When it comes to foods from Vietnam, you’re likely most familiar with the names pho and banh mi. Perhaps you’ve even enjoyed Vietnamese spring rolls a couple of times? But how well do you know Vietnamese cuisine besides these worldwide famous dishes?
From various noodle dishes to the cuisine’s diverse use of herbs in their dishes isn’t likely to leave anyone cold–not even when the dish itself is served. In fact, Vietnamese cuisine is so filled with diverse and delicious dishes, each region having a host of specialties to try, that you won’t be running out of Vietnamese foods you’ll want to try–and then eat again and again–anytime soon!
Best Vietnamese Food Bucket List: Popular Dishes, Names of Food from Vietnam Cuisine to Eat
1. Bach Tuoc Nuong Sa Te (Grilled Octopus with Satay)
This is an incredibly popular street food served around Vietnam. The octopus is first marinated with satay, then grilled and served with some cucumber slices and a dipping sauce.
2. Banh Bao (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns)
Taking a lot of inspiration from Cantonese cuisine, banh bao is a Vietnamese style steamed bun, traditionally filled with pork. The concept of bao, as well as the Chinese sausage used for it, originated from Cantonese immigrants upon their arrival to Vietnam, but Vietnamese cuisine has since made the dish their own, mixing ground pork with the sausage to provide its eaters mouth wateringly delicious bites.
3. Banh Bao Banh Vac (White Rose Dumplings)
These dumplings, made with translucent white dough, can only be found in Vietnam’s Hoi An region. They were created by White Rose Restaurant owner’s grandfather and its recipe has been a well-kept secret within the family for three generations by now. Named rose for its appearance, inside the dumpling you can usually find either pork or shrimp.
4. Banh Cam/Banh Ran (Sesame Balls)
With origins in Northern Vietnam, banh ran is a deep-fried rice ball made out of glutinous rice flour, with sesame seeds sprinkled all over. Inside you can find mung bean paste that has been sweetened and also scented with jasmine flower essence. Banh cam is essentially Southern Vietnam’s version of this same dish, except it’s made without using the flower essence. Additionally, banh ran is made so that the filling is separated from the shell, while banh cam does not make such distinction.
5. Banh Canh (Thick Noodle Soup)
Literally translated as ‘soup cake’, this refers to a couple of different thick noodle soup foods from Vietnam. The soup is made with noodles that have been cut from a thick sheet of dough–hence the name. In central Vietnam, the version of the soup is called banh canh cha ca, and uses fish cake and pork as ingredients; in another region the noodle soup may be made with chunks of crab instead.
6. Banh Chung/Banh Tet (Sticky Rice Cake)
A traditional Vietnamese food, this is a savory type of a rice cake served as a main course, often filled with mung bean and pork, and wrapped in leaves of lá dong plant. Banh tet is made similarly and with similar fillings, but is wrapped in banana leaves instead.
7. Banh Cong (Fried Prawn Cake)
Head over to Southern Vietnam to get a bite of this popular partially deep fried snack. It’s shaped like a muffin, and mung beans, taro and whole shrimps are used to create the delicious treat.
8. Banh Cuon (Rolled Cake)
Banh cuon is a rolled cake made from a thin sheet of rice batter. It is usually filled with seasoned ground pork and mushrooms, but other possible fillings exist as well. It’s served together with Vietnamese fish sauce.
9. Banh Goi/Banh Xep/Banh Quai Vac (Pillow Cake/Pillow Shaped Cake)
Just like the banh tom that’ll be introduced below, these are kinds of fritters in Vietnamese cuisine. Shaped in a way that kind of resembles a pillow, banh goi is filled with ground pork, glass noodles, mushrooms, and quail egg. Banh xeo comes with pork belly, shrimp, bean sprouts, and green onion. Both are served with so many fresh greens – as well as a fish sauce to dip them into – that it’ll feel like a refreshing treat instead of an oily deep-fried snack.
Recipe: How To Make Banh Goi by Straw
10. Banh Hue (Water Fern Cake)
Especially popular in Hue and other regions in Central Vietnam, banh hue consists of a family of rice flour cakes, of which the most famous might be banh beo. Each of these water fern cakes are made with similar basic ingredients, rice flour and shrimp, and taste quite similar with one another.
