Have you ever wondered: What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?

  • June 14,2023
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Vietnam is a country rich in cultural diversity and breathtaking landscapes. It is also celebrated for its vibrant and tantalizing cuisine. So what are the top 5 foods in Vietnam? From hearty soups to fresh and flavorful street food, Vietnamese food is a delight for the senses. Let us show you all these delicious dishes right away!

CHARACTERISTICS OF VIETNAMESE CULINARY CULTURE

Vietnam, an agriculturally abundant country within the tropical monsoon zone, boasts three distinct regions and 54 ethnic groups. These geographical, cultural, ethnic, and climatic factors contribute to the diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.

Northern Vietnam

Characterized by subtlety, simplicity, and lightness, Northern Vietnamese cuisine features dishes that are not overly spicy, sweet, or fatty. 

Key spices include lemon, vinegar, pepper, ginger, onion, garlic, and subtle fish sauce. This cuisine's distinct quality is its restrained, aromatic flavors.

Central Vietnam

Central Vietnamese cuisine is known for its balance, harmony, and bold flavors. Dishes are typically spicy and savory, with a hint of sweetness.

Spice, particularly chili, is a cornerstone of this region's cuisine. From everyday meals to special delicacies, spiciness is integral and makes Central dishes an unforgettable culinary experience.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - central food

Central Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its diverse flavors and exquisite blend of savory

Southern Vietnam

Favored with fertile landscapes and a complex network of rivers and canals, Southern Vietnamese cuisine reflects a rich, generous nature. It tends to be sweet and sour, influenced by Chinese, Cambodian, and Thai cultures.

The liberal use of sugar and coconut milk imparts a sweet and creamy character to dishes, showcasing the region's unique culinary identity. The cuisine captures the essence of the Mekong Delta, tropical climate, and multicultural influences.

Why delay any longer in uncovering the answer to the question on every visitor's mind when they come to this country: What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam? right below.

WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 FOODS IN VIETNAM? – IN THE NORTH

Pho

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam? Any list would be incomplete without the inclusion of Pho, the undisputed national treasure and culinary pride of this Vietnam gem. Pho is a soul-soothing, aromatic, and flavorful noodle soup that captivates both locals and visitors with its irresistible allure.

Pho has its origins date back to the early 20th century, and nowadays it has since grown into a global sensation. In the present day, Pho holds the 28th spot on CNN's list of the 50 most delectable dishes worldwide.

Pho, despite its apparent simplicity, demands meticulous craftsmanship. Its foundation lies in aromatic broth, simmered from beef bones, charred onions, ginger, and spices. This slow-cooking method extracts complex flavors, yielding a fragrant, robust broth.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - pho

Pho is known for its comforting warmth and the balance of flavors it offers

Central to Pho are the soft, flat, translucent rice noodles, softened in hot water before being added to the soup. Traditionally, it's served with various toppings – thinly sliced beef, meatballs, or chicken.

Accompaniments like Thai basil, cilantro, sawtooth coriander, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and sliced chili peppers are provided. With its harmonious flavors, comforting warmth, and delightful noodle texture, Pho universally charms discerning palates.

Bun Cha

"What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?" is a question that inevitably leads to the iconic dish known as Bun Cha. This is a dish that encapsulates the essence of Vietnamese street food, famed for its harmonious blend of flavors, textures, and fresh ingredients.

The dish begins with marinated pork, lovingly grilled to perfection. These succulent pork patties are crafted with a balance of sweet and savory flavors. It creates an irresistible, slightly caramelized exterior.

Bun Cha features a foundation of rice noodles. These delicate, see-through noodles are cooked to an al dente perfection and are at room temperature. They offer a gentle, chewy texture that harmonizes beautifully with the savory grilled meats.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - bun cha

Bun Cha is a dish that carries the culinary soul of Northern land

The dish is further elevated with the accompaniments. Fresh herbs like mint, basil, and cilantro, along with crisp lettuce, cucumbers, and bean sprouts add a refreshing element. A bowl of fish sauce, diluted with water, sugar, lime, and chili, forms the dipping sauce. The balance of sweet and sour in the sauce complements the smoky flavors of the pork perfectly.

