Most part of your travel in Vietnam is supposed to be a food adventure! Yes, this South-Asian country offers some of the most unique preparations. It’s amazing how they experiment with their food and come out with some really delicious recipes. Also, it’s hard to be a vegetarian or vegan in this country. Well, it not that there aren’t options that don’t have animal protein, but it’s certainly not what the locals favor. Thankfully, I am a die-hard meat lover and Vietnam has always been tempting. While, there are loads of local preparations to try out, here are some of the unique foods in Vietnam you shouldn’t miss.
Egg Coffee − The combination of coffee and egg sounds weird but believe me, it’s amazing! The recipe originated in the post-war years (post-1975) when milk was in short supply. Vietnam, being the second-largest producer of coffee couldn’t let go of the beverage and someone came up with whisked egg yolk as an alternative! It was Hanoi which gave the world the Egg Coffee and more specifically, it’s Café Giang that lays claim to the invention. I tried Egg Coffee in several other places in Hanoi and elsewhere but, it’s certainly Café Giang that takes the most points!
Banh Mi − I am certain that Banh Mi should have been inspired by European breakfast. Banh Mi is just like a baguette but customized with locally sourced ingredients. It’s one of those breads that will serve as a full meal and can be customized according to your choices. While the most popular filling is minced pork/beef, you can have it layered with chicken, fish (sardines), cheese, eggs, or any kind of brisket. The topping must include daikon, cucumbers, chilis, and leafy greens to make it wholesome. Banh Mi is a staple and could be any meal. Also, it is among the most affordable things to gorge on while not sacrificing on the authentic taste of Vietnam. You can try them out at several local restaurants and I wasn’t able to pick up a favorite. However, it’s the street vendors that offer a better Banh Mi than any restaurant across Vietnam. A popular restaurant in Hanoi is Banh Mi 25 and you can definitely check it out to set the standards.
Pho − Another staple food in Vietnam, Pho is eaten as breakfast, lunch, evening snack and dinner and you get it everywhere. It’s a Vietnamese soup that mandatorily has rice noodles, herbs, sprouts and your choice of meat. The meat, beef or pork is so succulent and just melts in the mouth and several places have special pork fat stock that perfectly completes the food experience. I had my best pho in Hoi An but I am sure it is hard to choose a favorite. Just like Banh Mi, this is a dish that is everywhere and there is no limit to the options for customization. Lastly, chicken Pho or Pho Hanh is popular among tourists but I liked the pork options better.
Bun Cha − It’s an amazing combination of grilled pork and rice noodles/vermicelli that is served with pig fat stock, fish sauce and a lot of herbs. You will get the best Bun Cha in Hanoi, where it originated, but the dish is quite popular in other places too. Again, you have options to ask for a Bun Cha with beef/chicken base but that doesn’t really count. There is so much that goes into a bowl of authentic Bun Cha and like any other in this list, it’s a wholesome meal that will fill you up, at a very reasonable price.
Grilled Proteins!I am talking of any kind of protein here. Mostly across Hanoi and also elsewhere, there’s so much variety in grilled protein. Pork sausages, fried quail eggs (boiled), lobsters, squids, octopus, catfish, beef meatballs, quails, bull frogs, shrimp and so much more. My favorite was the pork sausages and if you are looking for a vegetarian option, you cannot go wrong with roasted sweet potatoes. So filling, these will keep you up and running for the adventure that is Vietnam!
Photo credits: Banner Left: seriousseats.com; Banner Center: tarasmulticulturaltable.com; Banner Right: theculturetrip.com
Most part of your travel in Vietnam is supposed to be a food adventure! Yes, this South-Asian country offers some of the most unique preparations. It’s amazing how they experiment with their food and come out with some really delicious recipes. Also, it’s hard to be a vegetarian or vegan in this country. Well, it not that there aren’t opti
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