10 Most Famous Vietnamese Food to Try on Your Trip to Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine is a delightful fusion of authentic flavors and influences from neighboring countries, resulting in a diverse culinary landscape. Bursting with an abundance of fresh ingredients, fragrant herbs, and innovative cooking techniques, Vietnamese food offers a culinary journey unlike any other, boasting an array of unique and unforgettable dishes.

In this article, we’ve curated a list of the most famous Vietnamese food that are not to be missed. From iconic classics to lesser-known gems, each dish embodies the rich tapestry of Vietnamese culinary tradition. Whether you’re craving the comforting warmth of Pho, the vibrant freshness of Goi cuon, or the bold flavors of Banh mi, there’s something to tantalize every palate and satisfy every craving. Explore the tantalizing flavors and diverse textures of Vietnamese cuisine, and embark on a culinary adventure that will leave you longing for more.

Taste the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine –  famous Vietnamese food

Quy Nhon Crispy Fried Cake
Quy Nhon Crispy Fried Cake

When exploring Vietnam, one of the most captivating aspects for travelers is its rich culinary landscape. The country is divided into three distinct regions—the North, Center, and South—each boasting its own unique culinary traditions and flavors.

  • In the North, particularly in Hanoi, travelers encounter a diverse array of local and street foods, alongside international cuisine. Here, the local palate favors a harmonious blend of spices like chili, lemongrass, and pepper, creating a distinctive flavor profile.
  • The Central region, often facing harsh weather conditions, embraces a rich and bold taste profile. With chili being a prominent ingredient, locals add it generously to their dishes to combat the cold climate.
  • Moving to the South, culinary influences from neighboring countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and China are evident. Reflecting the warmth and hospitality of the locals, Southern dishes tend to feature sweeter flavors.

While traditional Vietnamese cooking emphasizes boiling and steaming over stir-frying, it’s essential to note the prevalent use of pungent fish sauce in many dishes. For those with sensitive palates, opting for alternative options like vegetables, rice, or salads is advisable. Below are 10 of the most world famous Vietnamese dishes that you cannot miss on your upcoming Vietnam expedition.

Pho

Ha Noi Pho Beef
Ha Noi Pho Beef

Pho, the iconic rice noodle soup, is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and a beloved dish worldwide. Its widespread popularity stems from its flavorful broth, tender rice noodles, fragrant herbs, and various meat options.

While Pho is a familiar name for tourists exploring Vietnam, its significance in Vietnamese culinary heritage cannot be overstated. It represents a source of pride for the nation and serves as a culinary ambassador across the globe.

Pho comes in different regional variations, with South Vietnam showcasing its unique take on the dish. Saigon Pho, for example, is renowned for its sweeter broth and a diverse selection of meats, including pork, beef, chicken, duck, or goose.

Regardless of the region, Pho remains a ubiquitous dish in Vietnam, with countless eateries dedicated to serving this comforting soup. Whether you’re wandering the bustling streets of Hanoi or strolling through the vibrant lanes of Ho Chi Minh City, you’re bound to encounter an establishment offering a steaming bowl of Pho, inviting you to savor its rich flavors and aromatic herbs.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Pho:

Chicken Pho: 

  • Pho Ha – Address: 15 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

Beef Pho: 

  • Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan – Address: 49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su – Address: 10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

Banh Mi

Banh Mi Vietnam
Banh Mi Vietnam

Banh Mi, the beloved Vietnamese sandwich, has become a global sensation akin to Pho, captivating the hearts and palates of tourists worldwide. Introduced by the French during colonial rule, Banh Mi is a fusion of the traditional baguette with local flavors, reflecting Vietnam’s culinary diversity.

Today, Banh Mi stands as an iconic street food found across Vietnam, offering a myriad of variations to suit every palate. While a basic Banh Mi typically comprises bread, egg, pate, BBQ pork, cucumber, tomato, carrot, and vegetables, the possibilities are endless. From sausage and grilled beef to chicken, each ingredient contributes to the sandwich’s delectable flavor profile.

Regional nuances add further depth to Banh Mi, with each area boasting its unique recipe and variations. Whether in bustling cities or remote villages, Banh Mi stalls dot every corner, offering affordable and delicious options to locals and visitors alike.

