Vietnam, a country loved by so many travelers. Simply for the fact that it is the country in Asia that includes so much history, blissful sounds, inescapable nature and most importantly, delicious tastes.
The late American Chef, Anthony Bourdain described Vietnam as “my first love” and one of his most iconic photos today is him sitting on a stool and eating in the streets of Hanoi.
Gastronomy in Vietnam is undeniably some of the best in the world and here is an orientation for your gastronomic journey in Vietnam. Class is in session for Vietnamese traditional food!
The Flavors, The Infamous Dishes and The Unknown
Vietnamese traditional food utilizes some amazing flavors like lemongrass, ginger, garlic, cilantro, mint, star anise, chiles and fish sauce. There’s always a mix of flavors when eating any dish and you can find different tastes so delicately wrapped in one. Here are some traditional Vietnamese dishes to try that utilize these flavors and ingredients. Even more important is highlighting that flavors differ from North to South Vietnam, which makes it even all the best to go on a culinary adventure.
Vietnamese Traditional Dishes – A Harmonious Combination
1. Pho – The Most Famous and Popular Vietnamese Traditional Food
This noodle soup is one of the most popular dishes of all time and one of the most popular dishes in the world. The reason being is that it combines unique flavors, fresh vegetables, meat, rice noodles and the oh-so-delicious broth. Traditionally served with chicken or beef broth, it is combined with noodles and sometimes, rare meat that cooks in the hot broth. Served with fresh vegetables like cilantro, lime, basil, jalapenos and bean sprouts, it can be added on the top to make the delicious pairing that is irresistible.
2. Goi Cuon – Fresh Spring Rolls
Goi Cuon is fresh spring rolls and perfect for any summer day. Its translucent exterior highlights the fresh vegetables and animal protein inside. Packed with plenty of herbs and fresh vegetables as well as pickled carrots and daikon, vermicelli noodles, it can either be served with meat or seafood and then dipped in fish sauce. Or it is dipped with a special sauce that combines garlic, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and water.
3. Banh Mi – Vietnamese Dishes
Some dishes in Vietnam are influenced by French culture as Vietnam was occupied by the French. While the dish utilizes the baguette, the dish was transformed into a local specialty when Vietnamese people started using their ingredients. Banh Mi, while simple, is extremely delicious and a good snack on the go. It is stuffed with egg, pate, BBQ pork, cucumber, tomato, carrot and herb. Now, while the traditional dish utilizes pork, many places also include grilled beef or chicken. This should be added to one of the things you should do in Hanoi.
4. Bun Thit Nuong – Best Vietnamese Food Served Cold
Similar to the components of Pho, this is another dish that plays off the noodles, but is served cold. Some people might even consider this a Vietnamese noodle salad. Made with pork, beef or chicken, sometimes even shrimp, it is marinated and layered with lemongrass, herbs, cool rice noodles, hot, sour, sweet and salty dipping sauce. There’s also a component of crunch in this dish with the fried spring roll that just makes it all the better.
5. Cà Phê Trứng – Egg Coffee
Okay, while this is not technically a dish, it is one of the unknown flavors of Vietnam and popular amongst locals, simply for the fact that it takes a time-old tradition of your cup of morning joe. Egg coffee is coffee made by beating an egg yolk until it creates a foam on top and then sweetening it with condemned milk.
6. The Daun Restaurant – Halal Vietnamese Food
While much of Vietnamese cuisine relies on pork, there are still many options out there for Halal food if you’re traveling and have religious dietary restrictions. The Duan Restaurant highlights a mix of Malaysian and Vietnamese Cuisine. Malaysia has approximately 19.5 million Muslims and the countries share a border alongside Thailand as well, which highlights the proximity of both countries. Moreover, there are plenty of tastes from Singapore and the West of Asia. And even nonmuslims come to the restaurant just to taste the array of food options available.
7. Bot Chien – Rice Flour Cake with Eggs – A Vegetarian Dish in Vietnam
If you need a break from meat, then enjoy one of these Vietnamese street food specialties. Rice batter is taken, divided into small rectangles and fried until it is yellow and crispy. Then, the egg is added and a variety of vegetables, some even adding the mildly sour, but crunch green papaya. Enjoy the amazing sweet chili sauce.
8. Xoi Xiem – Durian and Rice? – Viet Food That is Rare
That’s right…Durian is an infamous fruit that is tried by many tourists while visiting Asia, simply for the fact that it is extremely unique and extremely rare. The fruit has a thorn exterior that looks similar to jackfruit, it is extremely pungent in smell and has a pleasant sweet flavor. Now, in Vietnam, the sweet durian flavor gets added to sticky rice and coated with mung beans, coconut cream and egg. It is extremely rich in taste.
9. Jellyfish Salad – A Salad that Won’t Sting – Vietnamese Traditional Food
Jellyfish is one of the popular seafood dishes in Vietnam and is eaten during the summer. It combines crispy jellyfish and spices. The reason that it has been acclimated in Vietnam is that Jellyfish contain over 95% water, so it is extremely nourishing, especially for the summer months when the weather gets hot and humid. It is an unknown dish, but a must-try.
10. Chan Ga – Chicken Feet
Chicken feet can be found commonly anywhere in Vietnam and can be made in a variety of flavors, taste profiles and more. Some regions include even larger sizes of chicken feet due to the climate and the size of the chickens. Using the infamous fish sauce and a great amount of variety of flavors, you’ll have a deep appreciation for this extremely delicious local delicacy. This is also a Vietnamese traditional food that is known amongst locals for snacking, especially with a rice beer in hand.
Whether you’re venturing to the North or the South of Vietnam, these are the Vietnamese Traditional Foods that you need to try and make sure you bring your gastronomical sense of adventure so you truly taste all of the wonders that Vietnam has to offer!