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The Misfit Breakfast Of Vietnam


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Kellie Montana



Welcome to the vibrant and captivating world of Vietnamese breakfast cuisine. This delightful mix of flavors, aromas, and textures will take you on a gastronomic journey like no other. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the tranquil riverside cafes of Hoi An, breakfast in Vietnam is a feast for the senses.


Food plays an integral role in Vietnamese culture, and this is especially true when it comes to breakfast. It is a time for family and friends to gather, share stories, and savor the first meal of the day. Vietnamese breakfasts are hearty, flavorful, and often reflective of the country’s rich history and diverse regional influences.


The origins of Vietnamese breakfast can be traced back to the ancient culinary traditions of the country. Over centuries, it has evolved and adapted, incorporating influences from neighboring countries such as China, Cambodia, and Thailand. Today, it stands as a unique and vibrant cuisine that showcases the essence of Vietnamese culinary ingenuity.


One striking feature of Vietnamese breakfast is the wide array of dishes available. From savory bowls of pho to crispy banh mi sandwiches, there is something to satisfy every palate. The diversity of flavors and textures is a testament to the richness of Vietnamese cuisine.


Another remarkable aspect of Vietnamese breakfast culture is the prevalence of street food. Street vendors set up their stalls early in the morning, enticing passersby with the aromas of sizzling meats, fragrant herbs, and steaming bowls of noodles. The streets come alive with the sound of sizzling pans and the laughter of locals and tourists alike.


In recent years, Vietnam has also seen the rise of fusion breakfast trends. Chefs and food enthusiasts are putting their own unique spin on traditional dishes, infusing them with international influences and innovative techniques. This fusion of flavors and styles creates an exciting and dynamic dining experience.


Accompanying the delicious breakfast dishes are a variety of beverages. From robust Vietnamese coffee to refreshing fruit smoothies, these drinks complement the flavors and awaken the senses. The beverage culture in Vietnam is as vibrant and diverse as the food itself.


In this article, we will explore the history, regional variations, traditional dishes, street food delights, fusion trends, popular beverages, and even vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast in Vietnam. So, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure through the misfit breakfast of Vietnam!


History of Vietnamese Breakfast

The history of Vietnamese breakfast is deeply intertwined with the rich tapestry of Vietnamese culinary traditions. Dating back thousands of years, Vietnamese cuisine has been shaped by a combination of indigenous ingredients and outside influences.


During the reign of the Ly dynasty in the 11th century, the culture of eating breakfast began to emerge in Vietnam. It was during this time that rice, the staple of Vietnamese cuisine, became a popular breakfast food. Rice would be paired with simple accompaniments such as pickled vegetables, fish sauce, or fragrant herbs.


The influence of Chinese cuisine can also be seen in the breakfast traditions of Vietnam. Chinese immigrants brought with them a love for congee, a rice porridge dish that became a popular breakfast option. Vietnamese congee, known as chao, is often served with a variety of toppings such as shredded chicken, pork floss, or preserved eggs.


Another significant influence on Vietnamese breakfast comes from the French colonial period. With the French occupation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, French culinary techniques and ingredients were introduced to Vietnam. This resulted in the creation of iconic dishes such as banh mi, a French baguette filled with a variety of savory ingredients like pate, cold cuts, and pickled vegetables.


During the 20th century, as Vietnam went through periods of war and political upheaval, breakfast became a symbol of resilience and identity. The simplicity and comfort of a bowl of pho, a fragrant noodle soup filled with tender beef or chicken, served as a source of nourishment and unity for the Vietnamese people.


Over time, regional variations in breakfast dishes began to emerge. In the north, the influence of Chinese cuisine is more prominent, with dishes like xoi sticky rice and crispy donuts called bánh rán. In the central region, rice-based dishes like banh beo, steamed rice cakes topped with ground shrimp and crispy pork skin, are popular. In the south, a fusion of Vietnamese and Cambodian flavors can be found in dishes like banh xeo, a savory pancake filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts.


