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Vietnamese Food: 24 Popular Dishes You Should Try

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Vietnamese food is attracting foodies worldwide for its complex flavors and contrasting textures. Traditional Vietnamese dishes feature flavors of fresh, light, salty, sweet, and a little sour, meanwhile herbs are widely used when cooking.

Vietnamese cuisine is an amalgamation of different cuisines as it is influenced by its French colonial past, and neighboring countries such as China, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. While absorbing elements from other countries, Vietnam cuisine maintains its own identity.

You cannot miss a delicious culinary experience in Vietnam and most dishes can be tasted from street-side vendors to high-end restaurants. We just list the 24 popular and delicious Vietnamese foods you should never ever miss!

1. Pho - Vietnamese Noodle Soup

It is hard to imagine how can a Vietnamese cuisine menu exist without Pho. This is almost the most famous staple dish in this country. You can easily taste it when you walk any block in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An or other destinations.

The major ingredients are fresh rice noodles, salty beef or chicken broth, a sprinkling of coriander and spring onions. Chilli flakes can be added for an extra kick if you are a spicy lover. Pho is also available for vegetarians as beef and chicken meat can be replaced by Tofu.

Vietnamese Food - Pho
Vietnamese food - Pho

2. Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Crepes

In some way, Banh Xeo can be regarded as a taco of Vietnamese edition. With a crispy layer made of rice batter and sometimes with turmeric powder (hence the yellow hue) on a hot pan, the crispy crepe is often filled with shrimp, pork meat, bean sprouts, and some fresh herbs.

This is the most authentic cooking method of Banh Xeo. The batter usually makes a loud sizzling sound, and that is why the dish name ‘Xeo’, or ‘sizzling’ in English.

However, if you want to eat like a local, you can try to cut it into several slices, wrap it up in lettuce leaves or rice paper and dip it into the special sauce, which is generally fish sauce added with garlic and red pepper. That will be amazing to try like this.

Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Crepes
Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Crepes

3. Banh Khot - Mini Crispy Pancakes

Similar to Banh Xeo, nevertheless, the dainty Vietnamese pancake features a mini size, which can be scoffed in one satisfying mouthful. The outside layer of the mini pancake is crispy and crunchy, made by the batter with coconut milk, and the fluffy filling often consists of mung beans, spring onions, pork belly, with a single shrimp in the center. Just give it a try and this dish can definitely treat your taste buds.

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4. Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Coi Cuon is a must-try Vietnamese dish if you are a spring roll fan, but it is a healthier choice. Compared to fried spring rolls, Coi Cuon is a fresh counterpart, whose flavor is much lighter. It is an ideal choice when you have been eating too many spicy and fried dishes.

Take a translucent rice paper and wrap it up with salad greens, slices of pork meat, shrimp, mint, and lettuce.  Finally, remember to dunk it into a famous Vietnamese condiment, fish sauce.

Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Spring Rolls

5. Banh Mi - Vietnamese Baguette

The baguette was brought by the French, but the Vietnamese take a step further. Banh Mi is the best proof. Dubbed the ‘King of Street Food in Vietnam’, Banh Mi is one of the most delicious Vietnamese foods. It can be easily cooked in small food vendors on the streets of Vietnam, which means you can try it in any part of the country.

The fillings of a baguette also differ, from Vietnamese ham, and barbecue pork, to fried eggs, and sausage. Sometimes green onions, fermented vegetables, and a few slices of red pepper will be added as you like. Just taste the go-to food as it is so delicious and convenient.

Banh Mi - Vietnamese Baguette
Banh Mi - Vietnamese Baguette

6. Bun Cha - Vietnamese Barbecued Pork with Vermicelli Noodles

Bun Cha tops the street food in Hanoi, and it is hard to say, between Bun Cha and Pho, which one is more popular in the capital city. At lunchtime, crowds flock into the street-side restaurants and meaty smoke are rose from both lines of the streets.

That is from the small patties of seasoned pork grilled over charcoal, and slices of marinated pork belly are also essential. Once they are grilled to crispy, they will be served with a bowl of fish sauce broth, a basket of herbs, and a plate of vermicelli noodles. When eating, combined them and taste them together to experience a complex flavor.

Bun Cha
Bun Cha - Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad

7. Mi Quang - Vietnamese Quang Tumeric Noodles

Mi Quang is a classic noodle dish of Vietnam that originated in Quang Nam province. This Vietnamese food is mainly cooked by a bowl of flat rice noodles with additions such as flavorsome oils, shrimp, peanuts, and quail eggs.

