Vietnamese Cuisine

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Light but complex, diverse flavors are waiting for you in Vietnam...

Food in Vietnam

When travelling to Vietnam, you can look forward to the rich and diversified Vietnamese cuisine since Vietnam is a country that has over 500 national dishes. Vietnamese food is healthy, inexpensive and high in quality. Oh, and recipes differ very often depending on the family that owns the restaurant.   

In Vietnam, people say that the size of a restaurant’s chairs is proportional to the prices of the dishes that the restaurant offers. If the chairs are small, the costs of the meals are low. Most of the street food you will purchase will cost around $1 and will taste as good as a high-end restaurant.  

Rice is the base of almost all Vietnamese dishes and is typical for Vietnamese culture. The “nuoc mam” fish sauce is a condiment that adds flavor to many Vietnamese dishes. What is in it? Anchovies fermented in salt and water. Try it on Phu Quoc island in the South where it is a trademark condiment.

A good thing: all the food you find is very healthy and low in calories, so feel free to take a couple of different dishes when you eat out in Vietnam and wash it down with a local beer or rice wine.   

Core aspects of Vietnamese cuisine

Banh mi - Vietnamese baguette
Vietnamese Pho - the best version!


  • Street food on the sidewalk is almost everywhere and you can eat as much as you want for little money.
  • You can find various high-quality restaurants in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with refined meals that reflect the country are served.
  • Breakfast is made of pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup served with beef or chicken), or sticky rice. You can see locals feasting on it in the morning. However, there are plenty of western restaurants or bakeries to choose from too!
  • Lunch consists of 3 dishes: rice – vegetables – pork or fish.
  • Dinner is usually similar to breakfast or lunch.
  • Desserts and pastry are quite rare. You can find lotus seeds, white beans, corn with shaved ice, and coconut milk. There are also a lot of desserts made with coconuts or bananas.
  • When you ferment anchovies in salt and water for six to twelve months you get surprisingly tasty “nuoc mam” (fish sauce). This staple Vietnamese sauce is around for centuries because of the sauce’s authenticity, taste, and peoples’ appreciation of the sauce’s high protein percentage of 40%. Soya sauce, chilli sauce and pepper are popular in Vietnamese cuisine too.
  • Vietnam is the world’s second-largest exporting country of coffee ergo you can find plenty of coffee shops where each cup of coffee is individually brewed with a single Vietnamese drip coffee machine. Your choice if you pick a hot or an iced one. Read our related article.

Eating your way through Vietnam

In the Northern region

The food is saltier than in other regions. The most famous soup is pho, which comes in all shapes and sizes and consists of broth, rice noodles, and your choice of added ingredients: finely cut chicken or beef. Bun cha, another favorite soup, consists of vermicelli rice noodles, barbequed pork, and a broth served as a mixture of vinegar, chili, and sugar. Even Barack Obama ate it during his visit! Veggies in the north are eaten fried, blanched, steamed, or crisp. We are sure you´ll find your favorite dish.

In the Central region

The food has been influenced by the former Nguyen Dynasty from Hue, so the Vietnamese cuisine in this part is sweet, sour, and spicier. Bun bo Hue is a popular dish from this region consisting of rice vermicelli noodles and vegetables served dry or with beef soup. Banh khoai-an omelet with bean sprouts, banh bo-steamed rice flour cake with ground shrimp, and nem lui-roll them yourself spring roll kebabs with peanut sauce are other favorites.

In the Southern region

Food is much sweeter as they use coconut milk and herbs: mint, basil, and coriander. Throughout Vietnam, a popular choice when dining with a group of friends is known as Lau, or Vietnamese hot pot where a pot on a frame is in the middle of the table and a gas flame warms broth from underneath. Participants then cook, at their leisure, just about anything that takes their fancy, or is available that night. Great way to socialise! Spring rolls or “nem” are also extremely popular throughout Vietnam, both fresh and fried. Nem is rice paper with minced pork, mushroom, crab, onion, vermicelli, and egg filling. Vegetarian variety “nem rau” is also available. As a Buddhist country, you can find many vegetarian meals throughout these diverse regions too.

What places to visit from the North to the South?

Top 5 picks from Vietnamese cuisine

  1. Pho: A Vietnamese soup made with a broth that simmers for hours, herbs, rice noodles, and beef or chicken is a principal dish in the Vietnamese culture. Pho is full of vitamins and locals eat it for breakfast until stores sell out- which is daily at about 11 am because of the pho’s ability to help fight fatigue in the mornings.
  2. Bun Cha: “Bun”, meaning “white rice noodle”, and “cha”, meaning “pork”, create “bun cha”, a dish fragrant with herbs, slightly sweet sauce, noodles, and grilled pork. Bun cha is the signature dish for the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.
  3. Nem cuon and goi cuon: Nem cuon is essentially a spring roll that includes grilled meats, while goi cuon is a spring roll that includes either boiled shrimp or pork. This Vietnamese food is offered as a DIY activity at restaurant tables: roll your own spring rolls!
  4. Banh Mi: The “banh mi” is a baguette sandwich tracing back to French influence. A single baguette is cut open and filled with ingredients such as: grilled pork, barbecued beef, pates, carrots, cilantro, cucumber, fried egg, and a variety of sauces including chilli.
  5. Egg coffee: This nutritious type of coffee originates in 1946 at Cafe Giang in Hanoi. The yolk of an egg is whipped together with condensed milk to form a sweet treat. Treat yourself to one!

Vietnamese fruits

Vietnam is famous for the astounding array of tropical fruits available.

Avocados, cinnamon apples, star-fruits, coconuts, bananas, jackfruits, longans, lychees, papayas, pomelos, durians, dragon fruit, and more are available at different times of the year.

Most are best devoured when fresh and in season!

Come see and taste Vietnamese cuisine for yourself.

Bargaining fruit in Vietnam

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