Today, Vietnamese breakfast continues to evolve and adapt. Traditional dishes are still beloved by locals and tourists alike, while new fusion creations and global influences bring a fresh twist to the morning meal. Whether you prefer a hearty bowl of pho, a crispy banh mi sandwich, or a comforting bowl of chao, Vietnamese breakfast offers a wide range of flavors and textures that will awaken your senses and leave you craving for more.


Regional Variations in Vietnamese Breakfast

Vietnam is a country with a diverse culinary landscape, and this diversity is reflected in the regional variations of Vietnamese breakfast. Each region has its own unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques that contribute to the rich tapestry of Vietnamese cuisine.


In the northern region of Vietnam, where the influence of Chinese cuisine is strong, breakfast dishes often feature savory flavors and hearty ingredients. One popular dish is xoi, sticky rice that is steamed and then topped with various ingredients such as mung bean, fried shallots, or shredded chicken. Another breakfast staple is banh cuon, delicate rice paper rolls filled with a mixture of ground pork and wood ear mushrooms, and served with a side of tangy fish sauce.


The central region of Vietnam, with its rich and complex culinary heritage, boasts a wide variety of breakfast dishes. One beloved delicacy is banh beo, steamed rice cakes topped with ground shrimp, crispy pork skin, and a drizzle of fragrant fish sauce. Another popular dish is mi quang, a noodle dish native to the city of Quang Nam, featuring turmeric-infused rice noodles topped with shrimp, pork, herbs, and a small amount of savory broth.


As we move to the southern region of Vietnam, closer to the Cambodian border, the breakfast dishes take on a different character. Here, the vibrant and bold flavors of Cambodian cuisine blend with traditional Vietnamese techniques to create unique breakfast delights. One iconic dish is banh xeo, a crispy and savory pancake filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Another beloved breakfast option is hu tieu, a noodle soup similar to pho but with clear broth and a variety of toppings including tender slices of pork, shrimp, and fresh herbs.


While these regional variations showcase the diverse flavors and ingredients of Vietnamese breakfast, it is important to note that there is also a sense of culinary interplay and adaptation throughout the country. In major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you can find a blend of regional dishes, allowing visitors to sample the best of Vietnamese breakfast cuisine in one place.


Exploring the regional variations in Vietnamese breakfast is not just a culinary adventure; it is also an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural heritage and traditions of different parts of Vietnam. So, whether you find yourself in the north, central, or southern region, be sure to indulge in the unique breakfast dishes that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you with a greater appreciation for the incredible diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.


Traditional Vietnamese Breakfast Dishes

Traditional Vietnamese breakfast dishes are a true embodiment of the country’s culinary heritage. These hearty and flavorful options showcase the diversity of ingredients, cooking techniques, and regional influences that contribute to Vietnamese cuisine.


One iconic dish that has become synonymous with Vietnamese breakfast is pho. This fragrant noodle soup is a staple in Vietnamese households, with variations in different regions. A bowl of pho typically consists of rice noodles, tender slices of beef or chicken, and a rich broth flavored with aromatic herbs and spices like star anise and cinnamon. To complete the dish, diners can add a squeeze of lime, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, and chili for an extra kick.


Banh mi is another beloved Vietnamese breakfast dish that has gained popularity worldwide. This French-inspired sandwich features a crispy baguette filled with a variety of savory ingredients. Common fillings include pate, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chili sauce. The combination of flavors and textures in banh mi creates a delightful breakfast experience.


Xoi is a traditional sticky rice dish that can be found in various forms throughout Vietnam. It is typically made by steaming glutinous rice and then topping it with a variety of ingredients. In the north, xoi is often served with mung bean and fried shallots. In the south, it can be found with shredded chicken and a drizzle of soy sauce. Xoi is a comforting and filling breakfast option that provides a satisfying start to the day.


