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43 Delicious Vietnamese Dishes

43 Delicious Vietnamese Dishes
 
Vietnamese cuisine doesn't win any points for complexity. Many of the most popular dishes can be made just as well on the side of the road as in a top-end restaurant.
But it's precisely this simplicity, the subtle variations by region and the fresh ingredients, that keep us pulling up a plastic stool for more.
Here are 43 foods from Vietnam you can't miss:

1.      Phở
Phở Hà Nội, Việt Nam

This universally famous food is best enjoyed in Hanoi, where it was “invented” in the early 20th century. Pho- or rice noodle soup- is omnipresent in Hanoi, appearing anywhere from street vendors to high end restaurant chain Pho 24. Some is served with chicken and some with beef. Each type of meat entails a variety of sub-dish, using from beef tenderloin to beef brisket, chicken wing to chicken thigh. The tip is, look for the place where locals gather the most and you know where you should order and sit down.

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2.      Chả cá Lã Vọng
Chả cá Hà Nội
Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish. This namesake alley is home to Cha Ca La Vong, which serves sizzling chunks of fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric and dill on a hot pan tableside.
Cha ca La Vong is listed as one of the top 100 things you gotta try before you die by many cuisine experts. It is exquisitely grilled fish served with bún, peanut, green onions, dills and shrimp paste. The fish is carefully chosen so that there are not too many bones and fishy smells. A glass of bia hoi or tra da will definitely give your meal more flavour.

3.      Bánh xèo (Vietnamese Pancake)

 Bánh xèo
Banh xeo is a crêpe made from rice flour and coconut milk colored with turmeric and packed with a standard filling of mung bean paste, shell-on prawns, bean sprouts, and slices of boiled pork. The batter gets evenly spread across a large piping hot wok with a generous amount of oil, creating a crispy exterior that is folded in half when fully cooked. The result is a thin and savory pancake.
To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.

4.      Bánh tôm Hồ Tây (West Lake Shrimp Cake)

Bánh tôm Hồ Tây Hà Nội
There is a cake must be mentioned when it comes to the specialties of Hanoi, which is the West Lake shrimp cake – one of the dishes made ​​culinary peculiarities of Ha Noi. The West Lake shrimp cake is a type of batter-dipped shrimp patties that were originally made and served by a state-owned restaurant next to West Lake in the 1970’s. Originally, freshwater shrimp that were caught from West Lake were used to make the dish, hence geographically inspired moniker. The West Lake shrimp cake is served with sweet and sour fish sauce, green papaya and carrot slices.

5.      Bánh chưng

Bánh chưng xanh
These banana leaf-wrapped parcels are eaten during the lunar new year celebration of Tet, which is a very big deal in Vietnam (and coming up soon in February!). People buy new clothes, paint their homes, clean everything, and cook for days in preparation of the mega-feast. Many of these sticky rice cakes—known as Banh Tet during the holiday—are prepared ahead of time, both to be eaten and to be placed before ancestral altars. The glutinous rice bundle is tightly packed with fatty pork and mung bean.
 

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6.      Rau muống xào tỏi

Rau muống xào tỏi
In Vietnam, rau muong is a common ingredient and garnish in Vietnamese cuisine and was once served as a staple vegetable of the poor.
Some might call it river weed - with good reason - but that doesn't stop the masses from scarfing down platefuls of morning glory, usually stir-fried and seasoned with slithers of potent garlic.\

7.      Nem rán/chả giò

Nem rán, chả giò
Vietnam's bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention. The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce gets the gastronomic juices flowing before a main course. In the north these parcels go by the name nem ran while southerners call them cha gio.
 

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8.      Cá kho tộ (Caramelized Fish in Clay Pot)

Cá kho tộ
Clay pots are kind of like the Asian cousin of the Dutch oven. The thick clay walls retain heat and moisture, helping to soften and caramelize meats when braised. In this dish, the fish develops a sweet-savory gooeyness from the sugar and fish sauce over the course of the long braise. "This reminds me of my grandma," said my Vietnamese friend who grew up eating this classic comfort food.

9.      Bún bò Huế

Bún bò Huế
Central Vietnam's take on noodles caters to carnivores with its meaty broth and piles of beef and pork. The thick slippery rice noodles also make for a heartier meal than noodles found in the north and south.

