• Vietnam Food Safari

Lesser-known traditional Vietnamese Dishes you must try! (Part One)

Lesser-known traditional Vietnamese Dishes you must try! (Part One)

Vietnamese food is famous throughout the world, it is ranked in the top ten most desired cuisines. Travelers coming to Vietnam can immerse themselves in a gastronomic adventure with every step they take. With so many choices, where is the best place to start?

Whilst Banh Mi and Pho are good, there are many Vietnamese gourmet delights that most travelers to Vietnam don't even know about, or even explore. Allow me to introduce you to just a few of the essential Vietnamese dishes epicurean travelers must devour whilst they journey through the awe-inspiring country that is Vietnam.


Bánh cuốn (Steamed rice paper rolls)

Is a favorite for Vietnamese for breakfast. Bánh cuốn is a fast, tasty and a great dish to start the day. This dish was originally found in Northern Vietnam, but know can be found on street corners and restaurants throughout Vietnam. Bánh cuốn is a steamed rice paper roll traditionally filled with minced pork, shredded wood ear mushrooms, and usually served with scallion oil, fried shallots, Vietnamese sausage (Chả Lụa), cucumbers, assorted fres,h herbs and Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce (Nước Mắm Chấm).

Found throughout Vietnam (But one of the best is found in Hanoi)

Bánh Cuốn Nóng Kim Thoa

49 Hàm Tử Quan, Phúc Tân, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam


Bún chả (Vietnamese dish of grilled pork cakes and rice noodle)

Bún chả is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle, and a truly specialty dish of Hanoi City. Bún chả is served with grilled pork cakes (chả) placed in a bowl of sweet and salty sauce, served with a plate of white rice noodle (bún) and herbs, a side dish of dipping sauce, green pickled papaya and usually crispy pork spring rolls.

Pour some vinegar into the soup. Throw some fresh herbs in. Grab some rice noodles using your chopstick and dip them into the soup. Add the pork cakes, the rice noodles, and Voila, your taste buds are exposed to one of the tastiest dishes in Vietnam.

The dish is very simple to make and can be found any time of the year, throughout Vietnam. It doesn’t matter if you eat Bún chả in a restaurant or a small cart on the street, you will truly enjoy a fantastic dish that you will remember and crave forever.

Specialty Dish of Hanoi with so many choices to be had for the best place to visit. (Notable Mentions)

Bun cha Hung Thai

107 B1 Thanh Cong, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Bun cha Binh Chung

299 Bach Mai & 88 Le Van Huu, Hanoi


Phở gà ( Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

Phở bò could easily be called Vietnam's national dish. Pho can be considered the national symbol of Vietnam. Phở bò is the most recognized Vietnamese dish throughout the world, For many Vietnamese, particularly in the North, it would be unthinkable not to eat Pho every day. On bust street corners in the early hours of the morning throughout Vietnam, street vendors and makeshift stalls can be found ladling this famous soup from large pots to waiting hungry customers.

But did you know that there is a version of this famous soup with chicken?

A bowl of pho ga consists of soft, thin flat rice noodles, sliced or shredded chicken, and a light, fragrant, aromatic and clear broth. Topped with bean shoots and fresh herbs, this is a dish not to be missed when in Northern Vietnam.

Northern Vietnam is the traditional home of Phở so when visiting Vietnam you must eat it in the North.

Phở Gà Nguyệt

5b Phủ Doãn, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Phở gà Hoài Trang

VMJJ+GM6, TT. Mậu A, Văn Yên, Yên Bái


Bánh đa cua (Rice noodle and crab soup)

This wonderfully colorful noodle soup is a local specialty of Hai Phong Province. This rice noodle soup consists of a flavorful pork-based broth that is topped with a variety of ingredients such as crab meat, fresh herbs, pork balls, chả lụa sausage, or ground meat wrapped with betel leaves (bò lá lốt).

The ingredients may vary, but each bowl needs to have a serving of locally made noodles (bánh đa) that are characterized by their light red hue. Served with a side plate consisting of wedges of limes, assorted fresh herbs l, and sliced chili, for customers to add to enjoy.

Specialty dish of Hai Phong Province (Northern Vietnam)

Quán Bánh đa Cua Bể Ngõ 195 Cầu Đất

195 Cầu Đất, Lê Lợi, Ngô Quyền, Hải Phòng

Quán Bánh đa Cua đồng Lạch Tray

48 Lạch Tray, Ngô Quyền, Hải Phòng


Bún đậu mắm tôm (Rice noodle with fried tofu and shrimp dipping sauce)

When talking about the street food culture of Viet Nam, one can’t forget to mention - Bún đậu mắm tôm – Thin rice noodles served with fried tofu, fried fish cakes, and thinly sliced pork belly served with shrimp paste sauce. It is this sauce “mam tom” which makes this dish addictive for some, and repulsive to others. “Man Tom” is a fermented shrimp sauce that has been called one of the smelliest food on the planet. But don’t think it’s not tasty. Once you consume it you will discover why many Vietnamese crave this dish.

Found throughout Vietnam

Bun dau A Chanh

87 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, District Binh Thanh

Bún đậu Cây Đa

235b Thụy Khuê, Thuỵ Khuê, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội

Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm Lá Chuối

4i Ngô Quyền, Quận Sơn Trà, Đà Nẵng


Bánh bèo (Water fern cakes)

Bánh bèo is a soft almost jelly-like rice cake made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca flour, this mixture is then poured into small saucer bowls and steamed. The rice cake can be topped with a combination of ingredients including, dried shrimps, crispy pork skin, fried bread, cooked mung beans, crushed peanuts, fried shallots, and scallion oil. And can be enjoyed with an array of dipping sauces.