For those seeking a lighter breakfast, banh cuon is a popular choice. These delicate rice paper rolls are filled with a mixture of ground pork and wood ear mushrooms, and steamed to perfection. They are served with a side of fish sauce and topped with crispy fried shallots. The combination of soft rice paper, flavorful filling, and tangy sauce makes banh cuon a delightful morning meal.


For something with a bit more kick, bún bò Huế is a spicy beef noodle soup that hails from the city of Huế in central Vietnam. The broth is infused with lemongrass, chili, and shrimp paste, which gives it a distinct aroma and flavor. The soup is typically served with thick rice noodles, tender slices of beef, and a medley of herbs and vegetables. Bún bò Huế is both flavorful and satisfying, making it a popular breakfast choice for those who enjoy a little spice.


Other traditional Vietnamese breakfast dishes include chao (rice porridge), which is often served with various toppings like shredded chicken or pork floss, and bánh rán, deep-fried glutinous rice balls filled with sweetened mung bean paste. These dishes, along with many others, showcase the diversity and creativity of Vietnamese cuisine.


By exploring the traditional Vietnamese breakfast dishes, you can truly immerse yourself in the rich culinary tradition of the country. So, whether you opt for a comforting bowl of pho or a flavorful banh mi sandwich, you are sure to start your day on a delicious note.


Street Food Breakfast in Vietnam

When it comes to breakfast in Vietnam, the streets come alive with the enticing aromas and sizzling sounds of street food vendors. Street food breakfast has become a beloved tradition in Vietnam, offering a wide variety of delicious and affordable options that cater to all tastes.


One staple of street food breakfast in Vietnam is bánh mì, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich filled with an array of savory ingredients. From grilled pork and pate to fried eggs and pickled vegetables, the combinations are endless. The sandwich is made fresh to order, ensuring that every bite is a burst of flavor and texture.


If you’re in the mood for a hot and filling breakfast, look no further than the iconic pho stands that dot the streets of Vietnam. Here, you can find steaming bowls of aromatic beef or chicken noodle soup, served with an array of garnishes such as fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and lime. The fragrant broth and tender meat make for a comforting and satisfying start to the day.


For those seeking a quick and convenient breakfast option, look out for stalls selling bánh cuốn. These delicate rice paper rolls are filled with a mixture of ground pork and wood ear mushrooms, steamed to perfection, and served with a side of tangy fish sauce. The combination of soft rice paper and flavorful filling is a delight for the taste buds.


No street food breakfast experience in Vietnam would be complete without trying xôi, a dish made from glutinous rice that is flavored and topped with a variety of ingredients. From the savory xôi gà, which features shredded chicken and crispy fried shallots, to the sweet xôi nước đường with mung bean and coconut milk, each variation offers a unique and delicious experience.


Another popular street food breakfast item in Vietnam is bánh bao, steamed buns filled with savory ingredients such as pork, mushrooms, and eggs. These fluffy and flavorful buns are often enjoyed with a cup of hot Vietnamese coffee, creating the perfect morning pairing.


As you walk the streets of Vietnam in the morning, you’ll also encounter mobile vendors selling delicious Vietnamese pancakes known as bánh xèo. These crispy pancakes are filled with a savory mixture of pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, and are wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves. The combination of textures and flavors makes bánh xèo a must-try street food breakfast option.


One of the joys of street food breakfast in Vietnam is the opportunity to watch skilled vendors prepare your meal right in front of you. The sizzling pans, aromatic spices, and nimble hands create a sensory experience that adds to the enjoyment of the food.


Whether you’re a local or a visitor, street food breakfast in Vietnam offers a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary culture of the country. It’s a delightful way to start your day, and a memorable experience that will leave you craving for more.


Fusion Breakfast Trends in Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine has a rich and diverse culinary heritage, and in recent years, there has been a rise in fusion breakfast trends that blend traditional Vietnamese flavors with international influences. These innovative and creative dishes offer a new twist on classic breakfast options, giving locals and tourists alike a chance to experience the evolving culinary scene in Vietnam.


