Vietnamese food is a palate-tickling, finger-licking smorgasbord of healthy, fresh produce, high-carb French influences, crunchy greens, and delightful herbs as well as some robust, solid flavors that make for an unforgettable culinary experience.
When in Vietnam, eat what stimulates your senses, tickles your tastebuds and smells divine!
Cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City provide you with elegant fine-dining eateries, but for the most authentic and scrumptious Vietnamese fare, check out the local food stalls and the street markets.
Vietnamese delicacies at roadside joints and humble-looking restaurants will fire your mouth with myriad sensations as the food is just that good!
Pick rice or noodles, beef or seafood, vegan fare or vegetarian samplings, with plenty of nuoc cham (a delicious fermented fish sauce that makes everything taste better), you can’t go wrong here.
Here are our top 5 must-try Vietnamese foods, along with a list of restaurants where you should try them:
Are you a soup lover? Then you’re in the right place as Vietnam is a soup lover’s paradise. You have soup everywhere! And the most common and the most versatile form of it can be found in Vietnam’s signature dish – Pho.
It is rice noodles swimming in a high-flavored soup with chunks of meat (beef, seafood – have your pick) and many greens, along with a side serving of nuoc cham, or chili sauce.
A typical bowl of pho contains tai (beef slices), or nam (beef flank), or bo vien (beef meatballs), which is topped with fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro, lime wedges, and bean sprouts.
Recommended Restaurant – Kampung Pandan Restaurant
Sample delectable Vietnamese dishes here where you’ll find pho with beef or chicken, along with many other south Asian delicacies.
Bun Bo Hue
Most Vietnamese dishes are either noodles in soup or with other similar add-ons. Hue is one city here that gets its historical significance from the style of cooking of the former royal court of the past.
This beautiful, tasty Vietnamese food is a popular one containing beef with vermicelli and is highly multi-flavored. You can expect a blend of sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavors burst in your mouth with each spoonful.
Recommended Restaurant – Pho Muslim
Simple, humble and delicious till the last drop, the Pho Muslim attracts a lot of crowd for its evening meal – Bun Bo Hue. A crowd-pleaser, it’s a spicy lemongrass noodle soup with juicy slices of some beef and a hearty amount of fresh herbs to make it more decadent.
Want to taste a sour broth? Go for Canh Chua. Made with pineapple, fish, tomatoes, and tamarind along with a host of other vegetables, this is one soup that is miles apart from anything you have tasted at home! Unless you reside in South Asia!
Not a plain fish fan? Go for a sour broth with quail eggs, fish cakes, squids or prawns in it – still mind-blowing-ly delicious!
Recommended Restaurant – Saigon Green House
Catch a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in the cool mural-themed, AC interiors of the Saigon Green House.
Besides their canh chua ca, go for the goi trai buoi – a yummy grapefruit prawn salad. And end your meal with their local tra tac – Vietnamese tea.
Goi is a form of Vietnamese salad with papaya, lotus root, mango, cabbage or pomelo as its crunchy, or pulpy base.
Goi, with chicken or plain veggies as well, is a delight to be savored as it is again, like canh chua, a league on its own. Salads in the West don’t even come close to the juicy, crispy goi.
Recommended Restaurant – Halal Saigon
Go for their Goi Dua Tom – a salad with young coconut shoots and shrimp. Also recommended, their claypot baby clams (ngheu kho to) and fried shrimp spring rolls (goi cuon tom).
Created out of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk, banh xeo are crispy pancakes, that can be filled with chicken, beef slices or vermicelli noodles, shrimps, bean sprouts, sliced onions, and also mushrooms.
A roadside staple, banh xeo is a savory treat that is not to be missed!
Recommended Restaurant – The Daun Restaurant
Enjoy banh xeo in rice papers with fermented peanut sauce, or just hop into The Daun Restaurant, where you can gorge on the scrumptious banh xeo as well as other Vietnamese and Malaysian/Singaporean dishes, and enjoy their complimentary Wi-Fi.
Bonus Must-Try Dessert – Mango Sweet Cakes – Banh Xoai
This deceptively simple sweet dish has nothing to do with mangoes. It has a glutinous rice shell that is filled with a sweet mix of peanuts and sesame seeds.
It tastes just incredible!