Mary Ann Issac
A food guide to Vietnam!
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Let this be your food dictionary to all the food that you must try. There is a lot more that even I haven’t tried, but these are the most common things you will find in any menu. I also don’t remember the names of most of the food that I tried, so I’ll try to update this list over time.
Pho is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam, and very easy to get wherever you are. It is a rich broth based dish with rice noodles, and either beef or chicken. It is served with a side of herbs & chillies which you can add according to taste.
2. Bun Moc
This is also a clear broth based soup served with pork, and rice noodles. The broth might take a little getting used to, as it was initially a little bland for me, but, a few spoonfuls later, I began to really enjoy it. It is subtle in its flavours, and just comforting to have. As always there are chillies, herbs, sauces, & lime to add to taste.
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3. Bun Cha
A Vietnamese pork meatball served with a noodle soup. It is said to have originated in Hanoi, but is available everywhere.
4. Banh Mi
It is a sandwich in a baguette bread with different cured meats (usually pork), fresh herbs, cucumber, and some sweet & spicy sauces.
5. Banh Cuon
Steamed rice pancakes stuffed with pork, onions, and mushrooms. They are served with a dipping sauce.
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6. Bun Bo Hue
This is a thicker rice noodle with a more flavour packed and spicier soup with a lemon grass flavour. The meat in this dish is usually beef, but at some places there is a choice of using pork in it.
5. Banh Xeo
This is the Vietnamese pancake stuffed with prawns, pork, onions, & beansprouts - it was one of my favourite things!
6. Goi Cuon
This is a fresh spring roll- it is rice paper stuffed with noodles, pork, shrimp (or other seafood) vegetables & herbs. It needs a dipping sauce to add flavour.
7. Cha Gio
This is the fried spring roll, which I prefer to the fresh ones. I could eat these without the dipping sauce-it was yumm! It also has a stuffing of seafood, pork, & herbs, but is very different in taste from its fresh counterpart- Goi Cuon.
8. Ca Kho To
This is a braised catfish with a sweet sauce served in a pot. This is worth trying, but maybe it is the place I tried it, I wasn’t a big fan- it was a little fishy for my taste.
9. Thit bo nuong la lot or bo la lot
I ate this on the street and it is one of my favourite food memories from Vietnam. This is beef wrapped in betel leaves and barbecued! If you see it somewhere, please try it!
10. Try anything that’s being barbecued
You will see street vendors barbecuing meat & seafood everywhere, specially in the evenings. It is an absolute must try!
The barbecued pork sausages & scallops I had from a street vendor were out of this world!
11. Cafe Da
This is iced black coffee.
12. Cafe Sua Nong
Hot coffee with condensed milk
13. Cafe Sua Da
Iced coffee with condensed milk- I love Vietnamese iced coffee, if I forget about the amount of condensed milk that’s going into my body!
14. Nuoc Cot Dua
Iced coffee with coconut milk-a revelation! It was so good!
15. Egg coffee
The egg coffee originated in Hanoi, but is available everywhere now. It is black coffee served with whipped egg yolks and condensed milk. It may sound odd, but if you are lucky to try it somewhere good, it will be your favourite thing to have in Vietnam. I tried it at cafe in Ho Chi Minh city, where they served the coffee at room temperature, and it almost made me puke! So, make sure you are having a hot egg coffee. People have told me that a cold egg coffee is better, but I didn’t see it anywhere I went, so if you see it, do give it a try, and let me know!
I hope this guide helps you eat your way through Vietnam. There is so much more than these few things, so try it all even if you don't understand what they are called!