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20 MUST-TRY Vietnamese Foods Before You Die

vietnamese-food-to-try Trying Pho in Ho Chi Minh City

Are you a foodie enthusiast? Do you love and appreciate the specialty dishes that many countries have to offer? Do you often find yourself drooling to the aroma of steaming hot food, much like the feeling of smelling freshly brewed coffee in the morning?

Like a lot of countries, Vietnam is no different when it comes to food and specialty dishes. 

Vietnamese cuisine is renowned all over the world for its distinct freshness of spices and herbs blended together in perfect harmony to create the perfect finishing touch that leaves you craving for more!

"With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide." [1]


Depending on the regions and cities, whether Hanoi, Saigon, Hue, or the Mekong Delta, there is a specialty for every place you come across. Check out our list of the Top 20 Vietnamese Must-Try dishes before you die.

1. Banh Cuon

Steamed rice rolls. This Vietnamese cuisine is made from thinly steamed rice flour wrapped in a mixture of ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom, minced jicama, and minced shallots. It is served on the side with fish sauce, pork sausage, steamed bean sprout, and sliced cucumber.

banh cuon ho chi minh 15

2. Banh Xeo

The “sizzling” pancake, which gets its name from the sizzling sound it makes when the rice flour pours into the hot frying pan known as the wok, is a Southern dish. The complicated ingredients include the batter mixture are rice flour, water and turmeric powder wrapped in fatty pork slices, shrimp, bean sprouts, green beans, and diced white onions. This finger food serves on the side with a variety of fresh herbs, such as lettuce, basil, ambarella, perilla, fish mints, spearmints, etc. Everything is wrapped in the lettuce and dipped into the fish sauce for a mouthful of flavors. Try Banh xeo on i Tour Vietnam's i Love Food Motorbike Tour as your things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

vietnamese pancake 6

3. Bun Cha

This Northern Vietnamese dish consists of grilled pork with a side dish of dipping sauce and cold vermicelli noodle. The sauce often comes with thinly sliced raw papaya to add the crunchy texture to complement the soft noodle. The herbs on the side include lettuce, basil, bean sprouts. Bun cha is the famous food that President Obama dined together with Anthony Bourdain when he visited Vietnam in 2016.

bun cha

4. Pho

This beef noodle soup is famous worldwide, and it is a must-try when you come to Vietnam as the broth varies from region to region. This hot noodle bowl garnished with diced scallions, white onions, basil, saw-tooth herb, pepper, fresh chili, lime wedges, and sriracha and hoisin sauce as accompaniments.

pho 4

5. Banh Mi

The Vietnamese baguette is a product of the French colonization and one of the best street foods easily available to get your hands on all over the country. The Vietnamese have transformed the baguettes into the world-famous rice flour Banh Mi sandwich it is known today. This very popular Vietnamese street food can be found on many street corners from sellers on food carts with cost averaging to be VND 20,000 or (USD $1) for one.

banh mi 1

The classic popular main ingredients include sliced pork sausage, pork bellies, pate, mayonnaise, pickled carrot, daikon, fresh coriander, scallions, cucumber, and to add a kick to the whole bite, the jalapeno.

Other variances of the Banh Mi stuffing include fried eggs sprinkled with soy sauce, canned sardines in tomato sauce, and the vegetarian option served with tofu or even the ice cream sandwich topped with crushed peanuts and condensed milk.

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6. Mi Quang

Translated into the Quang style noodle, literally, is one that originated from the Quang Nam province in the Central of Vietnam. Mi quang includes shrimp, pork, chicken, hard-boiled quail eggs, and a bit of turmeric to give it its distinctive yellowish color. It garnishes with water mint, crushed peanuts, sliced banana flower, basil, Vietnamese coriander, lettuce, bean sprouts, and sesame rice crackers.

mi quang in ho chi minh 8

7. Com Tam

Commonly known as Vietnamese broken rice, it is in fact steamed rice made from fractured rice grains. It is famously paired with grilled pork, shredded pork skin, pickled vegetables such as carrots, daikon, and fish sauce. Nowadays, pork is substituted with an omelet, grilled prawns, and sautéed vegetables. Traditionally, broken rice is a cheaper grade of damaged rice produced in milling. In America and Europe, is an industrial ingredient whereas in South East Asia and West Africa, it is used for human consumption. The claim is that broken rice is just as nutritious as unbroken rice. It is fragmented, not defective.

com tam 1

8. Goi Cuon 

Vietnamese spring roll consists of thinly sliced pork, steamed prawn, cold rice vermicelli, fresh chives, bean sprouts, and basil all wrapped in thin rice paper. The dipping sauce includes the hoisin sauce topped with crushed peanuts, chili, fermented carrot, and daikon. The Goi Cuon is another popular Vietnamese street food.

goi cuon 2

9. Bun Bo Hue

This Vietnamese noodle soup originates from the Central province of Vietnam in a city called Hue. Bun Bo Hue is greatly admired for its balance of spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavors. The broth is the main ingredient that gives the soup its distinctive flavor. It requires preparation time by simmering beef bones and beef shank in lemongrass with fermented shrimp paste and spicy chili oil. The noodle used is thicker than the Pho and other complex ingredients include beef brisket, pork leg, blood pudding, thinly sliced pork sausage, diced scallions and white onions, laksa, lime wedge, cabbage, perilla, banana flower, bean sprouts, mints, and tofu. This is a must-try when you visit Hue!

bun bo hue ho chi minh city 11

10. Ca Phe Sua Da

Vietnamese iced coffee with milk is unique and famous. Back in the days, not everyone could afford expensive coffee machines, so the locals invented their aluminum filters to enjoy their coffee. Today, this traditional Vietnamese coffee can be filtered in front of you for a fresh-tasting coffee.

