Best Vietnamese Dishes – Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

Best Vietnamese Dishes

Exploring the food in Vietnam is an adventure for the senses. From the bustling street food stalls to the cozy family-run restaurants, you’ll encounter a vibrant tapestry of flavors, textures, and culinary traditions that showcase the richness of Vietnamese cuisine. Whether you’re a fan of hearty soups, fragrant herbs, or bold and spicy flavors, the food in Vietnam is sure to leave a lasting impression.

S.no.

Dishes

Flavours

1

Phở (Pho)

Savory noodle soup

2

Cha ca

Slightly spicy grilled/fried fish

3

Cá Kho Tộ

Sweet and savory caramelized fish

4

Banh xeo

Crispy and savory Vietnamese pancake

5

Cao lau 

Chewy noodles with smoky and savory flavors

6

Gỏi Sứa

Tangy jellyfish salad

7

Nem ran/cha gio

Crispy and flavorful fried spring rolls

8

Goi Cuon 

Light rice paper rolls with various fillings

9

Banh mi

Vietnamese Saigon sandwich

10

Bun Cha

Grilled meatballs with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce

Top 10 Vietnamese Dishes

Vietnamese cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, colors, and textures. From aromatic soups to vibrant salads, and from sizzling stir-fries to delicate rice paper rolls, the food in Vietnam offers a diverse and delightful culinary experience.

Rice, noodles, fresh herbs, and vegetables are staples in Vietnamese cuisine, creating a balance of flavors and a focus on fresh and healthy ingredients. The cuisine reflects the country’s geography, climate, and cultural influences, resulting in a unique blend of flavors from various regions.

In this article, you will know more about the top 10 famous foods in Vietnam.

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1. Phở (Pho) – Savory noodle soup

Phở, or Pho, is undeniably one of the most renowned dishes in Vietnam. It captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine with its fragrant and flavorful noodle soup. This iconic dish offers a variety of broth options, such as beef, chicken, and even vegan versions, catering to different preferences.

When a steaming bowl of Phở arrives at your table, it entices your senses with its alluring aroma. The enticing blend of herbs, spices, and simmered broth wafts through the air, captivating your taste buds and drawing you closer to indulge in its goodness.

The heart of Phở lies in its components: tender rice noodles submerged in a piping hot broth, accompanied by your choice of succulent meat, be it beef, chicken, or the plant-based alternative. The broth, often slow-cooked with aromatic spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cloves, imparts a rich depth of flavor to every spoonful.

To elevate the experience, Phở is traditionally garnished with fresh herbs like parsley, giving a burst of freshness, along with slices of jalapenos and green onions for a touch of heat and crunch. These toppings add a vibrant visual appeal to the dish, further enticing your anticipation.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

2. Cha ca – Slightly spicy grilled/fried fish

The people of Hanoi hold cha ca in such high regard that they have dedicated a boulevard in the capital city to these delectable fried fish snacks. One can find Cha Ca La Vong, a famous restaurant, nestled in the alley that shares its name. This renowned establishment offers a unique dining experience where customers are served steaming chunks of fish spiced with garlic, ginger, turmeric, or parsley, right at their table on a sizzling hot pan.

While Cha Ca La Vong is undoubtedly a popular choice, it is worth noting that the service can be a bit unfriendly and the prices tend to be on the higher side. For those seeking an equally delicious but more affordable alternative, a visit to Duong Than in the Hoan Kiem neighborhood of Hanoi is recommended. This vibrant area is home to numerous eateries where you can savor the delightful flavors of cha ca without breaking the bank.

By exploring the culinary scene in Hanoi, particularly when it comes to cha ca, one can truly appreciate the local passion for this beloved dish. Whether you choose the iconic Cha Ca La Vong or opt for the more budget-friendly options on Duong Than, you are sure to encounter a delightful and memorable dining experience that showcases the rich culinary heritage of Hanoi.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

3. Cá Kho Tộ – Sweet and savory caramelized fish

In Vietnamese cuisine, fish sauce, a popular condiment, is commonly used in cooking catfish dishes. One such dish is ca kho t, where the fish is cooked with a combination of fish sauce and sugar, creating a savory and slightly sweet flavor profile. The catfish is then seasoned with black pepper, spring onions, and red pepper, enhancing its taste and adding a hint of spiciness.

Ca kho t is often enjoyed alongside a serving of white rice, creating a delicious and satisfying meal. The dish derives its name from the clay pot, known as “t,” traditionally used to cook it. However, it can also be prepared in a regular pan, ensuring that you can enjoy this delightful dish regardless of the cooking vessel.

In Vietnam, ca kho t holds a special place as comfort food, evoking feelings of warmth and nostalgia. Its rich and flavorful nature makes it a beloved choice for those seeking a hearty and satisfying dining experience. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend tasting ca kho t to truly appreciate its savory and sweet combination, and to savor the comforting flavors that have made it a favorite among Vietnamese cuisine enthusiasts.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

4. Banh xeo – Crispy and savory Vietnamese pancake

Banh xeo is a delightful Vietnamese dish consisting of a crispy pancake filled with a savory mixture of pork, prawns, green beans, and an assortment of fresh herbs that are characteristic of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. To fully experience banh xeo, it is customary to divide it into manageable slices, wrap each slice in lettuce or rice paper, and then immerse it in the chef’s special dressing for an authentic and satisfying culinary adventure.

