51 Best Vietnamese Dishes | TravellersQuest
Vietnam is a country located in Southeast Asia and the same size as Italy and Japan. It is a country with surprisingly versatile cuisine. Learning about Vietnamese cuisine is a great way to understand the country’s culture.
Vietnamese cuisine is very healthy because most dishes are made with low fat; food is fresh, and the flavors are intense. While rice is a fundamental key of these dishes, it is a combination of the five flavors that govern a meal: sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and sour in perfect balance. In addition, Vietnamese food includes and plays with five colors: white, green, yellow, red and black to attract the five senses through the use of aromatic herbs and a series of ingredients with various textures that make dishes more attractive.
Vietnamese cuisine, in general, prepares its dishes with many fragrances. They use lemongrass, clove, mint, fennel, ginger among others. In the center of the country, Vietnamese worry about reaching balance and harmony between ingredients that are part of a dish. The dishes of central Vietnam use spices that make the food bitter and sweet at the same time. The south of Vietnam has a more benign climate, and this is reflected in its cuisine generally including more vegetables and fruits. In the south, sweet flavors are more popular; their favorite ingredient is coconut. Coconut milk is welcomed in many of its dishes. As for the aromas, the inhabitants of southern Vietnam use many aromatic herbs in the preparation of their dishes: coriander, mint, and basil are invited in a multitude of South Vietnamese dishes.
The influences of other countries are also clearly seen in Vietnamese cuisine.In the north, for example, the Chinese influence has preponderance: chopsticks are used for eating and the use of wok and frying food over high heat comes from the Chinese. The French in colonial times have also influenced the Vietnamese in their gastronomic culture: the use of wine, bread, butter and certain ways of cooking is proof of this. Through Cambodia and the Khmer Empire, the influence of Indian cuisine reached the Vietnamese, which explains the use of spices in many of their recipes.
Do you want to learn more about delicious Vietnamese dishes? In this article we cover some of the best Vietnamese dishes, including sides, noodle-based dishes, rice-based dishes, and soups. These dish types include vegetarian, beef, chicken, pork, fish, and shrimp varieties. Keep reading to learn more!
Table of Contents
The best Vietnamese dishes
Vietnamese cuisine has signature dishes; those who visit the region cannot fail to try! Here’sten of the most famous typical dishes in Vietnam.
This Nemsdish is made with rice wafers and stuffed with meat and vegetables such as chives, mushrooms, onions, cabbages. The meat can be pork, chicken, crab or shrimp. They look a lot like Chinese spring rolls.
There are some variants of the nemscalled nem ran ren that are crispy. In this variation, the rice wafer is replaced by noodles.
In hot times like summer, Guoi are very popular as a variety of nems that do not require frying. They include leaf lettuce which gives a feeling of freshness. They are eaten accompanied by a peanut sauce.
Pho is the national dish of Vietnam and its most characteristic. It can have variations, but it all Pho has a common base: it is a soup made with meat broth to which rice noodles and pieces of meat are added. Then, this famous Vietnamese soup dish is seasoned with bean sprouts, pepper, and lime. To enhance the soup’s flavor add mint leaves, coriander and basil.
Pho Bo is Pho that uses beef in its preparation and Pho Ga uses chicken.
Bon Bo Hué
This is a variant of the Pho in which a beef broth is used. The noodles are easy Vietnamese dishes much finer than in the original Pho. It is served very hot and with varied vegetables. A very particular ingredient is the lemongrass that gives Bon Bo Hué a characteristic smell.
Mi Quang is one of the best dishes typical to central Vietnam. It is very easy to prepare and very popular in the region.
It consists of rice noodles covered with the most used aromatic herbs in the country: coriander, mint, and basil. These noodles are covered with a broth made of bones or very flavored beef. You can add shrimp, chicken pieces, beef, pork or fish. Some include quail eggs.
This dish is served with rice crackers and toasted sesame.
This can also be considered a Vietnamese salad dish when served without the broth.
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich with French direct influence. It consist of bread made from rice flour and wheat that’s filled with various types of meat and a variety of vegetables.
Among the most used meats to prepare BanhMi are grilled chicken, pork as bacon or as strips of dried meat called ruo song, pork liver pate, tomato sardines, tofu or pork prepared in the form of meatballs.
The most popular vegetables in the preparation of this sandwich are carrot, cucumber in thin slices, radishes, cilantro, among others.
Different sauces are used for this dish, and among the most popular are spicy chili sauce and mayonnaise.
Cao Lau is a typical Vietnamese rice noodle dish in the central region of Vietnam.
