Top 15 traditional Vietnamese dishes

What to try in Vietnam

You have probably already heard such a concept as gastronomic tourism. This is when people come to another country not only and not so much to explore its attractions, but to immerse themselves in the local culture of culinary values. So, in this article you will learn what to try in Vietnam in the first place. Especially since there are many dishes to choose from: the national cuisine of this country has more than half a thousand dishes!

Vietnamese dishes

Soup lovers do the honors

Strange as it may seem, Vietnam is a country where people love soup even more than here.

Photo: Pho soup

One of the most popular first dishes in Vietnam. It is respected not only by locals but also by tourists, because it resembles the usual noodle soup. It is rice noodles boiled in a meat (chicken, seafood) broth, which also chopped some vegetables and herbs. Slices of beef, pork or poultry in “Fo” soup are cut in thin slices. Sprouted germinated soybean sprouts garnish this aromatic dish. You should definitely try this dish because it is no.1 dish in Vietnam.

By the way, this national dish can be offered not only for lunch, as it is usual in Russia, but also for breakfast or for dinner. Here you can enjoy this dish at any time of the day or night. In general, “Fo” soup is a substantial, nutritious and delicious Vietnamese national dish. In the cafe soup is inexpensive, the price depends on the establishment and the type of dish, the average price is 35-50 thousand VND (about a half or two dollars). Local residents eat the soup with several cutlery: chopsticks and spoon.

Photo: Boon Bo Hue

Also a very popular soup, one of those you have to try in Vietnam. It is cooked in the same way as the “Fo” soup with meat broth. Only here the noodles are cooked in a slightly different way and thin pieces of meat are replaced with big chunks of beef on the bone. Hence the more rich consistency of the dish. As a bonus, Boon Bo Hue is flavored with shrimp paste and lemongrass. Bun Bo Hue and Pho are worth trying for comparison.

Photo: soup Cha Gae

This dish is a curious variation of fish soup served with small cakes and as a dressing – fish sauce, aromatic spices: garlic and pepper. The soup is unthinkable without rice noodles. This first dish of Vietnamese cuisine is extremely flavorful and distinctive. It does not resemble our soup, it is worth a try!

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A separate song is the so-called “Hot Pot” (translated from English as “hot pot”). This is room for the imagination of the client, because you can make your own soup of what you like. The minimum price for this restaurant service starts at VND 150,000 ($8). By the way, this pot is large, it is quite possible to satisfy the hunger of two tourists.

Hot Pot

So, you order a Hot Pot, and your table brings a real gas burner, on it – already installed a pot of broth. A dozen (or more) plates with different ingredients are at your service all around. They are already washed and chopped, so all you have to do is toss them in the order and quantity you want. The products are the same as in the above-mentioned Vietnamese soups, but the moment of your own participation in the dish is priceless. Moreover, you can check the freshness of all the ingredients or try raw vegetables separately, for example.

Spices are also given in sufficient quantities. If you have any questions or doubts, you can ask the waiter, he usually walks nearby and is vigilant.

Exotic appetizers

Fried Frogs

One of the dishes that exotic Vietnamese cuisine prides itself on. In our culture kvakushki are inedible animals, but if you go to the country you can scarcely try this snack.

In general, if you ignore prejudices, the taste of frogs’ legs is similar to chicken. Basically, nothing special, but if you want to feel all the tenderness of frog meat, then do not stop at the feet!

Order and try the grilled whole carcasses (they will cost $4-7 per serving).

What else to try in Vietnam from the food? When it comes to the exotic, order the crocodile. They like to cook crocodile in Vietnam and cook it in different ways: grill, broth, and even roast it on a spit in the street – from the top roasted layer they cut off pieces and sell them to the willing.

Cooking crocodile

A crocodile costs about $ 4-6 for a dish, the meat looks like it consists of scales (a bit like fish in consistency). If you compare it to the already familiar types of meat, it is more like white chicken. The taste is unusual, delicate, but that is only if the cook was a decent one.

