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Vietnamese food: List of 17 MUST-TRY specialties over three regions

24/03/2023 2627 views

Vietnamese food is a factor that will bring tourists a complete trip to the S-shaped country. Note the top dishes of each region in this article to get a memorable food tour with your beloved!

Vietnamese food

Regional specialties in Vietnam attract tourists by their irresistible delicious taste (Source: Collected)

Vietnamese food is extremely diverse, which hides the beauty of culture, customs and traditions of the local life. With a long history in different geographical locations, Vietnamese specialties in each region have their own indistinguishable characteristics. Follow the parts below to learn more about famous regional Vietnamese foods in the North, Central and South.

1. Northern Vietnamese foods: Explore the unique flavor of some famous dishes

Northern specialties represent the quintessence of the long-standing national cuisine. They are known for their salty, spicy, fatty, sweet taste and often served with diluted fish sauce and shrimp paste. You can find out the highlights of Northern cuisine through some Vietnamese foods below:

1.1. Pho – Hanoi

Pho Vietnamese food is a versatile dish that may be served for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Banh pho, broth, and sliced beef or chicken are the key ingredients of this dish. Especially, banh pho is made from rice flour which is coated into thin sheets and sliced into flat threads like fettuccine.

The transparent broth for this traditional Vietnamese food is made with cow bones and boiled for hours or even a day for the best flavor. This Hanoi specialty has a unique flavor profile thanks to cinnamon, star anise, grilled ginger, onion, cardamom, clove, coriander seeds, and other spices.

Vietnamese food

Pho is considered as a Vietnamese food which contains the quintessence of Northern cuisine (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy Pho in Ha Noi:

  • Pho Thin: 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung District (6 a.m – 9 p.m)
  • Pho Bat Dan: 49 Bat Dan, Cua Dong Ward, Hoan Kiem District (6 a.m – 10 a.m and 6 p.m – 8:30 p.m)

1.2. Rice vermicelli with grilled pork – Hanoi

Rice vermicelli with grilled pork is one of the most popular Vietnamese foods in Hanoi. Its main ingredients are fresh white rice vermicelli and charcoal-grilled pork belly and meatballs. They are served with a must-try dipping sauce made of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, hot chili, and black pepper, which is unquestionably the dish’s defining feature.

Fresh herbs are an important feature of Vietnamese food, and large bowls of them are always served with rice vermicelli with grilled pork. The most popular ingredients are bean sprouts, mint and coriander, as well as pickled green papaya, carrot and cucumber.

Vietnamese food

Rice vermicelli with grilled pork is a not-to-be-missed dish in your Vietnamese food tour (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy rice vermicelli with grilled pork in Ha Noi:

  • Huong Lien rice vermicelli with grilled pork: 24 Le Van Huu Street, Hai Ba Trung District (8 a.m – 8:30 p.m)
  • Dac Kim rice vermicelli with grilled pork: 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem District (8 a.m – 9 p.m)

1.3. Spicy fish noodle soup – Hai Phong

Hai Phong spicy fish noodle soup is a Vietnamese food with a harmonious combination of flavors from the sea and the farm. This dish represents the cuisine of the port land with the sweet taste of the broth made from fish heads, fish bones and pig bones.

Spicy fish noodle soup is cooked from fried rice balls, deep-fried copper carp served with raw vegetables, finely chopped banana flowers and fresh Indian taro. When eating this Vietnamese food, diners need to add a little chili sauce and tamarind fish sauce to kick the flavor up with an attractive sour and spicy taste.

Vietnamese food

Spicy fish noodle soup is an exotic Vietnamese food in the North (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy spicy fish noodle soup in Hai Phong:

  • Cau Doanh spicy fish noodle soup: 66 Le Loi, Ngo Quyen (6 a.m – 11 a.m and 4 p.m – 9 p.m)
  • Le Lai spicy fish noodle soup: 153 Le Lai, Ngo Quyen (6 a.m – 11 a.m)

1.4. Vu Dai braised fish – Ha Nam

Vu Dai braised fish has existed for a long time and is a famous delicacy throughout the country and abroad. This Vietnamese food is processed according to its very own recipe and has to go through many stages that require the meticulousness of the cook. The type of fish commonly used is carp and goby.

