Vietnam Travel – Vietnamese Food Guide

by Dwight Z.

The food to try on a trip to Vietnam

For the majority of international travelers, trying food from a different country or culture is one of the most exciting aspects of visiting a different country and Vietnam is no exception, Just remember to be adventures and write down the names of the food you like, so you can order it on your return home!!

Vietnamese food is a one of the most delicious styles of food in Asia if not the world, its style and taste shares slight similarities with its near neighbors (China, Thailand, and Cambodia) yet the food of Vietnam is distinct and original. Unsurprisingly French cooking has much influence on the food and cuisine of Vietnam, which is most apparent in the countries outstanding breads.

So what are the foods Your Vietnam Tour Guide recommends trying on a trip to Vietnam?

Pho Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho Vietnamese Noodle Soup – This is perhaps the most popular & famous Vietnamese Dish of all time. You can try two main types of Pho, the first and most popular is Pho Bo (Beef) with the other being the chicken variety Pho Ga. Pho is made with rice noodles and the dish is always served with a plate of fresh mints, bean sprouts and lime, along with Hoi sin Sauce & Nuoc mum (Fish sauce).

Pho originates from Northern Vietnam and is usually eaten for breakfast; however you can pick up a bowl at any time of the day or night.

If you are a little adventurous ask for a Pho Bo Dac Biet, Dac Biet is the Vietnamese word for Special, and you will usually get beef tendon, Beef Flank & Beef tripe.

Banh Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese Pancake

Banh Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese Pancake

Banh Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese Pancake with pork & prawn (shrimp)

Banh Xeo is a crispy rice flour pan cake filled with pieces of pork, school prawns & bean sprouts, which when cooked and crispy is folded in half and is about the size of a large plate (I have seen them bigger). To eat tear off a piece of Banh Xeo and wrap in Vietnamese Lettuce leaf along with fresh mints, then dip in Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese dipping sauce)

Banh Xeo is not very well known in the west, yet everyone I have ever suggested it to or made it for has absolutely loved it. As with most Vietnamese dishes Banh Xeo is quite simple yet bursting with freshness and flavour. Banh Xeo is highly recommended, if you visit Vietnam without trying you are simply missing out.

In Saigon’s district 1, Dinh Cong Trang Street specialises in Banh Xeo, Your Vietnam Tour Guide recommends heading straight the restaurant named Bánh Xèo 46a, at 46A Dinh Cong Trang.

Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue – Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup

As the name suggests this dish originally heralds from the imperial city of Hue in central Vietnam. Bun Bo Hue is made from Pork broth & served with Vietnamese sate sauce (Dried chilly & oil mixture) along with beef meat, and noodles. Even though this is referred to as Spicy Vietnamese soup I generally find it is far from spicy, so it is normally up to you to add additional chilli and/or sate sauce at the table if you like it hot.

As with Pho and most other soup dishes Bun Bo Hue is served with a side plate of fresh herbs/mints & bean sprouts which are added to your bowl prior to eating.

Nem Nuong

Nem Nuong

Nem Nuong – Grilled/BBQ Pork Balls Wrapped in rice paper with mints

Nem Nuong is made from a mixture of pork mince and various spices then grilled/BBQed  on bamboo skewers. To eat put one or two Nem Nuong balls on a sheet of moist rice paper, along with fresh mints, lettuce, Cucumber & vermicelli, wrap the rice paper and dip in Vietnamese dipping sauce.

I was introduced to Nem Noung at An Ngon Restaurant in Saigon on my first trip to Vietnam, and it became an instant favourite of mine. It was so good that I returned to An Ngon several times before the end of that trip, and have always make the point of returning on each trip since.

Lau - Vietnamese Hot Pot
Lau – Vietnamese Hot Pot

Lau – Vietnamese Hot Pot
If you ever go out for lunch or dinner with Vietnamese this is always on the menu, and will usually be a Fish or seafood hot pot (but you can get beef & chicken). As the hot pot slowly cooks away at your table add more seafood and fresh mints & vegetables.

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Cha Gio – Vietnamese fried Spring Rolls

Cha Gio – Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls

Cha Gio – Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls are very similar to Chinese spring rolls; however some of the ingredients are different. Cha Gio is normally made out of pork & prawn mince with the addition of Black Fungus (a type of mushroom) & shredded taro.

Cha Gio can be eaten alone (with Vietnamese dipping sauce) but more often than not is eaten in a bowl with Vermicelli noodles mints & Vietnamese fish sauce.

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Bun Thit Nuong/Bun Dac Biet

Bun Thit Nuong/Bun Dac Biet

Bun Thit Nuong/Bun Dac Biet – Bun Tit Nuong/Bun Dac Bit is a rice noodle dish, which is served with various meats along with the obligatory fresh mints and famous Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese fish sauce)

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Chao Tom – Prawn

Chao Tom – Prawn

Chao Tom – Prawn (Shrimp) paste grilled on a sugar Cane stick

Chao Tom is similar to Nem Nuong in that the cooked Chao Tom is usually wrapped in rice paper and eaten with mints however the main difference is that Chao Tom is made from Prawn (Shrimp) and cooked on a sugar cane stick. For eating take the meat off the sugar cane stick & place on a piece of moist rice paper with fresh mints, lettuce, cucumber, finally roll & dip in that wonderful Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Bun Rieu

Bun Rieu

Bun Rieu –  A pork soup base soup with prawn’s & shrimp paste, Bun rieu is severed with rice noodles and usually also contains pieces of tofu & tomato. Like I have mentioned for other dishes you also get a plate of herbs/mints & bean sprouts, which are added to the bowl prior to eating.

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Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon – Large rolled rice noodle sheets filled with pork mince, black fungus (a type of mushroom)  Severed with fresh mints and Nouc Mam (a Vietnamese Fish sauce with chilli garlic, lime, sugar) Sliced Vietnamese ham (Cha Lua) is also mixed amongst the Rolled Rice paper sheets.

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Canh Chua – Hot & Sour Fish Soup

Canh Chua – Hot & Sour Fish Soup

Canh Chua – Hot & Sour (a little sweet also) Fish Soup, cooked with tomato pieces, pineapple & Okra. The sour flavour usually comes from tamarind, this soup is severed with fine vermicelli rice noodles along with the standard plate of fresh mints & bean sprouts.

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Banh Mi Thit

Banh Mi is the Vietnamese take on a French Baggett, add Thit (meat) to Banh Mi and you get Banh Mi Thit, a Vietnamese bread roll (Baguette) with Vietnamese ham, roast pork, pate & vegetables.

Banh Mi Thit – Vietnamese Bread roll with sliced Vietnamese ham (Cha Lua), Roast Pork, pate and vegetables

Vietnamese Roll - Banh Mi

Bo Kho with Banh Mi

The plain Vietnamese Roll (Banh Mi) is also served with the Vietnamese stew/curry dish Bo Kho.

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