Bun Cha is renowned for its unique method of serving. Typically, you receive a plate of grilled pork, a bowl of vermicelli, and a basket of fresh greens. The harmony comes in creating your own individualized bites: a scoop of noodles, a piece of pork, some herbs, and a generous dip into the sauce – the result is a delightful marriage of textures and tastes.

Bun Rieu

Bun Rieu has long become one of the traditional dishes, typical of Hanoi cuisine. Although this type of vermicelli has many regional variations with different tastes, if you want to enjoy a delicious bowl of Bun Rieu, you must visit the restaurants in Hanoi once.

This delicious dish in the list of what are top 5 foods in Vietnam always makes diners fall in love. Filled with a variety of ingredients: beef, sausage, fried beans, pork rinds,… Most special is the broth cooked entirely with crab bricks.

From there, everything blends together to create a rich, sweet flavor from the seafood, slightly sour from the vinegar.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - bun rieu

Bun Rieu is a popular and frugal dish of Hanoi people

Many people comment that Bun Rieu is delicious not only thanks to its rich juice and plump topping but also because of its special spice: shrimp paste. Besides, balut is also one of the favorite side dishes of diners.

Many people often choose Bun Rieu when they want to eat a full, nutritious breakfast. But like pho, Bun Rieu is also chosen by many people to enjoy every meal of the day, from early morning until late at night.

Cha ca La Vong

Whenever you ponder "What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?", we will immediately recommend one dish which is the extraordinary Cha ca La Vong. This food is a celebration of taste and combines an array of flavors, textures, and cultural influences into a single remarkable dish.

Cha ca La Vong showcases the finest freshwater fish, commonly snakehead fish or catfish. These fish are marinated in a vibrant blend of turmeric, galangal, and an assortment of aromatic spices. Then it is achieved through gentle pan-frying, yielding a crisp, golden exterior while retaining the tenderness and flakiness within.

Diners are served with a platter of lush herbs, encompassing dill, cilantro, and scallions. Complemented by the satisfying crunch of roasted peanuts and the soft embrace of rice vermicelli noodles.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - cha ca la vong

From a rustic dish, Cha ca La Vong gradually became the quintessence of Northern cuisine to this day

To further elevate the flavor profile, a dipping sauce is thoughtfully concocted by marrying shrimp paste, zesty lime juice, a hint of sugar, and a touch of chili.

Cha ca La Vong distinguishes itself by its unique presentation and dining experience. Tradition dictates that the dish be cooked and assembled at the very table where it will be relished. A sizzling pan, brimming with fragrant fish, arrives alongside an enticing array of accompaniments.

It's truly a splendid experience! Cha ca La Vong unquestionably merits a prominent place on your list of What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam.

Banh Cuon

The delectable dish of Banh Cuon from the Northern region undoubtedly secures its well-deserved place on this culinary list of Vietnam. Each place, each city in this Northern region has Banh Cuon dishes with different flavors.

Ha Giang’s Banh Cuon is coated with ground rice flour, a thin crust filled with wood ear mushrooms, and minced meat. Or chicken egg filling with the yolk intact and the white folded neatly in a thicker layer of rice cake. The dipping sauce is made from stewed pork bones for many hours with a sweet taste and is added with pork sausage and cilantro.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - banh cuon

Banh Cuon in each place in the North has a different flavor and unique presentation

Traditional Hanoi’s Banh Cuon is thin rice paper served with fish sauce. Popular types of banh cuon are still unfilled and thinly coated. Or add a little minced meat and wood ear mushrooms, each piece as big as 2 fingers, then cut in half or into 3 pieces.

Hung Yen’s Banh Cuon is coated with a thin crust and after being cooked, they are stacked into stacks. When customers order, the owner scoops the filling from minced meat and dried onions into the middle of the crust and rolls it up. The dish is served with a dipping sauce mixed with a little cake filling and a few slices of red chili.

Besides, many more places have Banh Cuon which makes diners fascinated. Now you probably have the answer to the question: What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?