10. Bánh khọt

 Bánh khọt
This dainty variation of a Vietnamese pancake has all the same tasty ingredients but is a fraction of the size. Each banh knot can be scoffed in one ambitious but satisfying mouthful. The crunchy outside is made using coconut milk and the filling usually consists of shrimp, mung beans, and spring onions with a dusting of dried shrimp flakes on top.

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11. Gà tần (Stewed Chicken)
 Gà tần

Stewed Sweet Herbal Chicken Soup is one of Vietnamese best dishes is worth a try if you're needing a Vietnamese tonic. This is completely different from any other soup. With a combination of grey-footed variety of chicken is stewed with medicinal herbs and eaten with friend bread. Recovering patients and over-worked persons feel in better conditions if they have this dish regularly.  

12. Nộm hoa chuối/Gỏi

Nộm hoa chuối
Vietnam's banana flower salad packs a much bigger punch than a typical plate of mixed greens. Banana flowers (thick purple lumps that will later turn into bunches of bananas) are peeled and thinly sliced then mixed with green papaya, carrots, and cilantro along with chicken and a heavy-handed pour of a salty fish sauce dressing and crunchy peanuts.

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13. Bún bò Nam Bộ

Bún bò Nam Bộ
This bowl of noodles comes sans broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden and the various textures intact. The tender slices of beef mingle with crunchy peanuts and bean sprouts, and are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, and a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.

14. Hoa quả dầm

Hoa quả dầm
This chunky blend of fresh tropical fruit in a cup is the perfect local treat when the heat of Vietnamese summer starts to wear you down. It could be considered a healthy alternative to ice cream -- if you stick to the shaved ice variation -- but for the full experience it's best had with diabetes-inducing condensed milk mixed in.

15. Cháo

Cháo
Vietnam's rice porridge is thick, creamy, hearty and should be able to cure whatever ails you—primarily a cold and hangovers. Top it with slices of chicken, beef, pork, fish, or in this case, pig parts (mostly liver and tubular innards). This is a bowl of Cháo Lòng from Saigon where street vendors can be easily spotted with their giant metal vats of porridge, piles of offal, and stacks of golden fried dough. Scallions and black pepper are scattered on top and at the table you'll get a platter of bean sprouts, lime wedges, ginger and fish sauce to season the porridge to taste.

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16. Phở cuốn
Phở cuốn
Pho cuon packages the flavors of pho and goi cuon in one neat little parcel. This Hanoi take on fresh spring rolls uses sheets of uncut pho noodles to encase fried beef, herbs and lettuce or cucumber.

17. Cơm tấm (Broken Rice)
Cơm tấm
 
When Vietnamese rice farmers couldn't sell their broken grains, which broke sometimes while being processed from the field, they had to eat the poor rejected grains themselves. This cheaper alternative to "unbroken" rice has actually become popular over the years as some people like its softer texture. You'll find it on menus with a variety of toppings; here it comes buried with pork skin, grilled pork chop, pork loaf, and an egg.

18. Gà Nướng
Gà nướng mật ong
KFC may be everywhere in Vietnam these days, but skip the fast food for the local version. Honey marinated then grilled over large flaming barbecues, the chicken legs, wings and feet served are unusually tender, while the skin stays crispy but not dry.

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19. Phở xào bò

Phở xào bò
Pho xao may just be a slightly healthier take on my xao -- but the beauty is in the details. The flat, smoother pho noodle doesn't crisp up like its pre-boiled instant cousin. When done well the outer edges acquire a browned crunchiness, whilst the center stays soft and glutinous. This dish tastes best with a fried egg and seasoned with chili or soy sauce.

20. Cà phê trứng

Egg Coffee
Vietnamese "egg coffee" is technically a drink but we prefer to put it in the dessert category. The creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam perched on the dense Vietnamese coffee will have even those who don't normally crave a cup of joe licking their spoons with delight.
 
Cà phê trứng
In Hanoi, follow the tiny alley between the kitschy souvenir shops at 11 Hang Gai into the clearing, and up several flights of increasingly dicey stairs to pair your ca phe trung with an unbeatable view of Hoan Kiem Lake.

21. Bò nướng lá lốt

Bò nướng lá lốt
Vietnamese are masters of wrapping their food. Bo la lot is neither raw nor deep-fried, but flamed on an open grill to soften the exterior and infuse the betel leaf's peppery aroma into the ground beef inside.

22. Xôi
 
This savory sticky rice is a meal all on its own.
Xôi

Savory sticky rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam, more a meal itself. The glutinous staple comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), but almost always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.

