VietnamFood & Drinks20 MUST-TRY Vietnamese Foods Before You Die

20 MUST-TRY Vietnamese Foods Before You Die

Are you a foodie enthusiast? Do you love and appreciate the specialty dishes many countries offer? Do you often find yourself drooling at the aroma of steaming hot food, much like smelling freshly brewed coffee in the morning? Check out this must-try Vietnamese food when you’re in Vietnam.

Like a lot of countries, Vietnam is no different when it comes to food and specialty dishes.

Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its distinct freshness of spices and herbs blended together in perfect harmony to create the perfect finishing touch that leaves you craving for more!

Steamed rice rolls are made from thinly steamed rice flour wrapped in ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, minced jicama, and minced shallots. What makes banh cuon special is the homemade fish sauce, in addition to the pork sausage, steamed bean sprouts, and sliced cucumbers.

banh cuon ho chi minh 15
Banh Cuon and Vietnamese cold cuts – a must-try Vietnamese food for breakfast

2. Banh Xeo

The “sizzling” pancake is a Southern dish that gets its name from its sizzling sound when the rice flour pours into the hot frying pan known as the wok. The complicated ingredients of Banh Xeo include the batter mixture of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder wrapped in fatty pork slices, shrimp, bean sprouts, green beans, and diced white onions. This finger food has fresh herbs on the side, such as lettuce, basil, ambarella, perilla, fish mints, spearmints, etc. Everything is wrapped in the lettuce and dipped into the fish sauce for a mouthful of flavors.

vietnamese pancake 6

This Northern Vietnamese dish consists of grilled pork with a side dish of dipping sauce and cold vermicelli noodles. The sauce often comes with thinly sliced raw papaya to add a crunchy texture to complement the soft noodles. The herbs on the side include lettuce, basil, and bean sprouts. Bun cha is the famous food President Obama dined with Anthony Bourdain when he visited Vietnam in 2016.

bun cha

4. Pho

This Vietnamese beef noodle soup is famous worldwide, and it is a must-try Vietnamese food as the broth varies from region to region. This hot noodle bowl is garnished with diced scallions, white onions, basil, saw-tooth herb, pepper, fresh chili, lime wedges, and sriracha and hoisin sauce.

pho 4

5. Banh Mi

The Vietnamese baguette is a product of French colonization and one of the best street foods easily available to get your hands on nationwide. The Vietnamese have transformed the baguettes into the world-famous Banh Mi known today. You can find this very popular Vietnamese street food on many street corners from sellers on food carts with a cost averaging VND 20,000 or (USD $1) for one.

banh mi 1

The classic popular main ingredients include sliced pork sausage, pork bellies, pate, mayonnaise, pickled carrot, daikon, fresh coriander, scallions, cucumber, and to add a kick to the whole bite, the jalapeno.

Other variances of the Banh Mi stuffing include fried eggs sprinkled with soy sauce, canned sardines in tomato sauce, and the vegetarian option served with tofu or even the ice cream sandwich topped with crushed peanuts and condensed milk.

6. Mi Quang

Translated into the Quang-style noodle, it originated from the Quang Nam province in Central Vietnam. Mi Quang includes shrimp, pork, chicken, hard-boiled quail eggs, and a bit of turmeric to give it its distinctive yellowish color. The rice cracker on the side adds a little crunch to the flavorful broth.

mi quang in ho chi minh 8

7. Com Tam

Commonly known as Vietnamese broken rice, it is steamed rice made from fractured rice grains. The star of the dish is the grilled pork, shredded pork skin, pickled vegetables such as carrots, daikon, and fish sauce. Nowadays, com tam can have an omelet, grilled prawns, and sautéed vegetables on the dish.

com tam 1

8. Goi Cuon 

Vietnamese spring rolls consist of thinly sliced pork, steamed prawns, cold rice vermicelli, fresh chives, bean sprouts, and basil, all wrapped in thin rice paper. The dipping sauce includes the hoisin sauce topped with crushed peanuts, chili, fermented carrot, and daikon. The Goi Cuon is another popular Vietnamese street food.

goi cuon 2

9. Bun Bo Hue

This Vietnamese noodle soup originates from Hue, a city in Central Vietnam. Bun Bo Hue is greatly admired for its balance of spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors. The broth is the main ingredient that gives the soup its distinctive flavor. It requires preparation time by simmering beef bones and beef shank in lemongrass with fermented shrimp paste and spicy chili oil. The noodles used are thicker than the Pho, and other complex ingredients include beef brisket, pork leg, blood pudding, thinly sliced pork sausage, diced scallions and white onions, laksa, lime wedge, cabbage, perilla, banana flower, bean sprouts, mints, and tofu. This is a must-try Vietnamese food when you visit Hue!

bun bo hue ho chi minh city 11
Bun Bo is a more flavorful version of Pho

10. Ca Phe Sua Da

Vietnamese iced coffee with milk is unique and famous. Not everyone could afford expensive coffee machines back then, so the locals invented aluminum filters to enjoy their coffee.

