Vietnamese Food

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.

Sour Soup (Canh chua)
Soups

Sour Soup (Canh chua)

Vietnam is a tropical country with hot climate so Canh chua is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnamese people’s diets.

Crab Spring Rolls (Nem cua bể)
Seafood

Crab Spring Rolls (Nem cua bể)

If you fall in love with “nem ran” (Vietnamese spring rolls), nem cua be, is bound not to let you down for the first try.

Fresh spring roll (Gỏi cuốn)
Meat

Fresh spring roll (Gỏi cuốn)

If you are seeking for a novel dish that is certain to help you stay away from fat or cholesterol but incredibly delicious on its own, do not miss the chance of a lifetime enjoying authentic gỏi cuốn in Vietnam

Vietnamese Fermented Pork Roll (Nem chua)
Meat

Vietnamese Fermented Pork Roll (Nem chua)

Wandering around the Old Quarter in the evening, you can easily be intrigued by the appetizing aroma and the greasy sweet taste of sizzling fermented pork roll grilled on barbecue over charcoals.

“Lẩu canh chua” (Sour Soup Hotpot)
Seafood

“Lẩu canh chua” (Sour Soup Hotpot)

With a taste perfectly fitting Vietnamese appetite, it is the most popular hotpot in Vietnam.

“Lẩu Dê” (goat hotpot)
Meat

“Lẩu Dê” (goat hotpot)

“Lẩu Dê” (goat hotpot) is quite famous in Vietnam for its nutritious value and appetizing flavor.

Lau mam (Fish hotpot)
Seafood

Lau mam (Fish hotpot)

“Lẩu mắm” is a southern specialty and an amazing marriage of preserved fish and hot-pot as well.

Thit kho (Caramelized Pork Belly)
Meat

Thit kho (Caramelized Pork Belly)

We also know that meat contains a number of important nutrients that are needed by our bodies for carrying out vital metabolic functions and provide us with energy and keep us healthy.

Tom Kho (Vietnamese simmered prawn)
Seafood

Tom Kho (Vietnamese simmered prawn)

As the case with many other seafood, “ tôm”( prawn) is nutritional food and very good for our health.

Khoái Cake (stuffed omelette)
Cakes (Banh)

Khoái Cake (stuffed omelette)

Known as Hue version of Xèo cake-a southern savory pancake, Khoai cake is the ideal choice in the cold weather.

Bột lọc cake (steamed clear tapioca cake)
Cakes (Banh)

Bột lọc cake (steamed clear tapioca cake)

This is an appetizer quite similar to Nậm cake at the first sight because of the main ingredients and the flavor of sweet and spicy sauce.

Bèo cake (literally “water fern cake”)
Cakes (Banh)

Bèo cake (literally “water fern cake”)

Bèo cake (literally “water fern cake”) looks like water ferns floating on the waves; just a look is enough for you to remind of Hue with water ferns drifting across romantic rivers.

Com Tam (broken rice)
Rice and Noodles

Com Tam (broken rice)

“Cơm tấm” of Sai Gòn (known as Ho Chi Minh City) is so mouthwatering and distinctive that it is considered as the should- try-first specialty when tourists reach this hustling and bustling city.

Com Hen (rice with baby clams)
Rice and Noodles

Com Hen (rice with baby clams)

The next destination is Hue, the home to “cơm hến” (rice with baby clams), a special delicacy, but also an extremely common dish for locals.

Com lam (rice in bamboo tube)
Rice and Noodles

Com lam (rice in bamboo tube)

This is the typical cuisine of northwest Vietnam mountain tribes.

Com Nam (rice ball)
Rice and Noodles

Com Nam (rice ball)

It is simply “cơm” that is pressed into cylinder or sphere shape, wrapped in green banana leaves and often served with salted roasted sesame.

Com (plain boiled rice)
Rice and Noodles

Com (plain boiled rice)

Vietnamese daily meals contain from 3 to 4 courses but most of the time the essential side dish is always “Cơm”.

Nậm cake (steamed shrimp rice cake)
Rice and Noodles

Nậm cake (steamed shrimp rice cake)

The cake should be tried first is Nậm cake (steamed shrimp rice cake).

Che-Sweet Pudding
Desserts

Che-Sweet Pudding

One of the must-trys when you get to Vietnam is che- a variety of sweet pudding texture desert.

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Frequently asked questions

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). Refer to our article: 9 Most Popular Items on Vietnamese breakfast menu for further information.

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