In this Vietnamese food, the pieces of fish are marinated in a clay pot with a little bacon and various spices such as galangal, crab juice, lemon juice, onions, pepper, fresh chili, fish sauce, sugar, seasoning seeds, etc. Then, the fish is braised for many hours with longan firewood to create the aroma and eliminate the fishy smell. After being cooked, this Vietnamese food has soft cooked fish bones and delicious fish meat.

Vu Dai braised fish is a unique Vietnamese food of Ha Nam

Vu Dai braised fish is a unique Vietnamese food of Ha Nam which is renowned all over the country (Source: Collected)

The suggested place to buy Vu Dai braised fish in Ha Nam:

  • Ba Kien braised fish: Hamlet 11 – 13 – 15, Hoa Hau Commune, Ly Nhan District

1.5. Grilled squid cake – Quang Ninh

Grilled squid cake is a famous Vietnamese food in Ha Long, Quang Ninh. It is made from delicious fresh sea squid according to a traditional recipe. To make it, people pound the squid completely by hand, then shape it into bite-sized pieces and deep-fry it in a pan of boiling oil.

Grilled squid cake is a delicious Vietnamese food that many tourists choose to give to their relatives after traveling to Quang Ninh. The dish has a crunchy, sweet taste and is usually eaten while it is still hot, along with fragrant white sticky rice.

Vietnamese food

Grilled squid cake has a crunchy texture because the raw cake is pounded completely by hand (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to buy grilled squid cake in Quang Ninh:

  • DASAVINA: 41 Group 1, Area 6, Yet Kieu Ward, Ha Long City (6 a.m – 9 p.m)
  • Hien Nhung grilled squid cake: Kiosk 228 – 229 – 230, Ha Long Market, Ha Long City (7 a.m – 6 p.m)

2. The top Central Vietnamese foods that you should try at least once

Central cuisine is known for its spicier, saltier flavor than the Northern and Southern ones. Not only having a distinct flavor, Central foods also have a bold color which is more red and dark brown. Discover some mouthwatering Vietnamese foods in the Central now!

2.1. Fish noodle soup – Nha Trang

Fish noodle soup is one of the must-try specialties in Nha Trang, which comes as no surprise. Rice vermicelli, jellyfish and steamed sailfish filets are served in a sweet and savory fish broth, with crab, shrimp, and pork added by certain restaurants. The broth of this Vietnamese food – which is made of mackerel and sailfish bones, has a mild flavor with a hint of sweetness.

The dipping sauce is made of fermented sauce and green chili. Each grilled fish piece is extremely chewy, juicy, and flavorful. Certainly, you will not be able to resist a bowl of vermicelli topped with a delectable chewy fish cake, fresh herbs, and dipping sauce.

Vietnamese food

Nha Trang fish noodle soup has sweet taste, clear broth and the attractive crunchiness of fish cakes (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy fish noodle soup in Nha Trang City:

  • Co Ba fish noodle soup: 123 Yersin, Phuong Sai Ward (6 a.m – 11 a.m and 3 p.m – 9 p.m)
  • Cay Bang fish noodle soup: 6 Han Thuyen, Xuong Huan Ward (6 a.m – 0 a.m)

In addition to diverse cuisine, Nha Trang also has a large number of tourist attractions with tons of exciting activities. Standing out among them is VinWonders Nha Trang – an all-in-one amusement park located in Hon Tre Island. With 6 subdivisions, including Adventure Land, King’s Garden, World Garden, Water World, Sea World and Fairy Land, this place will definitely bring you a lot of unique experiences.

VinWonders Nha Trang

VinWonders Nha Trang is an ideal place to relax to the fullest

Especially, VinWonders Nha Trang has many restaurants serving international and Vietnamese foods and drinks with a diverse menu, from à la carte to buffet, in a luxurious dining space. Therefore, there are many choices that can suit your preferences and budget which you can refer to at VinWonders Nha Trang.

VinWonders Nha Trang

VinWonders Nha Trang

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2.2. Sliced pork rolled with rice paper – Da Nang

The ingredients of this Vietnamese food and how to enjoy it are both mentioned in its name. The pork used in this dish is chosen by the meat-to-fat ratio. It is lightly seasoned before being boiled, then sliced into thin slices, plated, and served with vegetables.

The types of fresh vegetables for this Vietnamese food vary, but they are commonly lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, perilla, Thai basil, banana flowers, mint, and coriander. Alongside the pork and vegetables, a plate of rice flour noodles is presented. The dipping sauce, which is a local treasure, is the dish’s final component.

