Vietnam, especially the cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, are popular for their wide variety of tasty and generally healthy local foods. From those sold on the streets to the menu items in posh restaurants, the distinct Vietnamese dishes are evident. The cheaper street food versions alone are aplenty, and a traveler can save a lot of money by just opting for them.
But with the wide range of Vietnamese foods available, it can be overwhelming to choose what to fill your stomach with, especially when you’re just vacationing for a few days. So here are the top Vietnamese foods you shouldn’t miss.
Phở (noodle dish)
Although it’s an already popular dish in the United States, you should try the ones made by the locals of Vietnam especially in the North where it originated. The versions in the southern part of the country tend to be sweeter.
Typically a breakfast dish popular on the streets of Vietnam, the main ingredients include bánh phở (a type of Vietnamese rice noodle) and a choice of chicken or beef. Fresh herbs are drizzled on them for added aroma. A bunch of fresh bean sprouts and other vegetables as well as sauces for taste can be included on separate plates.
Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese pancakes)
These are your typical pancakes or French crepe with a twist. Literally translated as “sizzling cake”, this food got its name from the sound made when the rice batter is fried on the pan. But unlike its French relative, this crepe is filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and herbs.
Bánh Mì (Vietnamese sandwich)
This Vietnamese food is a great example of a delectable item that harmoniously combines various cultures into it. The term bánh mì technically just refers to the bread, which is generally the single-serve baguette. But the way the Vietnamese people turn this bread into bánh mì sandwich is superb, combining ingredients from their French colonists such as pate and jalapeño with their own local produce including cucumber and cilantro.
Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese fresh spring rolls)
Spring rolls may also be a popular item just like the phở, but you really have to try the Vietnamese version. Wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper, it contains rice vermicelli, which makes it unique from among other spring rolls around the world. Of course, there are also other ingredients included like the pork, prawns and… again, vegetables. If you noticed by now, the foods in this list always have fresh vegetables in them.
Bánh Giò (rice dumplings)
These pyramid-shaped dumplings is a variety of bánh lá (literally translated as “leaf cake”), which are generally rice stuffed with fillings and wrapped in leaves. Specifically in bánh giò, rice flour is used and the fillings include wood ear mushroom, pork and shallot. Banana leaf is used as the wrapper. The leaf also gives the dumpling a pleasant aroma.
This tasty, filling snack is often available on the streets of Vietnam by mobile vendors in the afternoon. So when you’re in the country, make sure to keep your ears sharp for a vendor shouting the name of this food.
Bonus Information: Cà Phê Dá (Vietnamese iced coffee)
Savory foods are not complete without great drinks, and when you’re in Vietnam, cà phê dá (translated literally as “iced coffee “) is not one to be missed! While they’re available in restaurants and fast-food chains, you should experience the ones on the street or small stalls where you get to see your coffee as they drip to your glass from the unique stainless steel one-cup Vietnamese coffee filter before you get to mix all the ingredients altogether.
Well, this list is making you hungry, isn’t it?
If you’re looking for a holiday destination that will satisfy the foodie in you, you shouldn’t miss Vietnam. The Vietnamese takes pride in the foods they make, using fresh ingredients readily available in their country.
Plan your Vietnam trip now.