One popular fusion breakfast trend is the incorporation of Western ingredients and techniques into traditional Vietnamese dishes. For example, you may find dishes like eggs benedict served on a banh mi instead of an English muffin, or a Vietnamese-style omelette filled with local herbs and spices. These fusion dishes provide a unique and delicious blend of flavors that cater to both Vietnamese tastes and international palates.


Another emerging trend is the fusion of different Asian cuisines with Vietnamese breakfast staples. For instance, you might come across Japanese-inspired sushi rolls filled with Vietnamese ingredients like barbecued pork or pickled vegetables. Korean-inspired bibimbap bowls with a Vietnamese twist are also gaining popularity, combining rice, marinated meat, and a variety of vegetables to create a satisfying and flavorful breakfast option.


Fusion breakfast trends in Vietnam are not limited to savory dishes. There has also been a creative fusion of traditional Vietnamese sweets with international dessert influences. One example is the incorporation of French pastries into Vietnamese breakfast treats. You might find croissant-inspired bánh croissant filled with pandan custard or luscious caramel, offering a delightful combination of French pastry techniques with Vietnamese flavors.


Another fusion trend in Vietnamese breakfast involves the use of unconventional ingredients and flavor combinations. Chefs and food enthusiasts are pushing the boundaries by experimenting with unexpected pairings such as durian and coconut milk in sticky rice, or jackfruit and chocolate in pancakes. These unique flavor profiles create a sense of adventure and excitement for those seeking innovative breakfast experiences.


The fusion breakfast trend in Vietnam not only showcases the creativity of chefs and food enthusiasts, but also reflects the evolving tastes and preferences of the Vietnamese people. As the country becomes more connected to the global culinary scene, fusion breakfasts offer a bridge between traditional dishes and international influences.


By embracing fusion breakfast trends, Vietnam is able to cater to a wider range of tastes and provide a unique dining experience for both locals and visitors. Whether you’re a fan of traditional Vietnamese flavors or enjoy exploring the boundaries of culinary innovation, fusion breakfasts in Vietnam are sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the delicious blend of cultures in Vietnamese cuisine.


Popular Beverages for Breakfast in Vietnam

When it comes to breakfast in Vietnam, the food is not the only star of the show. The country boasts a vibrant and diverse range of beverages that perfectly complement the flavors of traditional Vietnamese breakfast dishes. From robust coffees to refreshing smoothies, the drink culture in Vietnam is as delightful as the food itself.


One iconic beverage that you can find in almost every corner of Vietnam is ca phe sua da, Vietnamese iced coffee. This rich and bold coffee is made by combining strong dark roast coffee with sweetened condensed milk, which creates a creamy and indulgent taste. Served over ice, ca phe sua da is a popular choice for locals to start their day and provides a much-needed caffeine boost.


For those who prefer a hot beverage in the morning, tra da, or Vietnamese iced tea, is a popular option. Made from brewed black tea and served over ice, tra da is often enjoyed with a drizzle of lime juice for a refreshing twist. The combination of bold flavors and the cooling effect of the ice make tra da a perfect companion to a warm Vietnamese breakfast.


If you’re looking for something lighter and more hydrating, sinh to, or fruit smoothies, are a popular choice. These refreshing concoctions are made by blending fresh seasonal fruit with ice and sometimes a touch of condensed milk. From the tropical flavors of mango and pineapple to the tangy sweetness of passion fruit, sinh to offers a burst of fruity flavors to complement your breakfast.


An alternative to coffee and tea is nuoc mia, sugar cane juice. This popular street beverage is made by extracting the juice from freshly pressed sugar cane stalks. The juice is then served over ice, providing a sweet and refreshing drink that is perfect for a hot morning. Nuoc mia is not only delicious but also a great source of natural hydration.


