Referred to as the “rice basket” of Southeast Asia, it’s no surprise that rice plays a big part in Vietnamese cuisine. In fact, rice is such a staple that there is even a saying in Vietnam that goes, “If you haven’t eaten rice, then you haven’t eaten.” Here are 7 must-try dishes when you’re in Vietnam.
One of the most popular dishes in Vietnam, pho is a rice noodle soup that is typically served with either beef or chicken. The soup is made by simmering beef or chicken bones in water, which gives the broth its signature flavor. Pho is typically garnished with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and chili peppers, and is served with a side of lime.
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2. Banh Mi
photo: Ben Lei
Banh mi is a delicious Vietnamese sandwich that is perfect for any occasion. The sandwich is made with a French baguette and typically filled with pickled vegetables, cucumber, cilantro, and either pork, chicken, or tofu. The sandwich is then usually garnished with chili peppers and mayonnaise. Banh mi is a great option for those who are looking for a tasty and healthy meal. The sandwich is relatively low in calories and fat, and it is also a good source of protein. Additionally, banh mi is easy to make and can be enjoyed either as a quick snack or as a full meal. Whether you are looking for a new lunch option or simply want to try something different, banh mi is definitely worth a try!
3. Bun Cha
Bun cha is a Vietnamese noodle dish made with rice vermicelli noodles, grilled pork, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar. The dish is often served with a side of fresh herbs and lettuce leaves. The rice vermicelli noodles are typically soft and chewy, while the grilled pork is slightly charred and deliciously savory. The dipping sauce provides a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. When combined, these elements create a truly distinctive and delicious dish. Bun cha is typically enjoyed as a light meal or snack, but it can also be served as a main course. No matter how it is eaten, bun cha is sure to delight the taste buds.
4. Goi Cuon
Goi cuon, also known as Vietnamese spring rolls, are a light and healthy appetizer that is perfect for summer parties. The spring rolls are made with shrimp, pork, and vegetables, and are wrapped in rice paper. The spring rolls are then dipped in a Nuoc Mam Cham sauce, which is made of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and chili peppers. The Nuoc Mam Cham sauce gives the spring rolls a sweet and sour flavor that is irresistible. Goi cuon are best served cold, and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.
5. Com Tam
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photo: Thu Nguyen
Cơm tấm is a traditional Vietnamese dish made with a mixture of rice and broken rice. The rice is cooked in water to a soft consistency, and then the mixture is broken into pieces. It’s served with fried fish or meat, and usually garnished with green onions, crushed peanuts, and chili paste.
6. Nem Nuong
Nem nuong is a Vietnamese dish that consists of grilled pork meatballs. The pork is usually marinated in a mixture of lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, and garlic before being grilled. Nem nuong is often served as an appetizer or main dish, and can be eaten alone or wrapped in lettuce leaves with dipping sauce. Nem nuong originated in central Vietnam, but it has since become popular throughout the country. The dish is traditionally made with ground pork, but other meats such as chicken or beef can also be used. Nem nuong is typically cooked over charcoal, giving the meatballs a Smoky flavor. Nem nuong is usually served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, and sugar. The dipping sauce can be used to add more flavor to the meatballs, or it can be eaten on the side. Nem nuong is a popular dish in Vietnam that is perfect for any occasion.
7. Banh Canh
photo: JAN N G U Y E N
The banh canh is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. The ingredients in the broth are usually pork, fish sauce, and some kind of meat (chicken or beef). The broth is flavored with the spices: cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, ginger slices and green onions. The noodles are cooked in boiling water until they float to the surface. They are then rinsed under cold water and drained well. Banh Canh is served with fresh herbs like mint leaves or cilantro sprigs as garnish. It can also be served with shredded lettuce on top of it.
There you have it! These are the 7 must-try dishes when you’re in Vietnam! Bon appetit!
Vietnamese food is like a love letter to my stomach. 💌❤️ Time to hit the noodle jackpot and indulge in every dish on this list.
These are all amazing and worth trying. Even though I felt a bit underwhelmed with some of the dishes, I am glad I tried them. I think I just got so spoiled with pho that nothing else impresses me quite as much.
I especially appreciate the emphasis on traditional dishes that truly represent the country’s food culture. I can’t wait to try some of these must-try dishes on my next trip to Vietnam!
The first time I had banh canh in Vietnam, I can’t remember the place I had it but it reminded me so much of ramen. Like a lot of people compare pho and ramen but banh canh seems more like ramen to me than pho!
I love the food of Vietnam!