Vietnam is such a beautiful country with its breath-taking landscapes and unique cuisine. If you are travelling to Vietnam, don’t miss Vietnam cuisine. Not only because of its taste, but it is also so cheap with plenty of nutrients. This article will provide you helpful information about the top 30 famous Vietnamese food to have a try.
Table of Contents
Vietnam is one of very few countries in the world that is famous for its superb street food. All the popular Vietnamese dishes show the beauty of Vietnamese culture and lifestyle. Some famous Vietnamese food combines the country’s traditional culture as well as other country’s cultures in the world. With Vietnamese dishes, all the ingredients are meant to bring refreshing flavors. You will find all different types of taste from sour, spicy, to salty and sweet, which are incredibly impressive.
Banh Mi is a very popular Vietnamese street food. Like Pho, Banh Mi has made tourists fall in love with Vietnam cuisine. The Vietnamese are very proud of this dish. If you are interested in Vietnam history, you will know that Vietnam had been occupied by the French. Therefore, some Vietnamese dishes are influenced by the French’s culture, including Banh Mi. However, this dish was changed in a Vietnamese way by the locals by adding other ingredients such as egg, pork, cucumber, and herbs. Historically, this dish was more popular in Saigon as a breakfast. Nowadays, it is a famous street food along the country.
For a simple Banh Mi, you have bread, egg, pate, BBQ pork, cucumber, tomato, carrot and herb. But you can always add more ingredients, from sausage, grilled beef to chicken, all together bring delicious flavour. As Banh Mi is a famous Vietnamese food, it can be found anywhere in Vietnam. Banh Mi is served in restaurants, street stalls, and food carts.
Banh Mi - The world-famous Vietnamese sandwich
Bun Cha is an authentic Hanoi food, but its reputation has been all over the country. Even Vietnamese coming from other provinces would find and try the dish when they go to Hanoi. It is also highly recommended for tourists when they visit the capital city of Vietnam.
Bun Cha is a combination of warm broth with grilled minced pork and Vietnamese noodle. When the food is brought to the table, you will have a plate of rice noodles, a small basket of fresh herbs, and a bowl of warm broth with grilled minced pork. There are many different dishes that are made from Vietnamese noodles, but this one is different and has a unique taste, mostly comes from the broth and the pork. When you eat Bun Cha, you will dip a small amount of rice noodles into the broth, and eat with grilled pork. Do not put all noodles in because it might cool the broth down quickly. Also, if you like grilled pork, you can always ask for more. The broth has a salty-sweet taste from baking pork bones, and the grilled pork is amazingly good. You can find Bun Cha on every corner of Hanoi, including food stalls or restaurants.
Bun Cha - Vietnamese Grilled Meat Noodle
Pho is probably not a new name for tourists because it has been on every list of famous must-try Vietnamese food. It is a pride of Vietnamese cuisine and has been popular all over the world. Pho consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. The meat varies from beef, chicken to duck, goose. The rice noodle used in Pho is flatter and larger, which is different to the one used in Bun Cha, which has a small shape of white rope.
Pho originated in northern Vietnam and it was brought to other countries over the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. Saigon ( in southern Vietnam) has its own style of Pho, but the flavour is different to Pho in the north. Saigon Pho has a sweeter taste of broth and the meat, but they use the same ingredients for meat, including pork, beef, chicken, duck or goose.
You realize that Pho is a popular Vietnamese dish when you can easily find a restaurant serving Pho everywhere in the country. However, if you want to enjoy the most authentic traditional flavor of Pho to know why people love it, you must have the dish in Hanoi.
Pho - Rice Noodle Soup
Banh Cuon is another famous Vietnamese food that can be served all day. It is a delicious street food which can be the main dish for locals. Banh Cuon is made from rice flour, steamed into thin slides like a paper. Then it will be stuffed with cooked minced pork and rolled. Before it is served, it will be sprinkled with golden brown dried onion on top. And you will eat with spicy and sweet sauce which plays an important part of the dish.
To make the batter of Banh Cuon, the cook needs to husk the rice until smooth, then blend it with water. When you eat Banh Cuon, you eat with Cha (Vietnamese pork sausage) to add more protein as well as flavour. Banh Cuon is a very old dish of Vietnamese cuisine. And you can find the dish in many cities and provinces in Vietnam.
