If there’s one thing we at Impact Teaching love about travelling, it’s the food. For us, it’s simply not possible to fully explore a new culture without trying as many local delicacies and signature dishes as possible. No where is this more appropriate than Vietnam, a nation crazy about and fiercely proud of its cuisine. This Southeast Asian cuisine is the latest to take many a western city by storm with its fresh, healthy flavours. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve tried the real deal. After just a few days in Vietnam, you’ll discover a whole new culinary world boasting food that’s fragrant, delicious and, best of all, reasonably priced. Here, we’ve put together some of our favourite Vietnamese dishes that you absolutely must try.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of or even tried this delicious noodle soup. Notoriously difficult to pronounce, Pho or ‘Fuh’ as we should say, is Vietnam’s world-famous national dish. Fortunately, the dish is far easier to prepare than it is to pronounce; consisting of a flavorsome broth seasoned with star anise, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and noodles topped with vegetables and your choice of meat, it is the dish choice for locals and visitors alike. Served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’ll be pleased to know it’s acceptable to eat at any time of day!
A hearty bowl of Pho goes for around $1 from street food joints or roadside restaurants across the country. Depending on where you are, you’ll find some regional variations. What better excuse do you need to try it wherever you go?
2. Spring and summer rolls ( Chả giò /Gỏi cuốn)
The term Spring Roll conjures up ideas of greasy, deep-fried batter wrapped around an equally greasy bunch of vegetables for most of us. Until we’ve been to Vietnam, that is. Unlike the kind you’ll find at your local Chinese takeout, the Vietnamese version of this popular snack is both fresh and healthy.
Consisting of cold sticky rice paper sheets that are wrapped around vermicelli noodles and an assortment of raw vegetables and fresh herbs, they make for a great appetizer or side dish. A far healthier alternative, Chả giò are a refreshing staple best enjoyed during the sticky summer months.
3. Hoi An Noodles (Cao lầu)
Native to Hoi An, this dish is a must-try when you’re in town. A delicious combination of noodles, barbecue pork, fresh vegetables and croutons, it sounds simple enough for any restaurant to recreate, right? Wrong. The noodles are what make this dish special; made from wood ash and alum-rich well water that can only be found in Hoi An, the properly prepared starchy noodles are unique to this area.
This iconic local dish was invented by a local family several generations ago. They learned their trade from a Chinese chef who shared his recipe, and several generations later continue to use it. The current noodle makers use a special well and kind of tree to produce the necessary ingredients. Basically, you should try them here because you really can’t find them elsewhere!
4. Meatball Salad (Bun Cha)
Our fifth and final favorite Vietnamese dish that we’re sure you’ll share our love for, is Bun Cha. Originating from the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, this is a pork meatball noodle salad is as healthy as it is delicious. Topped with an assortment of fresh vegetables and served with a mouth-wateringly good broth, this simple might look plain and simple, but boy does it pack a punch!
Served at street food stalls and roadside restaurants all around Hanoi, you won’t need to venture far to get your next fix of Bun Cha.
5. Bahn Mi
Once you taste the Vietnamese answer to a French baguette, you’ll never be able to go back. A popular snack found on almost every street corner, this Vietnamese-French fusion is sure to have you hooked after just one bite.
French-style baguettes are packed with customizable fillings of meat, vegetables, cilantro, fresh chili or egg before being topped with a melange of Southeast Asian flavors. A great Bahn-mi can be found basically anywhere, but some restaurants specialize in serving up this popular delicacy. You can thank us later.
There you have it, 5 mouth-watering dishes that you must try during your stay in Vietnam. Got any more to add? Comment below to tell us your favorites!
Want to experience life in Vietnam? Find out more about our teaching programs in Vietnam and immerse yourself in the nation’s many culinary, cultural and linguistic delights.