It is composed of rice noodles, pork, and vegetables. You can add or not shrimp or other vegetables. This dish is characteristic because it has no broth.
It is emblematic of the city of Hoi An. In fact, it’s said that you can only make a true Cao Lao dish in Hoi because its main ingredient is the unique well water of that city.
Nom Hua Choi
Nom Hua Choi is a delicious vegetarian dish that consists of banana flower salad garnished with lime and accompanied by various vegetables. The chili along with the other ingredients gives them a characteristic flavor.
It is accompanied with shrimp crackers, roasted peanuts, and basil. It has a crunchy texture with its unmistakable Vietnamese flavor.
Banh Xeo is similar to crepes and made in the same way, only the ingredients and the accompaniment is a little different.
As one of the best Vietnamese dishes, it is prepared with coconut milk and the flour to be used consists of rice, water, salt and turmeric. These ingredients are then mixed and fried.
They can be eaten alone but the most popular accompaniment is to use sliced pork, shrimp or bean sprouts.
Cha CaThang Long
Cha cathang long is a Vietnamese fish-based dish. The most common fish used is catfish cut in fillets. This fish browns quickly and is served on a bed of vegetables such as onion, chives, and dill. Roasted and grated peanuts, rice noodles and different types of sauces are also added.
My Van Than
And at number ten I present to you a dish whose main component is won ton, which is pasta made with rice flour dough.
For the creation of the won ton, you make a ravioli stuffed with pork and prawns. My Van Than is prepared in a light broth that is prepared with pork bones, dried sturgeon, salt, Chinese herbs. The “ravioli” made with won ton and rice noodles are then added to the broth. Ravioli should be transparent after cooking.
This noodle dish is served with various accompaniments such as mushrooms or vegetables.
It is a delicious and very nutritious dish typical of the city of Hanoi with a strong Chinese influence.
Side dishes from Vietnam
The best dishes have a main course accompanied by vegetables.
Vegetables can be prepared grilled, fried, raw, boiled or steamed. Also, Vietnamese eat many salads of fresh vegetables or cooked according to the region or the time of the year.
To dress dishes herbs are used. The most popular are mint, basil, cilantro, and chives. The use of clove, fennel, lemongrass, ginger, and chili give a characteristic signature to the cuisine of this Southeast Asian country.
Other Vietnamese side dishes include meat or vegetable broths. Almost all dishes have broths made with pieces or bones of pork, beef or chicken. There is also the vegan version where the meat is replaced by tofu or soy.
As an accompaniment, the various Vietnamese sauces are widely used.
Nuoc mam sauce
Nuoc mam is a sauce widely used in Vietnamese dishes. It is made with fish concentrate with lime, garlic, sugar, and hot pepper. There are varieties of this sauce depending on the region of Vietnam.
This Peanut sauce is very popular as an accompaniment to many Vietnamese foods. It is prepared as a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, fish stock, and roasted and salted roasted peanuts.
Sweet and sour sauce
Sweet and sour is a sauce that is prepared with chicken broth, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and chili sauce. A peeled and chopped garlic is added to the juice of a lime, corn starch, rice vinegar, and sugar. This mixture is placed in a saucepan and kept on low heat for a few minutes, and when it thickens this delicious sauce is ready.
Peanut sauce for meats
This Vietnamese side dish sauce is ideal for white meat. Peanuts are a very frequent ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. To make this sauce you need roasted and salted peanuts, garlic, lime juice, hoisin sauce, butter, and peanut oil. First, the garlic is browned slightly, then the remaining ingredients are added except for the lime juice and cooked for five minutes.
After removing from hear, the lime juice is added and allowed to stand. Peanuts are sprinkled over the preparation.
This Ginger sauce goes very well with the best Vietnamese dishes including grilled meats, especially in the form of skewers. It is used to make this ginger sauce, garlic, red paprika, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. All the ingredients are crushed in a mortar and the ginger sauce is ready.
Tamarind sauce is used for fish and grilled meats. This sauce is made with nuoc-mam sauce, garlic, red paprika, and sugar. The preparation is similar to the sauces we have already talked reviewed: ingredients are placed in a saucepan and the sauce is heated for about five minutes over low heat. Stir constantly until done.
This sauce is very particular. Ingredients include water, sugar and coconut milk. It is prepared in this way: the caramelized sugar is put in a pot. Once it is golden, the coconut milk is added and passed to a bowl. It is used to dress Vietnamese meat dishes as the main ingredient.
This sauce has as ingredients hoisin sauce, soy sauce, roasted peanuts, red paprika, honey, and sesame oil. It is prepared by mixing all the ingredients. It is used to accompany grilled meats, especially chicken.
