Pho (Vietnamese noodle), bun rieu cua (crab soup with vermicelli), and bun cha (grilled pork & noodle) are street food dishes that captivate thousands of international visitors. Here are the seven dishes and drinks that have made Vietnam an attractive spot on the culinary world map.
Egg coffee is a Vietnamese drink which is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee. The drink is made by beating egg yolks with sugar and coffee, then extracting the coffee into the half of the cup, followed by a similar amount of egg cream, which is prepared by heating and beating the yolks. Egg coffee was described by BuzzFeed as a “liquid tiramisu”.
This is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork & noodle. Bun cha is served with grilled fatty pork (cha) over a plate of white rice noodle (bun) and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce. The dish was described in 1959 by Vietnamese food writer Vu Bang (1913–1984) who described Hanoi as a town “transfixed by bun cha.”
Bun cha is popular in the Northern region of Vietnam. In the South, a similar dish of rice vermicelli and grilled meat is called bun thit nuong.
The familiar dish from Hanoi was in the top 10 best street foods of the world, voted by travelers on National Geographic last November.
Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)
In 2013, Nha Trang’s sidewalk banh mi was voted by National Geographic as one of 11 most delicious street foods in the world while banh mi sold on the sidewalk of Nguyen Trai Street, Saigon topped the list of 12 street foods by US travel magazine Conde ‘Nast Traveler. In addition, this dish also received praise from many international tourists.
The Banh Mi sandwich has very different forms depending on where you are in Vietnam. There is the Infamous Banh Mi of Hoi An that was visited by Anthony Bourdain. This Banh mi is dubbed the “Deluxe” and along with fresh salad, pickles, and four types of pork is topped with a fried egg. Just a little bit up the road in Da Nang, you can find a specialty in the dehydrated pulled chicken sandwich called Banh Mi Ga. In Hanoi, you can find a grilled pork in a spicy sauce with fresh vegetables. Other variations found all over Vietnam include Fish sauce marinated grilled pork, Grilled Pork Patties with a sweet sauce, Meatballs in tomato sauce, and a morning favorite of fried egg. These are just a few of the variations, not to mention what foreign chefs and cooks are now doing with the humble Banh Mi.
Chuoi nep nuong (Vietnamese grilled banana sticky rice)
Grilled banana sticky rice is made of banana, coconut milk and sticky rice then grilled to perfection. It’s crispy, smoky and fragrant. You then enjoy it with a lightly sweetened creamy coconut sauce and a pint of roasted peanuts. If you are new to Vietnamese snacks or dessert, this banana treat is a must to try. In Vietnam, vendors sell this dish on the streets and you can find it easily on the streets of Saigon.
At the World Congress Street Food (WSFC), held in Singapore in June 2013, this dish was voted the most favorite street food.
Pho (Vietnamese noodle)
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called banh pho, a few herbs, and meat. It is primarily served with either beef or chicken. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world.
Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam. Because pho’s origins are poorly documented, there is significant disagreement over the cultural influences that led to its development in Vietnam, as well as the etymology of the word itself.
The Hanoi and Saigon styles of pho differ by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.
In January 2013, Business Insider ranked Vietnamese pho in the first place of the top 40 cuisines you should try once in your life. International travelers also said that it was the food that they wanted to enjoy the first when they went to Vietnam.
Bun rieu (Vietnamese crab noodle soup)
This is a Vietnamese rice vermicelli soup. There are several varieties of bun rieu, including bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup), bun rieu ca (fish noodle soup), and bun rieu oc (snail noodle soup).
Bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup) is served with tomato broth and topped with crab or shrimp paste. In this dish, various freshwater paddy crabs are used, including the brown paddy crab found in rice paddies in Vietnam. The crabs are cleaned by being placed in clean water to remove dirt and sand. The crabs are pounded with the shell onto a fine paste. This paste is strained and the crab liquid is a base for the soup along with tomato. The crab residue is used as the basis for crab cakes.
Other ingredients for this dish are: tamarind paste, fried tofu, me or giam bong (kinds of rice vinegar), Garcinia multiflora Champ., annatto seeds to redden the broth, huyet (congealed pig’s blood), split water spinach stems, shredded banana flower, kinh gioi (Elsholtzia ciliata), spearmint, perilla, bean sprouts and cha chay (vegetarian sausage). This dish is rich in nutrition: calcium from the ground crab shells, iron from the congealed pig’s blood, and vitamins and fiber from the vegetables.
Bun rieu cua was on the list of the most attractive street foods of Asia on CNN Go 2012.
Goi cuon (salad roll)
Nem cuon, Banh trang cuon, or Goi cuon, Vietnamese spring roll, summer roll, or salad roll, is a Vietnamese dish traditionally consisting of pork, prawn, vegetables, bun (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese banh trang (commonly known as rice paper).
It is listed at number 30 on World’s 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Fresh goi cuon have gained popularity among Vietnam’s neighboring countries and in the western hemisphere as well. These rolls are considered to be a very popular appetizer among customers in Vietnamese restaurants.