If you are not lucky with the cook, you can not remember about the tenderness, it is better to try the dish again in another place. A poorly cooked crocodile is hard to chew. Perhaps the most winning version of crocodile meat is curry stew.

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Sesame chunks of ostrich meat

It looks like beef, very much to the liking. It is usually served as steaks of varying degrees of toughness. And yet it is a bit difficult to chew ostrich. From exotic stuff, it is better to order turtle soup. Of course, nature lovers will throw you some tramps, but you should certainly try such a delicious soup!

To dine for two it is enough to order half of the turtle, which will cost about ten dollars (240 thousand dong). For this price, you will be offered a whole pot of the first, and the dish will be cooked in front of you. As usual, the basis of the broth, which adds a lot of chopped herbs. In the pot, the turtle meat is already pampered with flavors.

Turtle soup

You put the separately boiled rice noodles in the bowls and then top them with the soup. And then you fill it up with whatever you want: soy or fish sauce, lime juice, spices… Turtle meat tastes like turkey, but softer and more tender. By the way, the Vietnamese cuisine is characterized by a sour taste, so the locals boldly add lime even in soups and meat. And of course, you can’t have seafood without lime juice!

Delicious snack

Vietnamese national dishes are not just the elaborate combinations you can order in restaurants. Many interesting things can be ordered in a simple cafe or right on the street, from shopkeepers.

Banh mi - French baguette with stuffing

Stuffed baguettes, a relic of Vietnam’s colonial past. The French, who once settled in Vietnam, left such a mark. The locals loved these European buns, so baguettes became the most popular type of fast food in Vietnam. A wide variety of fillings are stuffed into these baguettes, several types of vegetables, along with sauces, meat, ham or seafood. In general, these Vietnamese dishes are always in demand, even among those who reject any exoticism.

It is known that in any cuisine in Vietnam you will certainly find rice. Even those who have not been to Asia know that in this region it is instead of bread, without it there is no way. This is the main side dish that is not only boiled but also fried. The peculiarity of the Vietnamese version of rice is a specific fish sauce, which is a little like soy sauce, but sweeter in taste and has a peculiar smell.

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Rice patties

Rice is also used to make rice cakes in Vietnam. More precisely, from rice flour. They are steamed and called Vietnamese Banh Bao. In shape and taste, they might remind us of our usual manty. They are also worth tasting to appreciate the variety of flavors of Vietnamese national cuisine. There can be a great many fillings. The most traditional is minced meat with vegetables, boiled eggs, herbs and spices.

These are small rolls, which differ from the usual in that they are fried until crispy. But not always either. It is a cold snack: the rolls are wrapped in a pancake or thin rice paper. The filling can be meat or fish, seafood (often shrimp), minced meat with vegetables, and fruits and berries.

Spring rolls with shrimp

Spring rolls (also called Cha Gio) can be eaten “raw” or fried on a pan or grill.

Often these rice pancakes are served with greens and sauces like fish sauce, soy sauce, or even peanut sauce. Without a doubt, the dish is a must-try. It’s also a great option for a beer snack!

And what to drink?

The national cuisine of Vietnam can boast of drinks, too. Coffee is probably the most important among them.

How they make coffee in Vietnam

Let’s remember that Vietnam is a former French colony, and the aromatic drink, like baguettes, is an echo of the colonial past. By the way, Vietnam was already overtaking Brazil in coffee exports and was on the 1st place in the world! Varieties – for every taste: Arabica, mocha, robusta, lovage … In the cafe you can be offered a drink made from a mixture of several varieties.

Vietnamese coffee has an unforgettable flavor. The aftertaste is amazing: no sourness, just freshness and coolness. Coffee is made right in the cup, through a special metal filter (remember its brother again, the French press). So, the filter is placed on a mug, a few spoonfuls of freshly ground coffee are poured into it and pressed. Hot water is poured on top. The coffee seeps into the cup, five minutes – and voila, you can drink it! Coffee in Vietnam is served with ice, condensed milk, and even an egg.

