Vietnamese Food Guide – The Food to try on a Trip to Vietnam

For
the majority of International travellers, trying food from a different country
or culture is one of the most exciting aspects of visiting a different country and
Vietnam is no exception, Just remember to be adventures and write down the names
of the food you like, so you can order it on your return home!!

 

Vietnamese
food is a one of the most delicious styles of food in Asia if not the world, its
style and taste shares slight similarities with its near neighbours (China,
Thailand, and Cambodia) yet the food of Vietnam is distinct and original.
Unsurprisingly French cooking has much influence on the food and cuisine of Vietnam,
which is most apparent in the countries outstanding breads.

 

So
what are the foods Asia Travel Magazine recommends trying on a trip to Vietnam?

 

Pho
Vietnamese Noodle Soup
– This is perhaps the most popular & famous
Vietnamese Dish of all time. You can try two main types of Pho, the first and
most popular is Pho Bo (Beef) with the other being the chicken variety Pho Ga.
Pho is made with rice noodles and the dish is always served with a plate of
fresh mints, bean sprouts and lime, along with Hoi sin Sauce & Nuoc mum
(Fish sauce).

 

Pho
originates from Northern Vietnam and is usually eaten for breakfast; however
you can pick up a bowl at any time of the day or night.

 

If
you are a little adventurous ask for a Pho Bo Dac Biet, Dac Biet is the
Vietnamese word for Special, and you will usually get beef tendon, Beef Flank
& Beef tripe.

 

 

Banh
Xeo

– Crispy Vietnamese Pancake with pork & prawn (shrimp)

 

Banh
Xeo is a crispy rice flour pan cake filled with pieces of pork, school prawns
& bean sprouts, which when cooked and crispy is folded in half and is about
the size of a large plate (I have seen them bigger). To eat tear off a piece of
Banh Xeo and wrap in Vietnamese Lettuce leaf along with fresh mints, then dip
in Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese dipping sauce) 

 

Banh
Xeo is not very well known in the west, yet everyone I have ever suggested it
to or made it for has absolutely loved it. As with most Vietnamese dishes Banh
Xeo is quite simple yet bursting with freshness and flavour. Banh Xeo is highly
recommended, if you visit Vietnam without trying you are simply missing out.

 

In
Saigon’s district 1,
Dinh Cong
Trang
Street
specialises in Banh Xeo, Asia Travel Magazine recommends heading straight the
restaurant named
Bánh Xèo 46a,
at 46A Dinh
Cong Trang.

 

 

 

Bun
Bo Hue

– Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Soup 

 

As
the name suggests this dish originally heralds from the imperial city of Hue in
central Vietnam. Bun Bo Hue is made from Pork broth & served with
Vietnamese sate sauce (Dried chilly & oil mixture) along with beef meat,
and noodles. Even though this is referred to as Spicy Vietnamese soup I
generally find it is far from spicy, so it is normally up to you to add additional
chilli and/or sate sauce at the table if you like it hot.

 

As
with Pho and most other soup dishes Bun
Bo Hue
is served with a side plate of fresh herbs/mints & bean sprouts
which are added to your bowl prior to eating.

 

 

 

 

Nem
Nuong

– Grilled/BBQ Pork Balls Wrapped in rice paper with mints

 

Nem
Nuong is made from a mixture of pork mince and various spices then grilled/BBQed
 on bamboo skewers. To eat put one or two
Nem Nuong balls on a sheet of moist rice paper, along with fresh mints, lettuce,
Cucumber & vermicelli, wrap the rice paper and dip in Vietnamese dipping
sauce. 

 

I
was introduced to Nem Noung at An Ngon Restaurant in Saigon on my first trip to
Vietnam,
and it became an instant favourite of mine. It was so good that I returned to
An Ngon several times before the end of that trip, and have always make the
point of returning on each trip since. 

 

Lau – Vietnamese Hot
Pot

If
you ever go out for lunch or dinner with Vietnamese this is always on the menu,
and will usually be a Fish or seafood hot pot (but you can get beef &
chicken). As the hot pot slowly cooks away at your table add more seafood and
fresh mints & vegetables.

 

 

 

Cha
Gio

– Vietnamese fried Spring Rolls are very similar to Chinese spring rolls;
however some of the ingredients are different. Cha Gio is normally made out of
pork & prawn mince with the addition of Black Fungus (a type of mushroom)
& shredded taro.

 

Cha
Gio can be eaten alone (with Vietnamese dipping sauce) but more often than not
is eaten in a bowl with Vermicelli noodles mints & Vietnamese fish sauce
(similar to the dish below)    

 

Bun
Thit Nuong/Bun Dac Biet –
Bun Tit Nuong/Bun Dac Bit is
a rice noodle dish, which is served with various meats along with the
obligatory fresh mints and famous Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese fish sauce)

 

 

 

 

Chao
Tom –
Prawn
(Shrimp) paste grilled on a sugar Cane stick

 

Chao
Tom is similar to Nem Nuong in that the cooked Chao Tom is usually wrapped in rice
paper and eaten with mints however the main difference is that Chao Tom is made
from Prawn (Shrimp) and cooked on a sugar cane stick. For eating take the meat
off the sugar cane stick & place on a piece of moist rice paper with fresh
mints, lettuce, cucumber, finally roll & dip in that wonderful Vietnamese
dipping sauce.  

 

Bun
Rieu

  A pork soup base soup with prawn’s
& shrimp paste, Bun rieu is severed with rice noodles and usually also
contains pieces of tofu & tomato. Like I have mentioned for other dishes
you also get a plate of herbs/mints & bean sprouts, which are added to the
bowl prior to eating.

 

 

 

 

Banh
Cuon

– Large rolled rice noodle sheets filled with pork mince, black fungus (a type
of mushroom)  Severed with fresh mints
and Nouc Mam (a Vietnamese Fish sauce with chilli garlic, lime, sugar) Sliced
Vietnamese ham (Cha Lua) is also mixed amongst the Rolled Rice paper sheets.

 

Canh
Chua –
Hot & Sour (a little sweet also) Fish Soup,
cooked with tomato pieces, pineapple & Okra. The sour flavour usually comes
from tamarind, this soup is severed with fine vermicelli rice noodles along
with the standard plate of fresh mints & bean sprouts.

 

 

 

Banh
Mi Thit

– Vietnamese Bread roll with sliced Vietnamese ham (Cha Lua), Roast Pork, pate
and vegetables

 

Banh
Mi is the Vietnamese take on a French Baggett, add Thit (meat) to Banh Mi and
you get Banh Mi Thit, a Vietnamese bread roll (Baguette) with Vietnamese ham, roast
pork, pate & vegetables.

 

The
plan Vietnamese Roll (Banh Mi) is also served with the Vietnamese stew/curry
dish Bo Kho.

 

 

 

 

This
is by no means a complete list of Vietnamese dishes, I could go on for pages,
and I am sure I have left out a few of my other favourites.

 

Below
are some great sites & blogs about Vietnamese Food & Cooking

 

About Ben Hoffman