However, each of them are made with varying methods and include different additional ingredients, and their final presentations are also different from each other.
11. Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
One of the most famous dishes to come from Vietnam, and considered a national dish even within Vietnam, banh mi is a baguette sandwich typically filled with pork and vegetables. The type of pork used differs, whereas the vegetables typically used are cucumber, coriander, herbs, pickled carrots and shredded radish. Sometimes pork may be replaced by another kind of meat or vegetable option.
12. Banh Tom (Shrimp and Sweet Potato Shrimp Cake/Fritter)
This is a popular street food in Hanoi, similar to banh goi. The banh tom fritter is made by frying sweet potato and shrimp in a thick batter. If you want to try this Vietnamese food in the most delicious way possible, try the restaurant Banh Tom Ho Tay in Hanoi, which is famous for banh tom.
13. Banh Trang Nuong (Vietnamese Pizza)
Although this popular snack often gets referred to as Vietnamese pizza, it may be quite different from other types of pizza you’re accustomed to. Banh trang refers to rice paper, and banh trang nuong at its simplest is rice paper, with egg and spring onions poured over it, that has been cooked crunchy over charcoal. After cooking, it may be topped with any type of ingredients, such as shredded chicken or beef.
14. Banh Xeo / Banh Khoai (Vietnamese Crepe/Sizzling Pancake)
These are foods from Vietnam that are especially loved by the locals. It’s typically more savory than sweet, made with fried rice flour batter that has been filled with bean sprouts, green onions, pork belly, and shrimp. Banh khoai is a version of it made in Hue in particular, although a fair bit crunchier than banh xeo.
15. Banh Xoai (Vietnamese Mango Cake)
Interestingly enough, although this is named mango cake, there’s actually no mango in it! Instead, this powdery ball made out of sticky rice is filled with peanuts and sugar. It may have gotten its name from its shape, which supposedly resembles a mango seed.
16. Bia Hoi (Vietnamese Fresh Beer)
Costing just around 13 to 30 cents (when calculated in US dollars), bia hoi is often marketed as the cheapest beer in the world, and not for nothing. Bia hoi beer is brewed every day without the use of preservatives, and thus is usually consumed on the day of brewing. It can be found in other parts of Vietnam as well, but it is native and most common to Hanoi.
17. Bo Bit Tet (Vietnamese Beef Steak)
Often made from beef tenderloin, bo bit tet is a common beef steak in Vietnam. Interestingly enough it’s popular to eat for breakfast. It’s usually served with fried potato sticks and fried egg, and some simple vegetables on the side.
18. Bo La Lot (Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)
In this traditional dish from Vietnam, ground beef is wrapped in wild betel leaves, and then grilled together over charcoal. The betel leaves in particular make this a unique dish to try, although you can find it all around Vietnam. Spices used to season the beef vary between different regions.
19. Bot Chien (Fried Rice Cake)
If you head over to Ho Chi Minh City, you likely won’t run into trouble finding bot chien served by numerous different street vendors. In bot chien, rice flour is mixed with tapioca starch, cut into squares after cooling, and finally pan-fried together with eggs and green onions. The end result is a crispy and delicious dish, commonly eaten together with a green papaya salad.
Recipe: Vietnamese Fried Rice Cake
20. Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)
As the name suggests, bun bo hue is a dish most commonly found in Hue, where it is one of the most prominent noodle soups around. It’s made with thin noodles and beef brisket cut into thin slices, cooked in a broth made from bones simmered in lemongrass, chili oil, sugar, annatto, and fermented shrimp paste.
21. Bun Bo Nam Bo (Beef Noodle Salad)
While the origins of this dish are not known, as the name tells, this is a dish made in southern Vietnamese style, using dry rice noodles and no broth. In it, cold noodles are topped with beef that has been marinated and stir-fried, as well as bean sprouts, fresh vegetables, fried shallots, herbs, nuoc cham, and roasted peanuts.
It’s an awesome mix of crunchy, savory, and sweet, playing with the contrast of cold and hot in one dish.
