Food is the heart of Vietnamese culture, which explains why it plays a huge part in the community. Vietnamese food is full of simplicity and known to be both healthy and robust in flavor, all thanks to the balanced combination of fresh ingredients. Heading to Vietnam soon? Here are 6 Vietnamese dishes you can’t miss!
You’ve probably heard of pho even if you haven’t been to Vietnam. The noodle soup didn’t become the representative dish for nothing, as it’s one of the most common food in Vietnam that you can find in almost any restaurants and stalls. Pho is a combination of soft rice noodles boiled in broth soup (prepared with either beef or chicken), and topped with meat slices and chopped green onions. It’s also served with a plate of fresh herbs and chili sauce for that extra kick.
2. Banh mi
Banh mi has been interpreted in various styles, but in its simplest form, banh mi is just a Vietnamese baguette sandwich. There are dozens of carts selling different varieties of banh mi, but the basic sandwich is made up of a crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside baguette that’s sliced in half and stuffed with a choice of meat, pâté, mayonnaise, Vietnamese radish and carrot pickles, sprigs of coriander, sliced cucumber and sometimes pounded chilies.
3. Bun cha
Originated in Hanoi, bun cha is prepared with charcoal grilled seasoned meat patties and ground meat soaked in broth made up of fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. Rice vermicelli noodles are served in a separate plate, with a plate of fresh herbs and green vegetables as well as spring rolls at some restaurants. The most common way to enjoy bun cha is by dipping the noodles in the broth and mixing in the meat and vegetables afterwards.
4. Banh xeo
This crispy savoury snack is a favourite for most locals. Banh xeo is fried thin pancake with shrimp, meat, bean sprouts and vegetables. It literally means “sizzling pancakes” and was named after the sound it makes when the rice batter is poured onto the hot skillet. Traditionally, banh xeo is enjoyed by piling herbs and a piece of the pancake on a lettuce leaf, then rolling it up like a spring roll before dipping it into the sweet Vietnamese fish sauce dressing.
5. Goi cuon
One of the most popular dishes, goi cuon is the Vietnamese spring rolls that have become a worldwide trend especially for the health conscious people. A traditional goi cuon consists of rice vermicelli noodles, meat, prawn and vegetables wrapped in slightly moistened banh trang (Vietnamese rice paper). Although prawns are the most common ingredient for goi cuon, the filling may vary depending of the restaurant or stall.
6. Cha gio
Also known as nem ran, cha gio is the counterpart of goi cuon but tastes completely different. This version of spring roll is made up of seasoned ground meat, mushrooms and chopped vegetables wrapped in moistened rice paper and deep fried until it turns golden brown. Cha gio is usually served as an appetizer. In some family customs, cha gio is prepared by the wives as a display of affection and care for the family.