Last Updated October, 2018
If you’ve been following us for a while, you noticed how much we love Vietnam. There is so much about this country to love and enjoy. Food is one of those things we miss and try to find it in many cities outside Vietnam. We created this complete guide to Vietnamese Restaurant food for everyone who wants to get acquainted with Vietnamese cuisine.
It’s going to be useful not only for those who are on their way to South East Asia but for everyone else who lives in a city with plenty of Vietnamese restaurants and would love to learn what to order next time. Pho is not the only dish to try.
By the way, we didn’t include pho on this list on purpose. Why? Because we feel that’s the only dish everyone knows about. Vietnamese cuisine includes way more than just a pho.
It took us three full months to taste various foods from different food vendors, talk to locals and ask around for advice. Ordering from the menu sometimes may be tricky if you don’t know how your meal is going to look like.
Check out this Vietnamese restaurant food guide for your next trip to Vietnam or nearby restaurant in your hometown. Next time you’ll know what to order!
Most popular noodle dish which is served almost on any occasion across Vietnam. You can find it not only as a street food but in many restaurants. Rice noodles are served with meat, fish, shrimp or tofu, garnished with peanuts, broth, and herbs. Since Mi Quang is any occasion meal, you can find it either for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Vằn Thắn Mỳ as a Vietnamese Restaurant Food
Originally from China, but very popular in Vietnam. Vằn Thắn Mỳ is a soup, made of yummy broth with rice or egg noodles, shrimp or meat dumplings, pork, herbs, lime and fried bread. You can choose your own variation and omit meat if you are vegetarian. Add sauce, chili paste or marinated garlic to enhance the flavor. Usually, this is a dinner food, but some vendors sell it during the early afternoon too.
Many Vietnamese restaurants in America and Europe have this dish on the menu.
This meal is protein overload that will give you energy for the entire day. It is not necessarily a breakfast food, you can have it any time during the day as a snack or full-size meal.
Bánh Căn is made with quail eggs, rice powder and fried without any oil in special frying mold. Depending on a place this dish can be cooked using only eggs and rice flour or mixed with shrimp and pork.
Incredibly scrumptious Bánh Căn comes together with dipping bullion made out of ginger, lemon, fish sauce, onion, chives, and oil. Would you like to add more protein? Then order a side portion of Vietnamese pork or chicken sausage. Also, add a little bit of hot red chili paste to spice it up and enjoy!
Bánh Ướt Lòng Gà
We have never thought that cold chicken and noodle dish can be so delicious. Yes, Bánh Ướt Lòng Gà is served cold. Usually, it is an evening meal, made of thick rice noodle with fresh onions, herbs, sprouts, chicken and red and black pepper. Depending on a cook Bánh Ướt Lòng Gà can be slightly different. Some places add a bit of a broth or greens. Not everyone enjoys eating cold dinner, but give this one a try at least once.
Mì Trộn Tóp Mỡ
Simple, quick and delicious. So, basically, it is a dry noodle served with any type of meat, egg and cooked veggies. Sometimes a side soup can come together with noodles. Lunch or dinner food. Yummy! You can have it as a snack or a meal. Depends on how many sides you choose.
This soup is so good that, if you are in Vietnam, you’ll want to eat it every time you pass a cart that sells this food.
Bún Riêu is made with tomato broth, crab cakes, fried tofu, of course, noodles, banana flower, and mint. Every street food stall or restaurant that makes it will serve Bún Riêu with loads of greens, herbs, marinated papaya, tangy lime and water spinach. It seems that sweet, sour and savory flavors are combined in just one bowl of this heavenly delicious and healthy meal.
Bánh Tráng Nướng
Is anyone for pizza tonight? Surprisingly to us, Vietnamese pizza tastes very delicious. There are a lot of different toppings, but all of them always have an egg as a base.