22. Bun Cha (Grilled Pork Meatball)
One of the most popular traditional Vietnamese dishes in Northern Vietnam, bun cha features charcoal-grilled pork with cold rice noodles and assorted vegetables. It comes with two kinds of pork: pork meatballs and grilled pork belly.
23. Bun Dau Mam Tom (Noodle and Tofu with Shrimp Sauce)
Bun dau mam tom is served as a platter, featuring bunched up rice noodles, deep-fried tofu, cucumber slices, and some fresh herbs. It’s also possible to get a meat version of the dish, in which case the platter may include steamed pork and fish balls, for example. The dipping sauce is made from fermented crushed shrimp, and is the reason why many consider this dish to be an acquired taste.
24. Bun Mam (Fermented Fish Noodle Soup)
This is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with rice noodles and shrimp. What makes the noodle soup special is its use of fermented fish paste and fermented shrimp paste, either of which is used in each bun mam dish made.
25. Bun Rieu (Crab Noodle Soup)
With origins in Northern Vietnam, bun rieu is a crab noodle soup that is enjoyed for breakfast all around Vietnam today. Besides crab cakes, the original version of the soup includes rice vermicelli, fried tofu, green onions, and also congealed pig’s blood. The base of the soup is made with crab liquid, stewed tomatoes, and annatto seeds.
26. Bun Thang (Vermicelli and Chicken Soup)
Another dish with origins in Hanoi, bun thang is a rice noodle soup typically eaten during special occasions only. It’s most often topped with shredded chicken, as well as gio lua, fresh herbs, pork, shrimp floss, and thinly sliced egg shreds. Beetle juice is also extracted into the broth to give it a special flavor.
27. Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork Noodle Salad)
This dish is somewhat similar to the abovementioned bun cha. In it, cold rice noodles are once again topped with charcoal-grilled pork, as well as fresh greens and herbs. Pickled carrots and daikon, chopped spring onions, and roasted peanuts are used to garnish the dish, with Vietnamese fish sauce adding final touches to the flavor.
28. Ca Phe Muoi (Salt Coffee)
Ca phe muoi, aka salt coffee, is a coffee drink delicacy from Hue. It is exactly as the name says, a coffee drink made with salt. It’s an iced coffee, and the salt is mixed with fermented milk and cocoa powder, and served as a type of a whipped cream on the coffee.
29. Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee)
Egg coffee, on the other hand, is a classic coffee drink in Hanoi. In it, the egg is mixed with coffee, along with fermented milk. It is then poured over half a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
30. Cao Lau (Noodle Bowl)
Quite possibly Hoi An’s most notable dish, cao lau is a brothless, dry rice noodle dish. The noodles are topped with cha siu pork – which originated from Cantonese cuisine – as well as bean sprouts, fresh greens, herbs, and also rice crackers and fried pork rinds.
31. Cha Ca (Turmeric Fish with Noodles)
One of the most loved Northern Vietnamese dishes, cha ca is an old classic dish from Hanoi. Cha ca is made with catfish that has been marinated with turmeric and cooked by grilling, topped over rice noodles, together with fresh dill, roasted peanuts, and coriander. You’ll then eat it by dipping it into a sauce mix made of fish sauce, garlic, and vinegar.
32. Chao Tom (Sugar Cane Shrimp)
Another Hue specialty is chao tom, where you’re eating shrimp off a sugar cane. The shrimp is mashed into a paste and seasoned before wrapping it around the sugar cane, after which it is prepared either by grilling or deep frying.
33. Chao/Chao Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Porridge)
One of the Vietnamese style comfort foods is this chicken porridge, chao ga. It’s a simple dish, with origins in Chinese cuisine, where the rice and chicken are cooked in a chicken broth and seasoned lightly.
34. Che (Vietnamese Drink/Pudding Dessert)
Che is actually a blanket term that encompasses a few different traditional puddings, dessert soups, and also sweet beverages. They can be served both hot or cold, and a wide range of possible ingredients are used to make them.
35. Com Chay (Scorched Rice/Vietnamese Crispy Rice Cake)
In com chay, steamed rice is first sliced into shapes that are flat and round. Once the slices are dry, they’re pan-fried until they get a crispy consistency. It’s served together with various other things, like beef and vegetables.