Vietnamese Coffee with Egg

Coffee with egg is surprisingly mild. It is most often sold in the north of the country, for example, in Hanoi. Its consistency is perfect and it melts in your mouth! The coffee is strong and bitter at the bottom of the cup and whipped egg yolks with sugar at the top. This drink can be cold or hot. Russians usually prefer the hot version. By the way, gourmets are advised to eat egg coffee with a spoon.

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Cane juice

One of the most favorite national drinks of the Vietnamese. The juice of tangerine, lime, and kumquat is added to it… The juice acquires a green hue. A lot of ice is poured into the glass, which makes it taste watery as it melts. You have to drink it quickly. Juice without additives is also great! Incredibly sweet, with a grassy flavor, very refreshing. It costs an average of seven thousand dong and is made on every street. In front of you the juice is squeezed from a stick of cane on a special machine.

Rice vodka is an alcoholic beverage in Vietnam.

The cuisine of Vietnam is rich: what to try, everyone decides for himself, but knowing the preferences of our brother, we recommend to try rice vodka. The most popular Vietnamese vodka is called after the name of the capital – Hanoi. It is made in different strengths – from 30 to 40 degrees.

By the way, in Vietnamese villages, people are not lazy to make their own rice moonshine. When the French ruled the ball, the colonizers declared a monopoly on alcohol. The natives were humorous and called their moonshine Quoc Lui, which means “the state retreats”. However, you should not try moonshine, there is a risk of poisoning.

Bananas, coconuts…

When listing the dishes of Vietnamese cuisine, we should not forget about fruits. Because of a hot climate they grow in such abundance that the eyes can’t help but diverge. Let us mention the most unusual and delicious of them. We must say at once – contrary to the laws of the market, a lot in Vietnam – does not mean cheap. Artful sellers like to raise the price, especially in the off-season.

Photo: Exotic Mango Fruit

It’s not quite a “rarity” for our people, but the Vietnamese is absolutely unlike its counterparts, which are traded in our stores. Once you try it, you will feel a huge difference. In Vietnam, these ripe, fragrant fruits from the branches go straight to the markets. Their season starts in March and ends in July. There are many varieties of mango, those that grow in the north are usually orange or with a touch of yellow. Regardless of color, they are all very tasty. But seedless varieties are still the best. True, they cost a lot more.

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Photo: exotic durian

Foul-smelling fruit. In some countries it is even forbidden to eat durian in public places so as not to repel tourists. But if you dare to step over the smell, you will be rewarded with the creamy filling of prickly durian. True, the taste can vary, depending on the variety and maturity of the fruit. Those who have tasted the delights of durian say it is like a fruit salad with a combination of strawberry, pineapple and strawberry flavors.

Jackfruit grows like this

The breadfruit is hardly inferior to the durian in its fragrance. It is very difficult to cut, it is large and sticky, it is better to buy the fruit already cut. It has a peculiar flavor and can be used as an accompaniment to hot meat or vegetable dishes. You can guess from the name that the fruit is nourishing and caloric, you will be full of it quickly.

The ripe fruits of sapodrillas

It is sold year-round all over the country. It resembles a small brown kiwi. The taste is sweet, similar to persimmons, and the flesh is also persimmon-like, but with a hard bone inside. The overripe sapodilla is sugary, with a honey-like aftertaste. Of course, it is better to try for yourself, not just read the description.

Now you know what to try in Vietnam. But in order not to be alone with your earthenware friend and not to spoil your vacation, remember to be prudent. No matter how much you would love to eat, don’t eat too much exotics. Eat no more than three or four foreign fruits a day. And, of course, wash them thoroughly under running water.

A comparison of the price and quality of food in a Vietnamese restaurant and roadside fast food in this video.

Author: Maria Sibirskaya

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About frog legs. The legs are not of swamp frogs, but of specially bred frogs. They are much larger than the usual frogs and the meat is more tender than chicken, although the taste is very similar.

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