Get ready for exciting food adventures in Vietnam! Plan your holiday tour around these five dishes and you won’t be disappointed.
Vietnam is a foodie’s paradise. The food here is made from a diverse range of exceptional produce. From great veggie options and seafood, to tender savory barbecue, you’ll find just about anything your taste buds were looking for and quite a few things they didn’t know that they’d enjoy.
Vietnam’s Culinary Bests
The main identifiers of Vietnamese cuisine rest within the taste spectrum of salty, sweet, spicy and sour. These flavors are achieved by a mixture of ingredients including fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit or vegetables. Also, Vietnamese recipes could include a wide range of herbs such as lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, or Thai basil leaves
You’ll want to arrive with an open mind, excited to try some delicious produce as well. The tropical climate in agricultural regions of the country allow for so many different types of exotic fruits and vegetables to be grown. From the more common yet mouthwatering mangoes, and okra, to the more adventurous options like watermelon radish, halal prickly pineapple, and romanesco cauliflower spiral.
With all of the goodness being served everywhere, from the street food stalls lining on the busy sidewalks of Hanoi’s Old Quarter to the freshly caught seafood serving on the beach side restaurants in Da Nang, it’s difficult to narrow down what dishes absolutely can’t be missed.
Here are the top dishes any foody in Vietnam should to try:
This is the most well-known dish in Vietnamese cuisine and widely eaten across the country with slight variances. This noodle soup is made with herbs, vermicelli rice noodles, either beef or chicken, and mix with a rich tasty soup.
Originated in Northern Vietnam, the soup is intrinsically linked to Vietnamese street food and breakfast culture. In early morning, you will always see people starting off their days with this healthy noodle soup.
You can find Pho throughout the country and around the world and here are good ones in Vietnam:
Phở Thìn: 13, Luc Duc Street, Hanoi
Hanoi: Phở Bát Đàn: 45 and 49 Bat Dan Street, Hanoi
Phở Hòa: 260C Pasteur, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Phở Hùng – 243 Nguyen Trai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Pho Sai Gon 10 Nguyen Van Cu, Hue City
Goi cuon (Gỏi cuốn)
The rice paper or bánh tráng wrapping allows for the tasty morsels inside of these spring rolls to be plainly visible. Typically stuffed with a mixture of lettuce, coriander, either a minced pork, crab, or whole prawns with a Southern variety keen on shredded pork.
This dish is usually served with a peanut dipping sauce. It could make a great snack or appetizer anytime during your day. This delicious fresh dish could be found at Quán Ngon: 18, Phan Boi Chau Street, Hanoi
Banh mi kep thit (Bánh mì kẹp thịt)
“Banh Mi” is the Vietnamese word for bread and this sandwich is enjoyed widely around the country and even famous internationally. It is also called “Banh Mi Kep Thit” or “Banh Mi Sai Gon.” Originally, the dish’s making was inspired by the tasty, crunchy baguette bread from the French.
However, the crust is thinner and lighter than the French baguette’s because it’s made of a combination of rice and wheat flour. While the filling can be varied depending on your choices, a typical “Banh Mi” will likely include some pickled shredded carrot, fried egg, pate, mayonnaise, and a wealth of greens.
Vietnam’s economic capitol Ho Chi Minh City provides a wealth of options for banh mi kep thit
Bánh Mì: 37 Nguyen Trai, Ho Chi Minh City
Bun cha (Bún chả)
Bun cha is thought to have originated in Hanoi, and proof of this can be seen around lunch time in the streets of the Old Quarter as street food vendors cooking up vast amounts of the dish for their hungry patrons.
Grilled pork is served over “Bun” (white rice noodles), and comes with a fish sauce diluted with lemon, sugar, vinegar, crushed garlic and chili.
Bun cha is very highly recommended in Hanoi at:
Bun Cha Nem Cua Be Dac Kim: 67 Duong Thanh Street, Hanoi
Bun Cha Huong Lien: 24, Le Van Huu Street, Hanoi (Obama came here in May 2016)
Banh xeo (Bánh xèo)
Translated to Sizzling Pancake, “Banh Xeo” is exactly that. The pancake comes freshly from a flat grilling surface, then is stuffed with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and vegetable.
“Banh Xeo” could be incredibly filling but it is also very delicious that you will find it difficult to put down! You can get your hands on some tasty “Banh Xeo” in Nha Trang at Lantern’s Vietnamese restaurant: 34/6 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, Nha Trang, Vietnam
Author: Jacob Sneed
Jacob Sneed is an avid traveler, hobbyist photographer, and author. What began five or so years ago as a short vacation has turned into a nomadic lifestyle that has taken him to many central hubs and remote corners of the earth alike. More of his writings can be found at principejacob.wordpress.com
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