Vietnamese Food

Top 10 Unique Vietnamese Foods You Should Try

It is not an exaggeration to say that Vietnam is a food paradise with hundred of unique and delicious dishes around the country. If you are food lovers, then this beautiful country a must-visit place in the world. Today, we will show you list of Vietnamese Foods which will greatly enrich your travel to Vietnam.

1. Pho

No dish in the country can compete with Pho in term of popularity. The delectable food is a great example of the cuisine in Vietnam. As a result, hardly any list of Vietnamese foods does not include Pho.

A bowl of Pho contains 4 parts: soup, meat, noodle, and other ingredients (sauce and spices). The first factor that makes Pho delicious is the broth. It makes from chicken or beef bones added with other spices such as toasted ginger, cinnamon, star anise to create aromatic. Salt and fish sauce are also added in the process.

Meat is the next important ingredient which can either be chicken meat or beef (not both). The former one is often divided into two types: drumstick (dark meat) and breast (white meat). Most Vietnamese prefer drumstick and it is also more expensive the breast. Beef consists of 5 types: sliced well-done steak (bo chin), sliced rare steak (bo tai), flank steak (nam), fatty brisket (gau), tendon (gan). Each type serves separately, but you can ask to mix all of them in one bowl.

Pho with Chicken Meat

Next, we must have noodle or literally Pho in Vietnamese in this enticing dish. Pho noodle is made from rice, one of the basic and abundant ingredients in Vietnam. It is wrong if you think the noodle in Vietnam is the same as the one in foreign countries as because of production reason, people use Chinese noodle instead.

One important thing you need to know is that Pho is a little bit different depends on the region. Northern Pho (Hanoi) often has sweet (from bones) and clear broth, crispy meat yet not tough. Southern Pho (Sai Gon) has the sweetest from spice (sugar) and bones, more fat than Pho Hanoi.

A Typical Bowl of Pho

2. Bun Cha

Long before President Barack Obama enjoyed this dish in Vietnam, Bun Cha has been the most familiar food for the citizen of Hanoi. This dish is often served at lunch and presented in every corner of the city. With popular price and availability, you should try this tasty food once in your life, especially if you travel to the capital of Vietnam.

When you try Bun Cha, two things you can notice immediately are the sauce and pork. The sauce is basically fish sauce along with vinegar and sugar. Nonetheless, you should not be tricked because it is the hardest thing to make. The key here is the balance between all ingredients which must not too salty, not too sweet, and not too vinegary. The making of grilled pork seems easy enough, but still requires a little skill because the meat must first be marinated.

Bun Cha with Fried Spring Roll and Herbs

Tasting the rice vermicelli along with hot pork and sauce is the best thing during cool weather. You will be recommended to try Vietnamese fried spring roll and herbs with Bun Cha as well to have the full experience of the dish.

3. Banh Cuon

Out of all Vietnamese cakes, this one must be the most common which surprisingly is not because of the cheap price and simple preparation. Banh Cuon represents the one-of-a-kind essence of Vietnam’s cuisine and perhaps even more than Pho.  You will be amazed to find out all the richness found in just one small dish.

Common Breakfast of Vietnamese

To begin with, Banh Cuon used fermented rice batter as one of the main ingredients. The cook uses a cloth to cover a pot filled with boiling water and spread the batter on it. They must be diligent and skillful enough to make the rice sheet as thin and round as possible. Then, they will take the sheets out and stuff them with shallots, mushrooms, cooked ground pork, and sometimes vegetables. Pick a slice, dip in the fish sauce, have a bite of Cha Lua (Vietnamese pork sausage) and you will feel a little wonder in the mouth.

The best way to enjoy Banh Cuon is taking it when it is still hot. You will ruin half of the experience if you let it cool.

Making Banh Cuon in the Morning

4. Banh Mi

In recent years, Banh Mi, which is not originated from Vietnam, has gained enough popularity to become one of the best foods in the country. The Vietnamese sandwich can be considered to be the combination of Vietnamese style and French style. Due to the availability, it is really simple for you to grab one and enjoy by yourself.

One Delicious Banh Mi Ready to Serve

Banh Mi is not as simple as it looks like, although the preparation is quite easy. The ingredient varies from places to places but still contains basic ones such as bread, meat, ham, pork. The best parts of Banh Mi must be the crispy bread and the combination of all ingredients in just one bite. Nevertheless, all the flavors should be balanced, as it is one of the main principles in Vietnamese food, to make the diner feel comfortable and keep eating.

5. Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo is another special food which you can try in many cities in Vietnam. Tourists may believe that it is the same pancakes as Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancakes) and Korean Pancakes. Despite the name, Banh Xeo is a completely unique food and one of the most well-known dishes in the country.

A Secret World inside Banh Xeo

When you first look at the Banh Xeo, perhaps all you can see is the fried pancake in the shape of half-moon which made from rice flour, water, and turmeric. However, when you slice it, a food world will open before your eyes. There are various ingredients stuffed into the cake, which is pork, bean sprouts shrimp and green onions. One bite of Banh Xeo dipped in the sauce will surely melt your heart.

