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Vietnamese Grilled Dishes


Vietnamese cuisine is so fascinating that many tourists have come a long way for Vietnam to enjoy the food here, and Vietnamese grilled dishes are no exceptions. Vietnamese food is usually prepared in the traditional way, that is less dependent on the intense spices and focusing more on healthy herbs that contain less calorie. In fact, traditional Vietnamese flavors like coriander, mint, basil, anise, and chili have long been used as a means for disease treatment and prevention. This feature can be obviously seen through the grilled dishes in Vietnam.

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The list below presents 5 most popular grilled dishes in Vietnam:

Nem Nuong (Grilled ground pork)

Nem Nuong is a popular dish, originating from Ninh Hoa, a northern district of Khanh Hoa Province (a province in the South Central region of Vietnam), about 30 km from the coastal city Nha Trang. Because this dish is so famous and attracts a lot of tourists in Nha Trang, it is also called “Nem Nuong Nha Trang” by many locals.

vietnamese grilled dishes 1Skewers of Nem Nuong

Frankly speaking, Nem Nuong is quite an assorted dish that includes a variety of ingredients. The hero of the dish is “Nem nuong” - grilled ground pork. The pork is grounded until it becomes so well-kneaded and smooth, then the chef adds spices such as salt, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper to create the aroma. After that, they grill the mixture of pork on the charcoal.

Another important part of Nem Nuong is the sauce. Whether the dish is delicious or not depends a lot on this special sauce. This unique sauce is only served with Nem Nuong and the recipe of this sauce is considered as a secret of every food store. Generally, it contains plenty of ingredients including sticky rice, shrimp, lean meat, pork liver, salt, sugar, and fish sauce.

vietnamese grilled dishes 2A full set of Nem Nuong

The side dishes served with Nem Nuong are also copious. There are many kinds of herbs and vegetables such as lettuce, savory, balm-mint, bay leaves, chives, etc. It is also served with the pickled carrot, green mango, and sliced cucumber. And one more special side dish used with Nem Nướng is fried rice paper. The rice papers are rolled up and fried in the oil until crispy.

Eating Nem Nuong, you should use your hands to enjoy the best taste of the dish. All the components and side dishes are put on a rice paper and you have to roll it up. Then, dip the roll into the special sauce. That’s the best way that people would like to enjoy Nem Nuong.

Recommended places for Nem Nuong in Ho Chi Minh City:

ABMA Nem Nuong Nha Trang
15/2 Doan Nhu Hai Street, Ward 12, District 4
Price range: VND 12,000 (US$ 0.5) for one skewer - VND 59,000 (US$ 2.5) for a serving.

Nem Nuong Ganh - Dac San Nha Trang (Nha Trang Specialties)
58/4 Pham Ngoc Thach Street, District 3
91 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1
3 Nguyen Duc Canh Street, District 7
Price range: VND 110,000 (US$ 5) - VND 140,000 (US$ 6) (for Nem Nuong)

Hoang Ty
70-72 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3
Price range: Varies

The southwest Vietnamese have another way to enjoy Nem Nuong or Thit Nuong. Smoky, savory, and soft grilled pork can be put in a bowl full of fresh vermicelli and herbs, drizzled with a little chili sweet and sour fish sauce. See more places for Bun Thit Nuong in Ho Chi Minh City here.

vietnamese grilled dishes bun thit nuong vietnamese grilled dishes thit nuong

A bowl of Bun Thit Nuong and Nem Nuong from the charcoal grill

Ca Loc Nuong Trui (Grilled Snakehead)

Grilled Snakehead is a popular dish from the Mekong Delta, the land in Southern Vietnam, with a unique flavor and very simple processing. This dish was associated with Southern people when they first settled in the Mekong Delta.

The characteristics of the grilled snakehead are that the fish is still raw, we do not scrape the fish scales, do not cut or season the raw fish. The snakeheads are caught in the river, then they are washed and pierced with a long skewer from mouth to tail (sometimes people use the sugarcane as the skewer). Then the cooks bury and cover the snakeheads in the haystacks or straw and lit the fire. They grilled the fish until the straw become ashes. When the fish is cooked, they scrape off the scorched scales to reveal white and fragrant fish meat.

vietnamese grilled dishes 3Ca Loc Nuong Trui

Because the snakehead is not seasoned before cooked, it can keep the fresh and original taste of the dish. When serving this dish, the cooks often sprinkle some peanuts, and souse some green onion. The fish is so bland so people often eat it with tamarind fish sauce (which has a sour and sweet taste).

The side dishes are quite similar to the Nem Nuong above. They use this dish with many types of herbs such as lettuce, savory, balm-mint, cucumber, star fruit, unripe banana.

vietnamese grilled dishes 4

Grilled Snakehead on an assorted tray of herbs

This dish also spread throughout Vietnam with many different variations, which means different flavors. But the Mekong Delta grilled snakehead will still be the best original dish.