With its affordability, accessibility, and irresistible flavors, Banh Mi has rightfully earned its place as a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, showcasing the country’s rich culinary heritage and global influence.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Banh Mi:

Hanoi: 

  • Banh Mi Lan Ong – Address: 20 Cha Ca Street, Hanoi

Hai Phong: 

  • Spicy Banh Mi Ba Gia – Address: 57A Le Loi Street, Hai Phong

Ho Chi Minh city: 

  • Banh Mi Huynh Hoa – Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, Ben Thanh, District 1, HCMC

Bun Cha

Ha Noi Bun Cha street food
Ha Noi Bun Cha street food

Bun Cha, also known as Kebab Rice Noodles, is an iconic street food dish beloved throughout Vietnam and renowned worldwide. Particularly celebrated in Hanoi, it attracts locals and tourists alike, enticing them to savor its delectable flavors.

This enticing dish comprises warm, flavorful broth paired with succulent grilled minced pork and Vietnamese rice noodles. Upon serving, diners are presented with a plate of rice noodles, a selection of fresh herbs, and a bowl brimming with the tantalizing broth and grilled meats.

To enjoy Bun Cha, one dips a small portion of rice noodles into the savory broth before indulging in the grilled pork. It’s essential not to overwhelm the broth with noodles to ensure it maintains its warmth and richness. Moreover, enthusiasts of grilled pork can request additional servings to enhance their dining experience further.

The broth boasts a delightful balance of salty-sweet flavors derived from meticulously simmered pork bones, while the grilled pork imparts an irresistible smoky aroma and tender texture. Together, these components create a harmonious symphony of flavors that captivates the palate and leaves a lasting impression on all who partake.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Bun cha:

  • Bun Cha Dac Kim – Address: No. 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • O Bun Cha – Address: 46 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
  • Tuyet 34 – Address: 34 Hang Than, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi

Cha Ca La Vong

Cha Ca La Vong, also known as Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill, is a beloved dish originating from Hanoi, the capital of northern Vietnam. This iconic dish, often referred to as “Cha Ca Thang Long,” has a rich history dating back to the 19th century when it was first served at a restaurant in the Old Quarter.

Invented by the Doan family during the French colonial period, Cha Ca quickly gained popularity among locals and visitors alike. The dish features grilled fish seasoned with a fragrant marinade comprising turmeric, garlic, shallots, galangal, salt, sugar, and fish sauce. The fish is then left to marinate for at least an hour before being grilled to perfection.

What sets Cha Ca La Vong apart is its intricate preparation process, which involves meticulous attention to detail, particularly in the marinade’s composition and the grilling technique. The result is a flavorful and aromatic dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of turmeric and dill, perfectly complementing the tender and succulent fish.

Traditionally, Cha Ca is served hot and sizzling, straight from the frying pan to the dining table, offering a delightful sensory experience that captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Bun cha:

  • Cha Ca La Vong – Address: 14 Cha Ca, Hang Dao, Hoan Kiem ward, Hanoi
  • Cha Ca Lao Ngu – Address: 171 Thai Ha, Lang Ha,  Dong Da ward, Hanoi
  • Cha Ca Phan – Address: 14 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Hai Ba Trung ward, Hanoi

Nem Ran/Cha Gio

Vietnamese food, spring roll or cha gio / Source: Xuan Huong Ho - YayImages
Vietnamese food, spring roll or cha gio / Source: Xuan Huong Ho – YayImages

Nem Ran or Cha gio, Fried Spring Rolls in English, holds a cherished place in Vietnamese cuisine, beloved by people across the country from North to South. It’s a dish deeply embedded in tradition, often prepared at home during significant occasions, particularly during the Lunar New Year festivities.

The origins of spring rolls trace back to ancient China, specifically during the Jin Dynasty, where farmers celebrated the end of spring by crafting pancakes filled with freshly harvested vegetables. This culinary tradition eventually made its way to Vietnam, evolving into the beloved Nem Ran.

The preparation of Nem Ran involves a delicate balance of flavors and textures. The filling typically consists of minced pork, egg, carrots, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, herbs, and spices, all meticulously combined and encased in a rice paper wrapper. Once assembled, the rolls are deep-fried to a golden hue, imparting a crispy exterior.

