Tourist’s guide to Vietnamese cuisine – must try dishes

Perhaps you have already heard such a thing as gastronomic tourism. This is when people come to another country not only and not so much to explore its sights, but to plunge into the local culture of culinary values. So, in this article you will learn what to try in Vietnam in the first place. Moreover, there is plenty to choose from: in the national cuisine of this country there are more than five hundred dishes!

Vietnamese cuisine

Soup lovers dedicated

Oddly enough, Vietnam is a country where they like soups even more than ours.

Soup “Fo”
Photo: Pho Soup

One of the most popular first courses in Vietnam. He is respected not only by locals, but also by tourists, because he resembles ordinary noodle soup. This is rice noodles boiled in meat (chicken, seafood) broth, where some vegetables and greens are also cut. Slices of beef, pork or poultry in the fo soup are cut into thin slices. This fragrant dish is decorated with very useful germinated soybean sprouts. Trying Pho is a must, because this is the No. 1 dish in Vietnam.

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By the way, this national dish can be offered to you not only at lunch, as is customary in Russia, but also for breakfast or dinner. Here, this dish is enjoyed at any time of the day or night. In general, Fo soup is a high-calorie, nutritious and delicious dish of national Vietnamese cuisine. In a cafe, soup is inexpensive, the price depends on the establishment and on the variety of dishes, on average, the price is 35-50 thousand dong (about one and a half or two dollars). Local liquids eat soup with several cutlery: with chopsticks and a spoon.

Boon Bo Hue
Photo: Boon Bo Hue

Also a very popular soup, one of those that you need to try in Vietnam. He, like Fo, is cooked in meat broth. Only here they throw a little different noodles, and thin slices of meat are replaced by solid huge pieces of beef on the bone. Hence the more rich consistency of the dish. The bonus in Bun Bo Hue is shrimp paste and lemongrass, so the taste becomes more piquant. Boon Bo Hue and Fo are worth a try for comparison.

Boon Cha Ga
Photo: Cha Ga Soup

This dish is a curious variation of fish soup, which is served with small pies and as a dressing – fish sauce, aromatic spices: garlic and pepper. Soup is unthinkable without rice noodles. This is the first dish of Vietnamese cuisine unusually fragrant and original. It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it in our ear!

Hot pot

A separate song is the so-called “Hot Pot” (translated from English as “hot pot”). This is an open space for the client’s imagination, because you can cook the soup yourself from whatever you like. The minimum price for such a restaurant service starts from 150 thousand dong (from $ 8). By the way, this big pot, it is quite possible to satisfy the hunger of two tourists.

Hot Pot Saucepan

So, you order a hot pot, and on your table bring a real gas burner, on it – a saucepan with broth is already installed. Around – at your service a dozen (or more) plates with different ingredients. They have already been washed and chopped, as expected, it remains only to throw them in the quantity and in the sequence in which you consider it necessary. The products are all the same as in the above Vietnamese cuisine soups, but the moment of your own participation in the dish is priceless. Moreover, you can verify the freshness of all ingredients or try separately, for example, raw vegetables.

Spices are also given in sufficient quantities. If you have any questions or doubts, you can contact the waiter, he usually walks nearby and watches.

Exotic snacks

Fried frogs
Fried frogs

One of the dishes that exotic Vietnam cuisine prides itself on. In our culture, quucks are inedible animals, but if we went beyond the hill, you can reluctantly try such an appetizer.

In general, if you lay aside prejudice, then the frog legs are like chicken to taste. In principle, nothing special, but if you feel all the tenderness of frog meat, then do not stop on the paws!

Order and try the whole carcasses fried on the grill (they will cost $ 4-7 per serving).

Crocodile meat

What else to try in Vietnam from food? If we are talking about exotic, then order a crocodile. In Vietnam, they like to cook it, and they cook it in different ways: both on the grill and in the broth, and even grilled on a skewer on the street – cut off slices from the upper fried layer and sell to those who wish.