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WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 FOODS IN VIETNAM? – IN THE CENTRAL

Banh Xeo (Central Style)

When contemplating the question, "What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?" one dish that cannot be overlooked is the delicious Banh Xeo from Central Vietnam. The taste of Banh Xeo lies in its ability to engage all your senses, from the enticing sizzle to the aromatic herbs and vibrant colors.

The main ingredients in Banh Xeo are pure rice flour mixed with a little turmeric powder. Added to that is the rich, aromatic flavor of coconut milk.

Inside are fresh seafood such as shrimp, and squid,… with a strong flavor of the sea, making users satisfied. The reason why Banh Xeo in this region is special is probably the filling including large shrimp, or squid cut into rings and a little bean sprouts.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - central's banh xeo

Central region Banh Xeo is only as big as an adult's hand, moderately hot and crispy

People in the Central region often use molds to pour Banh Xeo, very different from other regions. The small mold is made of very hard cast iron, just big enough to pour a cake about 15 – 19cm.

Before pouring the cake, the maker often adds a lot of oil to make the cake crispy and cook very quickly. After the finished product, the cake has a golden color and a crispy layer.

In addition to sweet and sour fish sauce, people in the Central region also especially eat cakes with delicious fish sauce mixed with peanuts. This dish stimulates the taste buds with its rich flavor when rolled with green vegetable rice paper such as mustard greens, lettuce, fish mint, perilla, basil,…

My Quang

When exploring the culinary landscape of Vietnam and seeking the answer to the tantalizing question, "What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?". Just simply choosing My Quang, it stands out as a flavorful and culturally significant delight.

My Quang has wide rice noodles, distinct for their golden hue, a result of the infusion of turmeric into the rice flour. The noodles are masterfully prepared to attain a delightful texture. 

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - mi quang

Mi Quang is a typical specialty dish of the central region

My Quang is served with a variety of toppings such as chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, frog, eggs, snakehead fish,… They are cleaned, marinated with ingredients, and then stir-fried in an oil pan with sauteed onions. Next, people pour in water and stew until moderately soft. This stew will be used as broth for the food. 

People in the Central region have a habit of eating My Quang with a lot of raw vegetables to enhance the flavor. In the My Quang bowl, in the bottom layer is a mixture of raw vegetables. The next layer is yellow noodles mixed with white noodles and on top is the topping.

Afterward, people sprinkle a portion of onions and some roasted peanuts. The broth of My Quang only touches the noodles and does not cover them. When eating, diners also add a piece of crispy grilled rice paper.

Bun Bo Hue

Among the What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam list, one dish that must not be overlooked is Bun Bo Hue. This dish is renowned for its spicy and robust flavors.

The heart of Bun Bo Hue lies in its aromatic broth, made by simmering beef bones, oxtail, and pig's feet with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and an array of spices. This slow-cooking process creates a spicy and slightly sweet broth that sets Bun Bo Hue apart.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - bun bo hue

Bun Bo Hue is a favorite dish of all ages and can be enjoyed at any time of the day

The dish includes round rice noodles which are thicker than Pho noodles and offer a satisfyingly chewy texture. Bun Bo Hue is traditionally served with various beef cuts like tender shank and brisket, sometimes with tendon or pig's knuckles.

Fresh herbs, vegetables, and condiments such as cabbage, bean sprouts, banana blossoms, lime wedges, mint, and Thai basil with chilies complement the bold flavors. This culinary experience offers a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make Bun Bo Hue a beloved Vietnamese favorite.

These distinctive qualities firmly establish Bun Bo Hue as a deserving candidate on the list of What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam? Moreover, whenever you journey through Central Vietnam, this dish undoubtedly stands out as a prime culinary choice

Banh Beo

When exploring the delectable realm of Vietnamese cuisine and the list of What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam, don't forget to taste Banh Beo. Originating from Central Vietnam, Banh Beo offers a delightful experience with its charming presentation and delicate flavors.

