with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and fresh herbs like basil, mint, cilantro, and onions. Typically eaten for breakfast, pho is priced between VND 35.000 and VND 40,000 at local restaurants or street markets.

3. Banh Xeo (Crispy Pancake)

Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese crepe, is made of rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, filled with vermicelli noodles, meats like chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, sliced onions, bean sprouts, and mushrooms. Sold at roadside stalls and local restaurants for VND 15,000 to VND 25,000, it comes with a side of fresh lettuce or rice papers. Locals wrap banh xeo in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves, or rice papers with nem lui (grilled pork in lemongrass skewers), mint leaves, and basil before dipping it in fermented peanut sauce.

4. Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls)

Fresh spring rolls, or Goi Cuon, consist of thin rice paper wrapped around pork, shrimp, basil, and lettuce, typically dipped in a hoisin-based sauce topped with crushed peanuts. This popular snack is a healthier alternative to cha gio (deep-fried egg rolls) made with mung bean noodles, minced pork, and various spices.

5. Mi Quang Noodle

Originating from Da Nang, Mi Quang is distinguished by its yellow-colored rice noodles, bone broth seasoned with fish sauce, black pepper, shallot, and garlic, plus meaty ingredients like river shrimp, boiled quail eggs, and roast pork. It is garnished with basil, peanuts, coriander, lettuce, sliced banana flowers, and sesame rice crackers.

6. Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork with Noodle)

Bun Thit Nuong consists of vermicelli rice noodles, chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled pork shoulder. Unlike most noodle dishes, it’s served with a side of nuoc cham sauce for mixing. Another variation, Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio, is topped with sliced cha gio (deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls).

7. Bún Bò Huế (Hue Noodle Soup with Beef)

Bún Bò Huế is a spicy noodle soup originating from Huế, featuring a broth made by simmering beef bones and shank with lemongrass, seasoned with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar. It includes thin slices of marinated beef shank, oxtail, and pig’s knuckles, served with lime wedges, cilantro, diced green onions, chili sauce, sliced banana blossom, red cabbage, mint, basil, perilla, and sometimes mung bean sprouts.

8. Bún Chả (Grilled Pork with Rice Noodle)

A Hanoi specialty, Bún Chả features grilled fatty pork (chả) over white rice noodles (bún) with herbs and a side dish of dipping sauce. This dish, described in 1959 by food writer Vu Bang, remains very popular in Hanoi. A similar dish, Bún Thịt Nướng, is served across Vietnam.

9. Cao Lầu (Hoi An Noodle with Pork)

Cao Lầu, from Hội An, consists of pork and greens on rice noodles made from rice soaked in lye water, giving them a unique texture and color. A bowl includes noodles on fresh greens, bean sprouts, herbs, marinated char siu pork, a small amount of broth, crispy squares, herbs, lime, and chili.

10. Nem Lụi Huế (Hue Grilled Minced Pork on Lemongrass Skewers)

Nem Lụi is made of marinated lean pork rolled into fresh lemongrass sticks and grilled. Served with rice paper, pineapple, carrots, cucumber, and raw vegetables, it is eaten by rolling the ingredients in rice paper, removing the lemongrass, and dipping it in a thick sauce made from peanuts and meat. The combination of flavors and textures makes it a delightful dish.

Explore these Vietnamese dishes to fully experience the diverse and rich culinary landscape of Vietnam. From street food to traditional meals, Vietnam offers a gastronomic adventure for every palate.

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