Traditionally, people drink coffee with condensed milk because fresh milk is more expensive and isn’t always available. The locals don’t use sugar, fresh milk, or creamer in their coffee. How sweet or creamy their coffee depends on how much-condensed milk they put in there.

coffee phin

11. Banh Mi Bo Kho

Beef braised stew with bread. It is a savory soup that is simmered for a long time until the meat and tendon are soft. Other ingredients include carrots, saw-tooth herb, and fresh basil, garnished with pepper, lime, bean sprouts, and fresh chili. You can choose to enjoy the soup with bread or rice noodles.

Bo kho nguyen cu trinh 2

12. Xoi

Glutinous or sticky rice can be served both savory and sweet. Savory sticky rice is often served as an on-the-go breakfast, and sweets are often served as a dessert.

sticky rice 2

13. Che

Sweet dessert soup or pudding. This variety of traditional Vietnamese dessert comes with mung beans, blacked-eye beans, tapioca, jelly, fruits such as mango, jackfruit, and coconut cream.

vietnamese sweet soup 5

14. Bun Dau Mam Tom

Bun Dau Mam Tom is translated literally as fermented shrimp paste with fried tofu and rice vermicelli. Due to the smell and the bold flavors of the fermented shrimp paste, not many people can handle this dish, but for those who can, they love it. Traditional ingredients include lime/kumquat, fresh red chili pepper, vegetable oil, thinly sliced cucumber, pork belly, and herbs such as perilla and basil.

bun dau ho chi minh 12

15. Goi Ngo Sen Tom Thit

Lotus stem salad with pork and shrimp. A favorite appetizer, it includes main ingredients such as the lotus stem, pork tenderloin, prawns, carrot, deep-fried shallots, peanuts, mints, laksa, and fish sauce.

goi ngo sen tom thit

16. Oc (Vietnamese Sea Snails)

Known locally as just “Oc”, it is not necessarily the dish’s name but the main ingredient. Oc means snails that are made into different delicious dishes. For the adventurous foodie who wants to try various snails, it is best to go with a local guide so he/she can help you order the different varieties, flavors, and cooking styles available. You can try this on a Vietnamese street food tour. The locals often hang out and gather as a thing to do in Vietnam at night, and it’s best to have a few local beers on the side of the streets.

tropical fruit 3

17. Vietnamese tropical fruits

There are many tropical fruits in Vietnam you can try, here are a few: langsat, sapodilla, and dragon fruit.

tropical fruit 3

18. Bun Thit Nuong

This famous vermicelli noodle bowl distinguishes itself from other noodle soups with marinated grilled pork slices or sausages. On top of the bowl is a combination of fresh herbs like lettuce, bean sprouts, basil, basil, mint, green onion, oil, peanuts, chili, fish sauce, perilla, and fermented carrot and daikon. The famous Bun thit nuong is not to be missed on your Vietnam travel!

bun thit nuong ho chi minh 9 1

19. Canh Chua

Sour soup is a must-try Vietnamese food in the Mekong Delta in the Southern region of Vietnam. The locals often compliment the sweet soup with plain white rice. The ingredients of the sour soup include fish, prawns, okra, pineapple, tomatoes, bean sprouts, tamarind-flavored broth, saw-tooth herb, caramelized garlic, chopped scallions, taro stem, Vietnamese coriander, basil, fresh chili pepper, and shallots.

canh chua southern vietnamese meal 10

20. Banh Canh

Banh Canh is a noodle dish made from tapioca and rice flour and resembles Udon noodles. The noodles are thick relative to the Pho and the Bun Bo Hue noodles. Banh canh is popularly served with crab meat in a crab soup or a pork knuckle broth and shrimp. It sides with lime wedges, pepper, fish sauce, fresh chili, deep-fried shallots, and diced scallions.

banh canh cua tom tit 7

Though the list of 20 dishes might seem long, Vietnamese cuisine is actually much more diverse. You might have heard of or even tasted Pho or Banh Mi, but the culinary adventure only begins once you branch out to more local dishes.

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