Vietnamese cuisine is so fascinating that many tourists have come a long way for Vietnam to enjoy the food here, and Vietnamese grilled dishes are no exception. Vietnamese food is usually prepared traditionally, less dependent on intense spices, and focuses more on healthy herbs that contain fewer calories. Traditional Vietnamese flavors like coriander, mint, basil, anise, and chili have long been used for disease treatment and prevention. This feature can be seen in the grilled dishes in Vietnam.
The Most Popular Grilled Dishes in Vietnam
Nem Nuong (Grilled Ground Pork)
Nem Nuong is a popular dish from Ninh Hoa, a northern district of Khanh Hoa Province (a province in the South Central region of Vietnam), about 30 km from the coastal city of Nha Trang. Because this dish is so famous and attracts many tourists in Nha Trang, it is also called “Nem Nuong Nha Trang” by many locals.
A full set of Nem Nuong
Frankly speaking, Nem Nuong is quite an assorted dish with various ingredients. The hero of the dish is “Nem nuong” – grilled ground pork. The pork is grounded until it becomes well-kneaded and smooth, and then the chef adds spices such as salt, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper to create the aroma. After that, they grill the mixture of pork on charcoal.
Another essential part of Nem Nuong is the sauce. Whether the dish is delicious or not depends a lot on this particular sauce. This unique sauce is only served with Nem Nuong, and the recipe of this sauce is considered a secret of every food store. Generally, it contains plenty of ingredients, including sticky rice, shrimp, lean meat, pork liver, salt, sugar, and fish sauce.
The side dishes served with Nem Nuong are also copious. There are many kinds of herbs and vegetables, such as lettuce, savory, balm-mint, bay leaves, chives, etc. It is also served with pickled carrots, green mango, and sliced cucumber. One more special side dish used with Nem Nướng is fried rice paper. The rice papers are rolled up and fried in the oil until crispy.
Recommended places for Nem Nuong in Ho Chi Minh City:
ABMA Nem Nuong Nha Trang
15/2 Doan Nhu Hai Street, Ward 12, District 4
Nem Nuong Ganh – Dac San Nha Trang (Nha Trang Specialties)
58/4 Pham Ngoc Thach Street, District 3
91 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1
3 Nguyen Duc Canh Street, District 7
70-72 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3
The southwest Vietnamese have another way to enjoy Nem Nuong or Thit Nuong. Smoky, savory, and soft grilled pork can be put in a bowl full of fresh vermicelli and herbs, and drizzled with sweet and sour fish sauce. See more places for Bun Thit Nuong in Ho Chi Minh City here.
A bowl of Bun Thit Nuong
Grilled Chicken (Ga Nuong)
What seems like a classic grilled dish is one of Vietnam’s most popular grilled dishes. The chicken for grilling has to be “garden chicken,” which is raised naturally and has a juicier, more tender bite. It is usually grilled as a whole chicken before having other types of seasonings or flavor paste heavily rubbed on the skin, such as five-spice, chili salt, or honey.
The best places to enjoy grilled chicken are while traveling to one of Vietnam’s mountains, such as Da Lat or Kon Tum. The chicken here does not taste particularly outstanding, but together with the cool atmosphere and the surrounding nature, it makes the experience ten times more enjoyable. Grilled chicken is often paired with bread or sticky rice.
However, you can also try some tasty grilled chicken in Ho Chi Minh as well.
Recommended places for Grilled Chicken in Ho Chi Minh City:
Con Ga Nuong
152/7, Thanh Thai Street, District 19
Ga Nuong O O O
111 Le Van Duyet Street, Binh Thanh District
567 Su Van Hanh Street, District 10
Bo La Lot (Grilled Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf)
Beef is usually not expected in grilled dishes as they might become too dry and chewy after grilling. However, leave it to the master chefs in Vietnam to turn this protein into a succulent dish. The beef is ground so that it could be any cut of meat, then paired with pork fat to prevent the meat from drying. The final product is finally wrapped in a fresh betel leaf, which provides a distinctive aroma to the meat.
Bo La Lot usually goes with “mam nem”, a pretty pungent dipping sauce. If you’re hesitant, ask for sweet and sour fish sauce.
Check Places to Try Bo La Lot in Ho Chi Minh here
Ca Loc Nuong Trui (Grilled Snakehead)
Grilled Snakehead is a popular dish from the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, with a unique flavor and easy processing. This dish was associated with Southern people when they first settled in the Mekong Delta.
The characteristics of the grilled snakehead are that the fish is still raw; we do not scrape the fish scales or cut or season the raw fish. The cooks bury and cover the snakeheads in the haystacks or straws. They grilled the fish until the straw become ashes. They scrape off the scorched scales when the fish is cooked to reveal white and fragrant fish meat.
