A Food Lover's Travel Guide to the Best of Vietnamese Food

Banh Khot or Mini Shrimp Pancakes

Banh Khot

Mini Shrimp Pancakes

A batter is made from rice flour and coconut milk then fried up in a special pan. The mini pancakes are topped with shrimp, mung bean, scallions, garlic, and cilantro. They'll come on a plate along with a pile of herbs. Wrap a selection of greens and the pancakes in a leaf of lettuce then dip in the sweetened fish sauce.

Canh Chua or Tamarind Broth Soup

Canh Chua

Tamarind Broth Soup

A popular dish in the Mekong Delta, this sweet and sour broth soup is made with tamarind and usually comes with pineapple, elephant ear stalk, bean sprouts, tomato, okra, and fish from the Mekong River. When accompanied with rice, it makes a great meal. Check out the dish's profile to see popular variations of canh chua.

Nem lui Hue, a specialty of Hue - grilled meat with lemongrass

Nem Lui

Lemongrass Skewers

Sometimes pork, sometimes pork and beef, is seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, and I'm sure some secret ingredients, then wrapped around a stalk of lemongrass and grilled to perfection.

Bun Mang Ga or Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots

Bun Mang

Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots

A Vietnamese noodle soup with a bit of funk. Dried bamboo shoots are used to add flavour and a soft tender texture. The most popular versions are chicken and duck, but you can also find interesting takes on this popular northern dish.

Goi Co Hu Dua Thit Bo or Beef and Palm Heart Salad

Goi Co Hu Dua Thit Bo

Beef and Palm Heart Salad

Tender slices of beef are tossed with coconut palm heart, vegetables, lime, fish sauce, oil, salt, and chili. It's often served in a giant crispy piece of fried rice paper, or alongside a plate of smaller ones. The rice paper adds a nice crunch and makes eating it more convenient.

Ca Tim Chien Gion or Deep Fried Eggplant

Ca Tim Chien Gion

Deep Fried Eggplant

Simply, sliced eggplant battered and deep fried. Dip it in chili garlic sauce (tương ớt tỏi) or Vietnam's famous nước chấm.

So Huyet or Blood Cockles

So Huyet

Blood Cockles

A type of clam that is enjoyed by many Vietnamese beer drinkers. They can be steamed, boiled, or fried up in a variety of spices and flavours. Pop one open and scoop out the meat then dip it in the lime and pepper mix.

Banh Mi Doner Kebab or Vietenamese Doner Kebab

Banh Mi Doner Kebab

Vietenamese Doner Kebab

Doner Kebab can hardly be called Vietnamese food. It originated in Turkey, but the Vietnamese have adapted it -- pork is used instead of beef or lamb, it's served on a Vietnamese style baguette instead of flat bread, and pickled carrot and daikon provides a sourness that you don't get with traditional doner kebab.

Pate Chaud or Hot Pastry Pie

Pate Chaud

Hot Pastry Pie

This French influenced savoury snack is packed with seasoned ground pork and vegetables. It's also called bánh pa tê sô -- which is basically the Vietnamese word for 'cake' plus the phonetic spelling of 'pate chaud'. You can find it at most Vietnamese bakeries.

Ech Nuong or Grilled Frog

Ech Nuong

Grilled Frog

Frog is a popular bar food in Vietnam. Sometimes it will come already grilled, but some restaurants will bring you a clay pot grill filled with hot coals, so you can do the cooking yourself. It's a fun and sociable activity. Of course, the frog tastes like chicken.

Banh Mi Ca Moi or Vietnamese Sardine Sandwich

Banh Mi Ca Moi

Vietnamese Sardine Sandwich

Canned sardines in tomato sauce are heated up in a frying pan and spread on a fresh baguette with cilantro, pickled carrot and daikon, and cucumber. It's a very tasty sandwich that melts in your mouth. Just look for a banh mi stand with a pile of small cans with a picture of a fish on them.

Bun Bo Heo Gio or Beef and Pork Knuckle Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Heo Gio

Beef and Pork Knuckle Noodle Soup

This soup is similar to the very popular bun bo Hue. Thick round noodles float in a tangy broth with tender slices of beef and pork knuckle. The broth has hints on lemongrass in it and a bit of a kick to it, specially if you add some chili paste, which I recommend trying. You may get some extras, like congealed pig's blood, in the bowl as well.

Banh Pia or Pia Mooncake

Banh Pia

Pia Mooncake

Bánh pía, or bánh bía consists of a flaky crust filled with sweetened mung bean paste, durian, and sometimes shredded lard, salted egg yolk, or coconut.

Mien Ga or Chicken Glass Noodle Soup

Mien Ga

Chicken Glass Noodle Soup

If you're looking for chicken noodle soup in Vietnam, miến gà is a great option. The noodles are a cellophane or glass noodle type made from the starch of canna, a flowering plant. The soup's broth is chicken based, and thick, juicy hunks of chicken breast come floating in it.

Ca Phe Sua Da or Vietnamese Iced Coffee with milk

Ca Phe Sua Da

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Thick, sweet, chocolaty liquid that refreshes you, energizes you, and leaves you wanting more. Vietnam's coffee is unique and a must try.

Goi Tai Heo Rau Ram or Pig Ear Salad with Laksa Leaves

Goi Tai Heo

Pig Ear Salad

Boiled pig ear is chopped and combined with herbs, and a sweet and sour fish sauce combo. The pig's ear is soft on the outside with a crunch of cartillage on the inside. It's an interesting texture that's tossed with a combination of delicous flavours and is best enjoyed with a serving of prawn crackers.

Canh Ga Chien or Fried Chicken Wings

Canh Ga Chien

Fried Chicken Wings

Chopped up chicken wings are fried in oil until crispy. Garlic, ginger, and/or shallots are sometimes used in a marinade, or served sprinkled on top. These crunchy wings are often served with nuoc mam, a Vietnamese spicy sweet fish sauce dip.

Banh Mi Cha Bo or Vietnamese Beef Sandwich

Banh Mi Cha Bo

Vietnamese Beef Sandwich

Beef is steamed in a banana leaf then sliced and added to this sandwich with a plethora of delicious flavours including: pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, cucumber, chilli peppers, mayo, and more.

Banh Mi Heo Quay or Vietnamese Roasted Pork Sandwich

Banh Mi Heo Quay

Roasted Pork Sandwich

One of the more popular types of banh mi, pork is roasted and shaved to be the highlight of this delicious sandwich. Along with the flavourful pork, you'll find typical banh mi toppings like: cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, chilli peppers, Chinese chives, cilantro, mayo, hot sauce, and sometimes pate.

Com hen or baby basket clams and rice

Com Hen

Baby Basket Clams and Rice

A Hue specialty, this dish combines tiny clams or mussels with rice, and a collection of flavours that will make you want more. It's served with a small bowl of clam broth that can be sipped or spooned on.

Banh Khoai or Hue Happy pancakes

Banh Khoai

Happy Pancake

Before there was banh xeo, an emporer in Hue's Forbidden City was eating one of these delicious pork and shrimp filled pancakes. They're similar to the more popular and larger banh xeo, but in many ways they're quite different.