Another sauce ideal to accompany meat dishes. It includes ingredients: lime juice, salt, and pepper. The ingredients are mixed and served immediately.
Vietnamese noodle dishes
In Vietnam a vast majority of dishes contain noodles. It is one of the fundamental ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine. Some dishes contain noodles in soup and other contain dry noodles. We will review both types:
Dry noodle dishes
Ban hoi consists of vermicelli noodles made from rice. They are very thin and are arranged in a very intricate way. The noodles are covered with chives and minced meat.
Banh Cuon is a dish made with dry noodles. A very thin and delicate rice leaf is used to make a roll that is stuffed with noodles, minced pork, and a mushroom called a wooden ear. It is then steamed to create one of the most delicious and best Vietnamese dishes.
This dish contains rice noodles as a side dish. It is served typically at lunch with grilled meat and fresh vegetable salad. It is a typical Hanoi dish.
Mi Quang is a noodle dish that is served with turmeric and accompanies pork meats or can also be served with shrimp. It is seasoned with characteristic herbs of Vietnam: mint and coriander.
Bun Bo Nam Bo
This rice noodles dish from Vietnam is serviced with beef and vegetables such as bean sprouts, peppers, and carrots, which are julienned and added to the fish sauce with a touch of spice. Bun boNam bo is a dish with the delicious taste typical of Vietnamese food.
This is the most typical dish of Vietnam that is known outside its borders. It is the national dish. It is made with broth noodles and generally accompanied with veal or chicken and vegetables. It is flavored with herbs such as mint, cilantro or chives.
There is a great variety of versions of Pho. There are no fixed rules about how to prepare it.
This Hu Tieu Vietnamese food recipe is similar to Pho but uses much thinner noodles. It can be served “dry” or as is more frequent in broth. Its main ingredient is fish and shrimp. It usually accompanies pork meats.
This Hot Pot dish is a direct influence of China. In Vietnam, the soup with noodles and meat with vegetables is prepared and the pot is placed in the center of the table. From there, dinner is eaten. There are varieties of this dish. The variability consists of the type of meat that uses veal, pork or chicken.
Vietnamese dishes with rice
Like noodles, the best dishes may include rice as the main component. Many rice preparations accompany meats and salads.
Rice flour is what makes it possible to create the varied noodles that are so popular in Vietnam cuisine. Hence, all the noodle-based dishes can also be considered dishes with rice.
There are three types of rice in Vietnam: regular rice, glutinous rice, and fragrant rice. The rice is consumed cooked and somewhat sticky; it is sometimes part of dessert.
Xoi is a food that is consumed very frequently in Vietnam. It is glutinous rice that can be eaten salted accompanying meat or sweet in several Vietnamese desserts.
Com Rang is aVietnamese dishes with rice made by mixing cooked rice with stir-fried scallions, eggs, and bean sprouts. It is seasoned with Nuoc Cham sauce and soy sauce and is considered a direct influence of China.
Nems are rolls made with rice wafers. Nems can be stuffed with shrimp, chicken, veal and various vegetables such as chives, carrots, coriander, and others.
Cao Lau is made of rice noodles that canbe accompanied with beef or pork and various vegetables. Another example of the importance of rice as a base in all Vietnamese food.
Vietnamese vegetarian dishes
Vietnamese cuisine allows you to perfectly adapt almost all your dishes to the vegetarian modality. In fact, it is one of the healthiest kitchens known as various types of vegetables are frequently used.
Even though the original version is not a Vietnamese vegetarian dish, this meal can be prepared under this modality as follows: Rice noodles are softened and mixed with julienne cut cucumber, julienned carrots, lettuce, mint, and basil.
Peanut sauce is added and then with the rice leaves the roll is made and covered with lettuce leaves.
Vietnamese salad with rice noodles with mixed vegetables and herbs
This vegetarian meal is one of the best Vietnamese dishes. It is called Bun and it is a rice noodle salad that consists of mixing rice vermicelli, crispy vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and herbs such as mint, coriander, and basil with the sweet and sour sauce called nuoccham.
Nuoc Cham Sauce
Lime juice is mixed with sugar and other ingredients: red pepper, hot pepper, chopped garlic, and soy sauce.
Nam Hua Choi
Nam Hua Choi is a delicious salad made with banana flowers and a combination of various vegetables. It is seasoned with chili and lime juice. It is served with roasted peanuts and basil.
Vietnamese dishes with chicken
Most of the Vietnamese dishes that use meat can also be made with chicken. This ingredient is included very frequently in the main dishes of Vietnamese cuisine.