Accompanying these delectable rolls is a dipping sauce comprising fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, chili, and pepper, adding a burst of tanginess and spice. Nem Ran is commonly served alongside rice, noodles, and salad, creating a satisfying and flavorful meal that epitomizes the essence of Vietnamese culinary tradition.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Nem ran:

  • Nem Ran Nguyen Hong – Address: No. 22 Alley 9 Huynh Thuc Khang street, Hanoi
  • Nem Ran Huynh Thuc Khang – Address: No. 9 Alley 9 Huynh Thuc Khang street, Hanoi
  • Co Dao – Address: Alley 19 Hoang Ngoc Phach, Dong Da district, Hanoi

Cao Lau

Cao Lau, a renowned Vietnamese delicacy, originates from the historic town of Hoi An, nestled in Quang Nam province—a beloved destination for travelers. Unlike traditional noodle dishes like pho, Cao Lau stands out as a unique fusion dish exclusive to Hoi An, Da Nang, and Hue.

Contrary to popular belief, Cao Lau’s origins do not trace back to China or Japan but rather represent a culinary amalgamation influenced by various cultures. This distinctive dish boasts a blend of flavors and ingredients that reflect its rich cultural heritage.

Prepared with rice noodles, tender pork or succulent shrimp, vibrant greens, bean sprouts, and aromatic herbs, Cao Lau presents a delightful medley of textures and tastes. Notably, its characteristic yellow or gray noodles distinguish it from other noodle varieties, contributing to its visual allure.

Served with a savory broth, Cao Lau entices with its sweet undertones—a hallmark of Southern Vietnamese cuisine. Each mouthful offers a tantalizing blend of flavors, making it a must-try culinary delight for visitors exploring the charming streets of Hoi An and beyond.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Cao lau:

  • Ty Ty Quan – Address: 17/6 Hai Ba Trung, Hoian, Quang Nam
  • Trung – Address: 5 Tran Phu, Hoian, Quang Nam
  • Quan Phuc – Address: 11 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoian, Quang Nam

Com Ga Hoi An

Com Ga Hoi An, or Hoi An Chicken Rice, holds a significant place in the culinary heritage of Hoi An, a historic port town in Central Vietnam. With its roots tracing back over 200 years to Tam Ky, Quang Nam’s capital, this dish encapsulates the rich cultural fusion of the region.

Originally a bustling hub for traders from China, Japan, and other parts of Asia, Hoi An’s cuisine reflects diverse influences from Southeast and East Asia. The result is a harmonious blend of Vietnamese flavors with international nuances.

A quintessential plate of Hoi An Chicken Rice features tender chicken shreds, crisp onions, vibrant Vietnamese coriander, and fragrant yellow rice infused with turmeric. What sets it apart is the method of cooking the rice directly in savory chicken broth, imparting a luscious texture and depth of flavor.

Served with a side of tangy dipping sauce and fresh herbs, Hoi An Chicken Rice offers a symphony of tastes and textures that tantalize the taste buds. Whether enjoyed at a street-side stall or a traditional restaurant, this iconic dish promises a culinary journey through the flavors of Central Vietnam’s vibrant food scene.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Com ga Hoi An:

  • Com Ga Ty – Address: 25 – 27 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoian, Quang Nam
  • Com ga Ba Ho – Address: 16 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoian, Quang Nam
  • Com ga Ba Thuan – Address: 17/4 Hai Ba Trung, Hoian, Quang Nam

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue, also known as Hue Beef Noodles, stands out as a renowned traditional Vietnamese delicacy originating from Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty in the Central region. This dish has gained widespread recognition for its unique blend of flavors and ingredients.

At its core, Bun Bo Hue features a rich and flavorful broth infused with beef, trotters, pork balls, frozen blood, and a medley of aromatic herbs like bean sprouts, lemon, and coriander. It’s the combination of these ingredients, along with the distinctive broth, that sets Bun Bo Hue apart from other noodle dishes in Vietnam.

What truly distinguishes Bun Bo Hue is its broth, which boasts a complex umami taste that tantalizes the palate. This flavorful broth is the result of carefully selected spices, simmered for hours to extract maximum flavor and depth. The addition of beef and pork elements further enriches the broth, creating a hearty and satisfying dining experience.