23. Bánh cuốn
These rolled up rice flour pancakes are best when served piping hot, still soft and delicate. Although seemingly slender and empty they have a savory filling of minced pork and mushrooms. Zest is also added by dunking the slippery parcels in a fishy dipping sauce.
Bánh cuốn

24. Bún đậu mắm tôm
Bún đậu mắm tôm
This plain-looking tofu and noodle dish is served with mam tom sauce -- the Vegemite of Vietnam. The pungent purple dipping sauce is used to flavor the slabs of deep-fried tofu that are at the core of the meal.

25. Bánh gối

Bánh gối
These pockets of deep-fried goodness are often described as the equivalent of a Cornish pasty or as a Vietnamese samosa, depending on the nationality of the person explaining. Inside the crispy exterior you'll find that it's similar to neither description, with its filling of finely minced pork, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles.

26. Cơm sườn nướng
 
Cơm sườn nướng
This simple meal is the Saigonese equivalent of bun cha -- with rice in place of noodles. A tender pork cutlet is barbecued over hot coals to give it a rich, smoky flavor, and laid over the fluffy white "com" or broken rice.

27. Bò lúc lắc
Bò lúc lắc
Cubes of beef are tossed around a steaming wok with garlic, pepper, and some vegetables to make shaking beef. There's nothing special about the beef that makes it shaking. The name is just a literal translation that refers to the process of mixing the beef around while cooking.

28. Bún chả

Bún chả
Pho might be Vietnam's most famous dish but bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital. Just look for the clouds of meaty smoke after 11 a.m. when street-side restaurants start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire. Once they're charred and crispy the morsels are served with a large bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles.

29. Bánh mì

Bánh mì
The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level. How exactly depends on what end of the country you're in.
In the north, chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein -- bread, margarine and pata -- but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.

30. Bún thang:

Bún thang Hà Nội
If Pho is compatible to linguine in shape, Bun is more like spaghetti. Bun thang is one of the most popular yet hidden fares in Hanoi and one can hardly find it outside of the Old quarters or a few special restaurants scattering across the city. The chicken broth is artistically done and the dish is beautifully served. Bun thang is a harmonious blend of color- the yellow of sliced egg; the white of bun; the off-white of chicken and the green of onions and herbs.

31. Lẩu – Hot pot

Lẩu hotpot
Various kinds of lẩu (hot pot)
: a turban shaped pan containing consomme; in the middle of the pan is a charcoal stove (now alcohol fuel or electricity is used). The consomme is boiling throughout the meal. The lau pan is placed in the middle of the table, around it are a variety of food which can include noodle, vermicelli, pig heart, liver and kidneys, goat meat, eel, onion, vegetables. Eaters serve themselves; taking the food into a large spoon and dipping ti into one's bowl . Depending on the ingredients used, it is called lau de (goat meat), lau luon (eel meat) or with many different kinds of meat, it is called lau thap cam (assorted meat). This dish always figures on the menu of deluxe restaurants and bear the name mixed hot pot-steamed boat.

32. Bánh bao

 Bánh bao
Steamed pork buns aren't traditionally Vietnamese, but that doesn't stop the spongy rolls from being sold by street vendors and in traditional Vietnamese restaurants. The best buns have a hard-boiled quail egg buried within the minced meat, while the cheaper ones come without any filling at all. Remember the lower the price the less stuffing, so you might not be getting the good deal you thought you were.

33. Cơm rang

Cơm rang
Cơm rang (fried rice) is a popular dish in Vietnam that originated in China. It is made from steamed rice stir-fried in a wok, often with other ingredients such as eggs, vegetables, and meat. As a home-cooked dish, fried rice typically is made with left over ingredients from other dishes, leading to countless variations. In Vietnam, different restaurants add extra ingredients their fried rice recipes. It is one of the many culinary pastimes of the city to argue over which variation and which shop has the best product.

Cơm rang

34. Bò bít tết

Vietnam's equivalent to steak and eggs fills the void when you're hankering for some greasy pub tucker.

Bò bít tết

The thin flank steak is usually served with eggs, thick potato wedges, and Vietnamese meatballs on a sizzling cast iron plate.

35. Chè

Chè

 
This dessert can be served in either a bowl or a glass. The latter is the more enticing option with the visible layers of bean jelly, coconut milk, fruit, and ice. Best had when you're craving something sweet on a scorching day in Saigon.