The rice noodles generally have been dyed with turmeric and hence show a bright yellow color. Most times it is topped off with pork and shrimp, and always with a mix of herbs like mint. Sometimes the crunchy roasted peanuts or toasted sesame rice crackers are added.

The Hanoi specialty is delicious and affordable, perfect for your dinner time. A hot bowl of yellow noodles with fragrant crunchy things and herbs sprinkled on top is definitely worth your try.

Mi Quang
Vietnamese Food - Mi Quang

8. Cao Lau - Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

Cao Lau is a famous specialty from Hoi An, a must-try Vietnam food when you visit the ancient town. The dish is made by a bowl of chewy rice noodles, along with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spicy rice paper, and some fresh herbs and lettuce on the top.

The light soup is also flavored with mint and star anise, some bean sprouts and pork-rind croutons. It is said that the water used for Cao Lao comes from the local archaic Ba Le well. That’s why you can just eat the most authentic Cao Lau in Hoi An, which has an incredible medley of flavors and textures.

Cao Lau - Vietnamese Noodle Bowl
Cao Lau - Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

9. Com Tam - Vietnamese Broken Rice

This is a fast and delicious street snack popular in Ho Chi Minh City. Known as Broken Rice, you may wonder why it is named like this. That is because people usually used broken grains left over after milling rice to cook the yummy dish.

Other ingredients include your preferred protein like grilled pork, beef, or prawns, a handful of pickled vegetables, cucumber, a fried egg, and crispy spring rolls. Ready to eat? Don’t forget to pour a small bowl of tasty sauce made of fish sauce with garlic and red pepper slices.

Com Tam - Vietnamese Broken Rice
Com Tam - Vietnamese Broken Rice

10. Ca Phe Trung - Vietnamese Egg Coffee

The combination of egg and coffee may sound strange, but this unique Hanoi drink does worth taking a sip. Though called Egg Coffee, that does not mean it is made easily by putting scrambled eggs in coffee.

Actually, the special drink is prepared by beating an egg yolk for around 10 minutes. Then add sweetened condensed milk. It gradually turns airy, creamy, and meringue-like fluffy. After that, the eggy goodness is poured on the top of your favorite coffee choice, most times hot espresso, or iced coffee. Are you drooling yet? This is a unique coffee you never want to skip.

Ca Phe Trung - Vietnamese Egg Coffee

11. Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup

Just as its name implies, this delicious Vietnamese food originated in the city, Hue. Foodies cannot miss this top-notch spicy noodle soup. Compared to the well-known Pho, Bun Bo Hue may not be so popular with tourists overseas, but locals do love the yummy dish.

The spicy noodle soup is made with meaty broth, plenty of lemongrasses, shallots, garlic, fish sauce, and chili oil made from two kinds of spices. And the rice noodles used are different from the fat ones in Pho, thicker, cylindrical and round. The beef is tender and herbs add more freshness to the soup while eating. All flavors are balanced in a bowl of hot noodle soup, spicy, savory, sour, and sweet.

Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup
Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Beef & Pork Noodle Soup

12. Cha Ca - Turmeric Fish with Dill and Noodles

Cha Ca is said to created in Hanoi, a very famous Vietnamese seafood dish. Guess how Hanoians love this Vietnamese food! There is a street exclusively selling fried morsels of fish in the capital city, Cha Ca La Vong, which serves sizzling chunks of flavorful fish.

The grilled fish is marinated with garlic, ginger, turmeric, dills, and sautéed scallions on a hot pan, and then it will be served with vermicelli noodles. For better texture, roasted peanuts and dipping sauce can be added as you like. Apart from Hanoi, Da Nang, the fish-based city is also one of the best places to taste Cha Ca.

Cha Ca - Turmeric Fish with Dill and Noodles
Cha Ca - Turmeric Fish with Dill and Noodles

13. Rau Muong - Sautéed Water Spinach

Rau muong, also known as water spinach, is one of the top vegetable dishes in Vietnamese homes and restaurants. It’s a green, leafy vegetable with crunchy texture and tamed flavors.

The preparation process is simple. It’s stir-fried with garlic and sautéed with soy sauce. On top of that, Rau muong is also full of nutrients, including vitamins A and C, iron, calcium. It’s not only a popular Vietnam food among vegetarians, but a healthy addition to any meal for anyone.

14. Nom Hoa Chuoi - Banana Blossom Salad

Nom hoa chuoi is a refreshing banana blossom salad. In this Vietnamese food, thinly sliced banana blossoms are put together with shredded chicken or pork, fresh herbs, and a tangy dressing made from lime juice, fish sauce, and chilies. The salad is often topped with crushed peanuts and fried shallots.

