If you’re that type of a holiday maker that always seeks to get more out of their trips and enjoys in getting a deeper understanding of foreign cultures not only through their landmarks, natural beauties, and history lessons but also through their local dishes, make sure you book your next holiday in Vietnam.
This country offers a wide range of simple dishes with an abundance of flavors that successfully balance the sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors so you’ll never forget the explosion you once felt in your mouth. Each region of Vietnam is known for its own version of traditional dishes that are always prepared with fresh local ingredients. You’re bound to enjoy in healthy, authentic food all over the country, so here are the top five dishes that will surely be worth the trip.
Pho is the ultimate Vietnamese food and a true national dish. It’s basically a rice noodle soup served with beef or chicken and an array of vegetables and herbs such as mint leaves, basil, lime and Brussel sprouts. It originates from North Vietnam but it was in the South that it further developed unconstrained by culinary traditions of the North.
Today, there are several varieties of Pho you can try that may include ingredients such as green onions, bean sprouts and a sweeter broth as its base. In Hanoi, drop by Pho Thin 13 Lo Duc where you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best pho served with stir-fried beef with garlic. And in Saigon, make sure you visit Pho Le Nguyen Trai whose pho comes with beef tendons.
Goi Cuon or fresh spring rolls are the most welcome refreshment when compared to the Chinese deep-fried version. This dish is prepared with fresh ingredients and a healthy combination of salad, seafood or meat wrapped in rice paper and served with a popular Vietnamese condiment, the fish sauce.
The name of this dish may vary depending on the region, but it’s definitely worth trying this soft and light sweet-savoury dish. A great way to enjoy in this food is to take one of the cool tours in Vietnam that can take you to the city of Hoi An, the country’s former imperial capital. It is widely known for its delicious and diverse food that you can sample aboard a riverboat that navigates among dozens of other tiny basket boats along a winding river.
Bot Chien is the classic Saigon street food and for many locals, their favorite food while growing up. It consists of rice flour mixed with tapioca starch. First, it’s steamed then cooled and finally cut into squares that are pan-fried together with green onions and eggs until golden brown and crispy.
One of the best places to try this dish is in Saigon’s Bot ChienĐat Thanh that’s been around for decades and serves Bot Chien with a refreshing side dish of green papaya salad. It’s a great snack that goes very well with a pint of local beer.
Like pho, Bahn Mi is one of the most iconic Vietnamese dishes. Its base is the French baguette that is filled with different types of vegetables, meat and condiments. Pork is used most frequently in the forms of a pate, grilled patties, cold cuts or sausages.
Like any kind of sandwich, you can put whatever you like so there are many varieties all over Vietnam that include chicken, duck, egg and even fish cake. You’ll be able to find it everywhere, but places that come highly recommended are BahnMi Lan Ong and Yogurt Bar in Hanoi that serve it with grilled pork skewers, BahnMiPhu’o’ng in Hoi An that was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s show and BahnMi Huynh Hoa in Saigon.
Bahn Xeo is the favorite of both many locals and tourists as it’s essentially a savory and crispy pancake filled with a deliciously soft mix of shrimp, pork, basil, mint and bean sprouts. It looks like an omelet folded in half but it isn’t made with any eggs. Its yellow color comes from turmeric mixed into the pancake batter.
Its name means “sizzling cake” as this is the sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into a hot skillet. While you enjoy your visit to Hoi An, stop by the restaurant called Morning Glory for a delicious treat of Bahn Xeo served with fish-based dipping sauce.
Hopefully, these five incredible Vietnamese dishes will point you in the right direction when you start exploring the country and cuisine of Vietnam.