Banh Cuon - Stuffed pancake
The dish is called Banh Goi because it has a cute pillow shape and usually the favourite dish of the Vietnamese in winter. It has colorful delicious sauce with green papaya and carrot in it. Unlike in Western countries where cake is baked in the oven, Vietnamese cakes are mostly deep-fried. And Banh Goi has no difference, it will have a yellow skin that is delicious, crispy, and fragrant after being fried deeply in cooking oil.
Banh Goi has two main parts. The skin which is the mixture of water and rice flour and the inside which is made by combining different ingredients. Glass noodles, wood ears, minced pork, egg and mushroom are chopped and mixed well together with some spice. That’s for the cake, but to make the dish delicious, there is dipping sauce that consists of fish sauce, garlic, chili, sugar, lime juice, and water. When Banh Goi is served, it comes with some fresh herbs like lettuce and coriander.
Banh Goi - Fried Pillow Cake
Not only is Nem Ran a famous Vietnamese food, it is also the favorite dish of most Vietnamese people from the north to the south. There is no doubt that you can find the dish in many restaurants in Vietnam, even restaurants that include Vietnamese cuisine in other countries in the world.
Nem Ran is made with the wrapper, the stuffing, and the dipping sauce. The wrapper is a flat dried paper made of rice flour and it has the shape of the circle or square. The stuffing is normally a mixture of minced pork, egg, carrot, glass noodle, wood ear mushroom, herbs and spice. Some places use seafood or beef instead of minced pork , depending on the region's eating habit as well as the person’s favourite flavour. No matter which ingredients are used, all are mixed well and then are wrapped with rice paper into small rolls. These rolls are then deep-fried until they have a yellow color. The dipping sauce for this dish is quite similar to the one for Banh Goi above, it consists of fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, chili, and pepper.
Nem Ran is usually served with rice, noodles, red sticky rice and salad. Vietnamese will make the dish almost everyday during the lunar new year. Firstly because it is extremely delicious and looks stunningly beautiful. Secondly, it is very easy to make Nem Ran at home, even if you are not a professional cook.
Nem Ran - Fried Spring Rolls
Pho Cuon is a new dish, compared to other popular Vietnamese dishes mentioned above. It is a creative way to eat Pho. The ingredients are mostly the same as the ones in Pho, but it’s appearance is completely different. It looks more like spring rolls without being fried. Since the day it appears in Hanoi, Pho Cuon has taken the heart of food lovers coming from every region.
The dish was invented in one small restaurant at Ngu Xa street in Hanoi. One day, when the guests came late at night and ordered Pho but the broth ran out. You know, Pho can’t be eaten without broth. Therefore, using some uncut noodles left, the chef invented a new dish. He used the uncut noodles as a wrapper and stuffed it with beef, salad, and herbs, then rolled them. He also made dipping sauce with fish sauce, sugar, lemon juice, water, garlic, and chili. The guests dipped the rolls into sauce and enjoyed it. From then, a new style of Pho has been served.
Pho Cuon that you have today has not only beef, but also eggs, carrots, cucumbers, even pineapples, fried tofu or shrimps. The dish has become one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes thanks to the fresh flavor. Although it is a specialty in the North, you can find it in menus of restaurants in the south as well.
Pho Cuon - Rolled Noodle
Bun dau mam tom is a very popular dish in Vietnam, especially in the North. It is served everywhere, from markets to street stalls and restaurants. This dish has a very unique taste of shrimp sauce that many people favour. Bun dau mam tom is made from noodles, fried tofu, trotter, Vietnamese sausage, and herbs. All of them are served on banana leaves.
Guests can choose between Shrimp paste or Fish sauce to eat with the dish. If you are trying the dish for the first time, you probably want to eat with fish sauce as the shrimp paste has a really hard smell. Just dip noodles and other ingredients on shrimp paste or fish sauce and enjoy the good taste of this typical feature in Hanoi’s cuisine.
Bun Dau Mam Tom - Noodles with Tofu and Shrimp Paste
It is so obvious that Vietnam has really good coffee. But many tourists come to Vietnam and they will ask for “ca phe sua da” which is coffee with condensed milk and ice, however, you will regret it if you don’t try one special coffee style called Egg Coffee in Hanoi. Although it sounds weird to have coffee with egg, these two ingredients create an innovative style of coffee that many people love.
