Whoever you are and wherever you go in Vietnam, the food is almost guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your trip. Steaming bowls of noodle soup, crisp spring rolls, brightly coloured salads and strong, vibrant flavours abound throughout Vietnam, making this one of the best-loved cuisines in the world.
But don’t take our word for it – we asked some of our travel blogging friends for their take on Vietnamese cuisine. Read on for their hints, tips and recommendations on the best dishes to try!
The Nomadic Boys
Stefan and Sebastien travel the world and document their adventures and food discoveries as they go in their fantastic blog Nomadic Boys.
“Vietnam of course is a foodie’s paradise with the phos of Hanoi in the North right down to the fresh fish delights from the Mekong River in the South. Our favourite Vietnamese offerings however were from the centre, in Hoi An. We loved cao lau and mi quang noodles. Each of these involves a bowl of noodle yumminess mixed with a rich broth and variety of prizes including a meat source with herbs, boiled egg, greens and topped with croutons. Street food is very popular in Vietnam and a super way to discover the cuisine in a local environment.” – Stefan Arestis
Romancing the Planet
Karthik Reddy at Romancing the Planet is a regular traveller to Vietnam and lists delicious bahn uot as his top dish:
“I have been to Vietnam many times, and I have to agree that Vietnamese food is right on top. It’s incredibly fresh and balanced. One thing that struck me in Vietnamese cuisine is that the ingredients for the food are brought fresh from the market for every meal. One of my most favourite foods to try in Vietnam is banh uot, which is a thin rice paper pancake which is usually served with various kinds of pork sausages.” – Karthik Reddy
Bucket List Journey
Annette at Bucket List Journey is self-admittedly obsessed with “once-in-a-lifetime” adventures and sampling the street food of Vietnam was one of them:
“While roaming the streets of Hanoi I found my favourite treat, Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung). This thick, foamy beverage has been called the liquid tiramisu – who wouldn’t love a hot drink that tasted like Italy’s most famous dessert? It is traditionally prepared with coffee, sugar, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. It may not be the lowest in calories, but it’s especially satisfying on a cold, rainy day in Vietnam.” – Annette White
Eating outside is a way of life in Vietnam. Mark Wiens from the fantastic Migrationology blog recounted his favourite dishes from his travels to the country:
“Relaxing on a small plastic stool, munching on something delicious, and enjoying motorbikes whizzing past, is just a fantastic experience all around. One of my favourite Vietnamese meals is bo la lot, a dish of minced beef rolled up in piper lolot leaves (wild betel), and grilled over hot charcoal. After being grilled, the little meat leaf rolls are eaten with rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce, basil, crushed chilies, and a sweet and sour fish sauce dressing. The combination of all the herbs and the grilled beef rolls is irresistible.” – Mark Wiens
Southeast Asia travel writer Annie Edwards recounted her memorable first experience of pho and Vietnamese street food:
“I roamed the streets of Ho Chi Minh where I had my pick of thousands of stalls selling pho, Vietnamese meat and noodle soup. I ordered beef pho from a smiling woman wearing a conical hat, and took a seat at the stand’s dining room set. Street food is a way of life in Vietnam and provides an incredible social community. In fact, patrons will lounge where vendors are selling food for hours, because these stalls bear more similarities to restaurants than the food trucks in America do. In the US, most chefs stay inside their carts. In Vietnam, they not only serve you, but they also offer local assistance to dorky tourists like myself.”
“During my first pho street food experience, I stuck my chopsticks into the broth upside down and everyone saw and made fun of me. After a major demonstration on using chopsticks and readjusting my approach, the friendly locals suggested we add chilli, lime, basil, soy sauce and green onions to our soup. Unaware of what I was getting myself into, I overestimated my spice tolerance and was left looking like a sweaty tomato with blistered lips and teary eyes. A word to the wise: adding more than three slices of dried chili pepper will set your mouth on fire. Nevertheless, the pain was worth it though for this amazing soup.”
Annie is the Southeast Asia Contributor for the Roaming Hunger blog.
Did our bloggers get your taste buds tingling? Follow in their footsteps with our Culinary Vietnam Fully Tailored Journey – or learn more about Vietnamese food in the “Culinary Traditions” section of our website.