5 Vietnamese Dishes You Must Try

Vietnamese food has gained popularity for its simple yet distinct flavors. Locals are known to buy their ingredients from the market every morning to guarantee the freshness. With variations from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, to every family, travelers will find themselves hungry for more. Here’s a quick guide to Vietnam’s most popular local dishes.

1. Pho bo (Beef Noodles)

Must-try Vietnamese Food: Pho bo
Local Vietnamese Dishes: Phở bò (Beef Noodles)

Pho typically consists of soup, beef, and noodles. Depending on whether the Pho comes from Hanoi or Saigon, there are differences in noodle width, broth sweetness and spice. Southern Vietnamese usually have Phở for breakfast, along with their famous coffee. For

2. Bánh mì (Vietnamese Baguette)

Must-try Vietnamese Food: Banh mi
Local Vietnamese Dishes: Bánh mì (Vietnamese Baguette)

Or what you can call ‘The Vietnamese Baguette.’ The classic version of Bánh mì normally consists of Vietnamese cold cuts, cheese, together with vegetables such as carrot or cucumbers. Some places offers a vegetarian option where its made with tofu.

The Bánh mì has many variations. There’s a vegetarian variation where it is made with tofu instead of cold cuts, which you can usually find by the Buddhist temples during special religious events. When eaten for breakfast, it typically has fried eggs and onions, with a sprinkling of soy sauce. Another popular variation is the Bánh mì kep kem, a dessert street snack commonly stuffed with scoops of ice cream, topped with crushed peanuts. If you’re touring Ho Chi Minh, you’ll find Bánh mì near every major tourist spot.

3. Oc (Seawater Snails)

Must-try Vietnamese Dishes: An Oc (Seawater Snails)
Local Vietnamese Dishes: Ăn ốc (Seawater Snails)

The name not only refers to the actual snails, but the pastime associated with it. Ăn ốc or ‘snail eating’ is an integral part of Vietnamese culture: It is typically eaten with a round of beers, as friends or colleagues gather and socialize after the work day or the weekend.

A wide seafood selection is normally displayed at the front of the food stall or restaurant, and you can choose from snail shells, cockles, clams, as well as shrimps and crabs.  After picking out your shells, you can decide to have it either grilled, sautéed, or coated in salt and chili. Travelers can enjoy their oc, along with a few other happy hour delicacies after catching the famous Thang Long Water Puppet Show.

4. Goi cuon (Spring Rolls)

Must-try Vietnamese Dishes: Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls)
Local Vietnamese Dishes: Gỏi cuốn (Spring Rolls)

These spring rolls can be served in two ways: freshly wrapped, or deep fried. Whichever way they are served, they usually have rice noodles, vegetables, cooked pork and cooked prawn meat. And while spring rolls are popular all across Asia, it’s the dip sauce that makes Goi cuon distinct; it’s made with sweet soy sauce mixed with chopped, roasted peanuts for a distinct flavor.

5. Bánh canh (Big Noodles)

Must-try Vietnamese Dishes: Bánh canh (Big Noodles
Local Vietnamese Dishes: Bánh canh (Big Noodles)

This is another Vietnamese dish with variations across the country. At its most basic, it’s a noodle dish. In Ho Chi Minh and most Southern Vietnam, it’s served with pork knuckles or crab. Central Vietnam, on the other hand, serves it with snakeheads. Sometimes the broth is a Vietnamese-style coconut soup. Whichever version you get to taste, be sure to add a bit of chilli and lime!