Vietnam’s history of colonialism by the French has infused a love of cuisines from both cultures. As a result, a mouth-watering fusion style of food was born. Vietnam food culture has a unique place in the world—and in our stomachs. Your taste buds are sure to rejoice as you taste your way across the country.
While you should try any traditional Vietnamese dish you desire the next time you visit this beautiful country, there are a few you simply can’t miss! We’ve compiled our recommendations to help you savor every flavor throughout your journey discovering the glory of Vietnam food culture.
Bánh xèo translates to “sizzling pancake,” named for the satisfying sound of the batter hitting the griddle. Although the batter consists of a blend of rice flour, powdered turmeric and water, it’s been compared to the quintessential French crêpe. Like the crépe, this batter is fried into a pancake and then stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Common stuffing choices include bean sprouts, green onion, lettuce, mint, shrimp or pork. Vegetarian bánh xèo is available throughout the country as well.
Note: While a crêpe is a common street food on the streets of Paris, bánh xèo is frequently served in restaurants in Vietnam.
At this point in time, the only major confusion over pho is how to pronounce it! Tip: It’s pronounced, “fuh.” This wildly popular dish is known for its combination of mild, balanced flavors in pleasantly large quantities. The soup base is made from beef broth, bánh phở (rice noodles), cuts of beef or chicken, as well as a range of garnishes for personal preference, such as Mung beans, basil, lime or Hoisin sauce. We recommend you try it on a cold day or when you have time to savor your lunch or dinner.
Refreshing gỏi cuốn is a popular appetizer before a larger meal or serves as a quick snack for those who want a fast, light way to quell their hunger. Gỏi cuốn is more commonly known to English-speakers as Vietnamese spring rolls. They consist of a delightful assortment of vegetables, bún—also known as rice vermicelli—and other ingredients including seafood such as shrimp or prawn all wrapped up in a roll enclosed by rice paper. Typically, gỏi cuốn is served with a side of peanut sauce for the perfect balance of salty and sweet.
We’ll finish off the menu with what is one of the most widely recognized dishes in Vietnam food culture — the bánh mì. This sandwich is a culinary feat made up of the best of both worlds, the French baguette and the vegetables native to Vietnam. A typical bánh mì contains a pâté or chả lụa (pork sausage) with cilantro, daikon, carrots and cucumbers. The end result is a tasty treat that serves as a filling breakfast sandwich or a hunger-quashing snack. Although first developed in Ho Chi Ming City, the bánh mì is now easy to find all over the world as it has become popularized with the rise of Vietnamese restaurants and food trucks.
Is your mouth watering over the possibilities of exploring Vietnam food culture? The perfect way to experience the best the country has to offer is on a luxurious river cruise. Wind your way across the water to visit thriving cities and traditional towns as you discover delicacies along your journey. Contact our experts today to plan your next vacation aboard an Avalon river cruise, which offers endless opportunities to experience Vietnam.