Recipe: Com Chay Recipe– How To Make Vietnamese Crispy Rice Cake by YummyVietnam
36. Com Ga (Chicken Rice)
Having originated from Chinese cuisine, com ga is today seen as a specialty from Hoi An. In it, shredded chicken is served together with rice pilaf, papaya and carrot, as well as fresh herbs and chicken broth.
37. Com Hen/Bun Hen (Clam Rice)
This dish is a specialty from Hue, and can be made using either rice or noodles. Whichever of the two is topped with stir-fried baby basket clams, assorted vegetables, and numerous other ingredients.
38. Com Rang (Vietnamese Fried Rice)
Com rang is a Vietnamese fried rice dish, which has possibly gained its original inspiration from Chinese fried rice. It can be coupled with any vegetables and meat the cook has at hand, chicken being one popular choice.
39. Com Tam Suon Nuong (Broken Rice with Pork Chops)
One of Saigon’s most notable dishes, this is interestingly named ‘broken rice’. It’s made from a cheaper grade of rice, particularly from rice grain fragments from rice that has been broken somewhere between the field and milling. Traditionally it’s served together with grilled pork chops.
40. Dau Hu Sot Ca Chua (Fried Tofu in Tomato Sauce)
Another pretty simple Vietnamese dish is dau hu sot ca chua, where fried tofu is served together with softened tomatoes. Before serving, it’s seasoned with fish sauce before being simmered for a short amount of time, and then eaten together with rice.
41. Ga Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken)
This Vietnamese style roast chicken is flavored with five different kinds of spices, soy sauce, fish sauce, and some other spices that may be found in the pantry. Any cuts of chicken will do, although bone-in chicken quarters are usually preferred.
42. Ga Tan (Stewed Sweet Herbal Chicken Soup)
A special traditional dish coming from Hanoi, ga tan features a curious mix of herbs and spices to amp up the chicken soup’s flavor. It’s deemed to be especially good to eat when one’s suffering from something like the flu.
Recipe: Ga Tan by Ngoc Tran
43. Gio Lua/Cha Lua (Vietnamese Ham/Sausage)
This is a Vietnamese sausage, identical in all ways but the name – gio lua is its name in Northern Vietnam, cha lua is what it goes by in Southern Vietnam. Its cut is closer to a thick slice of ham rather than a traditional Western sausage. It’s made by pounding the pork into a pasty-like consistency, after which it’s seasoned and wrapped into banana leaves. It’ll then be boiled for about an hour before it’s ready.
44. Goi Cuon/Nem Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Roll)
Perhaps another one of most famous Vietnamese dishes are these spring rolls – also known as summer rolls. This national dish is made by wrapping rice noodles, shrimp, pork, herbs and vegetables in Vietnamese rice paper. It’s often eaten by dipping it into a peanut hoisin sauce.
45. Hot Vit Lon/Trung Vit Lon (Fertilized Duck Egg)
Sold and eaten as street food in Vietnam, and a couple of other Southeast Asian countries as well as China, in this dish you are eating a fertilized egg embryo straight out of its shell. It’s prepared by boiling.
46. Hu Tieu (Tapioca Noodle Soup)
This breakfast dish crossed over to Vietnam from Cambodia. The noodles in this soup are first moistened with garlic oil, after which it is ‘dressed’ with a brown sauce made out of a mix of soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar. It’s further seasoned with fish sauce and topped with different kinds of meat, such as pork and duck. The broth is made from pork bones and dried squid, but the dish can also be served dry without broth.
47. Luon (Eel)
Any Vietnamese dish that uses eel as its central ingredient is called luon. Typically in Vietnamese cuisine, eel is prepared by deep frying, reaching a similar level of crispiness than dried anchovies have. Luon dishes are especially common in Northern regions of Vietnam.
48. Mi Quang (Turmeric Noodle)
A specialty coming from Quang Nam province, and Da Nang in particular, in this soup-like dish, the noodles are placed in a broth that has a bit more of an intense flavor compared to most other noodle dishes. It can be topped with any kind of a protein, together with fresh greens and herbs.
