Travelling to the Land of Ascending Dragon but have no idea where to start on your foodie journey? From fluffy egg coffee to Vietnamese pizza, and even sea snail noodles, we’ve got you covered right here in our Vietnam food guide! All you need to do is prep your appetites.
For foodies on a budget, there is no better place to have a feast than the beautiful streets of Vietnam! Ranging from street-side vendors and high-end restaurants, Vietnamese food comes in all forms of flavours from salty and sweet to sour and hot. Be it a lunchtime snack in Hanoi or a fancy night out in Ho Chi Minh, we’ve got you covered on the different unique specialities you have to try in Vietnam. So have a read for our Vietnam Food Guide!
1. Fertilised Duck Egg (Trúng Vįt Lôn/ Hôt Vįt Lôn)
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While most of us might have heard of Filipino balut, Vietnam has its own delicious spin on the unique dish. With impressive regional preparations ranging from the North to the South, you just have to try both methods to truly understand the chokehold that fertilised duck eggs have on locals.
Customarily, trúng vįt lôn is served with salt, pepper, and a side of rau răm — a fresh locally produced green similar to mint, coriander, and cilantro. In the North, the duck eggs are peeled and served in bowls with simple sides of greens. In the South, the eggs are perched atop small egg cups and served with citrus, ginger, pickled papaya, and vinegar-based sauces of fish and spicy peppers.
The most famous place to eat traditional trúng vįt lôn can be found in Kim Thào Hôt Vįt Lôn, Ho Chi Minh City. With eggs selected directly from the farm at the perfect age, you can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience as you pair your trúng vįt lôn with a special in-house salt consisting of fried salt, pepper, chilli, and kumquat juice. Dig in!
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Kim Thào Hôt Vįt Lôn
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Everyone knows that a trip to Vietnam must include a taste of one of its signature and national dishes, Pho! Originating in the north, Pho is a noodle soup dish made with four ingredients — clear stock, rice noodles, meat (either beef or chicken), and tons of herbs.
Unlike most areas, there are actually several varieties of pho in Vietnam, including pho bac (northern pho) and pho Sai Gon (southern pho). With northern pho, you would expect wider rice noodles and a heaping scoop of green onions in your broth. The only garnishes available are vinegar, fish sauce, and chilli sauce. On the other hand, southern pho has a spicier and sweeter broth that’s usually topped with bean sprouts and a wider variety of herbs.
For a taste of true northern pho, head to Pho Gia Truyen in Hanoi for hot noodles served with slices of rare beef and fried breadsticks. To try the Saigon-style dish, visit Pho Vu Phuong in Ho Chi Minh City, a popular local eatery with adventurous meat options such as tendon, tripe, and beef blood.
3. Black Chicken In Herbal Soup (Canh Ga Ham Thuoc Bac)
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Highly appreciated for its medicinal properties, this local dish consists of black chicken soaked in a broth full of Chinese medicinal herbs and dried fruit, including mugwort, dried dates, and goji berries. What’s even more interesting is that the broth is flavoured with a very bitter (and inedible) rhizome rootstalk, giving the soup dimensions of flavour.
When it comes to black chicken, it’s considered to be highly nutritious as compared to its lighter-flesh counterparts. Rich in minerals and proteins and low in fat, the soup is perfect for children, women (including pregnant mothers), and people who are physically weak. With a gamey flavour, the flavourful broth is considered to be good at helping women regulate their monthly periods as well.
For the best black chicken herbal soup, try Com Ga Dong Nguyen in Ho Chi Minh City for the most tender broth and chicken meat!
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Com Ga Dong Nguyen
4. Banh Mi
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Considered to be another national delicacy, banh mi is well known across the globe for being a savoury and refreshing snack.
While some banh mi has beef or chicken, pork is frequently used in the forms of pate, grilled patties, Vietnamese sausage, cold cuts, terrine, and floss. Although the usual sandwich contains cucumber, coriander, pickled carrots, herbs, and shredded radish, you can customise your banh mi with different ingredients including duck, egg and fish cakes if your heart pleases.
Wrapped in a crusty and crunchy baguette, you can never go wrong with banh mi in Vietnam! If you don’t mind the mess, check out Madame Khanh in Hoi An for stuffed sandwiches made by perfectionist 80-year-old, Nguyen Thi Loc.
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more about Madame Khanh
5. Bun oc (Sea Snail Noodle)
Image credits: Vicky Pham
For adventurous eaters, try your hand at some traditional sea snails! These critters are a popular delicacy, especially in the north. Cooked in all types of recipes, you can expect to find a variation of oc on every street in Vietnam.
