Whether you are allergic to gluten or just trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, simply opt for authentic rice-based Vietnamese cuisine while you are on the go and worry no more!
Gluten is a protein existing in wheat, barley, and rye. Popular everyday food such as bread, baked goods, beer, and pasta are off-limits to a gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet is believed to be nutritional, energizing, helps with weight loss, and above all, reduces the risk of coeliac disease (undesirable digestive conditions including symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, and constipation).
Unlike some other cuisines, food in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam mainly revolves around rice instead of wheat. Therefore, though the concept of gluten-free diets is rather obscure among Vietnamese dwellers, you won’t be having a hard time maintaining this specific diet in our country.
Unfortunately, the popular “banh mi” is off-limits
In general, avoid anything with a “banh” (bread, baked goods…), a “my” (noodles), a “tam bot” (fried food with flour coating), but with the exceptions of “banh canh” (tapioca noodles, made of rice), “banh cuon” (steamed rice rolls), “banh beo” (water fern cake), and “banh xeo” (Vietnamese pancake). You will also have to be careful with any soup-based dishes or sauces that come as a side dish as they are usually thickened with flour.
As for gluten-free vegetarians, watch out for the meat substitute seitan (which is mostly made of gluten) as well as the popular soy sauce that is sometimes fermented with wheat.
Street food stalls are convenient choices as you can see your food being made. Always state your preferences to the cooks beforehand to ensure a gluten-free meal. You may refer to this article for basic Vietnamese vocabulary.
As stated above, rice is an indispensable part of the Vietnamese people’s lives. We eat rice on a daily basis, with varied gluten-free dishes such as Ca Kho To (Braised Fish in a stone pot) or Rau Xao (Stir-fried Vegetables). You can experience this family-style meal at any restaurant that serves Vietnamese Cuisine such as Gao Restaurant (33 Le Quy Don Ward 7 District 3). Another popular rice dish is Com Tam (Broken Rice) - a Saigon classic that is essentially rice and marinated pork chops drizzled with special fish sauce.
An upgraded version of our everyday family meal
Besides the pork chops, there are add-ons like “cha”, “bi”, sunny side eggs
Other delicacies made from rice are also wonderful options for your gluten-free diet in Ho Chi Minh City:
Banh Beo (water fern cake)
Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake)
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Made with bones, rice flour, meat, and herbs, this gluten-free food in Ho Chi Minh city is safe. There are several variations of pho such as “pho cuon” (pho burrito), “pho xao” (stir-fried pho), “pho xao gion” (deep-fried pho),... to satisfy your taste bud! Be careful not to get carried away by a delicious “quay” (fried dough) on the table though!
Read more on Pho and where to eat Pho in Ho Chi Minh City.
An irresistible bowl of pho
Food in Ho Chi Minh City can be a little overwhelming that you are lost after boundless bowls of “pho” or “hu tieu Nam Vang”. If that’s the case, head to a “banh canh cua” hotspot to enjoy the rich broth, the chewy “banh canh” (tapioca noodles), the crab meat, and the fresh herbs! If you don't feel like eating seafood, alternative versions are available.
Look at that seafood goodness!
This street snack, which comes from the mountainous romantic city Dalat, is literally everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, especially around schools or universities. The “banh trang” (rice paper) is grilled over charcoal and topped with every topping you can imagine. A Saigon’s, student-friendly piece will range at VND 15,000 - 20,000 and topped with quail eggs, sausage, and green onions.
Find out more street food options in Ho Chi Minh city!
Vietnamese pizza / Vietnamese grilled rice paper
The 4 dishes above are some gluten-free food in Ho Chi Minh city that we think you may enjoy. There are so many other delicious dishes out there, waiting for you to come and experience. You can go explore on your own, or you can sign up for our food tour that is specialized for your needs and spare yourself the hassle! Check out other good places to eat and drink in Ho Chi Minh City.
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© Written by Chau Tran for itourvn.com
Having a private tour guide made my experience so much better. I was able to navigate through the city with my diet restriction
I was skeptical to join a food tour at first because I am gluten intolerant, and I am so proud that I chose a private food tour. My tour guide Ha showed me the best gluten free in town
It's best if you're traveling with a local tour guide and inform them about your diet. The i Tour guides were such amazing supports for your needs