Crocodile Cooking

A crocodile costs about $ 4-6 per dish, the meat seems to consist of scales (a bit like a fish in consistency). When compared with the already familiar types of meat, it is more like white chicken. The taste is unusual, delicate, but this is only on condition that the cook was worthy.

If you are not lucky with the cook, then you can not remember the tenderness, it is better to try the dish again in another place. A poorly prepared crocodile is hardly chewed. Perhaps the most winning version of crocodile meat is curry stew.

Ostrich meat
Sliced ​​ostrich meat in sesame seeds

It looks like beef, very amateur. Usually served in the form of steaks of varying degrees of hardness. Nevertheless, chewing an ostrich is difficult. Of the exotic, it is better to order tortoise soup. Of course, environmentalists will throw you slippers, but such a delicious soup is worth a try!

Tortoise soup

In order to have dinner together, it is enough to order half of the turtle, which will cost about ten dollars (240 thousand dong). For this price you will be offered a whole pot of the first, and the dish will be prepared with you. As usual, the basis of the broth, which add a lot of chopped greens. In a saucepan, turtle meat is already spoiled with aromas.


Boiled rice noodles are placed separately in the bowls and then the soup is added to the top. And then – just what you want: soy or fish sauce, lime juice, spices … The turtle tastes like a turkey, only softer and more tender. By the way, Vietnamese cuisine is characterized by a sour taste, so locals boldly add lime even to soups and meat. And, of course, what kind of seafood without lime juice!

Tasty snack

National dishes of Vietnam are not only complex compositions that can be ordered in restaurants. Many interesting things can be ordered in a simple cafe or right on the street, at the shopkeepers.

Ban mi
Ban mi - a stuffed French baguette

Baguettes, a relic of the colonial past of Vietnam. The French, who once settled in Vietnam, left such a mark. Locals are very fond of these European buns, so baguettes have become the most popular type of fast food in Vietnam. These baguettes are stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, several types of vegetables, along with sauces, meat, ham or seafood. In general, these dishes of Vietnam are always in great demand, even among those who reject any exotic.

It is known that in any cuisine in Vietnam you will certainly find rice. Even those who have not been to Asia know that in this region he is instead of bread, without it there is nothing. This is the main side dish, which is not only cooked, but also fried. The peculiarity of the Vietnamese rice variant is a specific fish sauce, which is a bit like soy sauce, but sweeter in taste and has a specific smell.

Ban Bao
Rice cakes

Rice cakes are also made from rice in Vietnam. More precisely, from rice flour. This dish is called Vietnamese Ban Bao and is steamed. In shape and taste, they may resemble the usual manti. They are also worth a try to appreciate the variety of tastes of Vietnamese national cuisine. There can be a great many fillings. The most traditional is minced meat with vegetables, boiled egg, herbs and seasonings.

Spring rolls

These are small rolls that differ from the usual ones in that they are fried until crisp. But also not always. This is a cold appetizer: rolls are wrapped in pancake or thin rice paper. The filling can be meat or fish, and seafood (usually shrimp), and minced meat with vegetables, and fruits and berries.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Spring rolls (they are also called Cha Gio) can be eaten “raw” or fried in a pan or grill.

Often such rice pancakes are served with herbs and sauces: fish, soy or even peanut. Without a doubt, you have to try the dish. This is also a great beer snack option!

What to drink?

Vietnamese national cuisine boasts drinks too. Perhaps the main among them is coffee.

Pure and pure coffee
How to make coffee in Vietnam

Recall that Vietnam is a former French colony, and a fragrant drink, like baguettes, is an echo of the colonial past. By the way, Vietnam has already overtaken Brazil in the export of coffee, and went to 1st place in the world! Varieties – for every taste: arabica, mocha, robusta, lyuvak … The cafe will offer you a drink made from a mixture of several varieties.

