Vietnam    15.10.2022    Transindus

Vietnamese cuisine has a growing reputation as one of the most delicious and healthy in the world. And while it may be making waves in the UK, there's still no better place to try it than in the nation itself, and food is at the top of most traveller's list of ‘must-do-experiences’ when planning a trip.

Food in Vietnam is as diverse as any other aspect of life in the country with an ever-evolving repertoire, and it is no surprise that each region has a very individual food identity, influenced by the weather, location, crops and the tastes of its neighbours, traders and invaders!

Many of the ethnic minorities that call the hills of Vietnam home, arrived from neighbouring China, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar and northeast India centuries ago bringing with them varied food influences which have fused successfully with indigenous tastes. Chinese dynastic rule introduced noodles over millennia ago, Thai, Arab, Malay and Indian traders left their mark with an array of spices herbs and grains while the French colonials brought the quintessential French elements of French cuisine, crusty bread and onion soup, the latter of which has evolved into the much loved and ubiquitous Pho, we all love today.

When travelling through Vietnam, the one thing you can be sure of is that you will not go hungry for a lack of choice!

Read more about a few of our favourite Vietnamese dishes here

1) Com Tam

Let’s start with one of the staples and omnipotent dishes of Vietnam, Com Tam. You will see signs for it on virtually every street corner and in every restaurant.  This is essentially broken rice to you and me! Still fragrant and nutritious, just cheaper and far more readily available.  Typically eaten for lunch and dinner, accompaniment by any kind of fish meat or vegetable curry.  The accompaniment of choice for the Vietnamese is either grilled pork or minced pork and mushroom meatloaf, topped with a fresh omelette or a fried egg and finished with thinly sliced pickled radish.  Yum!


2) Banh Mi 

Considered a national dish of Vietnam along with Pho and Goi Cuon or Fresh Spring Rolls, Banh Mi is one of Vietnam’s 3 favourite dishes.  Amazingly it has quickly risen in popularity in the UK in recent years.  Origination in Ho Chi Minh City, where the French introduced the simple crusty white baguette sandwiches to the Vietnamese, who elevated it to superb effect using fresh local ingredients and processes.

Cut open and gently grilled over open coal fire until crisp on the inside, and filled with beautifully marinated and grilled meats and garnished with mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, herbs and topped with soy sauce, and spices among other things. Individualising your Banh Mi is a thing in Vietnam and you’ll have a great time creating your very own. Vegetarian options of fried tofu and fish options incarnations are also available everywhere you go.


3) Pho 

Possibly the truest fusion of east and west, in which Chinese noodles combine seamlessly with French soup, and Vietnamese herbs and spices.  It is thought the name Pho, comes from the French ‘pot-au-feu’ which means ‘pot in the fire’ the process used to slowly create the base of the famous French dish.  A staple of Hanoi and served on every street corner and in restaurants, the dish is now served throughout the world.  

There are plenty of variants to choose from, usually featuring different kinds of meat and toppings and like the Bun Bo Hue it is served with a side order of leafy vegetables, chilis, lime wedges, and sauces are served. There are so many variations of this dish and oh so many restaurants and vendors, everyone has their personal favourites.


4) Goi Cuon or fresh Spring Rolls or Summer Rolls

No list of food to try in Vietnam would be complete without the inclusion of nearly everyone’s favourite; fresh spring rolls. A refreshing alternative to the fried spring rolls or egg rolls we might be more accustomed to in the United States.

Made finely prepared vegetables, grilled pork or prawns (or even other meat, fish, squid sausage or even tofu), cold vermicelli noodles, and vegetables rolled in rice paper (Bahn Trang), Goi Cuon are served with a light Hoison, Soya, chilli or peanut dipping sauce.   

Usually served pre-rolled in some restaurants, in homes, they are served ‘do-it-yourself' style with family sat around a table, chatting and rolling their own, with their favourite ingredients.


5) Bún Bo Hue

A wonderfully aromatic and fulfilling dish, Bún Bo Hue is probably the best-known Vietnamese dish worldwide. This wonderfully meaty, dish of rice noodles originated in the former capital of Hue in central Vietnam. Made of a rich beef broth infused with lemongrass and fermented shrimp paste, rice vermicelli and thinly sliced and lightly cooked beef, bo, it comes with a selection of garnishes including lime wedges, diced spring onions, basil leaves, coriander and chilli sauce to help build flavours to your liking.


6) Bun Thit Nuong

A bed of cold rice vermicelli noodles topped with marinated grilled pork, finely chopped lettuce, pickled vegetables, and often deep-fried pork and shrimp spring rolls. Often you will find it topped with chopped peanuts and fried shallots and fresh herbs like basil and mint. On the side, it is served with fish sauce poured over the top.


7) Xoi xeo 

Glutinous, sticky Rice, is a well-known staple of the Vietnamese diet, Xoi has found its way across the country and is often eaten for breakfast and on every other occasion possible. Often made with Hand-Cut Mung Bean, this dish features soft-chewy golden sticky rice, wholesome mung bean and crispy fried shallots or virtually any other ingredient you choose. . It is a classic breakfast staple in Vietnamese cuisine. 

There are numerous sweet versions too, made with everything from coconut milk, mung beans, and fruit of all sorts including Durian. 


8) Banh cuon 

A popular appetizer in HCMC, Banh Cuon are small Vietnamese pancakes made with fermented rice flour and steamed, before filling with a stuffing of well-seasoned pork. These are usually served as a starter with a mixture of fish sauce, lime and sugar known as nuoc mam.


9) Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Filled Pancakes

In contrast to the small steamed Banh Cuon, Banh Xeo are lightly friend and incredibly versatile pancakes, often compared to French Crepes. they come in many varieties depending on which part of Vietnam they are from. Made of predominantly rice flour, some fold mix of other flour or ingredients like coconut milk to enhance the flavour and aroma of the dish.  Recipes are often closely guarded secrets, as vendors seek to create the lightest and crispest versions possible. Some will use turmeric to enhance the colour while others simply rely on flavours to win customers’ hearts.


10) Banh Gio

Vietnamese Rice & Pork Dumplings originating from Northern Vietnam, contain a little meat and are eaten as a delicious light snack really worth looking forward to. Made with a rice flour outer layer, ground pork, mushroom and onion filling and all with a special aroma from a banana leaf wrapper.

To Try these foods and learn how to prepare them, join us on our Gourmet Vietnam tour and learn experience the joy of Vietnamese cuisine at your own pace.


Gourmt vietnam tour