Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

The Best Vietnamese Food Guide – What To Eat In Vietnam


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Angelique Graf



Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its vibrant flavors, fresh ingredients, and unique cooking techniques. From savory noodles to crispy spring rolls, Vietnam offers a culinary adventure that is a feast for the senses. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Hanoi or strolling along the idyllic beaches of Da Nang, you’ll find a diverse range of dishes that showcase the rich cultural heritage of this Southeast Asian nation.


Vietnamese food beautifully blends influences from Chinese, French, and Southeast Asian cuisine, resulting in a harmonious balance of flavors and textures. The country’s cuisine is characterized by its emphasis on simplicity, using fresh herbs, vegetables, and high-quality proteins to create dishes that are both healthy and incredibly delicious.


From the iconic Pho to mouth-watering Banh Mi, let’s dive into the best Vietnamese dishes that you absolutely must try on your food journey through Vietnam.


Continue reading the article to learn more about these must-try Vietnamese dishes:



When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, Pho is undeniably the superstar. This iconic noodle soup is a staple in Vietnam and a beloved dish around the world. Pho is typically made with a flavorful, aromatic beef or chicken broth that is simmered for hours, infused with spices like star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. The broth is then poured over thin rice noodles and topped with thinly sliced meat, usually beef or chicken.


Pho is traditionally served with a plate of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chilies on the side, allowing you to customize your bowl to your liking. The combination of tender meat, fragrant broth, and fresh herbs creates a comforting and delicious dish that will warm your soul.


While Pho Bo (beef Pho) is the most common variety, you can also find Pho Ga (chicken Pho) and even vegetarian options made with tofu and vegetables. No matter which variation you choose, a steaming bowl of Pho is a must-try when visiting Vietnam. It’s not just a meal; it’s an experience.


Make sure to slurp your noodles loudly – in Vietnamese culture, it is a sign of enjoyment and appreciation for the dish!


Banh Mi

Banh Mi is a delicious Vietnamese sandwich that beautifully combines French and Vietnamese culinary influences. This popular street food is made with a crusty French baguette, which is then filled with a variety of ingredients and flavors.


The typical Banh Mi consists of a freshly baked baguette that is usually toasted or lightly warmed. It is then spread with a generous layer of mayonnaise and pâté, giving it a creamy and rich base. The sandwich is then filled with various meats such as grilled pork, Vietnamese-style cold cuts, or marinated grilled chicken. To add crunch and freshness, it is topped with pickled vegetables, cucumber slices, fresh cilantro, and sometimes jalapeños for a spicy kick.


What sets Banh Mi apart from other sandwiches is the balance of flavors and textures. The combination of savory, sweet, tangy, and spicy elements creates a mouthwatering explosion of taste with every bite. The crusty exterior of the baguette contrasts with the softness of the fillings, making it a satisfying and addictive meal.


Banh Mi has become a global sensation, thanks to its incredible taste and versatility. You can enjoy it as a quick bite on the go or savor it as a complete meal, depending on your appetite. Be sure to try this classic Vietnamese sandwich during your visit to Vietnam, and you’ll understand why it has gained international acclaim.


Bun Cha

Bun Cha is a popular Vietnamese dish that originated in Hanoi. It is a combination of grilled pork, vermicelli noodles, and fresh herbs, served with a side of dipping sauce.


The star of Bun Cha is the succulent grilled pork patties, marinated in a combination of garlic, lemongrass, and other Vietnamese spices. The patties are grilled until they develop a caramelized crust, imparting a smoky and charred flavor to the meat.


The dish is typically served with a plate of rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs like mint and cilantro, and various vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, and bean sprouts. To enhance the flavors, a small bowl of sweet and tangy dipping sauce, usually made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili, is provided.


The beauty of Bun Cha lies in its interactive nature. You can mix and match the ingredients to create the perfect bite. Take a handful of vermicelli noodles, add some fresh herbs, a piece of grilled pork, and dip it into the sauce. The combination of flavors and textures is simply outstanding.


Bun Cha is best enjoyed in local eateries or street food stalls, where the grill is sizzling, and the atmosphere is buzzing. It is a quintessential Hanoi dish that showcases the simplicity, bold flavors, and culinary traditions that define Vietnamese cuisine.


Be sure to try Bun Cha during your visit to Vietnam, and you’ll understand why it has become a beloved dish both locally and internationally.