Ga Duong is an example of a typical chicken dish. It is a chicken marinated and grilled served with boiled rice, green vegetable salads, and sweet and sour sauce.
Vietnamese style chicken
Vietnamese style chicken is a very easy dish. Sauté the chives in a pan, then cut the chicken breast into strips and add soy sauce.
Gakho gung is a one of the best Vietnamese meat dishes that calls for ginger chicken. In Vietnamese ga means chicken, Kho means simmered and gung is ginger. First, the chicken is marinated with a mixture of sugar and the fish sauce or nuoc mam, then the chicken pieces are browned and the ginger and red paprika are added.
Let it cook under low heat for twenty minutes or until the chicken is soft and the sauce thickens. It is seasoned with black pepper and sprinkled with scallions. It is accompanied with white rice or salad.
Vietnamese dishes with veal
Veal is a very important protein source in Vietnam’s food. Most of the dishes described here take veal as the main ingredient.
Thus, noodle or Pho soups, summer rolls, Bun Bo Nam Bo and many other dishes have this meat as the main base.
Vietnamese beef stew
To prepare Vietnamese beef stew, you would dice veal meat. The carrot is washed and peeled and also diced. The ginger is sliced.
These ingredients are placed in a saucepan next to the Nuoc Cham sauce and water is boiled and then salt and pepper are added, and the heat is lowered – allowing the meat to cook for an hour and a half or until it is completely soft.
It is accompanied with boiled white rice or with a vegetable salad.
Bo Luc lac or Vietnamese veal salad
Bo luc lac may be underrated, but it is one of the best Vietnamese dishes. It is a salad in which the veal in the form of steaks is included. These are cut into strips and fried in a little oil. It is removed and in the same oil, the chives, the red paprika, the garlic, the chili, and the finely chopped ginger are fried. Peanuts are chopped and mixed with lime juice.
All the ingredients are combined, and a vinaigrette made with a fish sauce called Nuoc mam, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar is added.
Vietnamese dishes with pork
Many of the aforementioned recipes can also be made with pork so we may re-mention dishes, pointing out that the meal may highlight pork rather than another one of its characteristics.
Grilled Pork in the Vietnamese style
In this dish, pork is marinated for twenty-four hours with garlic, onion, lime, soy sauce, nuoc mam sauce, and black pepper.
The next day the meat is allowed to warm and after two hours it is placed on the grill a few minutes, then it is immersed in honey and put back on the grill for two more minutes.
In Vietnam, pork dishes are also prepared with vinegar, soy sauce, nuoc mam, red and green peppers, and honey and can be taken in the oven or stewed.
Vietnamese style pork chops
The best Vietnamese dishes with pork chops require that the chop is marinated for three hours with a mixture of chives, brown sugar, fish sauce or nuoc mam and chili. This allows the pork to be impregnated with seasonings and then brought to the grill.
In Vietnam, there is a very large variety of soups. We must first name Pho for being the typical national dish and the soup par excellence of the country of Southeast Asia.
Pho’s recipe emerged in the early twentieth century as it was only prepared by people with less economic resources. After the Vietnam War and due to refugees, Pho became a very well-known dish. Today it is very popular in the United States, France, London, and other major cities.
There are many variations of Pho. As we said, the version of Pho that carries chicken is called Pho Ga. The one that takes the veal is called Pho Bo.
Pho is a very aromatic Vietnamesefood recipe that consists of a strong meat broth and carries strips of beef in its Bo version. It is served with rice noodles, bean sprouts, chopped fresh cilantro, mint, and paprika.
Pho can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There is a vegetarian variant of Pho. It is the same recipe only the animal protein is replaced by other vegetables. These can be broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini.
Common herbs in Pho include: coriander, mint, chives, and basil.
This Bun Rieu is a very traditional soup dish. It is prepared with rice, crab, and tomato which gives it a characteristic flavor. Various types of meat, tofu, rice vinegar, and bean sprouts are added.
This Canh Bun soup is similar to Bun Rieu only differs in that it has as an additional ingredient. Blocks of blood give this soup a characteristic color and texture.
Vietnamese dishes with fish
Fish in Vietnam is widely used to make different dishes.
Canh Chua cá
Canh Chua ca is a bitter soup with a fish that is typical of the southern Vietnam region. It is cooked in tamarind sour, sweet pineapple, tomato, bean sprouts, and chives. It has a very characteristic flavor
Chá Cá lá vong
Grilled fish is a very popular way to make fish dishes Vietnam. CháCaLávong is a grilled fish recipe with turmeric and dill.
Impossible not to name it in this section because this fish sauce is the most used sauce amongst our Vietnamese recipes.
