In Vietnam, there are a bunch of delicious foods which can easily impress and make you fall in love with Vietnamese cuisine. Besides Pho, Banh xeo, Com tam, and Banh mi, top iconic Vietnamese foods known by a lot of people around the world, Vietnamese sticky rice is a must-try local food that you may not know. Learn more about the variety of Vietnamese sticky rice with our guide.
“Xoi man” is usually the best choice for those who are busy and want a cheap and quick breakfast in the morning. Banh mi and Xoi man are often sold by same vendors so that you can easily choose between the two for your tasty breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City. Like most Vietnamese takeaway foods, sticky rice is also put in a styrofoam box or wrapped in banana leaf and tied with a rubber band.
The most common combination of Xoi man includes a piece of white sticky rice, a spray of soy sauce, a spread of liver pate, topped with chopped pork sausage, pork floss, slices of Chinese sausage, green onion oil, fried shallot, and crushed peanuts. You can also choose other kinds of meat like chicken floss, chicken drumstick, or shrimp flakes for the topping.
“Banh khuc” or also called “Xoi khuc”, is originally from the Northern Delta of Vietnam, so you may find it rare in Ho Chi Minh City, but you can still find it in sticky rice specialized stores and local markets. It has the shape of a small ball, wrapped in banana leaves.
In the northern region, Xoi khuc’s outer skin is originally made from “Khuc" leaves mixed with sticky rice flour. The filling includes other ingredients like sticky rice, mung beans, and pork fat, seasoned with salt and pepper. However, in the southern region like Ho Chi Minh City, you will find the Xoi khuc can go without the skin of Khuc leaves outside, and there is only the sticky rice wrapping around the seasoned mung beans and pork fat.
Xoi chien is actually deep-fried meat sticky rice ball. Chopped chicken or pork often is put in the middle of a piece of cooked sticky rice with others ingredients like cut carrots, beans, floss meat, and wood ear. The brownish and crunchy texture outside contrasting with the hot and juicy filling would definitely satisfy your hunger. You can easily find this savory sticky rice at vendors near high schools in Ho Chi Minh City.
Banh chung is one of the traditional Vietnamese cakes and symbolic foods on the Tet holiday. The main ingredients of Banh chung including sticky rice, pork, mung beans are wrapped in “Dong” leaves in a square shape. This cake is popular on Tet holiday, so its price around this time is quite high, about 180,000 VND - 210,000 VND.
Before the midnight of the lunar new year, most Vietnamese families will pay offerings with this cake and other foods on their ancestor's altar. The process of making Banh Chung is a bit complicated, and sometimes you will need to stay up overnight to prepare and cook the cake.
The main ingredients of Banh tet are the same as Banh chung’s, but its shape is a cylinder. On Tet holidays, especially in the South of Vietnam, people often make this cake as offerings to their ancestors instead of Banh chung. Besides, they sometimes would use banana leaves to wrap this cake instead of Dong leaves, and the filling could be sweet like banana and coconut floss. If you love seeing and explore this food, you should spend your trip to Vietnam on Tet holidays. To have a Banh tet, it would cost you approximately 150,000 VND.
“Banh u Ba Trang” or “Banh Khuat Nguyen” is mostly made by Vietnamese Chinese living in Cho Lon. On “Tet Doan Ngo” - a special occasion of the Chinese on 5th May Lunar Calendar, “Banh u Ba Trang” is often used in offering ritual. The shape of this cake has a similar shape with the traditional Vietnamese Banh u, but it is bigger and has savory stuffing inside instead of sweet mungbean.
The main ingredients of “Banh u Ba Trang” include fried Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, shiitake mushroom, salted eggs, and pork. The cake was originally wrapped with bamboo leaves, but “Dong” leaves are also common because it is convenient does not change the flavor of the cake. Normally, you can have this Banh u with only about 35,000 VND - 45,000, but the price could be doubled on “Tet Doan Ngo”.
The red-orange color of Xoi gac is originally from the spiny bitter gourd. The meat of the gourd is mixed with sticky rice and coconut milk and then steamed. Not only it is delicious but some Vietnamese also use Xoi gac as an offering food on Tet holiday because the red-orange color of the sticky rice is considered to be a lucky color to start the year.