Bun Bo Hue

Hailing from the city of Hue in Central Vietnam, Bun Bo Hue is a flavorful and spicy noodle soup that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. This dish is known for its robust and complex flavors, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Bun Bo Hue is made with a hearty broth that is simmered with beef bones, lemongrass, and a blend of aromatic spices. The broth gets its distinctive flavor from the addition of shrimp paste and fermented fish sauce, giving it a savory and slightly sweet taste. The soup is then filled with rice vermicelli noodles, tender slices of beef, and chunks of pork, along with various herbs and vegetables.


What sets Bun Bo Hue apart from other Vietnamese noodle soups is its spiciness. The soup is often infused with spicy chili oil or chili flakes, adding a delightful kick to each spoonful. However, if you prefer a milder version, you can always ask for it to be served with less spice.


When enjoying Bun Bo Hue, it is common to garnish it with a squeeze of lime, fresh herbs like mint and Thai basil, and additional toppings such as bean sprouts and sliced onions.


Bun Bo Hue is a true representation of the bold and vibrant flavors found in Central Vietnamese cuisine. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Hue or seeking it out at a local restaurant, this spicy noodle soup should not be missed.


Com Tam

Com Tam, which literally translates to “broken rice,” is a popular Vietnamese dish that originated in Southern Vietnam. It is a humble yet flavorful meal that showcases the creativity and resourcefulness of Vietnamese cuisine.


Com Tam gets its name from the traditional way of preparing the rice. Broken rice grains, which are smaller and fractured pieces of rice, are used instead of whole grains. These broken rice grains have a unique texture and absorb flavors exceptionally well.


Accompanying the broken rice, Com Tam is typically served with a variety of toppings. Grilled pork chops, marinated grilled pork, or shredded pork skin are common protein choices. These meats are often flavorful and tender, thanks to the marinade made with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and other aromatic ingredients. The dish is also complemented by a fried egg, pickled vegetables, and sliced cucumber, adding freshness and texture.


Com Tam is usually served with a side dish of fish sauce-based dressing, sometimes called “nuoc cham.” This dipping sauce brings a tangy and savory element to the dish and can be poured over the rice and toppings for added flavor.


This dish is a favorite among locals for its simplicity and comforting flavors. It is often enjoyed as a hearty meal for any time of the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


If you’re looking to experience traditional Vietnamese street food, indulging in a plate of Com Tam is an absolute must.


Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo, often referred to as Vietnamese savory pancakes or Vietnamese crepes, is a delightful and crispy dish that originated in Central Vietnam but is enjoyed throughout the country. Banh Xeo gets its name from the sizzling sound it makes when the batter hits the hot pan.


The pancake batter is made from a mixture of rice flour, turmeric powder, coconut milk, and water, resulting in a golden-yellow hue. The batter is poured onto a hot skillet or crepe pan, alongside a medley of fillings, such as slices of pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and green onions.


Once the filling is cooked and the pancake is crispy, it is folded in half and served with lettuce or Vietnamese herbs, such as mint, cilantro, and lettuce. Banh Xeo is typically eaten by wrapping a small portion of the pancake in lettuce or rice paper, along with herbs and dipping it in a tangy fish sauce-based dip.


The combination of textures and flavors in Banh Xeo is what makes it so special. The outer layer is crispy and slightly chewy, while the filling offers a burst of umami from the tender pork and shrimp. The freshness of the herbs and the tangy dipping sauce balances out the richness of the pancake.


Banh Xeo is not only a delicious dish but also a fun and interactive eating experience. Sharing a plate of Banh Xeo with friends or family, wrapping the pancake in lettuce, and dipping it into the sauce is a communal and joyful way to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine.


Make sure to seek out Banh Xeo when you’re in Vietnam to experience the satisfaction of biting into a crispy and flavorful Vietnamese pancake.


Goi Cuon

Goi Cuon, commonly known as Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, is a refreshing and healthy dish that showcases the vibrant flavors and textures of Vietnamese cuisine. These translucent rice paper rolls are filled with an array of fresh ingredients, making them a perfect choice for those seeking a lighter Vietnamese delicacy.


Goi Cuon typically consists of rice paper wrappers filled with a combination of herbs, vegetables, vermicelli noodles, and protein. The protein can vary from shrimp and pork to tofu and even a combination of ingredients. The rolls are often accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce or a hoisin-based sauce, adding a nutty and savory element to the dish.


