Top 10 Must-Try Vietnamese Foods and Dishes

Vietnamese cuisine is beloved worldwide for its unique blend of flavors, textures, and visual appeal. After spending 5 years traveling through Vietnam and sampling the incredible local specialties, I’ve compiled this list of the top 10 must-try foods and dishes for any visitor.

Number 1 is phở. This hearty noodle soup is practically Vietnam’s national dish, and no trip here is complete without slurping up a steaming bowl of phở bò (beef noodle soup). The broth is deeply savory and complex thanks to long hours simmering beef bones and aromatics like charred ginger and onion. The addition of fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts provides brightness and crunch. Regional variations include phở with chicken or seafood, but beef is the classic.

Phở Viet Nam Vietnam foods

Next at number 2 we have bánh mì. This Vietnamese take on the humble sandwich layers meats like cha lua (pork loaf), pâté, or cold cuts between a freshly baked baguette smeared with savory condiments like Maggi seasoning or mayonnaise. The amalgamation of textures and flavors is incredibly addictive. Crispy yet soft baguette, various meaty fillings, fresh cucumber slices, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro – every bite is a party in your mouth.

Banh mì Vietnam foods

Coming in at number 3 is bún chả, Hanoi’s signature dish. It features charcoal grilled fatty pork patties served with a sweet-savory-tangy dipping sauce, fresh herbs, and vermicelli noodles. The smoky pork pairs so beautifully with the light and refreshing noodles and herbs. It’s the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Don’t miss this iconic dish when visiting Hanoi.

Bun cha Ha Noi Vietnam foods

Next on the list at number 4 is gỏi cuốn, a light and healthy fresh spring roll. These rolls are made by wrapping herbs, salad greens, rice vermicelli noodles, and thin slices of pork or shrimp in delicate rice paper. The medley of fresh and lively flavors pairs wonderfully with the ubiquitous nuoc cham dipping sauce. It’s a ubiquitous appetizer option at Vietnamese restaurants.

Gỏi cuốn Vietnam foods

Number 5 is bún thịt nướng, an incredibly satisfying bowl heaped with vermicelli noodles and topped with bbq pork chops, pork sausage, shrimp, herbs, bean sprouts, fried shallots, and lettuce. You add nuoc cham, mix it all together, and dive in for a colorful and lavishly flavored meal in one bowl. It’s hearty, fresh, and addictive.

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Up next at number 6 is the classic Vietnamese comfort soup cà phê trứng. It features Chinese-style egg custard with minced pork and shrimp floating in piping hot black coffee. The interplay between the strong coffee and umami-rich custard is brilliant and totally unique. This dish just screams Vietnam.

The next slot at number 7 goes to bò bía, a Chinese-inspired pancake sandwich stuffed with julienned jicama, crunchy green lettuce, and thinly sliced beef jerky. It’s then dipped in or topped with chả cốm, a creamy mix of young green rice batter and pork. Sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, herbaceous – this snack layers textures and flavors brilliantly.

Number 8 on this top 10 list is nem rán or fried spring rolls. Ground pork, prawn, and glass noodles get rolled up into wheat wrappers and deep fried for an irresistible crunchy exterior and savory, umami-packed interior. The variations are endless, but the combination of textures and flavors is unbeatable. Nuoc cham for dipping is mandatory.

Second to last at number 9 we have bò kho, a quintessential Vietnamese beef stew. Tender beef chunks stew for hours in a clay pot along with carrots and spices like star anise and black pepper. The resulting dish is fall-apart tender beef permeated with aromatics in a thick savory gravy. It’s happily spooned over rice or soaked up with chunks of crusty baguette.

Finally, number 10 goes to chè, the varied collection of sweet dessert soups and puddings that dominate Vietnamese dessert culture. Flavors run the gamut from creamy coconut milk to tangy fruit juices and everything in between. They’re the perfect light, refreshing finish to a heavy Vietnamese meal.

So there you have it – the top 10 must-try foods and dishes that no visitor to Vietnam should miss out on. Spend some time wandering the busy streets and markets and sampling these highlights of Vietnamese cuisine, and prepare for your tastebuds to fall in love! The layers of flavor, textures, and colors make Vietnamese food truly special and craveable. With this list in hand, dine your way through Vietnam like an expert foodie.

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