The most famous of all Vietnamese dishes. This delicious and aromatic broth always brings my memory back to road tripping through Vietnam. Originally the broth is made of beef or chicken bones, charred onion, ginger, cinnamon and spices like star anise, cardamon, coriander and cloves. Always served with rice noodles and sliced beef (Pho Bo) or chicken (Pho Ga), topped with fresh herbs, like mint or coriander, bean sprouts, fresh chilies and lime wedge. It is very popular as street food but served in restaurants as well. Available all day and everywhere.
2. Banh Mi
Another widely available street food. Airy baguette filled with sauces, pickled carrot, daikon, cucumber and protein option like egg, ham or sweet pork with spices. Serves great as a breakfast, lunch or midnight snack. Baguette looks very similar to traditional French counterpart but this one contains rice flour which adds extra crispiness. The bread might be a French legacy but the taste is a 100% Vietnam.
3. Bun Cha
Rice noodles with grilled pork, herbs, lime wedge and side of dipping sauce, usually sweet chilli with just a hint of fish sauce. While road tripping this option was and equivalent of Pho in some places. Originated in Hanoi and it remains popular in that area.
4. Cafe Da/Sua Da
It’s made using coarse ground dark roast Vietnamese-grown coffee with small Vietnamese dripping filter. After adding the water, coffee slowly drops into the cup and then it’s poured into the glass filled with ice. Cafe Sua Da is a version with few tablespoons of sweet condensed milk. Incredibly sweet but extremely delicious!
5. Banh Xeo
Literally means “sizzling pancake”. The name came from loud sizzling sound when the rice batter touches the hot skillet. This savoury pancake can be filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, mung beans and green onions.
6. Bun Bo Hue
Very popular in Central Vietnam beef broth with lemongrass and thick rice noodles. Combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Served with beef, pork, loads of veggies and herbs. Sometimes you can find a version with pig blood curd.
7. Hu Tieu
Often confused with Pho, Hu Tieu is a dish originated from the south of Vietnam. While Pho is made from all beef or all chicken bones, Hu Tieu consist the broth made entirely from pork bones. All the toppings are pork and sometimes assorted seafood, and it doesn’t have a lot of vegetable varieties, while Pho has a lot. Very popular for breakfast in Mekong Delta.
8. Goi Cuon
Fresh spring rolls filled with pork or shrimp, vegetables, herbs and sometimes rice vermicelli. Personally I prefer this version over deep fried one. It’s so much lighter and tastes very fresh. We found few places where Goi Cuon are served as DIY which was so much fun. The dipping sauces are usually sweet chilli or peanut sauce.
We found two versions of barbecue in Vietnam: small barbecue street stalls and your very own barbecue table in a restaurant. Street stalls were great options for a quick bite. Small meat or seafood skewers, snails and some veggies. Restaurants offered a wide selection of meat and DIY barbecue on your table. Popular amongst the locals. The whole experience is a fun activity for whole families or groups of friends.
10. Hot Pot
Selection of meat cuts, seafood, fish and veggies served on the side of piping hot broth still on the mini stove, brought to your table. You’re the one who does the cooking. Same as barbecue, this is more about socialising with everyone than eating.