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.
Wandering around Vietnam's streets early in the morning, travellers can easily catch sight of a scrum of people gathering at a corner, waiting impatiently. Move a closer step, we can realize in the middle of the crowd, sits a woman with a small basket, continuously serving some strange food onto the banana leaf. That is “Xoi”- one of the most popular Vietnamese “fast food”.
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