It’s hard to resist the combination of crispy pork belly, the sticky rice batter, and the nutritious assortment of vegetables in banh xeo. Diners can relish this mouthwatering dish by rolling it up in a crisp lettuce leaf along with the accompanying vegetables and then dipping it in the flavorful sauce.

Banh xeo offers a delightful textural contrast with its crispy exterior and succulent filling. The medley of flavors from the well-seasoned pork, succulent prawns, crunchy green beans, and fragrant herbs creates a harmonious and satisfying taste experience. Indulging in banh xeo allows you to appreciate the vibrant flavors and enjoy it in the traditional Vietnamese way, like a local.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

5. Cao lau – Chewy Noodles with Smoky and savory flavors

This pork noodle dish from Hoi An showcases the fusion of diverse cultures that once thrived in the bustling commercial port. It harmoniously blends Chinese influences with unmistakably Vietnamese elements. The succulent pork and crispy wonton crackers contribute a Chinese flair, while the flavorful broth and aromatic spices maintain a distinct Vietnamese identity. The use of thicker noodles reminiscent of Japanese udon further adds to the intriguing mix of culinary influences.

What makes this dish even more special is the fact that the authentic cau lao relies on water sourced exclusively from the nearby Ba Le well. This unique element adds a local touch, connecting the flavors of the dish to the region’s natural resources.

One delightful aspect of this dish is its accessibility. Despite its remarkable flavors and cultural significance, cau lao remains reasonably priced. Typically, a bowl of this delicious noodle dish costs around $2.5 to $4, making it an affordable and satisfying culinary experience.

Cau lao represents the vibrant history and cultural exchange that shaped Hoi An. It’s a dish that pays homage to the past while delighting the taste buds of locals and visitors alike. Exploring the streets of Hoi An and indulging in a bowl of authentic cau lao allows you to appreciate the rich heritage and culinary treasures this charming city has to offer.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

6. Gỏi Sứa – Tangy Jellyfish Salad

The flavor of jellyfish may not be something you’ve considered before, but in Vietnam, it is celebrated in the form of jellyfish salad. This famous Vietnamese appetizer offers a unique and enjoyable culinary experience. It is known for being nutritious, chewy, and simply delightful.

It is understandable that some people may feel hesitant to try jellyfish salad since the jellyfish is served uncooked. However, those who take the leap of faith and give it a try are often pleasantly surprised by the rewarding flavors it offers.

In this salad, the jellyfish is typically chopped into bite-sized pieces and combined with vegetables, sometimes including shredded green mangoes. The salad is then tossed with a sauce made from fish sauce, red pepper, and sugar. This combination of ingredients creates a harmonious blend of flavors, balancing the savory notes of the fish sauce with a hint of spiciness from the red pepper and a touch of sweetness from the sugar.

If you’re feeling adventurous and open to new culinary experiences, trying this incredible jellyfish salad can be a bold choice. Embracing the diverse flavors and textures of Vietnamese cuisine often leads to delightful discoveries and a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of flavors found in the country’s culinary traditions.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

7. Nem ran/cha gio – Crispy and Flavorful Fried Spring Rolls

While they may not receive as much recognition as their fresher and healthier counterparts, Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls deserve special attention. These delightful appetizers consist of a crispy shell filled with a combination of soft meat and vegetables. Before diving into the main course, these delectable rolls are typically dipped in a tangy sauce, tantalizing the taste buds and stimulating the appetite.

In Vietnam, these bite-sized delights go by different names depending on the region. In the northern part of the country, they are known as “nem ran,” while in the south, they are referred to as “cha gio.” Regardless of the name, the essence remains the same—a crispy exterior encasing a savory and satisfying filling.

The contrast of textures is what makes these spring rolls truly special. The crunchy shell provides a satisfying bite, while the tender meat and flavorful vegetable filling offer a burst of taste and freshness. When paired with the tangy sauce, the flavors harmonize, creating a delightful symphony on the palate.

Though they may be considered an appetizer, these crunchy spring rolls have the power to captivate and leave a lasting impression. Their combination of textures and flavors, along with the interactive element of dipping them in sauce, makes them a beloved choice among Vietnamese cuisine enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor these bite-sized treasures when exploring the culinary delights of Vietnam.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

8. Goi Cuon – Light Rice Paper Rolls with Various Fillings

“Goi Cuon” refers to translucent spring rolls filled with a delightful combination of coriander, minced greens, and either prawns or pork. In the southern region, a variation includes grilled pork strips wrapped in green banana and star fruit, which are then served with a flavorful peanut sauce.

These goi cuon rolls are usually served cold, making them a refreshing appetizer to enjoy before the main course at Vietnamese restaurants. In the northern part of Vietnam, you might come across them referred to as “Nem Cuon.” Despite the name variation, their beauty and appeal remain consistent.