Bun oc is a classic snail soup that can be found in specialised street food restaurants. Stewed on its own or with vermicelli rice noodles, the soup consists of a tomato-based broth paired with simmering chicken or pork bones. The dish is topped with other ingredients, such as fried tofu, prawns, fish cakes and a wide array of herbs and lime wedges.
Head to Bun oc Co Hue in Hanoi for a traditional taste of these sea snails — be it piping hot or cold!
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Bun oc Co Hue
6. Goi Cuon (Spring Rolls)
Image credits: Vicky Pham
Literally meaning ‘salad rolls’, Goi Cuon is a healthy Vietnamese snack that I’m sure most of us are no stranger to.
Wrapped in chewy rice paper rolls, the herbal salad mixture with pork, shrimp, and rice noodles, is topped with a sweet and salty salad dressing — making it the perfect starter to any meal.
For the freshest and chewiest spring rolls, visit Goc Ha Thanh in Da Lat! The restaurant serves amazing spring rolls, with its signature being the mango chicken rolls.
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Goc Ha Thanh
7. Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee)
Image credits: Kitu Cafe
Although it’s not technically a dish, you can’t skip out on trying a cup of warm Vietnamese coffee. With extra lashings of condensed milk, most would agree that coffee just tastes better in Vietnam.
By beating an egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk, the airy creamy meringue fluff adds a layer of sweetness to the warm espresso. If you don’t prefer your coffee hot, there is a cold version of the beverage as well.
For the most authentic egg coffee, head to Cafe Giang in Hanoi for a creamy whipped espresso that is sure to make your tastebuds dance with joy!
8. Banh Xeo (Crepes)
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Designed to be eaten as a family, Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese crispy crepe filled with delicious flavours of pork and shrimp with sprinklings of mung bean, onions, and bean sprouts. Enjoyed with a flavourful sweet chilli fish sauce, this crispy delight is a crowd-pleaser.
Prepared differently throughout Vietnam, you can expect to find larger Banh Xeo in the South — specifically in Saigon. While there are many places to try this street snack, the best can be found in the legendary restaurant Banh Xeo 46A. Featured on numerous travel shows (including legendary chef Anthony Bourdain’s show), you can split an extra large Banh Xeo and have a sip of Chanh Muoi, a salty preserved limeade, any time of the day.
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Banh Xeo 46A
9. Banh Trang Nuong (Grilled Girdle Cake)
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Also known as Vietnamese Pizza, Banh Trang Nuong is a popular street food in the South of Vietnam due to its distinct taste and affordable price.
With a grilled rice paper base, the pizza is layered with various ingredients such as onion, shrimp, sausage, quail egg, and chilli sauce. It’s then served in small pieces, with every bite as crunchy and flavourful as the last.
If you prefer seafood, the original Dalat version contains a thicker piece of grilled rice paper topped with cracked egg, butter, cheese, seafood, sausage, and scallions. Visit Banh Trang Nuong Da Lat Ngon Be Lun for grilled pizzas with the freshest ingredients and the fastest service ever.
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Banh Trang Nuong Da Lat Ngon Be Lun
10. Mi Quang
Image credits: Vietnam Trips
Imagine a dish that’s part soup part salad — that’s Mi Quang as a whole! As a widely popular dish from the Quang Nam province in central Vietnam, Mi Quang is a dish best eaten in the summer when it’s simply too hot for a traditional bowl of noodle soup.
Rice noodles are tossed into a bowl with an assortment of fresh vegetables and Vietnamese herbs. The array is topped with a small amount of intensely flavoured broth made from either pork or chicken stock — just enough to wet the noodles and bring the entire dish together.
Traditionally, the dish is paired with slices of pork belly, whole shrimp, roasted peanuts, and toasted sesame rice crackers. It’s just one of those dishes that’s major comfort food for most and the best can be found at Mi Quang An La Nho in Ho Chi Minh City.
YouTrip’s Vietnam Food Guide: Find out more on Mi Quang An La Nho
Eat To Your Heart’s Content In Vietnam!
Now that you have a list of food (and places) to target while in Vietnam, you’re ready to head to the Land of The Ascending Dragon! Whether you’re spending all your savings to savour every last bite of crispy Banh Xeo or purchasing some of that fragrant Vietnamese coffee don’t forget to use your YouTrip Card to lock in our ever-reliable wholesale exchange rates!
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Stay safe and happy eating!