Traditionally, people drink coffee with condensed milk because fresh milk is more expensive and isn’t always available. The locals don’t use sugar, fresh milk, or creamer in their coffee. How sweet or how creamy their coffee is, is dependent on how much condensed milk they put in there. Try a Vietnamese Ca Phe Sua Da when you visit Vietnam on our Day Adventure Motorbike Tour.

coffee phin

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11. Banh Mi Bo Kho

Beef braised stew with bread. A savory soup that is simmered for a long time until the beef and tendon are soft. Other ingredients include carrots, saw-tooth herb, and fresh basil, and it garnishes with pepper, lime, bean sprouts, and fresh chili. The soup can be eaten with bread on the side or vermicelli.

Bo kho nguyen cu trinh 2

12. Xoi

Glutinous or sticky rice can be served both savory and sweet. Savory sticky rice is often served as on-the-go breakfast and sweet is often acted as a dessert.

sticky rice 2

13. Che

Sweet dessert soup or pudding. This variety of traditional Vietnamese dessert comes with mung beans, blacked-eye beans, tapioca, jelly, fruits such as mango, jackfruit, and coconut cream.

vietnamese sweet soup 5

14. Bun Dau Mam Tom

Bun Dau Mam Tom is translated literally as fermented shrimp paste with fried tofu and rice vermicelli. Due to the smell and the bold flavors of the fermented shrimp paste, not many people can handle this dish, but for those who can, they love it. Traditional ingredients include lime/kumquat, fresh red chili pepper, vegetable oil, thinly sliced cucumber, pork belly, and herbs such as perilla and basil.

bun dau ho chi minh 12

15. Goi Ngo Sen Tom Thit

Lotus stem salad with pork and shrimps. A favorite appetizer, it includes main ingredients such as the lotus stem, pork tenderloin, prawns, carrot, deep-fried shallots, peanuts, mints, laksa, and fish sauce.

goi ngo sen tom thit

16. Oc

Oc is not necessarily the name of the dish but rather the main ingredients. Oc means assorted snails that are made into different delicious dishes. For the adventurous foodie who wants to try assorted snails, it is best to go with a local guide so he/she can help you order the different varieties, flavors, and cooking styles available. You can try this on a Vietnamese street food tour. The locals often hang out and gather as a thing to do in Vietnam at night, and it's best to have a few local beers on the side of the streets.

tropical fruit 3

17. Vietnamese tropical fruits

There are many many tropical fruits in Vietnam you can try, here are a few: langsat, sapodilla, and dragon fruit.

tropical fruit 3

18. Bun Thit Nuong

This popular cold vermicelli noodle bowl is topped with marinated grilled pork slices or sausages and serves with a combination of fresh herbs like lettuce, bean sprouts, basil, basil, mint, green onion and oil, peanuts, chili, fish sauce, perilla, and fermented carrot and daikon. The famous Bun thit nuong is a not to be missed in your Vietnam travel!

bun thit nuong ho chi minh 9 1

19. Canh Chua

Sour soup is an original item from the Mekong Delta in the Southern region of Vietnam. The locals often compliment the sweet soup with plain white rice. The ingredients of the sour soup include fish, prawns, okra, pineapple, tomatoes, bean sprouts, tamarind-flavored broth, saw-tooth herb, caramelized garlic, chopped scallions, taro stem, Vietnamese coriander, basil, fresh chili pepper, and shallots.

canh chua southern vietnamese meal 10

20. Banh Canh

Literally, soup cake is a noodle dish made from a mixture of tapioca and rice flour. The noodle is thick relative to the noodles from the Pho and the Bun Bo Hue. It can be described closely to an Udon. Banh canh is popularly served with crab meat in a crab soup or a pork knuckle broth and shrimp. It sides with lime wedges, pepper, fish sauce, fresh chili, deep fried shallots, and diced scallions.

banh canh cua tom tit 7

[1] Annie Corapi (2011). "The 10 healthiest ethnic cuisines". CNN Health. Retrieved 3 December 2011.

Want to try some of these Vietnamese foods on your trip to Vietnam?

Check out our highly-rated Saigon food tour!



© Written by Linh Nguyen for

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Guest - Amy on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 16:21

Does your company offer a customized food tour of these foods? I just sent you an email, can you provide a quote? Thank you.

Does your company offer a customized food tour of these foods? I just sent you an email, can you provide a quote? Thank you.
Guest - Yuna on Thursday, 28 November 2019 23:59

This will make a very interesting list to tick off when I'm visiting Vietnam next month

This will make a very interesting list to tick off when I'm visiting Vietnam next month :D
Guest - Abby Johns on Tuesday, 01 October 2019 19:28

Pho should be at the top of the list :P Thank you for the suggestions

Pho should be at the top of the list :P Thank you for the suggestions
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