Banh Beo is one of the Hue specialties that any tourist coming here wishes to enjoy. Banh Beo has such a special name because its shape resembles the leaf of a duckweed plant.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - banh beo

Banh Beo served in a small bowl is a specialty that invites guests to visit the ancient capital

Banh Beo is made from rice flour and then creates round, small, white but very eye-catching cakes. Banh Beo will be poured into a small bowl. This presentation adds to the charm and appeal of the dish.

Hue's Banh Beo filling is golden burnt shrimp combined with green onion fat. The cake is served with sweet fish sauce and spicy minced chili. This sauce adds a delightful balance of sweet, salty, and tangy notes to each bite.

With its captivating blend of flavors, textures, and presentation, Banh Beo is undoubtedly the best answer to the question What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?

Bun Ca

Bun Ca is one of the typical rustic dishes of the people of the Central region. Most tourists who have had the opportunity to visit this coastal land must come to enjoy the taste of this specialty at least once.

Bun Ca is usually cooked from fresh tuna or mackerel. Before being cooked, the fish will be washed with salt to remove the fishy taste. It will then be marinated with some basic spices.

As for the broth for Bun Ca, it's very simple. After frying onions and garlic until fragrant with pineapple and tomatoes, the chef will begin to add water to boil. Next, season to taste and continue to put the fish in and simmer until everything is absorbed evenly over all the ingredients.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - bun ca

Bun Ca has the typical flavor of the sea in each piece of fresh fish

Bun Ca dish is simply served with vermicelli, fish, and cooked broth. But the most special point is probably the bowl of dipping sauce. The best is the garlic chili lemon fish sauce, although spicy but extremely delicious.

Of course, some raw vegetables such as lettuce, shredded cabbage, and herbs are indispensable. Add a little chili to increase the spicy flavor, making diners remember it forever after eating it once.

Bun Ca is rich in the flavors of the sea and the love of Central people that captivates tourists from all over. This is a dish that deserves to be listed in the What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam column.

WHAT ARE THE TOP 5 FOODS IN VIETNAM? – IN THE SOUTH

Com Tam

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam, you might ask? Com Tam undoubtedly secures a spot on that list in the Southern region. This dish elevates even the simplest ingredients into a gourmet experience.

Tucked away in the vibrant streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Com Tam Saigon stands out as a culinary gem. Com Tam derives its name from its signature dish, which is commonly referred to as "broken rice".

This fragrant, fluffy plate of broken rice serves as the canvas for an exquisite medley of grilled meats. The star of the food typically includes succulent marinated pork, delicate shreds of pork skin, and a perfectly fried egg.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - com tam

Com Tam has always been a favorite dish of all people in the South

The meats, meticulously grilled to tender perfection, impart a burst of unforgettable flavors. Complex to this mouthwatering ensemble are the accompaniments: pickled vegetables, crisp cucumber slices, and a side of fish sauce.

These elements combine harmoniously to create a symphony of tangy and savory sensations with every single mouthful. From variations in processing to secret family recipes, the diversity in preparation caters to the diverse preferences of discerning diners.

If you're ever wondering what are the top 5 foods in Vietnam and in the South, look no further than Com Tam.

Banh Mi

When we discuss What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam, one delicacy that inevitably claims its place is the iconic Banh Mi. This beloved dish is a culinary marvel that harmoniously blends French and Vietnamese influences into a handheld masterpiece.

Banh Mi begins with a crisp and crusty baguette, the canvas for a delightful assortment of fillings. The most common protein choices include grilled pork, savory shredded chicken, meatballs, pork bologna,… 

Pickled carrots and radishes accompany these ingredients to contribute a delightful tanginess and crunch to the ensemble. Moreover, slices of crisp cucumber, fragrant cilantro, and slivers of peppers add a refreshing and subtly spicy note to each bite.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - banh mi

Banh Mi ranks 6th in the top 50 best street foods in the world

To cater to various tastes, optional extras like pate, fried egg, or tofu can be seamlessly integrated. This helps to provide diners with an array of options, including vegetarian or alternative variations.

One of the joys of experiencing Banh Mi in Saigon is its affordability and accessibility. You can find these delectable Banh Mi being freshly made and served on almost every street corner. 