Its a wonderful mix of textures and flavors. Its freshness is characteristic of Vietnam food. You’ll find it as an appetizer or side.

Vietnam food Nom Hoa Chuoi
Nom Hoa Chuoi - Banana Blossom Salad

15. Ga Nuong - Vietnamese Grilled Chicken

Ga nuong, or Vietnamese grilled chicken, is another one of best Vietnamese foods. What’s special about it is that before being grilled, the chicken is marinated in lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, along with various spices.

It has an enticing smell and savory taste from the marinade, while the grilling process makes it smoky. It’ll be nothing like the grilled chicken you know before.

Ga nuong is usually served with pickled vegetables and a dipping sauce. It is a national dish for both everyday meals and special occasions.

16. Bo La Lot - Ground Beef Wrap

Bo la lot is ground beef wrapped in betel leaves. It is a savory Vietnam food typically served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. The ground beef seasoned with garlic, lemongrass, and spices, wrapped in betel leaves, and grilled. The betel leaves add a slightly peppery flavor to the juicy beef. Bo la lot is a typical food of Vietnam barbecues. You’ll often see it at street food stalls.

Vietnam Food Bo La Lot
Bo La Lot - Ground Beef Wrap

17. Xoi - Vietnamese Sticky Rice

Xoi is Vietnamese sticky rice that can be prepared in many different ways, sweet or savory. Rice is cooked until its chewy, then mixed with ingredients like mung beans, coconut milk, peanuts for a sweet version, or with meats, sausage, fried shallots for a savory version.

Xoi is the local’s idea of fast food and a common breakfast food or snack. It is also an important part of Vietnamese New Year celebration.

18. Banh Cuon - Steamed Rice Rolls

Banh cuon is another type of steamed rice rolls in Vietnam. Rice flour wrappings are filled with ground pork, wood ear mushrooms, shallots. The rolls are then steamed until they’re soft. This Vietnam food is served with nuoc cham (dipping sauce), topped with fried shallots and fresh herbs. It is a common breakfast food.

19. Che - Traditional Vietnamese Dessert

Che refers to a type of Vietnamese dessert, a lot of the times with red beans, fruit, jelly, coconut milk. It is often served in bowls or glasses, hot or cold, depending on the type and the season. Some popular options are che ba mau (three-color dessert) and che chuoi (banana and tapioca pudding).

Vietnam Food Che
Che - Traditional Vietnamese Dessert

20. Bo Kho - Vietnamese Beef Stew

Bo kho, or beef stew, is a well-loved Vietnamese food made with tender beef chunks simmered in a broth of lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, and other spices. Its cooked together with carrots and potatoes. Bo kho often comes with French baguette or over rice noodles, which soak up the rich broth.

21. Ca Kho To - Caramelized Fish

Ca kho to is something you can’t miss during your Vietnam tour. It is caramelized fish in clay pot, a Vietnamese food that really embodies the art and skills behind Vietnam food culture. Fish, usually catfish, is braised in a savory-sweet sauce made from caramelized sugar, fish sauce, spices. It is then cooked over time until the fish is tender and completely flavored with the sauce. Ca kho to and steamed rice is a good combination.

22. Banh Bao Vac - Rice Flour Dumplings

Banh bao vac, or white rose dumplings, are made from rice flour dough. The fillings are shrimp mixed with spices. The dumplings resemble the shape of roses. They are steamed and come with a sweet dipping sauce made from shrimp broth, chili, lemon, sugar.

Vietnam Food Banh Bao Vac
Banh Bao Vac - Rice Flour Dumplings

23. Banh Beo - Bite-Sized Rice Cakes

Banh beo, or water fern cakes, are small steamed rice cakes topped with minced shrimp, scallions, and crispy fried shallots. These bite-sized treats are enjoyed with nuoc cham (fish sauce-based dipping sauce).

It is Vietnamese snack and appetizer. The soft, slightly chewy texture of the rice cakes come together perfectly with the flavors of savory toppings. It’s an important part of Vietnamese street food culture.

24. Bun Rieu - Crab Noodle Soup

Bun rieu is a special delicacy you should definitely try when you travel to Vietnam. It is a crab noodle soup with rich tomato-based broth. The broth is made with crab paste, tomatoes, tofu, and sometimes snails or pork. Fresh herbs, lime, chili are added as garnishes. Locals love bun rieu as a street food for well balanced flavors and ingredients.

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