Cha CaThang Long
This recipe is originally from Hanoi. It includes catfish fillets that are dressed innuoc mam, ginger, turmeric, and garlic. They pass through a rapid-fire and are served on a bed of chives, ground peanuts, and rice noodles.
Dishes with shrimp
Many of the best Vietnamese dishes are characterized by using shrimp. Especially in those recipes from regions of the country that are close to the sea.
Vietnamese shrimp uses sautéed shrimp seasoned with Sriracha sauce, sugar, lemon, ginger, white wine, and nuoc mam. In the end, the coriander and mint are minced very finely and added over it to give it the typical Vietnamese flavor.
Vietnamese Vermicelli with shrimp
In the original recipe, rice noodles are used, but vermicelli pasta can be used as well. In a bowl, shrimp are marinated with ginger and nuoc mam. In a wok, chives and bean sprouts are sautéed and added to vermicelli. Then the shrimp are sautéed until they change color and are also added to the pasta.
Sprinkle with ground peanuts and cilantro. You can add a Vietnamese sauce prepared by mixing nuoc mam, vinegar, red chili, finely chopped garlic, and sugar to taste.
BanhBeo are Vietnamese shrimp dishes with rice cakes garnished with shrimp and chives. Occasionally chicharron is added to the plate. It is a very delicate dish and very beautiful to look at.
Vietnamese shrimp rolls
This shrimp dish is also known as nem. Nems are made with leaves or sheets of rice, rice noodles, carrot chopped in julienne, cucumber, lettuce, chives, all finely chopped and the main character of the dish: the shrimp.
The shrimp are cooked in boiling water for a few minutes until they change color, seasoned with a little salt, the noodles are softened.
The rice leaf is put in contact with hot water in order to make it so manageable to assemble the rolls.Each roll is assembled with shrimp, vegetables, and herbs as usual: mint, coriander, and chives.
You can eat them alone or embedded in the different Vietnamese sauce varieties.
Vietnamese exotic dishes
I cannot finish this gastronomic tour of Vietnam without mentioning some of the other best Vietnamese dishes. They were not included in any of the aforementioned sections, but attract a lot of attention for being exotic and rare dishes for our western culture.
Vietnam is one of the few places where dog meat is eaten. It is called Thit Cho and generally grilled. There are also other dishes such as the water rat, eggs that carry a half-developed embryo, live worms, eels, frogs, snakes, meat and blood of the turtles.
For our western mentality, this type of dish can be disturbing, but in reality these dishes are just aspects of another culture and so we must see them.
The egg that keeps a chick inside is considered a delicacy in Asia and therefore in Vietnam. They can be bought at any supermarket and prepared by boiling them. They are smaller than conventional chicken eggs.
Dog meat is considered a delicacy. Dogs that are used in Vietnamese cuisine are bred only for that purpose. In this way, they represent what for us is a pig or a chicken. They are never raised as pets.
Vietnamese have seven ways to prepare dog meat and there are specialized restaurants for this type of typicalVietnamesefood recipes.
Lately, the consumption of this type of meat in Vietnam has been reduced in order to improve the image they have before the western world.
Other exotic Vietnamese dishes include Thit Ran, snake meat. The Vietnamese ensure that snake meat has aphrodisiac powers. It is white meat with a mild flavor. They also consume the blood and the heart of the snake that is taken with rice liquor.
Cha Ruoi are marine worms. Eating this is believed to have anti-rheumatic or anti-influenza properties. At the beginning of the last century they were only consumed in autumn but at present there are farms where they are raised and can be consumed year-round.
In Vietnam, all parts of the frog are eaten except for the head. The skin is fried and crispy, the rest of the parts are prepared in various ways and served with vegetables.
Con Nhongis the silkworm that fried and people eat it as a snack.
As one of the most exotic and best Vietnamese dishes, turtles are consumed for both its meat and its blood. It is said that turtle meat improves the defenses and serves to soothe pains. In many restaurants, the turtle is killed at the diner’s table and they drink the blood mixed with the rice liquor.
Tiet Canh is an uncooked pudding of blood. The blood can be from chicken, duck, pork or goat mixed with pieces of meat.
Con Duong Dua
This dish is the beetle larva of the Mekong Delta. These larvae live in coconut trees. Live larvae are mixed with fish sauce and eaten. Whoever is going to taste this dish should know how to do it. The larvae head must be bitten first so that it does not bite the diner, which is extremely painful.
As we see in this last part of our gastronomic trip to Vietnam there are unique aspects for our western culture in Vietnamese food that makes it unique and unmistakable.
Whether or not you are willing to try these exotic dishes, you now have knowledge of their existence.
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