Xoi vo often has a yellow color because of the mung beans. Mung beans are steamed before smashed into flour to be mixed with the sticky rice. The mixture is often steamed for 30 minutes and added a bit of sugar when it is cooked. A good Xoi vo when freshly cooked, shouldn't be lumpy, but when you shape (means "vo" in Vietnamese) it into a ball, it should stick together. The simple flavor and light sweetness of Xoi vo accompanied by a piece of silky smooth pork sausage would blow your mind.
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“Xoi xeo” is a typical breakfast of many people living in Hanoi, especially with the elderly. The golden Xoi xeo is wrapped in lotus leaves, sprinkled with some pieces of crunchy fried shallot, greasy chicken fat, and, last but not least, mung beans paste. Xoi xeo has its color from the turmeric powder, and if you enjoy it in the cold weather, its savor and delicious taste will make you want more. To enjoy this northern sticky rice in Ho Chi Minh City, you can look for vendors or stored specialized in northern foods.
"Xoi com" is common in the North of Vietnam, especially the countryside areas. It is usually served with coconut floss, a sprinkle of cooked mung beans and lotus seeds, which combine with the green sticky rice "Com" to create an aromatic and sweet dessert.
These rustic dishes are easy to find at any street vendors. The beans (red, black, or white) and peanuts have to be peeled and soaked in water before mixing with sticky rice so that all are cooked well. You can have it sweet with the coconut milk or a bit savory with the mixture of salt and sesame seeds. It is a simple but delicious dish that can fill your stomach and give you a lot of energy in the morning.
Both of these sticky rice dishes have a beautiful purple color. While “Xoi nep cam” color is from the sticky rice itself, “Xoi la cam” sticky rice is colored with “Cam” leaves from the magenta plant. The purple color made the dishes more colorful and appetizing. Besides, these foods can give you nutritious value and prevent you from sickness like heart diseases.
The green color of “Xoi vi” is from the pandan leaves. The mixture is a combination of white sticky rice, crushed pandan leaves, coconut milk, and covered with sesame seeds after it is cooked. When buying from local sellers, they will add a little sugar to it depending on your preference. You can also find Xoi vi in other colors like purple (from the magenta plant) and orange (from the spiny bitter gourd), but the one you will most likely come across is the green one. This kind of dish is also popular in some northern provinces of Vietnam, but you can easily find it in local markets in Ho Chi Minh City.
The main star of this dish is the banana. Peeled bananas will be wrapped and rolled in a layer of cooked sticky rice, and finished with a layer of banana leaves outside. Sometimes, people add some crushed peanuts in the mixture to enhance the smoky flavor. This sticky rice roll is then grilled on a fire grate for a few minutes. And you cannot complete this sweet treat without the mixture of coconut meat and condensed milk.
A vegetable you can put in sticky rice is corn. Dry corn seeds are soaked with water for 5 hours, cooked for another 30 minutes until they become a bit softer and limper, and finally steamed with the sticky rice. This soft and sweet dessert is usually accompanied by coconut floss and crushed peanuts. “Xoi bap” has been one of the favorite local fast foods in Vietnam, especially for Vietnamese students, for decades.
Besides the local markets and street vendors, these are authentic food stalls that you could come to explore Vietnamese sticky rice.
Xoi Che Bui Thi Xuan
Address: 111 Bui Thi Xuan Street, District 1
Xoi La Chuoi
Address: 868 Tran Hung Dao Street, District 5
Xoi Man 409 (Street Vendor)
Address: 409 Tran Phu Street, District 5
Xoi Ton Dan
Address: 232 Ton Dan Street, District 4
Xoi Binh Tien
Address: 88 Minh Phung Street, District 6
Banh mi Hanoi
Address: 83 - 85 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, District 3
Price range: The price would change depends on where you buy Vietnamese sticky rice, normal vendors at local markets or renowned food vendors, and the size of your portion.
Savory Sticky Rice: 20,000 VND - 30,000 VND
Sweet Sticky Rice: 10,000 VND - 15,000 VND
In Vietnam, Xoi or sticky rice is not only food that keeps your stomach full but also an art that you can use your creativity to make more new delicious dishes. It may take you a while to discover them all, and it is even harder to choose which is your favorite.
Check out our other guides on Eating in Ho Chi Minh City: