Dishes you’ll want to try in Vietnam!

Oh, Vietnam! The nation that left me wishing there were more mealtimes in the day. I’ve already talked about how much I enjoyed travelling through the country, and one of the main reasons was the food! Whether I was eating fresh veggie rolls or sipping on a hot bowl of soup, every dish I tasted was wondrous!

One of the things I liked about Vietnamese cuisine was that it was quite healthy. They used less oils and fats than a lot of other Asian foods, and there was a strong emphasis on fresh vegetables. I also liked the fresh and zesty flavours that came from spices like mint, lime, lemon, ginger, and basil.

So without further ado, I present some dishes I think you should try if you visit Vietnam:

Enjoying Vietnamese food

Pho

One of the best known Vietnamese dishes is pho. This dish is a simple broth that includes ingredients like noodles, traditional herbs, and meat, and while it may sound and look a little bland, it is absolutely delicious. A good bowl of pho should be an explosion of flavours – cilantro, basil, ginger – and it should awake your senses. I enjoyed starting my mornings off with pho from either a little family run restaurant or a vendor on the street.

Banh

Banh is probably the second most popular food in Vietnam and the name roughly translates to ‘cake’ or ‘bread’. Banh is an exceptionally diverse food item and you’ll find that these rolls can be either sweet or savoury. They can also be steamed, baked, fried, deep fried, grilled, or boiled. These cakes or breads are often made into sandwiches, and it is even possible to get rolls that already have shredded meat baked into the bread.

Bun cha

A very important supper item in Vietnam is bun cha. This is a dish that is believed to have originated in Hanoi, and it consists of grilled sausages with a side of rice. Bun cha is served on top of a bed of basil, ginger, and lemon leaves, and it’s common to eat a large portion of herbs with each bite of sausage. Like most Vietnamese dishes, bun cha is dipped in a wonderful sauce called nuoc cham.

Ca Kho To

Ca kho to is delicious! This is a braised fish cooked in a clay pot, which is heated over a fire for hours. The end result is a sweet, caramalized fish that will leave you licking your fingers. The mixture of sugar, garlic, black pepper, chilli and vegetables causes the dish to become a nice, rich soup. This is something you need to try for yourself!

Nem noung

Nem noung is a meat dish that consists of ground meat (usually pork or beef) that has been formed into small balls or cubes and then grilled on a skewer. Nem nuong is heavily seasoned with chilies, ginger, and lemon grass, making it very flavourful. While you can eat this dish on its own, I prefer to pair it with either some greens or some rice noodles.

There are many ways to experience Vietnamese cuisine aside from trying these dishes in restaurants. For example, while in Vietnam, I decided to take a cooking class and also visit an organic farm that allowed me to see where many of the ingredients in my meal came from. Services like WithLocals also offer the opportunity to have a cultural exchange through food. If you’d like to enjoy a home cooked meal with a family or go on a food walk around the city, then this is a great place to start.

Now bon appetit!

8 Comments

  • Heather says:

    I think I ate pho every day while I was in Vietnam – it was so good! I also ate a lot of clams steamed with ginger and lemongrass. Sure could go for a big bowl of either right about now!
    Heather recently posted..Becoming a Celebrity in ChinaMy Profile

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels says:

    When I lived in Tacoma, just outside Seattle every corner had a pho restaurant called ironic hipster names like “pho real!?” (no I just made that up… but you catch my drift). I never did get to try it!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..Guide to Boozing on a Backpackers Budget in SingaporeMy Profile

  • Kem says:

    I love Pho and Bun Cha. and “Nem Nuong” not “Nem noung” 😉

  • Wow! Vietnam is a food paradise. I would love to recommend Banh Cuon (rice rolled cake) at 14 Hang Ga street, Pho Cuon at Ngu Xa street at Hanoi.

    The best way to experience Vietnam food culture is to join a home cooking with a local family. It is truly unique experience.
    David @ Ume Tours recently posted..Dalat Vietnam Travel GuideMy Profile

  • Lisa says:

    Hey Audrey! I’ve noticed you mentioned you’re vegetarian. How did you make sure there were no animal products in your food? And what were your favorite vegetarian dishes?

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Lisa, I have written a few posts highlighting some of my favourite vegetarian restaurants, but that being said, I’m not strictly vegetarian.

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks for the reply!

        We are headed to Vietnam this weekend and I can’t wait. I love reading your positive posts about Vietnam as there is so many negative things out there. We can’t wait! I am a strict vegetarian while I am in the states…. but I may change that up while in Vietnam. I want to experience everything including the food!

  • Anil_traveller says:

    Hats off to nailing your top 5 Vietnamese dishes! I have been living for a few months now and I still struggle with categorising my top 5, although the list would kinda look like yours except I would add Pho Cuon instead of Banh and Banh Cuon instead of Ca koh to 🙂 Great post!

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