First on the list of must try Vietnamese dishes is obviously Pho. It would make no sense if you visit the home country of Pho without eating the real Pho. The taste of noodle beef soup in the North and South Vietnam are not the same. The origin of Pho is from the North of Vietnam (Pho Bac) so the way they cook it is very simple. The broth is made from beef bone and grilled ginger and the noodles are soft and thin. The taste of Pho Bac is quite light and Northern people love to eat Pho with banh quay (fried pie). While in South Vietnam, besides the basic ingredients to make the broth like in the North, people add grilled purple onion in Pho Nam. The soup in the South is sweeter because of the taste of Southern people and they usually eat Pho with a bowl of egg yolk as a side dish.
Price range: 30,000 ~ 50,000 VND
2. Banh mi
Together with Pho, banh mi is a famous Vietnamese street food. Having a strong influence from the French Colony, banh mi is also known as the Vietnamese fast food because of its convenience. The local usually have it whenever they feel hungry regardless it is breakfast or dinner. For example, in the morning you can easily catch some students sitting behind their parent’s motorbike eating banh mi with their eyes still closing or some people driving motorbike with only one hand because their other hand is busy holding the banh mi, they eat it on the way to work. There are many versions of banh mi’s filling such as grilled pork, roasted pork or even vegan. I still love the original version with pork liver pate, butter, boiled pork, ham, radish, some slices of cucumber, carrot, coriander, and chili. When chewing, all the flavors mix together in your mouth will satisfy your taste buds and the energy it has will save your hungry soul.
Price range: 10,000 – 20,000 VND
3. Banh xeo – Vietnamese Pancake
Banh mi is not the only food that reflects the impact of the French colony on Vietnamese cuisine but banh xeo is also a good example. This dish is a Vietnamese version of the famous French crepe. The wrapper is made of the coconut milk, mixed flours and a bit of curry powder and the filling are boiled pork, shrimps, bean sprout and bean pad. Banh xeo is eaten with many different types of herbs, lettuce and the sweet fish sauce. The side of banh xeo in the South is much bigger than it’s in the Central. Locals usually gather with their group of friends or family to share the banh xeo and their stories together.
- 45,000 – 60,000 VND (Banh xeo in the South)
- 5,000 – 15,000 VND (Banh xeo in the Central)
4. Goi Cuon – Spring rolls
When you walk in a banh xeo shop in the South, you will find these fresh spring rolls. It is good for anyone who seeks for something neither soup nor fried food in Vietnam. Goi cuon is made from the Vietnamese folk ingredients such as rice paper, lettuces, basil, bean sprout, a slice of boil pork and boil shrimps. It is not hard at all to wrap and roll the goi cuon but to perfect it, you need some skill. You will eat this with sweet hoisin sauces with ground peanut. Goi cuon is a perfect version of Vietnamese finger food. Who says healthy and delicious can’t go together?
It is good for anyone who seeks for something neither soup nor fried food in Vietnam.
Price range: 6,000 – 8,000 VND
5. Oc – Seasnails
Even though Saigon is not a beach city, sea snails is a significant culinary art of Saigon cuisine. You can easily find the sea snail shops in every corner of Saigon and all of the places are always full of people from all ages. Oc is served and cooked in a hundred way from simply boiled or grilled to fried in many different types. What I will never meet whenever I go to the sea snail shop are oc len xao dua (sea snails sautéed with coconut), grilled scallops with melted cheese and rare oyster. Though this type of food might cause stomachache if your body hasn’t adapted to Asian food yet. So you should be careful.
Price range: 30,000 VND – 60,000 VND
6. Bun Bo Hue – Hue Beef Noodle
If you want a change from pho, try bun bo Hue. The main ingredient of this dish is also beef, but they tend to use the “nam” instead of rare beef and the noodles are vermicelli. The green serving with it is boiled glory morning and boiled bean sprout. Bun bo Hue will not be complete without a dish of fish sauce and a teaspoon of saute. I love the spicy taste of bun bo Hue and it is just perfect to sit on the side street to eat it on a rainy day.
Price range: 25,000 ~ 40,000 VND
7. Mi Quang – Quang Noodle
Mi Quang is a folk dish from Quang Nam, a province in the central region of Vietnam. The dish is made with wide rice noodle and people use turmeric to make the yellow of its color. The broth is made from the bone of the meat eating with it and the meat is usually pork, chicken or beef and shrimp. Mi Quang won’t be completed without being seasoned with black pepper, sauce, shallot, and garlic. Mi Quang is essential in every party or gathering of Quang Nam people This food taste very unique compared to other kinds of soup in Vietnam and you will be sure addict to it after the first bowl.
Price range: 30,000 ~ 50,000 VND.
8. Bun Cha – Kebab Rice Noodle
If you want to challenge yourself with fish sauce, you should either start with banh xeo or bun cha. Since Obama ate it when he visited the capital of Vietnam, this already popular dish has become a superstar. Who can deny a bowl of grilled pork, carrot and papaya, dip in the sweet and sour fish sauce? To eat this in a proper way, you will put both the vermicelli and herbs into the bowl of meat, mix it and eat it all together.
Price range: 35,000 – 50,000 VND.
9. Cha Ca Thang Long – Vietnamese Grilled Fish
Once you go to Hanoi, you shouldn’t leave without eating cha ca Thang Long (or Cha ca La Vong). The way they cook this dish is pretty fussy. The turmeric marinated fish is grilled beforehand and it will be pan-fried at your table. Like many other Vietnamese dishes, cha ca is not complete without a touch of green and the dill is the kind of fresh herbs that enhance the flavor of this special dish. It is also served with crushed peanut, vermicelli noodles and fish sauce or mam nem (fermented anchovy dipping sauce). To enjoy this, you will put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and eat it all together. The taste of this dish is so impressive that whenever you hear someone talk about Hanoi, you will automatically think about cha ca thang long.
10. Nem chua ran – Fried Fermented Pork Roll
Nem chua ran (or spring rolls) another must try Vietnamese dish. On the opposite to the South, the Hanoi style spring rolls are dedicating for those who want more fried food on the list. The sour and a bit salty taste of the spring roll together with the spicy chilli sauce create the special flavor for this Vietnamese food. Nem chua ran is the most favorite dish of the youth in Ha Noi.
Price range: 15,000 – 20,000 VND
Above are the Top 10 Vietnamese dishes you must try when traveling to Vietnam. Already tried these and want something adventurous? Try our Top 10 Weird Food in Vietnam list. And now, it is time to close the tabs and grab some great dishes on the street. Don’t forget to let us know your experience on the comment box below.
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