Food is what connects people and no where is that statement reflected more vividly than in Vietnam. From bustling street vendors to high-end fine dining restaurant, food can be found on almost every corner of city and country area, cherished by groups of family and friends and eating alone is a rare scene. And once you are in the country, you will soon realize authentic food is much broader than pho - the omnipresent noodle with beef and cha gio - deep fried spring rolls. Food in Vietnam is as diverse as its dialects and one can only uncover it while you stay long enough. Discover a gastronomic world in the S-shaped country with our food guide.
There is nowhere in Vietnam that so many types of sticky rice- or “xoi” present like they do in Hanoi. But standing out among the various kinds, “xoi xeo” is not only creative art with a sophisticated combination of ingredients and color but the sophistication even leaks out to its odd name.
Frequently asked questions
What time of day do Vietnamese eat?
In Vietnam, meal times typically occur at the following times:
- Breakfast: 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM
- Lunch: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
- Dinner: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
However, these meal times can vary depending on personal preference and work schedule. Some people may opt for a smaller breakfast and a larger lunch, while others may have a big breakfast and a lighter lunch. Street food stalls are open all day, offering a range of dishes for people to grab a quick and affordable meal. Snacking is also common in Vietnam, with street vendors selling snacks and sweet treats throughout the day.
What is a typical lunch in Vietnam?
A typical lunch in Vietnam might include:
- Rice: Rice is a staple food in Vietnam and is often served with meals.
- Main Dish: A protein-rich dish, such as grilled or stir-fried chicken, fish, or tofu, with vegetables.
- Soup: A flavorful broth-based soup, such as pho noodle soup or canh chua sour soup.
- Vegetables: A variety of fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, herbs, and pickled vegetables, are often served as a side dish or used to wrap other ingredients.
- Sauces: A range of sauces and dipping sauces, such as nuoc cham or hoisin sauce, are used to add flavor to dishes.
Lunch in Vietnam is typically a quick and informal meal, often taken at street food stalls or at home. The focus is on fresh ingredients and flavorful, healthy dishes, with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
Is food in Vietnam healthy?
Vietnamese food can be considered healthy due to its focus on fresh ingredients and use of herbs and spices. Many Vietnamese dishes feature a variety of vegetables and lean proteins, such as seafood, chicken, and tofu. Vietnamese cuisine also features a lot of fresh herbs and spices, which not only add flavor but also provide health benefits. Rice, noodles, and other staple grains are also a big part of the diet and provide a good source of carbohydrates.
However, like any cuisine, it depends on the specific dish and preparation method. Some street food in Vietnam, for example, may be high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy oils. Deep-fried foods, such as spring rolls, are also not the healthiest options. It's important to remember that moderation and variety are key to a healthy diet, and to choose dishes that feature fresh ingredients and light cooking methods.
What is street food in Vietnam?
Street food in Vietnam refers to small, informal food stalls or vendors that sell ready-to-eat food on the streets. It is a popular way for locals to grab a quick and affordable meal, and it is also a way for tourists to experience the local food culture. Vietnamese street food ranges from savory dishes like pho noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches, to sweet treats like che (sweet soups made with beans, fruit, and/or jelly). Food vendors often specialize in one or a few dishes, and they often serve the food on small plastic stools or at food carts.
What are top 10 Vietnamese dishes?
Here's a brief guide to some of the most popular Vietnamese dishes:
- Phở: A noodle soup made with rice noodles, meat (usually beef or chicken), and a flavorful broth.
- Bánh Mì: A sandwich made with a crusty baguette filled with various ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and sauce.
- Spring Rolls (Nem Rán): Deep-fried spring rolls filled with ground pork, mushrooms, and other ingredients.
- Bún Chả: A dish made of grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles, herbs, and dipping sauce.
- Bánh Cuốn: Rice cakes filled with ground pork and mushrooms, often served with a dipping sauce.
- Gỏi Cuốn: Fresh summer rolls made with rice noodles, herbs, and seafood or meat.
- Cơm Tấm: Broken rice served with grilled pork, a fried egg, and other accompaniments.
- Xôi: Xoi is a Vietnamese dish made from glutinous (sticky) rice, often served as a side dish or as a snack. It can be steamed and served plain, or it can be flavored with different ingredients, such as coconut milk, mung beans, or meat. Xoi can also be formed into different shapes, such as balls or cones, and served with savory toppings or sauces. Xoi is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine and is enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Bánh Xèo: A crispy sizzling pancake filled with shrimp, pork, and beansprouts.
- Canh Chua: A sour soup made with fish, pineapple, and vegetables in a tamarind-based broth.
Is Vietnamese food good for weight loss?
Vietnamese food is fairly healthy and often considered as one of the healthiest foods on earth. In fact, many people tend to lose between 5% and 7% of their body weight in 2-3 months if they switch from western cuisines to Vietnamese diet.
What does "Phở" mean?
Pho is a popular staple in Vietnamese diet. The dish is noodle soup with clear broth and can include either beef or chicken. A variety of herbs such as cilantro, green onions, basil and bean sprout are also added to give the dish a distinguished flavor.
Pho can be enjoyed any time of the day, either as a main meal or as afternoon snack.
Is Vietnamese food spicy?
Yes and no.
Vietnamese's cuisines vary starkly between region and the further you move to the South, the more spice is added to the dish. You will find dishes that are basically made from chili and spice (such as southern curry) or dishes that do not included any spice at all (boiled vegetable or tofu braised with tomato sauce).
Most often you will see that chilies are left on the side and diners can add to taste.
What do Vietnamese say before they eat?
Vietnamese normally do not say graces before meals (unless because of religious reasons). The culture places a lot of respect for the elderly and it is a custom for the younger to say "Moi Ong/ Ba Xoi Com" which literally means "Dear Grandpa/Grandma, Please enjoy your meal".
This applies to whoever is older than you - so in an extended family setting the saying will go to Grandparents, then to Parents, Aunts and Uncles and Older brothers and sisters.
What do Vietnamese people eat for breakfast?
Most Vietnamese would go out for a hearty breakfast. Some prefer broth-based dishes such as pho and bun while others normally go for to-go dishes such as Banh My and Xoi (sticky rice). Vietnamese breakfast is often a mix of savory and sweet dishes, with a focus on fresh ingredients and bold flavors. Street food stalls are a popular place to grab breakfast, as they offer a variety of dishes at affordable prices. Rice, noodles, and breads are also common breakfast staples in Vietnam.
What are some traditional food in Vietnam?
It's hard to count all the traditional food of Vietnam but there are a few that have made their name to world prestige:
- Pho: Noodle soup with beef or chicken.
- Bun Cha: The famous BBQ pork served with round noodle and dipping sauce.
- Banh My: Vietnamese baguette with a variety of stuffings.
- Bun Bo Hue: Hue thick noodle with beef .
- Hu Tieu: Southern rice noodle with cha-siu and quail eggs.
- Che: Vietnamese desert made from variety of beans and thickened with corn flour.
- Bun Oc: Noodle With Snails.
- Hoi An Chicken Rice: Turmeric-flavored rice served with shredded chicken.