6. Mi Quang

When you travel to the dreamy and poetic old town of Hoi An, Mi Quang is certainly one that people suggest you. Although originating from the region, you can enjoy this dish in many parts of the country. It will be a pity not to try Mi Quang, the harmony of beauty and flavor and quintessence of Central Vietnam.

Mi Quang  is probably the most unique Vietnamese noodle in Vietnam because there is no set rule for making Mi Quang. First of all, noodle in Mi Quang is bigger than Pho’s noodle or rice vermicelli but in some places, there is still big and small rice noodle mixed together.  Its color is also diverse since sometimes people use turmeric to make the noodle yellow. The meat can be pork, chicken or even fish and beef. Mi Quang is enjoyed along with vegetables, boiled egg, banh trang (rice cracker), Vietnamese steamed pork sausage and so on.

Mi Quang with Rice Crackers

Slipping the warm soup, tasting the meat and combined with the sound of crunching Vietnamese rice crackers is a wonderful experience for any food lover when traveling to Vietnam.

7. Banh Dap

This is a rather odd choice in the list since Banh Dap is not as famous as other dishes. However, it does not mean that it is any less delectable than others. Banh Dap is a traditional food in Hoi An (and also a few other provinces in central Vietnam) and really easy to prepare. Although it is a type of street-food, Banh Dap remains a strong choice in the list.

Stacks of Banh Dap

The name is a combination of “Banh” (rice cracker) and “Dap” (Crush) which is kind of funny yet accurate way to describe the preparation of the dish. There are thin circular rice crackers and steamed rice cakes added with melted lard and mung beans. We make Banh Dap by stacking the cakes onto rice crackers, folded the rice cracker in half and then using our hand (or equipment) to crush all of them. This allows all the stacks to stick together and now you can taste this wonderful dish with Mam Nem (fish sauce in Central Vietnam) and grilled pork.

If you wander around and encounter this special food, it is advised to rest for a while and have a little snack.

8. Cao Lau

Cao Lau is also a specialty in Hoi An and is one of the must-try food when you travel to Vietnam. This dish is thought to be derived from Chinese and Japanese, however, the special flavor can only be found in Cao Lau.

Cao Lau has no soup which immediately makes it stand apart from other Vietnamese dishes in the list. The noodle is also the quintessence of the dish unlike Pho and Mi Quang. Through many complicated processes such as soak the rice into water and ash, cooked a few times, we will have dry, soft Cao Lau noodle. Other ingredients include pork, fried lard, vegetables, and sauce. You will mix them and enjoy every ingredient in a bowl of Cao Lau.

A Tempting Dish

9. Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue always satisfies the appetite of the tourists anywhere in the world with the particular flavors of the royal court. It is obvious that Bun Bo Hue is the signature of the former capital and remains one of the most well-known foods in Vietnam.

Bun Bo Hue or Bun Bo contains various ingredients like rice vermicelli, beef, chili sauce, basil, shrimp sauce, and so forth. At first glance, Bun Bo seems to be a mix between Mi Quang and Pho, but that is not a correct way to describe it. One bite of the dish can make you feel hungry right at the moment. The sweetness of the broth comes from simmered beef bones with lemongrass, sugar, and fermented shrimp sauce. The chili oil added to make strong spiciness in the food. The easily noticeable aromatic smell of lemongrass lingers around. Finally is the salty flavor which comes from fish sauce and shrimp sauce.

The Richness of Hue Cuisine

Even though you can find Bun Bo Hue in many provinces in the country, you should visit Hue to have the true taste of this dish.

10. Hu Tieu

If Pho is the signature of the North, then the South has Hu Tieu as people often say. Hu Tieu developed in the 50s of the 20th century in Vietnam and keeps being the choices of food for local people and foreigners. There are so many types of Hu Tieu but the few of the most well-known ones are Hu Tieu Nam Vang, Hu Tieu My Tho, Hu Tieu Sa Dec.

The Famous Food of Southern Vietnam

Hu Tieu Nam Vang can be both dry or soup, depend on the diners. Nevertheless, the main ingredients are the same which are minced pork, shrimp, pork offal, prawns, and other spices such as lemongrass, and sugar. The soup is made from beef bones simmered with water.

Hu Tieu My Tho is one variant from My Tho province (Vietnam) and a bit different than Hu Tieu Nam Vang. The difference in Hu Tieu My Tho is the noodle which is dry, small, tough, and crispy.

Dry Hu Tieu

Hu Tieu Sa Dec is also a delicious dish that you should try once. The noodle is big, soft, and a little tough and has milky color. Traditionally, the broth uses natural spices and ingredients bringing the exclusive flavors.

There are still so many other wonderful dishes in food paradise so if you are interested, plan your next holiday in Vietnam to explore the rich cuisine of the country.

Share the Post:

Related Posts