Vietnamese food

When paying a trip to Da Nang, don’t miss out on a chance to enjoy sliced pork rolled with rice paper (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy sliced pork rolled with rice paper in Da Nang:

  • Dai Loc Nho sliced pork rolled with rice paper: 27/2 Thai Phien, Phuoc Ninh Ward, Hai Chau District (6:30 a.m – 8:30 p.m)
  • Nam Hien sliced pork rolled with rice paper: 46 Phan Thanh, Thach Gian Ward, Thanh Khe District (10 a.m – 9 p.m)

2.3. Cao lau – Hoi An

When it comes to Hoi An cuisine, Cao Lau is always at the top of the list of Vietnamese food to try. This dish first appeared in the 17th century, when Vietnam and its neighbors maintained excellent commercial links. Now, it is easy to be seen in Hoi An as it is widely available everywhere, from street vendors to the most renowned restaurants.

In this Vietnamese food, soft and thick yellow noodles are served with pieces of barbecue pork, pork cracklings, bean sprouts, lettuce, and slightly roasted peanuts. It is also topped with a little sauce to maintain the flavor. When you eat this Vietnamese food, you will be surprised by the texture of this dish, combined with a variety of spices.

Cao Lau is a highlight of Hoi An cuisine

Cao Lau is a highlight of Hoi An cuisine (Source: @locpcs)

Some suggested places to enjoy Cao Lau in Hoi An:

  • Cao Lau Thanh: 26 Thai Phien, Minh An Ward (7 a.m – 7 p.m)
  • Cao Lau Ba Dinh: 138 Tran Phu, Minh An Ward (8:30 a.m – 9 p.m)

Coming to the ancient town in the Central, aside from enjoying Vietnamese foods, you should not miss out on exploring many destinations, VinWonders Nam Hoi An for instance, to get a complete trip without regret. VinWonders Nam Hoi An is one of the most appealing places that can provide you with an unending entertainment journey.

VinWonders Nam Hoi An

You can experience Hoi An culture in a unique way in VinWonders Nam Hoi An

The park has a massive scale with 5 major subdivisions: Harbor Corner, Island of Folk Culture, River Safari, Adventure Land and Water World. This destination will take you on a unique and unforgettable adventure that blends entertainment, outdoor exploration, and national cultural values.

VinWonders Nam Hoi An

VinWonders Nam Hoi An

VinWonders Nam Hoi An is a great addition to your Hoi An trip, along with enjoying Vietnamese food

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2.4. Beef noodle soup – Hue

Hue beef noodle soup is loved by its eye-catching appearance and unforgettable taste. This Vietnamese food has many differences compared to those in other provinces. This is the reason why this dish is well-recognized throughout the country and has become a must-try food for anyone visiting Hue City.

The signatures of Hue beef noodle soup are the large noodles, thin but big slices of beef, and the red-orange broth with attractive spicy taste. To cook this Vietnamese food, the chef needs to be really meticulous in every cooking step, from the selection of ingredients to processing.

Vietnamese food

The feature of beef noodle soup is the rich broth and slices of fragrant meat (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy beef noodle soup in Hue:

  • Me Keo beef noodle soup: 20 Bach Dang, Phu Cat Ward (6 a.m – 10 a.m)
  • Co Tuyet beef noodle soup: 47 Nguyen Cong Tru, Phu Hoi Ward (6 a.m – 11 a.m)

2.5. Eel soup – Nghe An

Nghe An eel soup is famous for its fragrant, fatty and sweet soup. The outstanding feature of this Vietnamese food is the eels which are caught in local areas. Anyone who has ever tried eel soup will nod and praise it as a delectable dish. If you have the opportunity to visit Nghe An, this dish is certainly a must-eat.

It is easy to understand why Nghe An eel soup was voted by CNN as one of the 7 best breakfast dishes in the world. This Vietnamese food can impress anyone with its sweet and firm eel meat mixed with the slightly fatty soup and the aromatic spicy taste of onion, turmeric, pepper and chili.

Vietnamese food

Nghe An eel soup is a Vietnamese food voted by CNN as the top 7 breakfast dishes in the world (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy eel soup in Nghe An:

  • Mrs. Ha eel soup: 127 Phung Chi Kien, Hung Phuc Ward, Vinh City (6 a.m – 11 a.m)
  • Phuong Hoang eel soup: 148-98 Phuong Hoang, Trung Do Ward, Vinh City (6 a.m – 10 a.m)

2.6. Pancakes – Quang Binh

Quang Binh pancake is a Vietnamese food famous for its irresistibly delicious taste and the fancy red color of brown rice flour. The cake is made by a completely different recipe, with the main ingredients being brown flour mixed with chopped shallots.