Bánh Tráng Nướng is a large, round, flat rice cracker covered with egg, scallions and butter and toppings of your choice. Vietnamese people don’t eat cheese, so this pizza won’t have any of it, but it still tastes incredible! Can be also vegetarian.
How to describe what is Bánh Nậm? These are thick and thin rice cakes rolled with peanuts, seasoning, scallions and tomato paste. Not our favorite, but was good to try for the experience. Look at the picture to get an idea what are those. Two different dipping sauces come on a side.
This dish is probably not very common in Vietnamese restaurants outside Vietnam, but try to ask, it’s very quick and easy to make.
Steamed rice rolls in English or Bánh cuốn in Vietnamese. These are not your typical spring rolls and they don’t even taste anything like spring rolls. This Vietnamese restaurant food comes from Northern Vietnam, but we found it in Saigon, Nha Trang, and Dalat. Keep in mind this is a breakfast food and there is not much chance to have it for dinner.
Bánh cuốn comes with different fillings and rice crepe is very soft compared to a more chewy one in a spring roll. There are rolls with cooked ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, and shallots. If you are vegetarian, you can get rolls with mushrooms and veggies only. All of them have sides such as Vietnamese pork sausage (the one on the picture), bean sprouts, mint or cucumber as well as fish sauce for dipping which complements the flavor of spring rolls.
Bún Dậu Thập Cẩm
Bún Dậu Thập Cẩm is a banana leaf platter that consists of rice vermicelli, tofu, pork, rice nuggets, cucumbers, lattice, and herbs. The secret is in the fermented shrimp dipping paste with lemon and chili pepper. If you are vegetarian, ask to serve it with extra veggies and corn fritters.
Bánh Canh Ca
Banh Can Ca is a noodle soup, but noodles are usually made with tapioca flour (or a mixture of tapioca and rice flour). The noodles are usually chewy, served with boiled pork, liver, veggies and herbs. Add soy sauce to enhance the flavor and enjoy!
It is a great alternative to pho.
Bot Chien is Vietnamese rice cake with egg. Usually, it is sold as a street food, is very cheap (costs between $1-$1.50) and suitable for vegetarians.
If you look at the picture below you’ll see brown pieces of something that look more like fried fat. In reality that’s a cut rice cake. This dish usually comes with greens or marinated papaya and soy sauce on a side.
We thought it tasted just like omelette. That’s why if you feel like having a western type of breakfast, Bot Chien is the right choice. Also, in many places, you can find this food for dinner.
Anywhere you go in Vietnam you’ll be finding Bánh mì, or in other words sandwich. I am personally not a fan of bread, but these sandwiches are so good that it’s difficult to resist. They come with eggs, different types of meat, crab meat, shrimp, veggies and various sauces. You can choose whatever you want. Depending on a place Bánh mì can cost as little as 40 cents.
This dish is a savory fried pancake in Vietnamese style made of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. It can also remind an omelette, but has nothing to do with it. The filling of Bánh xèo will always meet your preferences, meaning it will be either vegetarian or with some meat or shrimp.
Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ
Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ is crispy grilled chicken with yellow fried rice. This dish is served with fermented cabbage, fresh cucumber and lettuce salad, and hot kale chard soup.
Some vendors sell this meal strictly for breakfast while others only for dinner. We could find it any time during the day in big cities and small towns. Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ is very popular as Vietnamese restaurant food and as a street food. You won’t miss it!
Thick rice porridge with pork, soft and spongy liver, chewy pigs’ ears and intestines. A lot of people prefer this dish for breakfast, but you can find it at any time during the day.
At first, it may look weird, but tastes really good and is packed with nutrition. Even though Chao Tim is considered to be a food for the poor, it is healthy and light at the same time. After having it for breakfast you will get lots of energy for the day.
Cơm Tấm refers to rice with fractured rice grains. Every time you see a stall with this name it means you’ll be able to get rice with grilled pork or ribs, fried or steamed egg, fermented and fresh vegetables. Also, a bowl of soup is served along with it. This meal is so huge that you can buy one to share with someone or take leftovers for later.