Recommended places for Grilled Snakehead in Ho Chi Minh City:

Quan Tu Map
33 No. 8 Street, Ward 11, Go Vap District
Price: VND 130,000 (US$ 5.6)

Nam Dao
471 Hong Bang Street, Ward 14, District 5
Price range: VND 150,000 (US$ 6.4)

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Grilled Seafood in Vietnam

Of the myriad grilled dishes in Vietnam, grilled seafood seems to be the most popular. Grilled seafood can be found in many places in Vietnam. Seafood in Vietnam is considered to be cheaper than many other countries because Vietnam has a long coastline with many beaches.

In Vietnam, people usually grill seafood by charcoal, rather than using the oven as many Western countries. Some popular kinds of seafood in Vietnam are crabs, lobsters, shrimp, shells, octopus, oyster, squid, clam, mussel, etc.

vietnamese grilled dishes grilled seafood

Grilled Seafood is very popular in Vietnam

The sauce served with grilled seafood is also a unique point in Vietnam. There are many different kinds of sauces such as kumquat salt, pepper salt, green chili sauce, sweet ginger fish sauce.

To enhance the taste of grilled seafood, Vietnamese often use some side dish as pickled carrot and turnip, lettuce, coriander, chili, okra.

Nowadays, the epicures of Vietnam have made a lot of variations of grilled seafood. They souse many kinds of sauce like cheese, spicy sauce, and BBQ sauce over the seafood, creating more delectable choices and catering to different tastes. You can find plenty of restaurants offering Vietnamese grilled dishes, particularly at these Saigon food streets.

Recommended places for Grilled Seafood in Ho Chi Minh City:

Cheap Eats Restaurant - Seafood BBQ Buffet
5th Floor, 9 Nguyen Trai Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Price range: VND 200,000 (US$ 8.6) - VND 300,000 (US$ 13)

Oc Chi Em Restaurant
75 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Price range: VND 35,000 (US$ 1.5) - VND 300,000 (US$ 13)

Banh Trang Nuong (Grilled rice paper)

Grilled rice paper is a very popular snack for young Vietnamese people. The rice paper is grilled on charcoal, then many kinds of toppings are added such as egg, onion, dried shrimp, dried beef, vegetables, ground meat, and sausage.

Grilled rice paper is sometimes called “Vietnamese pizza” because of its round shape and the topping. This dish originates from Da Lat, a highland city in Vietnam. Grilled rice paper can be seen as a typical grilled dish in Vietnam.

vietnamese grilled dishes banh trang nuongGrilled rice paper

Eating this dish, we can cut it into many pieces as pizza, or fold it and bite a little by little. People usually eat grilled rice paper with tamarind sauce, chili sauce, or with cheese sauce.

Recommended places for grilled rice paper in Ho Chi Minh City:

Grilled Rice Paper C002
506/19 Street 3/2, Ward 14, District 10
Price range: VND 12,000 (US$ 0.5) - VND 30,000 (US$1.3)

Da Lat Grilled Rice Paper NTP
285 Hung Vuong Street, Ward 9, District 5
Price range: VND 10,000 (US$ 0.4) - VND 30,000 (US$ 1.3)

Da Lat Grilled Rice Paper Cao Thang
61 Cao Thang Street, District 3
Price range: VND 5,000 (US$ 0.2) - VND 22,000 (US$ 0.9)

Chuoi Nuong (Grilled Banana)

If you are a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, you know that Vietnam has various kinds of desserts. One of them is grilled banana, a popular dessert and street food. This unique dish comes from the South region of Vietnam. But now you can also find it in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

vietnamese grilled dishes banana

The grilled banana over charcoal

The main ingredient of this dish, of course, is banana. The sellers peel the banana, cover them with a layer of sticky rice, and then cover a piece of cleaned banana leaf outside and grill it on the charcoal. When the banana gets cooked, they cut it into many smaller pieces and souse coconut milk over them and sprinkle some peanuts, which make this dish become more greasy and sweet.

Unlike most kinds of dessert, grilled banana is usually served hot. So it is a favorite dessert of many Vietnamese in the cold winter.

Recommended places for grilled bananas in Ho Chi Minh City:

Chuoi Nep Nuong Vo Van Tan
Alley 378, Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5, District 3
Price range: VND 16,000 (US$ 0.7) - VND 22,000 (US$ 0.9)

Chuoi Nuong
106 To Hien Thanh Street, Ward 15, District 10
Price: VND 12,000 (US$ 0.5)

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Summary of Grilled Dishes in Vietnam

Grilled dishes in Vietnam are usually cooked by charcoal, straw or wood, instead of using the oven. In these dishes, the food is often sliced or chopped so that it can get cooked quickly. Vietnamese people are really interested in grilled food because it can keep the freshness and nutrition from the raw ingredients. If you are going to visit Vietnam, don’t forget to add these grilled dishes to your must-try list.

 Find out more about Vietnamese cuisine on a food tour with local guides.


Guest - Miranda Mcguire on Saturday, 26 October 2019 15:28

Your guide Sang took me to Bui Vien and tied these amazing dishes

Your guide Sang took me to Bui Vien and tied these amazing dishes
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