Egg Coffee has the greasy taste of the egg and of course the smell of coffee. You definitely want to try it at warm to enjoy the best taste. Ca Phe Trung originated in Hanoi and Giang Cafe is the oldest coffee shop serving this type of coffee. That’s why their places are always crowded with tourists as well as the locals in Hanoi.
Ca Phe Trung - Egg Coffee
Bun Bo Hue is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes that come from Hue-a city in the Central region and also the old capital of Vietnam in the Nguyen dynasty. Because of its popularity, the dish can be found in every province and city in Vietnam. Bun Bo Hue is made with beef, trotter, pork ball, frozen blood, and some herbs such as bean sprouts, lemon, coriander, etc.
Not only the ingredients, but also the broth that makes the dish different to any other type of noodles in Vietnam. It is much sweeter and the noodles used in this dish are bigger as well. This dish is served in many places all over the country, from street corners to luxurious restaurants.
Bun Bo Hue - Hue-style beef noodles
Hu Tieu Go is a popular street food in Saigon. It can be found in small food carts on pavements at streets which are always crowded with people till late at night. The reason why it is called Hu Tieu Go is because its location is mobile. It has some carts and plastic stools and the staff just walk around streets, knock a bamboo tocsin to invite guests. Back in the old days, it was a dish sold in small alleys for poor people, but nowadays, people in Saigon have the dish as a snack for their days.
Hu Tieu Go is somewhat influenced by the Chinese cuisine. Because the main ingredients is Chinese noodles, pork, Vietnamese sausage, onion, bean sprouts, coriander, egg, herbs, etc.
Hu Tieu Go - Chinning noodle
Che is more like a desert for hot days in every part of Vietnam. It is considered to be street food by most people, but it is still on the menus of many restaurants. Once you come to a place that sells this dish, you can find a lot of types of Che. The most popular one is a mixture of different types of bean and has a sweet taste. You can also add fruits and jelly to have more flavour. These places normally serve Che from other countries as well, such as Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Che - Sweet Soup
13. Bun Mam - Fermented Fish and Seafood Noodle Soup
Bun Mam is another specialty in Vietnamese cuisine. It originated from Cambodia and it is very popular in the southwest region in Vietnam. In fact, the food from the southwest region of Vietnam is quite similar to Cambodia cuisine because the region is next to the border with the neighbor country. The locals ate it at breakfast in the past, but now people eat it as main meals (lunch and dinner) as well.
This dish is spicier than other types of noodles. It is made with rice vermicelli noodles, eggplant, limes, fresh chilies, shrimp, squid, pork belly and flaky white fish. It is often served with vegetables and herbs. The dish is more popular in Saigon and the southern region. However, it has the pungent smell that not all tourists can bear. If you want to try a new dish with delicious flavour, it's worth trying Bun Mam.
Bun Mam - Fermented Fish and Seafood Noodle Soup
Banh Xeo is known as crispy Vietnamese pancake. It is one of the most famous Vietnamese food that you must try. It is said that Banh Xeo was influenced by the French cuisine during their occupation in Vietnam. The dish is made by pouring the rice batter into the hot oil, then stuffing it with shrimp, boiled pork, bean sprouts and spring onion. The word “xeo” means the sizzling sound when you make the dish. When it is ready to be served, it has a yellow outer layer and you will roll it with dried rice paper, vegetables and herbs. The best way to eat Banh Xeo is with your hands.
Banh Xeo - Crispy Pancake
Com Tam is a Vietnamese dish made of fractured rice grain. The dish comes from Saigon but it is easy to find it everywhere in Vietnam. The dish is served with grilled pork, ribs, egg meatloaf, cucumber, carrot, spring onion, and other vegetables and it comes along with a small bowl of fish sauce, a bowl of soup.
Com Tam - Broken Rice
As we mentioned earlier, Ca Phe Sua Da is a typical symbol drink of Vietnam. It is made with Vietnamese coffee filter, milk, and ice. Vietnamese people prefer to drink it in coffee shops on pavements, street corners or coffee carts. It is a simple drink but has really good taste. With a cup of iced coffee in the early morning, you will be ready to start a productive day.