As well as it provides a quick and satisfying meal on the go. The aroma of freshly baked Banh Mi and the sight of skillful hands assembling the sandwiches create an enticing atmosphere that draws tourists in.

Banh Xeo (South Style)

Banh Xeo is a type of cake that is present in all parts of the country. In each region, Banh Xeo has different flavors. In particular, Banh Xeo in the South has a rich, rustic flavor like the Southern people. This is also the reason why this dish appears in the list of What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam for tourists.

For a long time, Southern Banh Xeo has become an indispensable dish during holidays, especially Tet Doan Ngo of people in river regions. The ingredients to create Banh Xeo are all associated with the simplicity and rusticity here.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - southern's banh xeo

Unlike the Central region, Banh Xeo in the South is made in large pans

The pancake shell is made from rice flour, mixed with a little yellow color of turmeric, and the richness of coconut milk. The filling for Western pancakes is made from shrimp, minced pork belly or duck meat, green beans, bean sprouts, or coconut heart.

Unlike Central, Banh Xeo in the South is larger in size and has a thin, crispy crust. The plate of Banh Xeo is served with many available vegetables picked from the garden such as cassava leaves, young mango leaves, ambarella leaves, coconut greens, basil, herbs, and green mustard leaves,…

The way to eat Banh Xeo is also very unique. The crust, plus a little filling, is wrapped in green mustard leaves with other vegetables. Then you dip it in a bowl of sweet and sour fish sauce that is served on the side. All blend together to create a very original unforgettable flavor.

Banh Tam Bi

In the culinary tapestry of Vietnam, certain dishes stand out, and Banh Tam Bi is one such dish. While it may not always feature in the discussions about what are the top 5 foods in Vietnam, it holds a special place in the hearts and palates of the people in the South.

For locals, Banh Tam Bi is not just a dish; it's a comforting and familiar breakfast option that provides a perfect start to the day. It brings together a medley of enticing components, primarily Tam cakes, shredded pork skin, and lean meat.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - banh tam bi

Banh Tam Bi is a delicious dish that is popular because it is both cheap and popular in the breakfast of Southerners

What makes it truly special is the infusion of coconut milk and a hint of fish sauce. The dish is further adorned with a generous serving of bean sprouts, and a sprinkle of crispy fried onions to add both texture and depth to the experience.

Banh Tam Bi's soft and unique flavors, combined with a medley of textures, make it a true breakfast delight. It also has the power to captivate anyone who has the pleasure of trying it.

Hu Tieu

Among culinary gems in the South, Hu Tieu, a dish that combines influences from various regions of Vietnam, shines brightly. This dish exemplifies the country's culinary mastery, harmoniously blending flavors and textures to create a memorable dining experience.

At its core, Hu Tieu showcases a delightful composition of thin, translucent rice noodles. This exceptional broth is the heart and soul of Hu Tieu, it typically features a harmonious combination of pork bones, dried seafood, and an array of aromatic spices.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam - hu tieu

A large bowl of Hu Tieu filled with eye-catching toppings

All simmered to perfection to coax out the rich and complex flavors that define this dish. What truly sets Hu Tieu apart is the variety of toppings that accompanies the dish.

A full bowl of Hu Tieu includes broth, shrimp, pork, minced meat, and some places also add pig organs. Accompanying Hu Tieu are vegetables such as lettuce, chrysanthemum, chives, and fresh bean sprouts.

There are two ways to eat Hu Tieu that people often call Hu Tieu Kho and Hu Tieu Nuoc. For Hu Tieu Kho, the broth will be served separately next to the bowl of noodles. As for Hu Tieu Nuoc, it will be served in water with toppings and noodles.

The grand list of Vietnamese cuisine about what are the top 5 foods in Vietnam showcases a rich diversity of flavors, culinary ingenuity, and regional influences. From the bustling streets to the serene corners, these dishes not only tantalize the taste buds but also offer a glimpse into the vibrant culture of this beautiful nation.

So, the next time you embark on a culinary adventure in Vietnam, make sure to savor these top 5 foods. In doing so, you will not only discover the rich and diverse flavors of Vietnam but also gain a deeper appreciation for the country's culinary heritage.

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