This Vietnamese food of Quang Binh cuisine is served with raw vegetables and dipped in spicy and sour fish sauce. Especially, the cake does not have shrimp and meat fillings like those in other regions. However, it still attracts a lot of diners from everywhere thanks to its own inviting aroma and unique taste.

Vietnamese food

Quang Binh pancakes are made from brown rice flour without fillings so it has a very different flavor (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy pancakes in Quang Binh:

  • Co Nam pancakes: 13 Tran Hung Dao, Hai Thinh Ward, Dong Hoi City
  • Ly Ly pancakes: 11A Co Tam, Hai Dinh Ward, Dong Hoi City

3. What to eat in Vietnam: 5 mouthwatering Southern specialties to savor

The foods of Southern cuisine are quite sweet and sour because the locals often add sugar and coconut milk to the dishes. The following are attractive Vietnamese foods that you must try when traveling to the South:

3.1. Ken noodles – Phu Quoc

Ken noodles is a rich, fishy, crunchy, sweet and sour Vietnamese food made from the abundance of seafood and tropical fruits found in Phu Quoc Island. The coconut milk and lemongrass in the fish broth give it a thicker viscosity, an amber color and a distinct tang.

The broth of this Vietnamese food is poured over white rice noodles. Fresh herbs, pulverized fish, bean sprouts, and a crisp mixture of shredded green papaya and cucumber are sprinkled on top of the noodles. All of these flavors are brought together with a pinch of fresh red chili and a splash of lime.

Vietnamese food

Ken noodles is a famous Vietnamese food in the South (Source: @elle.la.peintre)

Some suggested places to enjoy Ken noodles in Phu Quoc City:

  • Ut Luom Ken noodles: 87 Ba Muoi Thang Tu Street, Duong Dong Town (6 a.m – 10 p.m)
  • Co Hong Ken noodles: 4 Nguyen Trai, Duong Dong Town (from early morning to 9 a.m)

3.2. Herring salad – Phu Quoc

If you have an opportunity to visit the pearl island, do not forget to try the famed Phu Quoc specialty of herring salad. The freshness of the fish, which has just been caught from the sea, is the key to the appeal of this Vietnamese food. Grated coconut, shredded shallots, and purple onions are among the ingredients used in herring salad.

To enjoy Phu Quoc herring salad, you need to peel a sheet of rice paper and layer the onions, raw veggies, grated coconut, and herring on top, then add a little sauce. In particular, if you want to get the delightful flavor of this Vietnamese food, you can have this dish with rose myrtle wine.

Vietnamese food

It will be a big regret if you don’t enjoy herring salad in your Phu Quoc trip (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy herring salad in Phu Quoc City:

  • Viet Phu Quoc Restaurant: 261 Nguyen Trung Truc Street, Duong Dong Town (9 a.m – 10 p.m)
  • Song Xanh Restaurant: Ba Muoi Thang Tu Street, Quarter 1, Duong Dong Town (9 a.m – 10 p.m)

Along with a rich cuisine with plenty of Vietnamese foods, there is no denying that Phu Quoc has numerous tourist attractions. Among them, VinWonders Phu Quoc is a wonderful destination which should be on your bucket list when coming to the pearl island.

VinWonders Phu Quoc

VinWonders Phu Quoc will surely bring you many fascinating experiences

Considered as the top-rated theme park in Vietnam, VinWonders Phu Quoc provides visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime experience through a world-class system of activities. This place is full of captivating stories, unforgettable adventures, and exhilarating games. All of them will make your trip meaningful and memorable.

VinWonders Phu Quoc

VinWonders Phu Quoc

There are a great deal of exciting things to explore with your loved ones in VinWonders Phu Quoc

>>> Don’t hesitate to book tickets of VinWonders Phu Quoc to find a paradise of entertainment in your trip! 

3.3. Crab rice noodle soup – Vung Tau

If you go to the South, do not miss the nutritious crab rice noodle soup in Vung Tau. It has chewy noodles mixed with firm pieces of crab meat. The broth of this Vietnamese food is also very rich, mouth-watering, with a viscous color, not as diluted as the broth of vermicelli soup or pho.

