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

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.

Banh Canh or Vietnamese Thick Noodle Soup

Banh Canh

Thick Noodle Soup

The noodles in this soup are made from tapioca flour, or sometimes a combination of tapioca and rice flour. The ingredients in the soup can vary, but the thick glutinous noodles are what make this soup different from any of the other Vietnamese soups.

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.

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.

Banh Tom Ho Tay or Vietnamese shrimp sweet potato fritter from Ho Tay or West lake

Banh Tom

Sweet Potato Shrimp Cake

Shreds of sweet potato mixed in a flour batter and topped with a shrimp then deep-fried to a crisp. It's a great bar snack. Wrap it in lettuce and you can pretend it's healthy.

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.

Banh Xeo or Vietnamese sizzling pancakes

Banh Xeo

Vietnamese Sizzling Pancake

A savuory crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and vegetables. The batter is made with rice flour and tumeric. Bánh Xèo is usually eaten by tearing a piece off and wrapping it in rice paper along with some herbs and lettuce. It's a cheap and delicious meal.

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.

Bun Rieu Cua or Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup

Bun Rieu Cua

Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup

Freshwater crabs and tomatoes make up this soup's broth, then rice vermicelli noodles, pork, and tofu soak up the flavours.

Bun Thai or Thai Noodle Soup

Bun Thai

Thai Noodles

A Thailand style spicy broth with vermicelli rice noodles and various proteins. It's often served with seafood like shrimp and squid, but I've also had a vegetarian version with tofu and cha lua.

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.

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.

Com Chien or Fried Rice

Com Chien

Fried Rice

You've probably had many versions of fried rice, but Vietnam's version has something that you just can't get in the western world -- freshness. Vietnam is one of the top five largest producers of rice in the world. The quality of rice here is top-notch.

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.

Goi Cuon or Fresh Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Goi Cuon

Summer Rolls

These fresh spring rolls are wrapped in wet rice paper and filled with a mini salad. The protein can be shrimp, slices of pork loaf, grilled pork, tofu, etc. They are a little package of freshness, specially in Vietnam where you know everything is grown locally.

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.

Hu Tieu Nam Vang or Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

Hu Tieu Nam Vang

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

A hearty noodle soup filled with a variety of protein -- pork, beef, seafood, etc.

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.