Traditional Vietnamese dishes should be tried

Where some countries may be known for innovative new dishes and modern culinary skills, Vietnam is best known for its age-old recipes, from warming noodle soup to Franco-Vietnamese bánh mì baguettes. Here are the 5 best traditional Vietnamese dishes that make it deliciously obvious why they’ve stood the test of time.

Traditional Vietnamese dishes should be tried
Photo by pxhere
This national staple is made with flat rice noodles, a warming broth and usually chicken or beef. The flavour of this comforting noodle soup can vary greatly across the country, and many establishments load your table with sauces, herbs and spices so you can season your pho exactly how you like it.

Bun cha

Traditional Vietnamese dishes should be tried 1
Photo by Larry
This dish is typically a mix of flavourful barbecued pork, fresh noodles and fish sauce, as well as handfuls of sliced papaya, carrot and herbs. Customers often partially cook the food themselves by dipping fresh noodles into a bowl of steaming broth. If you’re having trouble finding bun cha, you may occasionally find it advertised under the name ‘Obama noodles’, since a certain someone visited Vietnam and ate the dish in 2016.

Goi cuon

Traditional Vietnamese dishes should be tried 2
Photo by Tran Hai Duong
With much of local Vietnamese cuisine being unsparingly fried, grilled and boiled, you may find yourself occasionally craving something a little fresher. Look no further than gỏi cuốn, also known as ‘summer rolls’. These fresh spring rolls are typically packed with crispy salad, prawns and pork, and served with a sweet-and-spicy dip topped with peanuts.

Banh xeo

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Photo by freshcrackedpepper
For those who would rather dig into a savoury pancake than a sweet one, bánh xèo is a tasty pork-and-shrimp crêpe, flavoured with turmeric and packed with bean sprouts. Don’t be fooled by its healthy appearance, though, bánh xèo‘s literal translation of ‘sizzling cake’ refers to the noise it makes during frying.

Bia hoi

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Photo by pxhere
Although not technically food, bia hơi definitely deserves a place on this must-try list. A type of draft beer, this tipple can usually be found poured straight from a large barrel at local drinking holes. The drink itself is rather weak and bubbly, but the drinking culture is not to be missed. Head to any Vietnamese city centre in the evening and you’re likely to find a pavement crammed with people sipping cool glasses of bia hơi atop miniature plastic stools.

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