Ca Loc Nuong Trui
Because the snakehead is not seasoned before cooking, it can keep the fresh and original taste of the dish. When serving this dish, the cooks often sprinkle some peanuts, and souse some green onion. Tamarind fish sauce (which has a sour and sweet taste) usually goes with the dish to enhance the fish’s original taste.
The side dishes are pretty similar to the Nem Nuong above. They use this dish with many herbs, such as lettuce, savory, balm-mint, cucumber, star fruit, and unripe bananas.
This dish also spread throughout Vietnam with many variations, meaning different flavors. But the Mekong Delta grilled snakehead will still be the best original dish.
Recommended places for Grilled Snakehead in Ho Chi Minh City:
Quan Tu Map
33 No. 8 Street, Ward 11, Go Vap District
Price: VND 130,000 (US$ 5.6)
471 Hong Bang Street, Ward 14, District 5
Price range: VND 150,000 (US$ 6.4)
Grilled Seafood in Vietnam
Of the myriad grilled dishes in Vietnam, grilled seafood seems the most popular. Grilled seafood can be found in many places in Vietnam. Seafood in Vietnam is considered to be cheaper than many other countries because Vietnam has a long coastline with many beaches.
In Vietnam, people grill seafood with charcoal rather than using the oven, as in many Western countries. Some popular kinds of seafood in Vietnam are crabs, lobsters, shrimp, shells, octopus, oysters, squid, clams, mussels, etc.
Grilled seafood is very popular in Vietnam
The sauce served with grilled seafood is also a unique point in Vietnam. There are many kinds of sauces, such as kumquat salt, pepper salt, green chili sauce, and sweet ginger fish sauce
Nowadays, the epicures of Vietnam have made a lot of variations of grilled seafood. They use many kinds of sauces like cheese, spicy sauce, and BBQ sauce over the seafood, creating more delectable choices and catering to different tastes. Many restaurants offer Vietnamese grilled dishes, particularly at these Saigon food streets.
Recommended places for grilled seafood in Ho Chi Minh City:
Cheap Eats Restaurant – Seafood BBQ Buffet
5th Floor, 9 Nguyen Trai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Oc Chi Em Restaurant
75 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Vinh Khanh Food Street
40 Vinh Khanh Street, District 4
Banh Trang Nuong (Grilled rice paper)
Grilled rice paper is a very popular snack for young Vietnamese people. The rice paper is grilled on charcoal, and then many kinds of toppings are added, such as egg, onion, dried shrimp, dried beef, vegetables, ground meat, and sausage.
Grilled rice paper is sometimes called “Vietnamese pizza” because of its round shape and topping. This dish originates from Da Lat, a highland city in Vietnam. Grilled rice paper can be seen as a typical grilled dish in Vietnam.
Eating this dish, we can cut it into pieces like pizza or fold it and bite it little by little. People usually eat grilled rice paper with tamarind, chili, or cheese sauce.
Recommended places for grilled rice paper in Ho Chi Minh City:
Grilled Rice Paper C002
506/19 Street 3/2, Ward 14, District 10
Da Lat Grilled Rice Paper NTP
285 Hung Vuong Street, Ward 9, District 5
Da Lat Grilled Rice Paper Cao Thang
61 Cao Thang Street, District 3
Chuoi Nuong (Grilled Banana)
If you are a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, you know that Vietnam has various kinds of desserts. One of them is grilled banana, a popular dessert and street food. This unique dish comes from the South region of Vietnam. But now you can also find it in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
Grilled banana over charcoal
The main ingredient of this dish, of course, is banana. The sellers peel the bananas, cover them with a layer of sticky rice, and then cover a piece of cleaned banana leaf outside and grill it on the charcoal. When the banana gets cooked, they cut it into smaller pieces, pour coconut milk over them, and sprinkle some peanuts, making this dish richer and sweeter.
Unlike most kinds of dessert, grilled banana is usually served hot. So it is a favorite dessert of many Vietnamese in the cold winter.
Recommended places for grilled bananas in Ho Chi Minh City:
Chuoi Nuong Vo Van Tan
378 Vo Van Tam Street, District 3
106 To Hien Thanh Street, Ward 15, District 10
Summary of Grilled Dishes in Vietnam
Grilled dishes in Vietnam are usually cooked with charcoal, straw, or wood instead of using the oven. The food is often sliced or chopped in these dishes to get cooked quickly. Vietnamese people are interested in grilled food because it can keep freshness and nutrition from the raw ingredients. If you visit Vietnam, don’t forget to add these grilled dishes to your must-try list.