For those looking for a traditional Vietnamese herbal drink, there’s che, a sweet dessert-like beverage made from a combination of ingredients such as beans, jelly, coconut milk, and ice. Che comes in a variety of flavors and textures, ranging from the creamy and mung bean-based che xanh to the refreshing and fruity che ba mau with three colored layers of bean paste and coconut milk.


Another popular Vietnamese beverage is sua dau nanh, soy milk. Made from soybeans, this dairy-free drink is a nutritious alternative to dairy milk. Served hot or cold, sua dau nanh provides a creamy and slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with Vietnamese breakfast dishes.


Whether you prefer a caffeinated kick from ca phe sua da, the refreshing sweetness of a fruit smoothie, or a traditional herbal beverage like che, the drink culture in Vietnam offers a wide variety of options to satisfy every palate. These popular beverages not only complement the flavors of Vietnamese breakfast cuisine but also enhance the overall dining experience, making your morning meal in Vietnam a truly memorable one.


Vegetarian and Vegan Options for Breakfast in Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine is known for its abundant use of fresh herbs, vegetables, and tofu, making it a great destination for vegetarian and vegan travelers. In Vietnam, you can find a wide range of delicious and fulfilling vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast that cater to different dietary preferences.


One popular vegetarian and vegan option for breakfast in Vietnam is a bowl of pho chay. While traditional pho is usually made with beef or chicken broth, pho chay replaces the meat with a vegetarian broth made from simmering aromatics, spices, and vegetables. Topped with rice noodles, tofu, and an assortment of fresh herbs and bean sprouts, pho chay offers a flavorful and satisfying morning meal.


Banh mi chay is another vegetarian and vegan delight for breakfast. This Vietnamese baguette sandwich is packed with a variety of plant-based fillings such as marinated tofu, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, and chili sauce. The combination of crunchy bread and flavorful fillings creates a satisfying and portable breakfast option for those on the go.


For a lighter breakfast, look no further than chè, a traditional Vietnamese sweet soup dessert. While chè typically contains beans or fruits in a sweet syrup, chè chay replaces animal-based ingredients with vegan alternatives like coconut milk, plant-based jelly, and tapioca pearls. Chè chay comes in various flavors and textures, offering a refreshing and indulgent option for those with a sweet tooth.


Another popular vegan-friendly option that can be enjoyed for breakfast is bánh xèo chay. This savory pancake is typically made with a crispy rice flour batter filled with mushrooms, bean sprouts, and sometimes tofu. Topped with fresh herbs and wrapped in lettuce leaves, bánh xèo chay is a flavorful and protein-rich option for a vegan breakfast.


Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, known as gỏi cuốn, can also be adapted to suit vegetarian and vegan diets. These translucent rice paper rolls are filled with a refreshing combination of vegetables, herbs, and tofu. They are often served with a flavorful dipping sauce, making them a light and nutritious breakfast choice.


In addition to these specific dishes, many street food stalls and restaurants in Vietnam offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options that can be customized to fit dietary preferences. From stir-fried vegetables to tofu-based dishes, there is no shortage of plant-based choices to enjoy for breakfast in Vietnam.


When exploring the local food scene, it’s always a good idea to communicate your dietary preferences to ensure that the ingredients meet your needs. Vietnamese locals are generally accommodating and happy to make adjustments to suit vegetarian and vegan diets.


So, whether you’re following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, rest assured that Vietnam offers a wide array of flavorful and satisfying breakfast options that showcase the country’s plant-based culinary ingenuity.