Vietnamese coffee has an unforgettable aroma. The finish is absolutely amazing: no sourness, only freshness and chill. Coffee is made directly in a cup, through a special metal filter (again, remember his brother, a French press). So, the filter is put on a mug, several tablespoons of freshly ground coffee are poured there and pressed. Hot water is poured from above. Coffee seeps into a glass, five minutes – and voila, you can drink it! Coffee in Vietnam is drunk with ice and condensed milk, and even with an egg.

Vietnamese coffee with egg

Coffee with an egg is amazingly gentle. More often it is sold in the north of the country, for example, in Hanoi. The consistency is perfect and melts in your mouth! Bitter coffee is strong in the bottom of the cup, and whipped egg yolks with sugar above. Such a drink is cold and hot. Russians usually like a hotter option. By the way, gourmets are advised to eat egg coffee with a spoon.

Sugarcane juice
Cane juice

One of the most popular Vietnamese national drinks. Tangerine, lime, kumquat juice is added to it … Juice takes on a green tint. A lot of ice is poured into the glass, because of which, when melted, the taste becomes watery. You need to drink quickly. Juice without additives is also wonderful! Incredibly sweet, with a grassy flavor, very refreshing. It costs an average of seven thousand dongs, make it on every street. When you juice is pressed from a cane stick on a special machine.

Rice vodka
Rice Vodka - Vietnam's Alcoholic Beverage

Vietnamese cuisine is rich: everyone can decide what to try, but, knowing the tastes of our fellow man, we recommend trying rice vodka. The most popular Vietnamese vodka is named after the capital – Hanoi. It is made of different strengths – from 30 to 40 degrees.

By the way, in the villages of Vietnam, residents are not too lazy to make their own rice moonshine. When the French ruled the ball, the colonialists declared a monopoly on alcohol. The natives were humorous and named their moonshine Quoc Lui, which means “the state is retreating.” However, it is not worth trying moonshine, there is a risk of poisoning.

Bananas, Coconuts …

When listing dishes of Vietnamese cuisine, one should not forget about fruits. Due to the hot climate, they grow here in such abundance that their eyes run wide. We mention the most unusual and delicious of them. Let us make a reservation right away – contrary to the laws of the market, a lot in Vietnam does not mean cheap. Cunning sellers like to pick up prices, especially in off-season.

Photo: exotic mango fruit

This is not really a “rarity” for our people, but the Vietnamese is absolutely not like his brothers, who are sold in our stores. As soon as you try, you will feel a huge difference. In Vietnam, these ripe aromatic fruits from the branches immediately go to the markets. Their season begins in March and ends in July. There are many varieties of mangoes, those that grow in the north are usually orange or mixed with yellow. All of them, regardless of color, are very tasty. But the best yet are seedless varieties. True, they cost an order of magnitude more expensive.

Photo: Exotic Durian

The insidious foul-smelling fruit. Some countries even prohibit eating durian in public places so as not to alienate tourists. But if you dare to step over the smell, then the creamy filling of the prickly durian will be your reward. True, the taste can be different, depending on the variety and maturity of the fruit. Those who have tasted the delights of durian say that it looks like a fruit salad, which combines the tastes of strawberries, pineapple and strawberries.

So grows jackfruit

The breadfruit is hardly inferior to durian in its fragrance. Cutting it is very difficult, it is large and sticky, it is better to buy a cut fruit. The taste is specific, it is suitable as an addition to hot dishes of meat or vegetables. You can guess by the name that the fruit is nutritious and high-calorie, eat it quickly.

Ripe Sapodrilles

Sold year round throughout the country. Reminds a little brown kiwi. The taste is sweet, like persimmon, the pulp is also the same as persimmon, but with a hard bone inside. Overripe sapodilla sugary, with a honey aftertaste. Of course, it is better to try it yourself, and not just read the description.

Now you know what to try in Vietnam. But, in order not to be left alone with a faience friend and not spoil your vacation, remember prudence. No matter how much you want everything and more, do not immediately get enough of the exotic. Eat no more than three or four foreign fruits a day. And of course, wash them thoroughly under running water.

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