The allure of goi cuon lies in its simplicity and visual appeal. The transparent rice paper wraps showcase the vibrant colors of the filling, creating an aesthetically pleasing dish. The freshness of the coriander, the delicate flavors of the minced greens, and the choice of prawns or pork contribute to a delightful combination of tastes and textures.

A highlight of the southern variation is the addition of grilled pork strips, which are wrapped with green banana and star fruit. These ingredients add a unique touch and complement the dish perfectly. The goi cuon rolls are traditionally served with a rich peanut sauce, providing a creamy and slightly tangy element that elevates the overall taste experience.

Whether you encounter them as goi cuon or nem cuon, these translucent spring rolls are a beautiful and appetizing addition to Vietnamese cuisine. Their light and refreshing nature, coupled with the interplay of flavors, make them a beloved choice among locals and visitors alike. Be sure to try them and savor the freshness and beauty they bring to the table.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

9. Banh mi – Vietnamese Saigon sandwich

Banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich, is undoubtedly one of the most beloved street foods in Vietnam. Its origins can be traced back to the late nineteenth century during French colonial rule. This culinary gem combines the French influence of baguettes with a tantalizing array of Vietnamese toppings.

The banh mi sandwich features a French baguette as its base and is filled with a mouthwatering combination of ingredients. The sandwich typically includes fresh greens, and the filling options are diverse. They can range from pâté and various pork preparations to tofu, liver, chicken, or soy-based fillings. The versatility of banh mi allows for a wide range of flavors and combinations, catering to different preferences and dietary choices.

The popularity of banh mi has transcended its origins and spread to other parts of the world. Its irresistible taste has inspired replication in cities like London and New York, where people can experience the deliciousness of this Vietnamese sandwich.

If you haven’t had the chance to try banh mi yet, studying its components and learning about its cultural significance will surely pique your curiosity. Exploring the flavors and textures of banh mi is an adventure in itself, and tasting the real thing in Vietnam is an experience not to be missed.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

10. Bun Cha – Grilled meatballs with a Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce

Hanoi is renowned for its iconic dish called Bun Cha. Throughout the city, you’ll find street eateries and food carts proudly serving this flavorful delight. Bun Cha consists of a bowl of cold rice noodles accompanied by an assortment of fresh greens and a savory broth, while the star of the dish is the grilled pork, prepared over an open charcoal brazier.

This Vietnamese culinary gem is typically enjoyed as a lunchtime treat. While some may draw comparisons to meatballs or burgers, we firmly believe that Bun Cha stands on its own with its unique and captivating flavor combination.

The interplay of textures and flavors in Bun Cha is what sets it apart. The coolness of the rice noodles contrasts beautifully with the warm and fragrant broth, creating a harmonious base for the succulent grilled pork. The fresh greens add a refreshing crunch, and when combined with the broth-infused noodles and tender pork, every bite becomes a burst of exquisite flavors.

To experience Bun Cha is to immerse yourself in the culinary traditions of Hanoi. The enticing aromas wafting from the charcoal brazier, the vibrant colors of the fresh ingredients, and the symphony of flavors that dance on your taste buds make Bun Cha a truly unforgettable dining experience.

When in Hanoi, be sure to indulge in this beloved dish and savor the unique combination of flavors that makes Bun Cha an unparalleled delight in the realm of Vietnamese cuisine.

Best Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not MissBest Vietnamese Dishes - Top 10 Foods You Must Not Miss

Popular Foods Of Vietnam

Vietnam is renowned for its diverse and delectable cuisine. Here are some popular foods you should try:

Banh Cuon: Steamed rice rolls filled with a savory mixture of minced pork, mushrooms, and shallots. They are often served with fried shallots, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce.

Banh Canh: Thick and chewy tapioca noodles served in a flavorful broth, often with toppings like pork, shrimp, fish cakes, or crab meat.

Xoi: Sticky rice served with various toppings such as grilled pork, chicken, fried shallots, shredded coconut, or mung bean paste. It can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet dish.

Bo Kho: A hearty beef stew simmered with aromatic spices like lemongrass, star anise, and cinnamon, served with French bread or rice noodles.

Banh Trang Nuong: Grilled rice paper topped with a mixture of ingredients like dried shrimp, scallions, quail eggs, and pork floss, creating a crispy and flavorful snack.

Banh Chung: A traditional sticky rice cake filled with mung beans and pork, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled for several hours. It is a popular dish during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Ca Phe Trung: Also known as Vietnamese egg coffee, it’s a unique blend of strong Vietnamese coffee topped with a creamy layer of beaten egg yolk and condensed milk.

Banh Beo: Small steamed rice cakes topped with dried shrimp, scallions, and crispy pork skin, usually served with a savory fish sauce.

Goi Du Du: A refreshing green papaya salad made with shredded papaya, carrots, herbs, peanuts, and a tangy dressing. It’s a popular dish in Southern Vietnam.

Chuoi Nuong: Grilled bananas served with coconut milk and roasted sesame seeds, offering a delightful combination of sweet and smoky flavors.

These are just a few more examples of the diverse and delicious foods you can explore in Vietnam. From savory dishes to sweet treats, Vietnamese cuisine never fails to impress with its rich flavors and culinary creativity.

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