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

Vietnamese cured pork sausage or nem chua

Nem Chua

Vietnamese Cured Pork Sausage

A lean, well grinded sample of pork is mixed with some spices and sugar, then left to ferment for a couple days. The result is a very sweet and sour tasting pork that goes well with cold beer.

Vietnamese sticky rice with ice cream

Kem Xoi

Ice Cream and Sticky Rice

With the exception of rice pudding, the western world doesn't really do rice desserts. If you want to dip your toes into the combination, try kem xoi. Pandan sticky rice and coconut ice cream -- a great combination of flavour and texture.

Vietnamese fried dumpling or pillow cake (banh goi in Vietnamese)

Banh Goi

Vietnamese Fried Dumpling

Fried is always better (according to your taste buds). This mushroom, glass noodle, and seasoned ground pork dumpling is fried crispy and served with a sweet dipping sauce. It's a fantastic street food snack.

Bun Thang or Vietnamese combo soup with chicken, pork, and egg.

Bun Thang

Combo Soup

A combo of pork, chicken, egg, and whatever else is floating around the fridge. This light, slightly sweet broth is soaked up with vermicelli noodles and a variety of vegetables. Traditionaly, it's eaten during Tet, but don't worry, nowadays a tasty bowl can be found all year round.

Vietnamese beer stir-fry - bun bo nam bo or bun bo xao

Bun Bo Xao

Vietnamese Beef Stir-fry

With tastes of lemongrass, garlic, and chili, this noodle salad is very flavourful and addictive.

Banh Tam Bi or pork and coconut cream noodles

Banh Tam Bi

Pork and Coconut Cream Noodles

A combination of thick tapioca noodles, fresh herbs and vegetables, strings of pork skin, lean pork meat, and a generous dressing of coconut cream.

Pho Cuon or beef pho rolls in Vietnam

Pho Cuon

Pho Rolls

An uncut sheet of rice noodle is used as a wrapper for this take on the popular soup. Pho rolls are simple, but tasty and they're growing in popularity, especially in Hanoi around Truc Bach lake where they are said to be invented.

Ca Phe Trung or Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Ca Phe Trung

Egg Coffee

Egg coffee is quite difficult to find outside of Hanoi. An egg is frothed with sugar and poured on top of a cup of thick, rich Vietnamese coffee. You can also get it with sweetened condensed milk, and can usually choose whether you want it hot or cold.

Bot Khoai Mon or Vietnamese Fried Taro Cakes with Egg

Bot Khoai Mon

Fried Taro Cakes

Much like it's brother, bot chien this dish is popular with the young crowd. It's a greasy, savoury, tasty mess. Instead of rice flour, taro makes up the delicious fried chunks, giving it a fried potato-taste.

Bot Chien or Vietnamese Fried Rice Cakes with Egg

Bot Chien

Fried Rice Cakes

An after school favourite with the kids, these little cubes of rice cake are fried up with egg and sprinkled with scallions to make a tasty and filling snack. Dip them in soy sauce along with a helping of shredded papaya.

Goi Du Du or Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad

Goi Du Du

Green Papaya Salad

Shredded green papaya and a combination of herbs are dressed with a sweet and sour fish sauce and peanuts. It's often topped with beef jerky, shrimp, or strips of pig ear. The combination of flavours and textures make this salad a Vietnamese favorite.

Goi Muc Thai or Thailand-style Squid Salad in Vietnam

Goi Muc Thai

Thailand-style Squid Salad

This sweet, sour, salty, and spicy salad is a favourite at most seafood restaurants in Vietnam. The squid works perfectly with the crispy textures of the cucumber, carrot, mint, and other fresh herbs and vegetables.

Bun xao Singapore, or Singapore style noodles - the Vietnamese way.

Bun Xao Singapore

Singapore Style Stir-Fried Noodles

This stir-fry is one of my favourites in Vietnam. It usually contains shrimp, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and a mix of veggie, plus vermicelli rice noodles and a ton of flavor. Unlike the Chinese-style of Singapore noodles, it contains no curry.

Sinh to ca chua - a popular Vietnamese drink made with tomatoes, sugar, and ice.

Sinh To Ca Chua

Tomato Shake

Most cafes will offer this refreshing drink. It's basically sweetened tomato juice with ice. The sweetness may come from sugar, honey, or condensed milk. Even if you aren't a huge tomato fan, you should give this drink a try as the tomato taste isn't too overpowering.

A rice paper mixture called banh trang tron in Vietnamese.

Banh Trang Tron

Rice Paper Salad

This quick and cheap hodge podge is a popular street food in Vietnam. Toppings include: dried shrimp, Vietnamese beef jerky, shredded green mango, peanuts, hard boiled quail eggs, Vietnamese coriander, and a nice kick of spice courtesy of chili paste. The flavour and texture combinations are fantastic.

Xoi Man or Salty Sticky Rice topped with meats


Sticky Rice

A very popular breakfast, lunch, or snack in Vietnam. Sticky rice is steamed and topped with a variety of savoury or sweet toppings. During lunch, schools will empty and students will head to their nearest xoi street food stall to fill up on this cheap but tasty concoction.

Bun Mam or Fermented Fish Soup

Bun Mam

Fermented Fish Soup

This noodle soup might not be for everyone. The broth is made with fermented fish or shrimp paste, which means there's a bit of a fish funk to it. It has lots of flavour, and hits all your basic tastes, but it really makes an impact on the umami taste. The soup is usually packed with meat including seafood, fish, and pork.

Banh Beo or Steamed Rice Cakes

Banh Beo

Steamed Rice Cakes

Small circular blobs of steamed rice flour are used to hold ground shrimp or pork, along with some complimentary ingredients like scallions, mung bean paste, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, toasted bread crumbs, or small pork crackling bits. They are usually dipped or covered in sweet fish sauce with chili.