Bún Chả Hà Nội & Chả Cốm
Bún Chả Hà Nội is a dish you can see on the left, rice glass noodles with grilled fatty pork sausage, herbs, greens and sweet vegetable sauce. Chả Cốm is a dish of fried green rice flakes with shrimp and corn, and you can see it on the right.
Bánh Tét is Vietnamese rice cake from glutinous rice with mung bean and/or pork, egg filling. It is cooked in banana leaf and boiled in water. Vietnamese people always cook it for Vietnamese New Year Tet, but stores sell it in smaller quantities year round. The one you see on the picture we ate at Airbnb home in Nha Trang. Owners cooked it with peanuts and egg. If you get Bánh Tét in a store, don’t eat it cold. Better fry it with a bit of oil and dip in soy sauce.
The rice you see on the picture is glutinous sticky rice with spicy sweet sauce, turmeric, and steamed chicken or grilled pork. It is garnished with green onions and sauce that reminds mayonnaise. We ordered it by mistake and didn’t even finish because it was a bit heavy for us. If you want to try, get one with mung bean and fried shallots. That one is really good!
This is a rice ball made of glutinous rice flour and fried in oil. I know, I know it is not the healthiest food, but we gave it a try and wanted to buy more. Fillings are different, from savory to sweet. The one on the picture was with mushrooms and carrots. You can find them with mung bean, meat or vegetables.
Most of you have definitely tried spring rolls. They come as a snack, but also as a meal. Can be vegan as well as with meats, shrimp, and egg. So many to choose from!
Banh Dap is Vietnamese fried rice cracker which can be eaten as a snack on its own or together with a meal.
Some places offer Banh Dap with soups, noodles (Mì Quảng for example) or fried eggs (Bot Chien).
You can buy it at the market or store anywhere in the country.
Banh Dap crackers can be less or more fried, have fewer sesame seeds and be in light or dark color (depending on what flour was used – white or brown rice flour). A healthier version of chips.
Did you know that some regions of Vietnam grow avocado? Lâm Đồng province, for instance, with a well-known capital Dalat grows really good avocados.
In their taste they differ from avocados grown in some states of the U. S. or Mexico. When we tried this dessert we could hardly call it ice-cream. It was more like a nutritious avocado meal, very fulfilling and healthy.
We observed guys from the ice cream shop making this dessert and saw them blending avocado with a little bit of water and garnishing it with frozen coconut milk with sugar. Our ice cream was never as healthy as this one in southern Vietnam.
Coconut Iced Coffee
I didn’t want to write about coffee at first, but then changed my mind and decided to mention a few words. I can’t drink coffee because it makes me feel dizzy, but this one was so light that I drank almost a whole glass.
What you see on the picture is a chunk of frozen coconut milk, mixed with one shot of coffee and condensed milk. It tastes like a dessert and contains less caffeine than the regular coffee. Must try when in Vietnam and ask for in Vietnamese restaurants around the world!
Sugarcane juice which is very refreshing during the hot days. It is very common as a street drink and can be found anywhere.
We’ve been ordering this drink in some of the Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S. Try it and you’ll ask for more!
You’ve probably heard that egg coffee is a typical drink of the North. We found it in Saigon and central regions too. It is absolutely delicious and you simply can not leave a country without trying it!
Have you tasted any of the dishes mentioned in this article? Or maybe you gave a try to something what is not on our list? In any case, share your experience and let us know what you think about Vietnamese food.
If you are looking for more articles about Vietnam, take a look at what we have:
- What does it cost to Live in Vietnam? Live & Travel Comfortably as a Couple for Less than $600 per Month
- When in Nha Trang, spend a day in luxury Amiana Resort & Spa!
- Reasons Why You’ll Want To Move to Vietnam