Food in Vietnam plays a big part in their culture. In fact, almost every aspect of social and family life revolves around either producing or sharing a tasty meal.
More than half of Vietnam’s population makes a living in agriculture or in the food trade industry. And this is definitely evident within the walls of the Ancient Town that I currently call home – Hoi An.
There’s delicious food on every street corner, from the popular Banh Mi to the lesser-known Vietnamese culture (duck porridge) – although the latter is far nicer than the name suggests!
It seems as if people are always either eating or cooking in Vietnam; of course, this is understandable in a country with such outstanding cuisine.
NOTE: If you’re planning to travel to Vietnam soon and you need to get a visa to enter, please remember that you need to apply for this prior to your visit. That said, there are few extra precautions you need to take care of to avoid scams – read my dear friend’s post about her experience about visa scams in Vietnam.
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5 Amazing Street Food in Vietnam
Banh Mi (which literally means ‘wheat cake’) is essentially a really nice baguette sandwich. Alright, so maybe it isn’t the most adventurous of Vietnamese food, but I love it so much, it had to take the top spot on my list!
Dating from the French colonial period, banh mi is one of Vietnam’s original fusion foods.
Although you may be limited to pork or egg at a banh mi street vendor, filling choices abound at more popular haunts; my personal favorite is bacon, with beef and egg a close second.
It’s topped off with the freshest of leaves and an eye-watering helping of chili sauce. Do ask for ‘just a little’ chili if you can at the start… at least until you build up a tolerance to the stuff!
The best part of banh mi? It can be yours for around $0.50. Mmm.
Read also: Top 15 Places to Visit in Vietnam
It wouldn’t be a list of Vietnamese cuisine without Pho.
After all, it is Vietnam’s national dish, and it’s impossible to walk through any town or city without bumping into a crowd of hungry people slurping noodles at a rickety pho stall.
Pronounced like the ‘fu’ in ‘fur,’ Vietnam’s staple food can be eaten at any time of day – but it is primarily enjoyed for breakfast.
At its core, the dish consists of a light beef or chicken-flavored broth, enhanced with ginger and coriander. Added to the mix are flat noodles, spring onions, and bits of pork or beef. This is another great-tasting, healthy dish that comes in at around $0.50. So get slurping!
Another fabulous dish and one of Hoi An’s specialty. After living in this town for a few months and eating it pretty much daily, it’s a meal that I’ve yet to tire of!
Cao Lau is a bowl of thick rice noodles, sliced pork (or tofu, as a veggie option), bean sprouts, and pork-rind croutons. These croutons are definitely the stars of the meal; I could probably eat a bowl of them by themselves and be happy.
You simply can’t visit Hoi An without indulging in a bowl or ten. 😉
Nom Hua Chuoi
For the less carnivorous-inclined, Vietnam’s got you covered. Nom Hua Chuoi translates to ‘banana-flower salad’ – and it’s one of many great meat-free dishes that you can enjoy here.
Lime and chili are the key ingredients to this bad boy and add a refreshing kick to the shredded veg.
I’m not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy meat-free days; on such days, this is my go-to dish.
It is thought to have originated in Hanoi, and you’re likely to come across Bun Cha stalls and kitchens across every city in Vietnam. And we’re very lucky that good news of great dishes travels fast.
The dish is pretty much a DIY hamburger, so if you’ve been craving some Western-style food, look no further.
Small pork patties are barbecued on an open charcoal grill and served on a bed of cold rice noodles. Accompanying this meal is a big ‘oul plate of herbs and a side dish of dipping sauce.
Okay, so not quite a burger by Western standards…but close enough, in my opinion!
Bonus: Vietnamese Coffee
It may not be a meal... but it’s more than worthy of a mention.
Coffee culture is huge in Vietnam, and the drink itself is unlike anything you’ll have tasted before.
For Vietnamese people, espresso doesn’t constitute ‘good coffee’ – it’s far too bitter for their sweet teeth. Instead, they prefer an intense, drip coffee that’s made from Robusta beans. And it’s so thick you could stand a spoon up in it.
They’ll often add a dollop of condensed milk to the concoction, and because of the hot climate, usually, serve it in a glass of ice.
The perfect dessert after what’s sure to be a great meal… whichever out of the five options you go for.
If you want to know more about this, check this awesome guide to Vietnamese drip coffee!
Hi, I’m Mike, writer, and full-time traveler. I recently stumbled into Hoi An and have been helping out the guys who run hoiannow.com ever since. My job is to let people know how magical the place is. It isn’t hard!