36. Mỳ xào bò

Mì xào bò
Mix noodles with a dollop of oil, then add beef, onions, garlic, morning glory and some tomato for color and you have a platter of my xao bo. The whole dish takes about as long to make as instant noodles -- but oh so much more flavor.

37. Đậu phụ sốt cà chua
 
Đậu phụ sốt cà chua

The English translation of "tofu in tomato sauce" doesn't really do this dish justice. The slabs of deep-fried soy are doused in a rich fresh tomato and spring onion coating, and seasoned with a speckle of fresh herbs.

38. Gỏi cuốn (Spring Rolls)

Gỏi cuốn
Gỏi cuốn literally means "salad rolls" and should be distinguished from the fried rolls, which are also sometimes called spring rolls (or chả giò). The translucent cigar-shaped rolls are packed with greens, sometimes shrimp and/or pork, and herbs. They need a dunk in nước chấm of course. Almost every region in Vietnam has its own distinct spring roll but no matter where you are, the wrapping and rolling process is more or less the same.

39. Bánh rán
 
Bánh rán

“Bánh rán” is a delicious finger food for breakfast in Vietnam. There are two main kinds of bánh rán, namely salty cake and sweet one with the latter being much more common than the former. While the filling of sweet cake is sweet mashed mung bean, that of salty cake is quite similar to pillow cake‘s, a mixture of minced meat, prawn, glass noodle, veggie and etc. What is more, among different types of sweet cake, the cake coated with sesame seeds is the best choice due to its moderate sweet taste, crispy cover and subtle fragrant. The dough is a blend of glutinous rice flour, rice flour, mashed potato and sugar. Mashed mung bean filling is rolled into ball shape, wrapped inside the dough and then rolled over a plate of sesame to make its sesame coat. After deep-fried, the cake is getting golden brown, crispy and aromatic. Hiding under that crispy cover is the sweet and nutty flavor of potato, rice, and mung bean. So just relish it and discover how tasty it is!

40. Trứng vịt lộn (Fetal Duck Egg)

Trứng vịt lộn
Trứng vịt lộn (northern) or hột vịt lộn (southern) is a fertilized duck embryo (“Balut”) that is boiled before hatching and eaten in the shell. It is popularly believed to be a high-protein, hearty snack with aphrodisiac properties. In Vietnam, balut are 19 to 21 days old and are eaten with a pinch of salt, lemon juice, ginger, plus ground pepper and rau răm (Vietnamese coriander leaves).

41. Mì Quảng
 
Mì quảng
Mi Quang
 or Quang-Style Noodles is part soup and part salad. It is a widely popular noodle dish from Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam and the neighboring city of Da Nang to the north. It's a dish for the summer when it's just too hot to enjoy a traditional bowl of noodle soup.

Mi Quang is rice noodles with an assortment of fresh vegetables and Vietnamese herbs, tossed together with a small amount of intensely flavored broth made from pork and/or chicken stock. The small amount of broth sets this noodle dish apart from the others. There is just enough broth in each serving to wet the noodles and bring everything together. There are many variations on what proteins and toppings that go into the dish but the signature items include slices of pork belly, whole shrimp, roasted peanuts and toasted sesame rice crackers.

Mì quảng
Mi Quang is one of the dishes that everyone makes differently and everyone claims that their mother's version is the best.

42. Nước chấm

Nước chấm
 
Nước chấm is a common name for a variety of Vietnamese "dipping sauces" that are served quite frequently as condiments.
Getting the hang of making this Vietnamese dipping sauce (nước chấm) is an important step to making your cuisine just right. Since it’s just about everywhere in Vietnamese cooking, it’s simply referred to as “dipping sauce”.
You’ll usually find a bowl of this sauce next to to foods like chả giò (egg rolls), spring rolls or summer rolls, bánh xèo, bánh hỏi, bánh cuốn, grilled meats, and fried fish just to barely name a few.
For different dishes there are slight variations on nước chấm, but we will use this as a base recipe that works great for most things. You can adjust it to your own taste if needed depending on what it’s going with.
 
43. Bia hơi - Fresh Beer

Draft beer is sacred to Vietnam, where tipplers wile away the hours sipping on this crisp, unpasteurized and unfiltered lager—its name roughly translates to “fresh beer”—that’s usually sold for about 25 cents a mug. Go on, have four. You’d need to drink gallons to get drunk.
 

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