What To Eat in Vietnam
In my opinion, Vietnamese food is the most underrated Asian cuisine there is. Although it is growing in popularity in the western world, before I had visited Vietnam, I didn’t know what to expect from their food, and if you’ve found this blog post – I am assuming you are wondering the same. Well let me reassure, Vietnamese food is one of the most pleasant and varying foods I’ve found on my travels – you’re in for a treat. Generally speaking, Vietnamese food is served ‘dissected’, on as many as 4 or 5 plates, and part of the enjoyment of the meal is putting together the various parts to create the perfect blend of a dish for you. Vietnamese food is typically eaten with wooden chopsticks (noodles and sushi) and a silver duck spoon (rice and soups).
Some of the best meals to be found in Vietnam are from hole in the walls, and narrow store fronts with plastic seating outside (called quán vỉa hè). Typically a meal here will cost between 30,000-50,0000₫ (1.02 GBP–1.70 GBP / 1.32 USD–2.20 USD), but may creep to 60,000₫ (2.04 GBP / 2.64 USD) in the Hanoi capital, and metropolis Ho Chi Minh City.
Typical Vietnamese dishes include:
1. Phở (pronounced ‘fur’) is a noodle soup dish ubiquitous to Vietnam and available for 30,000-50,000₫ ( (1.02 GBP–1.70 GBP / 1.32 USD–2.20 USD) as a potion on the side of the street. Consumed as much for breakfast as it is for a late night snack, this dish is a soup based broth that contains beansprouts, rice noodles and thinly cut meat slices (usually beef).
2. Bánh mì. Much more than just a simple sandwich, these stuffed baguettes date back from the French rule – pork belly, pickled carrots, fried egg, chillies, cucumber, pork floss, herbs and usually a host of unique additions that very from street trader to street trader, and then inevitably, drizzled off with a sweet chilli sauce. These anytime snacks will invariably cost 40,000-50,000₫ ( (1.36 GBP–1.70 GBP / 1.76 USD–2.20 USD).
3. Bún chả. Predominately from Hanoi, and perhaps my most favourite Vietnamese dish, these grilled pork patties are dunked in a sweet broth, and served alongside a plate of beansprouts, lettuce and vermicelli noodles. 60,000-75,000₫ (2.04 GBP–2.55 GBP / 2.64 USD–3.30 USD) a set.
4. Bánh cuốn. A steamed rice cake filled with minched mushrooms and pork (or chicken), and topped with deep-fried shallots. Usually about 20,000-40,000₫ (0.68 GBP–1.36 GBP / 0.88 USD–1.76 USD) a portion.
5. Bún thịt nướng is a Vietnamese rice-vermicelli noodle dish served cold. The noodles are topped with grilled pork, fresh herbs, salad and then drizzled in fish sauce. Usually about 20,000-40,000₫ (0.68 GBP–1.36 GBP / 0.88 USD–1.76 USD) a portion.
6. Hủ tiếu nam vang is another pork noodle soup, but this time with all the trimmings, as it is loaded with pork liver, prawns, minced pork, quail eggs and all the veggies.
7. Bò kho is a slow cooked spicy beef stew.
8. Thịt kho hột vịt although particularly popular during the Vietnamese new year (Tết), this dish is available all year round. It consists of marinated pork and boiled eggs, cooked in a coconut
9. Bún bò Huế. This version of the Vietnamese soup dish unique to the Hue region, containing slightly thicker noodles than phở, and getting its flavour from lemon grass, it is well known for its balance of spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavours. Available for as little as 30,000-50,000₫ ( (1.02 GBP–1.70 GBP / 1.32 USD–2.20 USD) a portion.
10. Cơm tấm. ‘Broken rice’ as it is referred to in Vietnam, is the ‘rejected’ rice that has broken or split during processing and therefore is difficult for farmers to export. This slightly softer rice has grown in popularity within Vietnam and is usually topped with pork or chicken bits and a deep-fried shallots topping. This economical Vietnamese dish sells for as little as 20,000-40,000₫ ( (0.68 GBP–1.36 GBP / 0.88 USD–1.76 USD) a portion.
11. Ca Koh To. Caramalised fish cooked in a thick claypot, results in tender chunks of fish that break apart in your mouth, coated in thick sweet-caramalised sauce. 50,000-80,000₫ ( (1.70 GBP–2.72 GBP / 2.20 USD–3.52 USD) a portion.
12. Ca Phe. Okay, perhaps a slight cheat on this list, but if you want to ‘live like the locals’, you’ll inevitably find yourself sipping on a 5,000₫ ( (0.17 GBP / 0.22 USD) locally brewed beer, or a Vietnamese coffee. Ever growing in popularity in the west, Vietnamese coffee is sold in Vietnam in a number of ways. The most popular way is by filling 1/4 of the cup with sweet condensed milk, and this can be served, hot, or iced – and there is even an ‘egg coffee’ sold in a number of outlets in Hanoi.
Desperate to head to Vietnam yourself to try the wonder of Vietnamese cuisine that awaits? Take a look at my guide to Vietnam to see what else there is to do in Vietnam.