Top Places to Experience Vietnamese Breakfast Culture

To truly immerse yourself in the vibrant Vietnamese breakfast culture, it is essential to visit some of the country’s top locations where you can experience the diverse flavors, bustling atmosphere, and authentic traditions of Vietnamese morning dining. Here are some must-visit places that will give you a taste of Vietnam’s breakfast culture:

  1. Hanoi’s Old Quarter: Start your culinary journey in Vietnam’s capital city, where the narrow streets of the Old Quarter are filled with food vendors serving up a variety of traditional breakfast dishes. Try the iconic pho, banh mi, or xoi from these bustling street stalls to get a true sense of Hanoi’s breakfast scene.
  2. Hoi An Riverside Cafes: Hoi An is known for its picturesque riverside scenery, and it’s the perfect place to savor a leisurely breakfast. Sit at one of the charming cafes along the Thu Bon River and indulge in a plate of Banh Beo, a specialty of central Vietnam. These steamed rice cakes topped with ground shrimp and crispy pork skin are the perfect way to start your day in Hoi An.
  3. Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Thanh Market: Explore the vibrant food scene in Ho Chi Minh City by paying a visit to the renowned Ben Thanh Market. This bustling market offers an array of street food stalls serving up delicious breakfast options, from banh mi to com tam (broken rice) with various toppings. Take a seat at one of the communal tables and enjoy the lively atmosphere while sampling the diverse flavors of southern Vietnamese breakfast cuisine.
  4. Dalat Morning Market: Dalat, nestled in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, is famous for its fresh produce and vibrant local markets. Visit the Dalat Morning Market, where you can witness the hustle and bustle of the early morning trade, and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of a traditional Vietnamese market breakfast. Don’t miss the chance to taste the local specialty, banh trang nuong, a grilled rice paper topped with a variety of savory toppings.
  5. Nha Trang’s Seafood Stalls: For seafood lovers, a visit to Nha Trang’s famous seafood stalls is a must. While traditionally seen as a lunch or dinner spot, many vendors start their day early and offer breakfast options. Indulge in a bowl of banh canh, a thick rice noodle soup with seafood, or enjoy freshly grilled seafood as the sun rises over the pristine beaches of Nha Trang.

These are just a few examples of the top places in Vietnam where you can experience the vibrant breakfast culture and savor the delicious flavors of Vietnamese morning cuisine. Whether you’re in the bustling streets of Hanoi, the charming riverside cafes of Hoi An, or the bustling markets of Ho Chi Minh City, the opportunities to explore and indulge in Vietnamese breakfast culture are endless.


Make sure to embrace the local customs, engage with the friendly vendors, and allow yourself to be swept away by the enchanting and lively atmosphere that is characteristic of Vietnamese breakfast culture. It’s an experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the culinary heritage of Vietnam.



Embarking on a culinary adventure through the breakfast culture of Vietnam is a journey filled with diverse flavors, captivating aromas, and immersive experiences. From the traditional dishes rooted in the country’s history to the innovative fusion trends, Vietnamese breakfast offers something for everyone.


The history of Vietnamese breakfast reflects the influences of neighboring countries and the resilience of the Vietnamese people. Regional variations showcase the unique flavors and ingredients found throughout the country, while street food breakfasts bring the bustling streets of Vietnam to life.


Traditional Vietnamese breakfast dishes, such aspho, banh mi, and xoi, offer a taste of authentic culinary traditions. Vegetarian and vegan options are abundant, providing a range of satisfying alternatives for those with specific dietary preferences.


The beverage culture in Vietnam is just as enticing, with options like Vietnamese iced coffee, fresh fruit smoothies, and soothing herbal teas to accompany your morning meal.


To truly experience Vietnamese breakfast culture, exploring top places like Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Hoi An’s riverside cafes, and the vibrant markets of Ho Chi Minh City will immerse you in the vibrant street food scene and authentic traditions of Vietnamese morning dining.


In conclusion, Vietnamese breakfast culture is a captivating blend of tradition, innovation, and culinary diversity. Whether you’re a food enthusiast eager to explore new flavors or a traveler seeking to immerse yourself in the local way of life, Vietnamese breakfast will tantalize your taste buds and offer an unforgettable culinary experience.


So, wake up early, embrace the aromas of the streets, and dive into the world of Vietnamese breakfast. Let the flavors transport you to the heart of this enchanting country, where food is not just about nourishment, but a celebration of culture and community.