Food To Try in Vietnam
If you already have a great appreciation for the Vietnamese cuisine and you are planning your travel to Vietnam – buckle up, because what you’re about to taste in the homeland of Pho soup is nothing like what you have tried in western Vietnamese style restaurants! In Vietnam the depth of flavors, the colors and textures always make your meal a feast, even if it’s just simple street food! You must know that the Vietnamese people highly respect their food and even the simplest eateries can serve an ambrosial meal.
So with such a variety of choices and just one stomach, what should you be looking for and not miss out on when you travel to Vietnam?
Legendary Pho Soup
Fully flavored, clear beef broth with noodles and vegetables, served with fresh herbs and bean sprouts. Pho is traditionally served for breakfast, freshly prepared by those who are willing to start cooking in the early morning hours. The reach taste comes from cooking the beef bones with certain spices for many hours – hence very early wake up hours for those, who want to have a pot of fresh soup ready by the time all family or the customers wake up. The tastes of Pho vary between north and south – south will have more of a fresh taste by using fresh leaves of mint, sawtooth herb, thai basil and others.
To get the real taste of pho, you might just simply get up early and find one of those street restaurants, where the locals grab their meal before they go to work. It will be a simple stall, saying Pho Bo Vien Thap Cam or simply Pho Bo, surrounded by plastic or aluminum chairs and full of Vietnamese customers. If you’re not confident with the street food, look for the places with Pho in the name, like Pho 2000 – these are also eateries for the Vietnamese people and will serve a very authentic meal.
Bahn Xeo – Rice Pancakes
The best Bahn Xeo is from the street stall, made fresh by a nice lady on a sidewalk. Rice pancakes, fried with shrimps mixed into a dough, served with fresh herbs, lettuce and bean sprouts. A little oily, crispy and full of flavor. Only tasty when hot and fresh. Like many other Vietnamese dishes, Bahn Xeo is partly “do it yourself” as you will be stuffing them with herbs and wrapping them with lettuce, before dipping in soy sauce and biting into them. Don’t be shy to use your hands!
Fried Elephant Ear Fish
If you’re in the Mekong Delta, look for Cá tai tượng chiên xù. It’s the most popular speciality in the region. Whole fried fish, crispy skin and white and soft, tender meat. Is always server hot on a special wooden stand. You will simply peel bites of meat from the fish and bring them your bowl. Eat with vegetables and rice or more likely rice noodles. Must try!
You probably already know spring rolls. In the western countries, most popular are the fried ones, but hopefully you also know the taste of the fresh, just wrapped spring rolls, beautifully designed, filled with shrimps and greens – both pretty and delicious. But when you find yourself in Vietnam, look for another type of rolls – Bánh cuốn – the steamed rolls. The wrapping – slightly fermented rice batter – will be soft, thick, white and sticky. Inside you will most likely find beef, mushrooms and shallots. The rolls will be served with cucumber, bean sprouts and a dipping sauce (fish or soy). The Bánh cuốn can be found in most restaurants, in the markets and street food stalls. Will you like them more than regular spring rolls?