Especially, crab rice noodle soup is served with homemade green chili salt and is sour, spicy, sweet and sour, with a plate of marjoram and basil. When eating this Vietnamese food, you will feel the sweetness of the crab, the aroma of vegetables plus the sour taste of lemon in this rich bowl of soup.

Vietnamese food

Crab rice noodle soup is a delicious Vietnamese food to try when you come to Vung Tau City (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy crab rice noodle soup in Vung Tau City:

  • Ngoc Lam crab rice noodle soup shop: 88 Le Lai, Ward 3 (7 a.m – 9 p.m)
  • Anh Vy crab rice noodle soup shop: 109 Vo Thi Sau, Ward 2 (6 a.m – 12 p.m and 2:30 p.m – 9 p.m)

3.4. Banh Mi – Saigon

When traveling to Saigon – or Ho Chi Minh City, you can see food stalls or restaurants selling Banh Mi everywhere. This Vietnamese food is a baguette packed with meat, vegetables, butter, one or two tablespoons of meat sauce, and chili sauce. It is even crispier than the French baguette.

This Vietnamese food is flavorful, easily customized, and can suit anyone’s taste and preference because you can choose from a wide range of fillings (fried egg, pate, grilled pork, pork roll, etc.) and vegetables (coriander, cucumber, onion, carrot, etc.) to stuff inside the baguette. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that Banh Mi is the best Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnamese food

Along with Pho, Banh Mi brings Vietnamese food to another level (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy Banh Mi in Saigon:

  • Banh Mi Huynh Hoa: Le Thi Rieng Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (2 p.m – 11 p.m)
  • Banh Mi Nguyen Sinh: 141 Tran Dinh Xu, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (6 a.m – 9 p.m)

3.5. Fresh spring rolls – Saigon

Fresh spring roll, often known as summer roll, is a lighter and healthier variation of spring roll. Unlike the fried spring roll, this Vietnamese food is served with cooked meat and fresh vegetables. It is popular throughout the country, and the greatest fresh spring rolls can be found in Saigon. Fresh spring rolls are prepared with translucent rice paper wrappers and can be filled with whatever you like.

Steamed shrimp, steamed pork, salad, vermicelli, cucumber slices, lettuce, and mint are all viable options. This Vietnam food has a bright appearance thanks to the scarlet shrimp and green vegetables hidden beneath the transparent rice paper. If you are a vegetarian, you can opt for mushroom and tofu spring rolls. Typically, they are served with a garlic soy dipping sauce.

Vietnamese food

As a healthy Vietnamese food, fresh spring rolls will surely satisfy your taste buds (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy fresh spring rolls in Saigon:

  • Le Van Sy fresh spring roll: 359/1/9A Le Van Sy, District 3 (2 p.m – 6 p.m)
  • Hanh fresh spring roll: 420A Hoa Hao, Ward 5, District 10 (10 a.m – 6 p.m)

3.6. Grilled snakehead fish – Can Tho

Grilled snakehead fish is also an attractive delicacy of the Southern region. After catching the fish from the river, people just wash it without scaling. Then, the fish is skewered through a long stick from mouth to tail, then buried in a pile of dry straw and lit on fire. When ashes rise, you take the fish out, scrape off the burned black scales and can enjoy this Vietnamese food right away.

After being grilled, the snakehead fish has firm meat and attractive fragrance. Commonly, it is served with ginger fish sauce, chili pepper salt or tamarind fish sauce. The rustic feature of this dish is what makes it extraordinary among plenty of foods in the Mekong Delta region as well as in Vietnamese food culture.

Vietnamese food

Grilled snakehead fish is a prominent Vietnamese food of Can Tho City (Source: Collected)

Some suggested places to enjoy grilled snakehead fish in Can Tho:

  • Am Thuc Dong Que: 14-16 Luong Dinh Cua, Ninh Kieu District (10 a.m – 10 p.m)
  • Le Binh Quan: 372A Le Binh, Le Binh Ward, Cai Rang District (3 p.m – 9 p.m)

Vietnamese food, with its own flavor, will help you better understand the culinary culture and lifestyle of the locals. Write down the top Vietnamese best foods introduced above and some highly recommended places for dining, and be ready for the forthcoming trip to any region of Vietnam! Besides, for an unforgettable trip full of excitement, remember to book tickets of VinWonders Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Nam Hoi An in advance to get many good deals!

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