49. Nem Cua Be (Crab Spring Rolls)
Originating from Hai Phong, a coastal province in Northern Vietnam, these are deep fried spring rolls made using crab meat. In addition to crab, you can also find noodles, pork, cabbage, egg white, bean sprouts, carrots, and mushrooms in these spring rolls. Nem cua be is often eaten together with bun cha.
50. Nem Nuong/Nem Lui (Grilled Pork Skewer)
In this dish, pork meatballs or sausages are skewered and grilled. The dish is made using fatty pork in particular, seasoned with shallots, fish sauce, garlic, black pepper, and sugar. The dish is eaten by wrapping the skewers in rice paper, adding in other ingredients like noodles and lettuce, and then dipping the wrap into peanut sauce before taking a bite.
51. Nem Ran/Cha Gio (Fried Spring Roll)
Nem ran (called cha gio in regions outside of Northern Vietnam) is made using a lot of the same ingredients as goi cuon. However, it is then further prepared by deep frying the dish before serving.
52. Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
Nuoc cham refers to the fish sauce that is used in a lot of foods from Vietnam. It is actually not one and the same nuoc cham that is used for each dish, but this is more of a blanket term for various dipping sauces made with fish sauce as base. They can be sweet or savory or even spicy.
53. Nuoc Mia (Sugarcane Juice)
If you’re looking for a refreshing drink to survive a hot day in Vietnam, look no further than nuoc mia. It is made from freshly pressed sugarcane juice, and is sold at numerous street vendors all around the country.
54. Oc (Snail)/Bun Oc (Snail Soup)
Snails, oc in Vietnamese, are a popular delicacy. They are prepared in numerous different ways, one of which is bun oc, a rice noodle soup with snails that has its roots in Hanoi, typically using boiled or roasted snails.
55. Pho (Noodle Soup)
Perhaps the best known traditional Vietnamese dish known worldwide, it’s a hugely popular national dish in Vietnam. It’s made using rice noodles, meat, clear stock, and herbs. For meat, beef or chicken are typically used.
Recipe: Vietnamese Pho recipe by Nagi
56. Pho Cuon (Beef Pho Wrap)
This is another type of a Vietnamese spring roll, utilizing fresh rice noodle sheets – same kind of noodle as is used for the abovementioned pho dish – to wrap beef, vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients into a tasty snack. It’s sold as a street food but also as an appetizer.
57. Rau Muong/Rau Muong Xao (Stir Fried Water Spinach)
Rau muong is a water spinach which is in popular use across Southeast Asia. A common way to eat it is by quickly stir frying it. To add some extra into the dish, it can be stir fried together with garlic, in which case the dish is called rau muong xao toi.
58. Sup Bap Cua (Crab & Corn Egg Drop Soup)
This soup is made with crab meat, in addition to shredded chicken, corn, mushroom, quail eggs, and coriander. The broth contains dropped egg, further thickened by tapioca starch. To finish, it’s seasoned with chili, pepper, and sesame oil.
59. Thang Co (Horse Meat)
Here’s a dish you can find in Northern Vietnam’s Sapa region specifically. It’s a traditional h’mong stew, which is made using horse meat, although occasionally other types of meat may be used as well. It’s seasoned with up to twelve different spices and served with noodles.
60. Xi Ma (Black Sesame Sweet Soup)
You can find this dessert soup in Hoi An, where it’s particularly popular to eat. It’s another dish that originated from China, evident by its use of pennyworth, which is a Chinese medicinal herb. Besides that, this sweet soup is made with black sesame, coconut, sugar, and rice flour.
61. Xoi (Steamed Glutinous Rice)
Finally, xoi refers to several different traditional foods from Vietnam which use steamed glutinous rice as a central ingredient. Both savory and sweet xoi dishes exist, and there are quite possibly hundreds of different types of xoi dishes to be enjoyed in Vietnam.
As you may have realized already, these foods from Vietnam are just some among incredibly many possibilities. Whether you’re planning to try to cook them at home, head over to the nearest Vietnamese restaurant in town, or hop on the next plane to Vietnam, this diverse and rich cuisine is one that’ll sweep you – or at least your taste buds – off your feet. Once you get started on discovering these Vietnamese dishes, there’s a good chance you won’t want to ever stop!
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