Heralded as one of the world's most delicious destinations, there are some dishes you just can't miss in Vietnam.
1. Banh Mi
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Arguably the world’s ultimate sandwich, bánh mì sees Asian and European ingredients beautifully paired and stuffed into a crispy baguette. There are plenty of variations but the classic fillings are meat pâté paired with Vietnamese cold cuts, such as sliced pork or pork belly, mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, cucumber, chilies and plenty of coriander. Vegetarians can substitute the meat for a freshly-made omelette or, less commonly, tofu. This iconic sarnie is rarely served in restaurants but can be found at most bakeries and many street carts.
2. Banh Xeo
Translating literally as “sizzling cake”, these huge Vietnamese pancakes are named after the loud sizzling sound made when the batter meets the hot skillet. A savoury affair, the rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric pancake is wrapped around shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg. It is then wrapped again in rice paper and greens, dunked in a spicy sauce and devoured. You’re likely to find more greens and herbs involved the further south you travel.
Enjoy a street-food tour of Ho Chi Minh City on our Vietnam holidays.
Probably the country’s best known (and most frequently mispronounced – for the record, it’s “fuh”) dish, this noodle soup is a delicious meal at any time of day but is most frequently eaten for breakfast. A simple beef or chicken broth is accompanied by flat rice noodles, spring onions, ginger, coriander and slivers of chicken, pork or beef. Vegetarian options are occasionally available. In northern Vietnam, the broth tends to clear whereas in the south, it's often murkier, flavoured with additional sauces, herbs and garnishes. This hearty and comforting concoction is the perfect remedy for colds, hangovers, broken hearts and whatever else may ail you.
4. Nom Hua Choi
Something special for veggie travellers, nom hua chuoi is a spectacular banana flower salad completely devoid of meat. This refreshing dish is an ideal choice on a hot muggy day (of which there are no shortage in Vietnam), with lime and chilli as the dominating flavours. The banana blossom, rumoured to be a superfood, is joined by an assortment of shredded vegetables.
5. Goi Cuon
These salad rolls act as the perfect light appetiser before a Vietnamese feast. Greens, herbs, beansprouts and pork, shrimp or tofu are wrapped in translucent rice paper and served at room temperature. The result resembles spring rolls but is much fresher and healthier as these rolls aren’t fried. As with many Vietnamese delicacies, the accompanying condiments are almost as important as the dish itself. Goi cuon are dipped in a flavoursome peanut, fish or hoisin sauce.
And something to wash it all down with...
Ca Phe Trung
It may not sound overly appealing, but this thick mixture of coffee, egg and condensed milk is immensely popular in its hometown of Hanoi. The surprisingly delicious drink was born out of a milk shortage in the 1940s. Likened to a liquid tiramisu, it is more dessert than beverage and must-try for anyone visiting the capital. Giang Café, where it was invented, is considered the best spot for a cup.
Try all this and more on one of our tours of Vietnam.