Whether enjoyed as a comforting meal on a chilly day or as a culinary adventure for food enthusiasts, Bun Bo Hue continues to captivate diners with its rich history and unparalleled flavors, making it a must-try dish for anyone exploring Vietnamese cuisine.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Bun bo Hue:

  • Bun Bo Hue O Phuong – Address: 24 Nguyen Khuyen, Phu Nhuan, Hue
  • Bun Bo Hue Hang Ca- Address: 36 Hang Ca, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
  • Bun Bo Hue Nguyen Sinh Cung – Address: 250 Nguyen Sinh Cung, Hue

Goi Cuon

Goi Cuon, or Fresh Spring Rolls, are a beloved dish in Vietnamese cuisine, known for their lightness and healthfulness. Unlike their fried counterparts, fresh spring rolls offer a lighter alternative, filled with a vibrant medley of cooked meats and fresh vegetables. This refreshing dish is widely enjoyed across Vietnam, with Saigon being particularly renowned for serving some of the best fresh spring rolls.

The key component of Goi Cuon is the translucent rice paper wrappers, which serve as a delicate envelope for an array of fillings. These can include steamed shrimp, pork, bun noodles, cucumber slices, lettuce, mint, and more. For vegetarians, options like mushroom and tofu spring rolls are also available, ensuring a satisfying experience for all palates. 

Accompanied by a flavorful dipping sauce, typically garlic soy or peanut sauce, these rolls offer a harmonious blend of textures and flavors. The crisp freshness of the vegetables contrasts beautifully with the tender meats, creating a delightful culinary experience that perfectly captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a light snack or part of a larger meal, Goi Cuon is a versatile and universally loved dish that epitomizes the diversity and vibrancy of Vietnamese culinary tradition.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Goi cuon:

  • Goi Cuon Hanh – Address: 420A Hoa Hao, District 10, HCMC
  • Co Loan – Address: 57/3 Đoi Cung, District 11, HCMC
  • 108 Calmette – Address: 108 Calmette, Nguyen Thai Binh,  District 1, HCMC

Com Tam

Com Tam, also known as Vietnamese Broken Rice, has humble origins dating back to the old regime period in Vietnam. Initially regarded as a dish for the working-class and students, it ingeniously utilizes broken grains leftover from the rice milling process.

A signature variation of Com Tam is Com Tam Suon Nuong, which has become an iconic dish in Saigon. This flavorful ensemble features grilled pork or ribs, accompanied by egg meatloaf, cucumber, carrot, spring onion, and an assortment of fresh vegetables. The meal is typically served with a small bowl of fish sauce for dipping and a side of savory soup, adding depth to the dining experience.

Com Tam Suon Nuong has emerged as a must-try delicacy in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly during immersive food tours. Its popularity transcends socio-economic boundaries, captivating locals and visitors alike with its unique blend of textures and flavors. Whether enjoyed as a quick street food bite or a leisurely restaurant meal, Com Tam Suon Nuong offers a tantalizing glimpse into Saigon’s vibrant culinary scene and rich gastronomic heritage.

Below are some addresses where you can find the best Com tam:

  • Com Tam Phuc Loc Tho – Address: 124 – 132 To Ngoc Van, Linh Tay, Thu Duc district, HCMC
  • Com Tam Tan Vien – Address: 20 Phan Phu Tien, Dong Da district, Hanoi
  • 1975 – Com Tam Sai Gon – Address: 12 Alley 5 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi

Final thoughts

In Vietnam, the phrase “Chúc ngon miệng!” is a heartfelt wish for a delicious meal, reflecting the nation’s deep appreciation for food. While Vietnamese cuisine is often associated with Pho and Banh mi abroad, it encompasses a wide array of vibrant flavors and textures. Our list of world most famous Vietnamese dishes celebrate the abundance of each region’s produce and unique ingredients, crafting dishes that showcase the essence of Northern simplicity, Central spiciness, and Southern sweetness. Regardless of where you travel in Vietnam, culinary delights await.

With Viland Travel, we understand the transformative power of food in cultural immersion. Our tailor-made tours are designed to take you on a culinary journey through Vietnam, exploring bustling street food markets and hidden local treasures. Each dining experience is thoughtfully curated to capture the essence of Vietnamese cuisine, allowing you to savor the heart and soul of the country with every bite, creating unforgettable memories of your gastronomic adventure.