The beauty of Goi Cuon lies in the contrast of textures and the burst of flavors. The soft and chewy rice paper wraps around the crisp vegetables, providing a delightful mouthfeel. The fresh herbs like mint, Thai basil, and cilantro add a refreshing and aromatic note to every bite. Meanwhile, the dipping sauce complements the rolls with its rich and tangy flavor.


Goi Cuon is not only a delightful appetizer or snack but can also be enjoyed as a light and refreshing meal. Whether you’re dining at a local eatery or rolling your own at a Vietnamese cooking class, Goi Cuon is a must-try dish to experience the true essence of Vietnamese cuisine.


Ca Phe Trung

Ca Phe Trung, also known as Vietnamese egg coffee, is a unique and indulgent beverage that reflects the creativity and ingenuity of Vietnamese coffee culture. This popular drink is made by combining rich Vietnamese coffee with a creamy and velvety egg-based mixture.


The base of Ca Phe Trung is typically made by brewing strong Vietnamese coffee using a traditional drip filter, which produces a bold and robust flavor. This coffee is then poured over a mixture of beaten egg yolks and condensed milk, creating a silky mousse-like layer that floats on top of the coffee.


The combination of the strong, aromatic coffee with the sweet and creamy egg layer results in a luxurious and decadent drink. Each sip is a harmonious blend of bittersweet coffee and the smoothness of the egg mixture.


Ca Phe Trung can be enjoyed both hot and cold, depending on your preference. It is often served in a small glass, allowing you to admire the distinct layers and savor the flavors slowly. The drink has gained popularity in recent years, and you can find it in coffee shops and cafes across Vietnam.


If you are a coffee lover, trying a cup of Ca Phe Trung is an absolute must. It not only provides a unique taste experience but also offers a glimpse into the innovative and inventive coffee culture of Vietnam.


Ca Kho To

Ca Kho To, also known as caramelized fish in clay pot, is a traditional Vietnamese dish that showcases the delicate balance of sweet and savory flavors. This mouthwatering and comforting dish is a favorite among seafood lovers and is popular throughout Vietnam.


Ca Kho To is typically made using catfish, though other fish varieties can be used as well. The fish is simmered in a clay pot along with a caramel sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and shallots. This combination creates a rich, sticky glaze that coats the fish, imparting a caramelized and slightly sweet taste.


The dish is slowly cooked over low heat, allowing the flavors to develop and the fish to absorb the delicious sauce. The result is tender, succulent fish with a flavorful glaze that pairs wonderfully with steamed rice and a side of fresh vegetables.


Ca Kho To is often garnished with chopped green onions or cilantro, adding a fresh and aromatic element to the dish. The clay pot, in which the fish is served, also helps to retain heat and enhances the overall dining experience.


With its combination of sweet and savory flavors, Ca Kho To is a true comfort food that warms the heart and satisfies the palate. It is a representation of Vietnamese home cooking at its finest, with its simple yet incredibly delicious taste.


When visiting Vietnam, be sure to try Ca Kho To to experience the delightful flavors and cultural significance of this traditional dish.



Vietnamese cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, textures, and culinary delights that will captivate your taste buds. From the iconic Pho to the flavorful Banh Mi, the spicy Bun Bo Hue to the refreshing Goi Cuon, each dish has its own unique characteristics and is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Vietnam.


Throughout this food guide, we have explored some of the must-try dishes that showcase the diversity and creativity of Vietnamese cuisine. Whether you’re a fan of noodle soups, sandwiches, rice dishes, or street food, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


Vietnamese food beautifully balances fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and delicate techniques. It is a delightful combination of influences from various cultures, resulting in a culinary experience that is both comforting and unforgettable.


When visiting Vietnam, make it a priority to immerse yourself in the vibrant food scene. Visit local markets, street food stalls, and family-owned restaurants to taste the authentic flavors that make Vietnamese cuisine so special.


From savoring a bowl of steaming Pho on a cool morning to biting into a crispy Banh Xeo wrapped in lettuce leaves, each dish will transport you to the heart of Vietnamese culture and leave you craving for more.


So, embark on a gastronomic adventure and let the myriad of flavors and aromas of Vietnamese food awaken your senses. Prepare yourself for a culinary journey that will leave you with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for the incredible food culture of Vietnam.