The Best Food to Eat in Vietnam

From eating in random living rooms to five star meals, here are some of the best Vietnamese street foods and snacks you must try, while traveling through Vietnam.

Vietnamese food is without a doubt, one of our favorite cuisines. People love it's creative ingredients, and that mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavors! If you travel to Vietnam you will be more excited to taste everything and eat your way through the various cities like Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Saigon.

Of course, being a huge country, the various regions of Vietnam (north, central, and south) each had their own unique food styles. Come to Vietnam, you will have the chance to try the food from so many different parts of the country. No matter where you go, you are able to find vietnamese staples like Pho and Bun Cha, and you will be surprised by the variation from one city to another -- for instance, the Pho you order in Hanoi is almost completely different from the Pho you'll get in Saigon.
Another thing that surprises is that each of the three regions has very different dining cultures. In Hanoi, the north of Vietnam, the places with basically "mom and pop" street food stalls. In Hue and Hoi an, the central region of Vietnam, things are a little more developed, and you will find a broader selection of traditional restaurants. In Saigon --Vietnam's largest city -- you will be able to find everything from amazing street food to fine dining all on the same street.

Below are a few tips for eating some of the best Vietnamese food you should try, while taking a tour of Vietnam in the future. I know we are missing a ton of dishes on this list, so let us know about your favorites in the comments!
Tips for eating in Vietnam
One thing we quickly learned, was that eating in Vietnam is a very different than eating in a Vietnamese restaurants in the US or Europe.  Below are a few things to keep in mind when while looking for a bite to eat in Vietnam.
Be adventurous: Many restaurants in Vietnam (especially Hanoi) don't always look like traditional restaurants in the US or Europe. Sometimes, the "restaurant" is the front room of someone's house, and they serve food to you in what is essentially their living room. Sometimes the "restaurant" is just a grill setup over an open fire on the sidewalk. If you see people sitting on little plastic stools, go ahead and join them. We did this many times, and had amazing meals, and never died. It's perfectly safe.

Look for locals: This golden rule of eating in a foreign city applies anywhere, but especially for Vietnam. If you look into a place and see nothing but wide eyed westerners looking back at you, run away. Often times this tactic does mean that you will end up going into places that may appear to be less than "100% sanitary" (though you'll get over that quickly in Vietnam), and they most likely will not have a translated menu for you. Deal with it. Find someone who is eating something that looks good and point to it when you order. Odds are you'll get delicious, authentic food, and for a fraction of what you'd pay in a restaurant that caters to foreigners.   


Don't always expect to get a menu: Many places we ate in Vietnam only served 1 dish. You basically walk up, grab a stool, and within 30 seconds someone walks over and puts down a bowl or plate of what ever it is that restaurant makes. It could be skewers, bun cha, pho, or something else you may not always recognize - but whatever it is, that's what you're going to eat -- there are no substitutions. 
Drink beer: It's hot in Vietnam, and nothing helps cool you down like a glass of beer. You'll see it for sale everywhere. We bought some from an old lady selling it out of her house, and we sat with her on little stools on the sidewalk and drank a few bottles. Also, a bottle of beer is cheaper than a bottle of water in Vietnam, use that to your advantage -- and remember beer is 95% water anyway! Cheers!
Speaking of Beer, try Bia Hơi This is a dirt cheap local style of Vietnamese beer. Expect to pay a few pennies for a glass. Bia Hơi literally means fresh beer. It's brewed each the morning and is sold later that day! Don't be turned off when you see it served with large amounts of ice. It's surprisingly refreshing and when it's hot and humid (even inside the air conditioned rooms), you'll be thankful.  
Sometimes you just need to stop for a beer in the most unexpected of places!


Your favorite food from Hanoi, Vietnam
Bun Cha- The signature dish of Hanoi.  Follow your nose to a smoky street-side grill and chances are you’ll find Bun Cha. You’ll be given a mound of grilled pork neck, fried spring rolls, salty-sweet broth, slices of green papaya, rice noodles, and fresh herbs. Mix everything together and enjoy. 
Morning Glory Salad. It’s a crispy vegetable that is stripped down to be noodle like and we ate in variety of different ways. My favorite was eating it raw with grilled beef on top and that tangy sweet sauce, Vietnam does so well. 



Phở - There is a big difference between Phở served in Hanoi and Saigon. In Hanoi you get wider noodles, a darker broth and my favorite - a strong anise and cinnamon flavor. If you’re used to getting all the different garnishes (herbs, lemon, different types of meat, etc) you’ll have better luck in Southern Vietnam.
Phở
Bahn Mi - A baguette sandwich that is given a Southeast Asian twist by stuffing it with pâté, mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeños, cilantro and cold cuts. Although we found Bahn Mi everywhere in Vietnam, we liked it best in Hanoi. Most of the stands we came across only had 2 basic types.

By Lam Nguyen

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