Traveling to Vietnam? You’re going to love many things about Vietnam, but most of all the food. Vietnamese food is pretty special. A mix of spices, herbs, and distinctive flavors, Vietnamese dishes are unique in their complexity and taste. Vietnamese food is a balance of salty and sweet, hot and sour, and this balance is brought about by mixing fish sauce, citrus fruit juice, chili peppers, nuoc mam, and tamarind, in various amounts.
While the dishes use herbs and spices, Vietnamese food does not tend to be very spicy. If you want a spicier taste you can use additional chili sauce, which is served separately. Here are some of the classic dishes from Vietnam that you can try, whether you travel to Vietnam or you sample the flavors at home from a Vietnamese restaurant.
This is surely the national dish of Vietnam. It is eaten mainly at breakfast time by people in Vietnam, and is a noodle soup. The dish contains beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, small amounts of chicken or beef, or pork, and ginger, spring onions, and coriander for flavoring. It is a delicious soup or stew that is perfect at any time of the day.
2) Goi cuon
This is perhaps the most emblematic dish of Vietnam – the set of juicy spring rolls that are filled with herbs, green vegetables, and different combinations of pork meat, crab, or shrimp. You dip the delicate rolls into peanut sauce or spicy sauce. There are regional variations on this dish that include various combinations of barbecued meat, and even fruit.
3) Banh mi
This is another Vietnamese classic and you’ll find it on the menu of Vietnamese restaurants in the West as well as on the streets of Vietnamese cities. It is a baguette sandwich filled with fresh egg omelet as well as pate and a selection of other fillings and green vegetables. The dish often contains Vietnamese sausage, which is called cha lau, and also carrot, cucumber, shredded radish, and some mayonnaise. It is a really filling dish that is commonly eaten for lunch but could also be an evening meal.
4) Thit nuong
This is grilled pork, served from a barbecue grill often at the side of the road. It can be served on its own on a skewer for a quick snack, or it can also be placed into a bahn mi roll for a delicious lunch dish.
5) Nom hua chuoi
Not every dish in Vietnam is meaty. Nom hua chuoi is a salad made from banana flowers and shredded vegetables, flavored with chili and lime juice.
6) Bun cha
The bun cha is a specialty of Hanoi and is just like a small burger. It is made from pork and the small patties are cooked on a barbeque grill in the open air and served on chilled rice noodles. There is a sauce to accompany it.
7) Cao lau
This is a specialty from Hoi An in the center of Vietnam. It is made up of a bowl of noodles with crispy pork rind and bean sprouts, flavored with star anise and mint. It is served with a topping of pork slices and crackers.
8) Banh xeo
This is a pancake dish, where pancakes are wrapped around different combinations of pork, egg, shrimp, and bean sprouts. It is wrapped, fried, and then enclosed in rice paper before being dipped in spicy peanut sauce. The bahn xeo is usually served with a hot side sauce which is called nuoc cham.
9) Cha ca
Cha ca is a seafood dish that was developed in Hanoi and contains pieces of white fish flavored with dill alongside spring onions, and placed into a bowl with peanuts on top and some rice noodles.
10) Com tam
Com tam is otherwise known as broken rice and it is served most commonly from street stalls. The rice dish is often topped with a fried egg, or strips of barbecued pork and beef.
11) Xoi ga
The sticky rice dish xoi ga is served throughout Vietnam and this dish also includes chicken. It is a large portion of sticky rice which is served with a generous portion of sticky grilled chicken, with herbs, spring onions, and a splash of sauce for flavoring.
12) Ca Phe Trung
Vietnamese egg coffee is one of the delights of the morning for Vietnamese people and visitors alike. The coffee in Vietnam is special, and there is one variation that is really tasty – the egg coffee which is made with a whipped egg that is poured over the hot, flavorsome coffee.
Look at the blog PhuketOn for more information on Vietnam travel and Vietnamese dishes. PhuketOn also gives you travel tips for Thailand, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, the Philippines, and more.