Food is a very important part of Vietnamese life. Seeing the beautiful markets where fresh ingredients are sold or smelling the lovely food prepared on the street, you will encounter food everywhere. Hence for me eating local food is a must do when in Vietnam. You have not really been to there if you have not tried any of the dishes.
For me Vietnam offers some of the best cuisine in the world. It is fresh with different flavour – and unlike Thai food it is not too hot, instead you get chillies and other ingredients on your table to add more spices to your personal taste. Vietname cuisine also offers such a high variety of different dishes. The main NAME is either pork, beef or chicken, while in some region you can get goat as well. Fish is very popular, and so is sea food. For vegetarians the tofu is very good, in my opinion it has so much more flavour than here in Europe (which is easy, as it is tasteless over here). Most dishes are either served with rice, a variety of noodles or just fresh baguettes. And in most meal the important fish sauce is added – you won’t be able to escape the smell and taste of it (which can make it a bit difficult for Vegan).
Where to eat the food makes a big difference as well. You can visit restaurants aimed for tourists where you can get a number of different dishes (including Western dishes), or you can go to one of the little food places full of locals but serving fewer diehses (and no Western dishes), or you can go to little food stalls that specialise on one dish only. I prefer the latter two otpion as you get in my opinion real Vietnam dishes for a much lower price, and were you are able to. Ix with the locals. It adds to the experience of trying the great food.
If you look for more authentic places one advise is to look where most locals eat – you will find better food there, as the Vietnamese do not tolerate bad food and won’t visit a place for the second time.
I have listed a few typical Vietnamese dishes I came across. The list is obviously not complete, there are far too many local varieites out there. But these are dishes I had a few times and feel they should be tried when visiting Vietnam – though consider food is a personal taste, and my preferences differ widely from others.
Maybe the most iconic Vietnamese dish Pho is a noodle soup which is usually served with beef (Pho Bo) or chicken (Pho Ga). It is a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and you will find little stalls all over Vietnam just selling Pho. Even if you had a Pho in one area or city, try another one at the next place, as every shop in every area is using a different recipes. Hence you will not find the exact same Pho twice. This is surely one of the must-try dishes.
Another iconic dish is Banh Mi, a fresh baguette filed with a range of toppings, from pate to omelette and fresh grilled meat. For me it is the perfect breakfast or lunch item, and on occasion you want a second one. Quality varies greatly, and I found the best Banh Mis from little carts. Another dish not to be missed.
Rice dishes (Cam)
Rice is the staple dish in Vietnam, and you find various rice dishes everywhere. In the more remote areas it is often the only option. You can get it served with meat or just vegetables.