Sampling the local cuisine is one of the best, if not the best part of traveling. This was especially true when backpacking through Vietnam, I would say the must-try dishes in Vietnam were the simplest.
You’d find these dishes along the many streets that are virtually made of food once the hundreds of food stalls start cooking. The smell seductively beckons. Ultimately, It’s probably cilantro or fish sauce, but I digress.
The delicious, straightforward dishes often takes just a few seconds to create. For instance, a vendor would mix some meat, herbs, and vegetables in a bowl, which is then finished with a steaming hot broth. You may know this as tasty Pho.
We won’t stop there, though. So, let’s look at seven more must-try dishes when in Vietnam.
Must Try Dishes in Vietnam From Pho to Che
I know what you’re thinking: Pho (pronounced Fuh) to Vietnam is like the Cheeseburger to the U.S. A dish so common you’ll find it anywhere and everywhere.
However, believe me when I say you haven’t tasted Pho until you’ve tasted it in Hanoi. I mean, where else can you find Vietnamese cilantro, Vietnamese mint, or Vietnamese coriander? Yes, you guessed it: only in Vietnam.
So, take a load off, inhale the aromatic broth, and gorge yourself on fresh rice noodles, with your chosen meat (beef or chicken) as well as your favorite Vietnamese herbs.
#2 Bánh Mì
If there’s one silver lining to the decades of French rule over Vietnam, it would be the quintessential Banh Mi. So if you thought that baguette was a little out of place, you’d be correct. Although the French may have inspired this crusty buttered bread, its delicious fillings of roasted pork belly, boiled sausages, fried eggs, chilies, pickled vegetables, pate, and so much more, is decidedly all Vietnamese.
#3 Bánh Xèo
I had the pleasure of trying the Ban Xeo while I was going through the wonderful night markets at Hanoi’s Old Quarter. As I perused the many street dishes with my handy AA flashlight, I spotted what seemed like a cross between a crepe and an omelet.
Imagine my delight when, after taking a good herby bite, I learned that this crispy snack had pork slices, bean sprouts, onions, and shrimp!
Meanwhile, you can never have enough herbs with Vietnamese food. So, every bite I took off the Banh Xeo, I’d add it some mint or cilantro or basil! What a night it was trying one of the must-try dishes in Vietnam
#4 Cơm Tấm
Com Tam (pronounced coom taam) means “broken rice.” You’ll quickly understand the nomenclature as cooks make the dish from fractured rice grains, a product of the milling process.
The broken rice tastes the same as regular, so it’s the plethora of toppings that make Com Tam a delight. I had this rice dish topped with sliced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, a fried egg, and Cha Ca (fried fish patty).
For me, Com Tam was easily the highlight of my stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
#5 Hủ Tiếu
The Vietnamese love their rice noodles. Down south in the Tien Giang, it’s pho’s cousin, Hu Tieu, that reigns supreme. Unlike Pho, though, Hu Tieu is a little harder to define as there are as many variations to this dish as there are noodles.
However, as a lover of both pork and shrimp, I completely fell for the Hu Tieu version that featured this two ingredients.
#6 Ốp La
I do love me a delicious breakfast, so much so that I haven’t grown tired of my bread and butter breakfast, specifically, bacon and eggs. So I wonderful new world was opened when I met the Op La. Making it one of the must-try dishes in Vietnam.
Imagine breakfasting a dish of smoky caramelized onions, sautéed green onions, assorted Vietnamese meats, and sausages, on a bed of over easy eggs. It was truly a great way to start my second day in Hanoi.
On my last few days in Vietnam, I remember being so tired from a whole day’s search of a good gift for campers since many of my friends back home love hiking and camping.
Although, I’m still unsure whether it was finally finding the gift or getting the chance to try the Che that made it all worth the fatigue.
Che is a sweet beverage often topped with coconut milk with a bevy of mixed ingredients such as fruit, beans, sticky rice, and tapioca. Like many other Vietnamese dishes, you can get many different varieties of the sweet drink.
The Che I happily slurped in seconds was the Chè Sương Sa Hạt Lựu, or Rainbow dessert. It’s both delicious and beautiful with its many-colored ingredients of mung bean paste, Agar-agar jelly, and faux pomegranate seeds.
If I remembered anything from my Vietnam trip, it would be the warm people and the mouth-watering food. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting this picturesque country, and it’s equally exquisite cuisine.
So, the next time you find yourself in the Land of the Ascending Dragon, be sure to try these seven must-try dishes in Vietnam!
About the Author
Warren Kuhn is an outdoor and camping enthusiast, always out to seek for the thrill and adrenaline that only nature gives. He even took up survival training to prepare him for the worst-case scenarios while outdoors.With his background, you can learn a lot from him so you can get the most out of your camping trip at TheCampingTrips. Thank you to Warren for sharing his must-try dishes in Vietnam.