Ca Phe Sua Da - Iced Coffee with Condensed milk
Cao Lau is a very famous Vietnamese food that comes from the old town of Hoi An, a popular tourist attraction in Quang Nam. Cao Lau is made with rice noodles, pork or shrimp, greens, bean sprouts, and herbs. It is served with broth. It is easy to recognize Cao Lau as the color of noodles is yellow or gray, not white as other types of noodles. It also has sweet flavour as other noodles in the south.
Cao Lau - Hoi An Noodles
Banh Trang Nuong is also called as Vietnamese Pizza. It is a popular street food in the South. The main ingredients are rice paper, onion, shrimp, sausage, quail egg, and chili sauce. You will eat it in small pieces like eating pizza. Each piece is crunchy and has really good taste.
Banh Trang Nuong - Grilled Girdle Cake
Trung Vit Lon is a very special dish that is popular in Vietnam, Philippines and China. Not only is it yummy, but also rich in nutrients. It is said to be good for sick people or pregnant women. It is basically a duck egg but with the embryo developed into the shape of a duck. Just by the look of it, it scares many tourists, even Vietnamese people. Before being served, it is boiled in about 15 – 20 minutes and you will eat balut with salt, laksa leaves and ginger. It is very good for your health.
Trung Vit Lon - Balut
Another noodle in the list but it is a little bit different. Bun thit nuong is a dry noodle, so there is no broth or soup. It comes along with Vietnamese herbs such as salad, coriander, perilla, so it tastes fresh. The dish is made with rice noodles, grilled pork, carrot, cucumber, and Vietnamese herbs with sauce. People eat it for breakfast or brunch.
Bun Thit Nuong - Noodles with grilled pork/beef/shrimp
It is what it is called. The main ingredients are tofu, tomato, and spice. Sounds simple but it has really good taste. The tofu is deep-fried before being cooked in a rich fresh tomato sauce. It is served with spring onion coating, and fresh herbs. The dish is very filling.
Dau Phu Sot Ca Chua - Tofu in Tomato Sauce
Com chay is the Vietnam's version of crispy but it comes with meat instead of marshmallows. It is often served in vegetarian restaurants that use mock meats.
Com Chay - Vietnam Rice Crispy
The main ingredients are steak, eggs, potato, Vietnamese meatballs, pate and it is served on a sizzling cast iron plate. The tasty sauce makes a perfect match when you eat it with bread.
Bo Bit Tet - Vietnamese Beef Steak
Hot pot is a combination of all flavour in one dish. The ingredients are all types of protein, from pork, beef, chicken to seafood and tofu, vegetables. All the people on the table will share an oversized boiling pot. That’s why the dish is perfect for cold days.
Lau - Hot pot
The dish is made with thinly sliced banana flowers, green papaya, carrots, cilantro, chicken, fish sauce, crunchy peanuts, and lime. All are mixed well together before being served.
Nom Hoa Chuoi - Vietnam's banana Flower Salad
This dish is very healthy. The main ingredients are black chicken and herbs, stewed for hours. It can help heal the early symptoms of flu.
Ga Tan - Stewed Black Chicken Soup
This vegetable has different names, watercress, river weed or morning glory. It is usually stir-fried and seasoned with slithers of potent garlic. It is a common dish at Vietnamese restaurants and beer gardens.
Rau Muong Xao - Stir Fried Watercress
From chicken breast, chicken wings, chicken liver, and feet, you can find them all on Chicken Street in Hanoi. The restaurants here also serve barbecue sweet potatoes and “honey bread”. There is chili sauce and cucumber slices pickled in sweet vinegar on the table as well.
Ga nuong - BBQ Chicken
Vietnamese donuts are scrumptious little balls made from glutinous rice flour. They are filled with mung bean paste and covered with sesame seeds before being fried. You’ll easily find the dish around the Old Quarter.
Banh Ran - Vietnamese Donuts
Goi Cuon is quite similar to Spring rolls, but it is eaten fresh. It is made with fresh noodle paper, salad greens, a slither of meat or seafood, and coriander. They are neatly rolled and dunked in fish sauce.
Goi Cuon - Fresh Spring Rolls
In conclusion, Vietnamese food is superb atractive and diverse from region to region. Vietnamese cuisine is proud to conquer all food lovers even the sophisticated ones. Let's come to Vietnam and try Vietnamese famous dishes listed in this article. You will certainly have truly incredible moments.
Image source: Internet