Vietnam is divided into many regions. In each region of the country, people have different appetites, which contributes to bringing the richness and diversity to Vietnamese dishes. For those who first travel to Vietnam, deciphering a list of Vietnamese dishes, can be too difficult. Therefore, I wanted to share my culinary experience with you. This article is a list of the ten traditional Vietnamese dishes that you should try.
1. Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
If you come to Vietnam without trying a bowl of Pho, especially Northern Pho, you will be like never come to Vietnam. Pho is one of the typical dishes for Northern Vietnamese cuisine. The processing of broth for Pho is the most important step. The traditional Pho broth needs to be simmered from bovine bone and some secret spices.
Northern Pho or, especially, Pho in Hanoi has a light sweetness from grilled ginger, anise and the aroma of beef cooked to the point. Hanoi Pho broth’s color is often clear, beef is thicky sliced, and the white noodles are tender, thin and soft on the tongue. This traditional flavor of Pho certainly will bring the most satisfying feeling for all tourists, even the most demanding one.
Try it: Pho Thin – 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung District, Ha Noi
2. Com Tam (Broken rice)
This simple meal, is one of the most popular dishes from South Vietnam at any time of the day, but particular in the morning. It is usually served grilled marinated pork chops. On top of the meat, there are several customary ingredients such as: finely sliced cucumber, tomato and pickled vegetables, fried egg, and grilled prawns.
Though you can find com tam on almost any Saigonese street corner, there are some outstanding places to find an extraordinary experience. Our favourite is hidden away from the usual tourist traps in the center in District 3 and the family running the restaurant for more than 40 years, with most of their reputation garnered from word of mouth praise. If you’re craving a cheap yet satisfying meal, be sure to check out this spot.
The address is 260 Vo Van Tan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
3. Banh Mi (Bánh Mì)
Unlike Pho, the Banh Mi sandwich originates from the southern part of the country, allegedly in Saigon. Though they’re available all over the country, you will find the best Banh Mi sandwiches in Vietnam’s southern and central cities.
Today the typical Vietnamese banh mi consists of mayonnaise, pate, sliced ham and pork, pickled vegetables, coriander, and hot sauce. The fusion of flavours between the Vietnamese fillings and French baguette makes this delicious meal a favourite of many.
Pro Tip: Be sure to eat a Banh Mi in Hoi An
Banh Mi Phuong
Address: 2B Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province
Banh Mi Madam Khanh
Address: 115 Tran Cao Van, Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province
4. Bun Bo Hue
Bun Bo Hue is another classic Vietnamese dish. Bún Bò Huế, known widely for its exquisite and special taste. Like its name suggests, the dish originated from Hue city, and it makes use of various spices and herbs to bring about that very distinctive flavor.
There are delicious versions of it all over Vietnam, and in our opinion some of the best bun bo Hue in Ho Chi Minh City can be found. Take a visit to Nhan Tri (295 Le Hong Phong, Ward 2, District 5), to discover the rich taste and large portions that are adored by locals.
6. Banh Xeo
This dish is a Vietnamese version of the famous French crepe. The wrapper is made of the coconut milk, Rice flour mixture and a bit of turmeric flour and the filling are pork, shrimps, bean sprout
Banh xeo is eaten with many different types of herbs, lettuce and the sweet fish sauce. The side of banh xeo in the South is much bigger than it’s in the Central. Local people often gather and eat Banh Xeo on rainy days. I think you should also try this feeling if possible (Actually, sunny day eating Banh Xeo still delicious, but on rainy days the feeling of deliciousness will double)
- 45,000 – 60,000 VND (Banh xeo in the South)
- 5,000 – 15,000 VND (Banh xeo in the Central) Try it: 179C2 Dong Den Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City
7. Bun Rieu (Tomato Crab soup)
The interplay between crab and tomato makes bún riêu a truly standout dish. A hearty soup bursting with acidity, the components of this meal include slippery bún, fresh crab meat, blocks of tofu and stewed tomatoes. Cooking an authentic bowl of bún riêu is a labour-intensive process.
After the crab meat is separated from the body, the shell is then pulverized using a mortar and pestle and then strained through to form the base of the broth. Floating around the bowl are pillowy clusters of minced crab combined with ground pork and egg that melt in your mouth.
Try it: Bún Riêu Cua Thanh Hồng, 42 Hòa Mã, Ngô Thì Nhậm, Hai Bà Trưng, Hanoi
8. Bun Cha
Bun cha originated from the Old Quarter in Hanoi and has been one of the city’s signature dishes for hundreds of years. Bun cha is also made from rice. Though, different from Pho, instead of using fresh sliced beef or chicken as the protein source and bone marrow as the broth, Buncha is served with Grilled pork and use sweet and sour Vietnamese fish sauce as its sauce. If you want to dine where Obama and Bourdain did you will want to check out Bun Cha Huong Lien on 24 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung District, Ha Noi City
Pro Tip: Plan to eat Bun Cha for lunch. Unlike Pho, Bun Cha is not a breakfast dish.
9.Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh spring roll (also known as Goi Cuon) is a Vietnamese traditional dish. Goi Cuon consists of shrimp, pork, vegetables, herbs, rice vermicelli (Bún). All of them are wrapped in a rice paper (Banh Trang). Vietnamese fresh spring roll is one of the most popular appetizers in Vietnamese food culture.
The traditional food is ranked at number 30 on the list of 50 most delicious foods in the world by CNN Go in 2011. Vietnamese fresh spring roll is often served with a kind of special dipping sauce – fish sauce ( nuoc mam) – garlic ,limes chili crushed roasted peanuts. The combination of herbs, pork, shrimp and the salty, hot and sour dipping sauce that make Vietnamese fresh spring roll wonderfully unique.
Che is the perfect end to your meal, especially if you had a light meal like Bánh Cuon. Che basically means dessert in Vietnamese. A puddling-like concoction made from beans, jelly, grains, coconut milk, and fruit, and served in a bowl or glass over ice, che is a popular dessert in Ho Chi Minh City.
There are a lot of street vendors and shops selling che in Vietnam so you can always help yourself to a bowl or two each time you crave for this nutritious and filling treat.