A specialty in Hue City, but found throughout Vietnam.

Bánh Bèo Nậm Lọc Bà Đỏ

8 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Phú Hiệp, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế

Quán Bèo Nậm Lọc Huế Xưa

1 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Phú Cát, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế


Bún bò Huế (Rice Noodles with beef Hue style)

Bún bò Huế (Hue beef noodle soup) is a specialty of Huế, the former Imperial capital of Vietnam.

Many food blogs, travelers, and roaming foodies rave about this Hue specialty.

This popular Vietnamese soup contains round rice noodles (bún) and beef (bò), and a broth made from a base of beef bones, pork bones, lemongrass and a special fermented shrimp paste called mắm ruốc. The broth is a perfect balance of sour, sweet, salty, spicy, and umami flavors.

Extras found in this amazing soup include thin slices of marinated and boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail, and pig's knuckles, cubes of congealed pigs blood, and pork balls. Served with a side platter of lime wedges, coriander, diced chives, raw sliced onions, assorted Vietnamese herbs, and mung bean sprouts.

Although not as famous or as well-known outside Vietnam as Phở, but if you love Phở, and you love a bit of spice then definitely give Bún bò Huế a try.

Specialty of Huế City but available throughout Vietnam.

Quán Bà Xuân Bún bò Huế

17 Lý Thường Kiệt, Phú Nhuận, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế

Bun Bo Hue My Tam

3 Trần Cao Vân, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế


Bún thịt nướng (Rice Noodles with grilled pork)

This noodle salad can be found all over Vietnam. It’s a light, balanced, healthy, and extremely ‘pretty’ dish.

Rice noodles (bún) and grilled marinated pork (thịt nướng) are the main components of the beautiful bowl of noodle salad, with additions of pickled carrots & daikon, mixed assorted herbs, lettuce, bean sprouts added to the bowl. Garnished with roasted peanuts, fried shallots and served with a side of sweet fish sauce (nước mắm) to dress the salad. Use chopsticks to mix all the ingredients together to combine all the different textures, and sweet fish sauce to taste. The result, one of the best salads you will crave forever.

Found throughout Vietnam

Bun Thit Nuong Chi Tuyen

195 Cô Giang, Phường Cô Giang, Quận 1,

Hai Dang

145 - 157 Chan Hung, Ward 6, Tan Binh Dist. Ho Chi Minh City

Bún thịt nướng Kim Anh Gia truyền

63 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Nam Dương, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng


Bún mắm (Rice noodle soup with fish sauce)

Bún mắm is a specialty dish of Southwest Vietnam and very popular in Ho Chi Minh City. This famous dish, combines rice noodles, crispy pork belly, assorted seafood, and fresh herbs in a broth which is made from "mam" a fermented fish paste. The flavors of this noodle soup can be quite confronting, and somewhat a little smelly, the first time you try this dish. However it is very delicious and a wonderful dish, and is a dish you must try when you’re in Vietnam.

Southern Vietnam Specialty

Bún mắm nêm Dì Bảy Đà Đẵng

65 Bàu Cát 2, Phường 14, Tân Bình, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Quán Bún Mắm 173

594 Đường 30 Tháng 4, Hưng Lợi, Ninh Kiều, Cần Thơ, Vietnam


Bánh canh (Tapioca noodle soup)

This is an incredibly filling Vietnamese soup (Canh) with thick noodles (Bánh) made from rice or tapioca flour.

Bánh canh is a dish that can be found throughout Vietnam, and dependent on location, can contain all kinds of ingredients.

Some of the better-known versions are those with crab (banh canh cua), crab and shrimp (banh canh tom cua), snakehead fish (banh canh ca loc), and with pork hocks (banh canh gio heo).

The noodles for this dish are thick, soft, and sticky. The soup is thicker than most other Vietnamese noodle soups looking more like gravy or a sauce than a soup.

Assorted versions found throughout Vietnam

Bánh canh cua Út Lệ

210 Tô Hiến Thành, Phường 15, Quận 10, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Bánh Canh Nga

78 Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Hải Châu 1, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng

Bánh Canh Nam Phổ

54 Nguyễn Công Trứ tổ 15, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế,


Bánh xèo (Vietnamese sizzling pancakes)

Vietnamese pancake – Bánh xèo – is one of Vietnam’s most popular dishes, and can be found throughout Vietnam. Due to the geographical differences in styles of cooking in Vietnam Bánh xèo can have many varied styles. No matter if small or large, these savory round cand crispy crepes adopt their name from the sound of the watery thin rice flour mixture makes when added to a sizzling hot pan – banh xeo literally means “sizzling cake”. The addition of ingredients to these culinary masterpieces is dependent upon the availability of seasonal local ingredients and the region they are served

There is a distinct difference between Bánh xèo in north and central Vietnam and in the southern parts of Vietnam. Bánh xèo of southern Vietnam is much larger than that in the central and northern regions. In addition, the Bánh xèo in the central and northern regions are cooked in specially designed molded pans, while the Bánh xèo in the south are cooked in large Woks.

No matter where you sit down and enjoy Bánh xèo the cooking methods are the same. Thin rice batter is evenly spread across a large piping hot pan or wok with a generous amount of oil, creating a crispy exterior when fully cooked. The result is a thin and savory crepe.

Fillings are varied depending on each region but can include bean sprouts, mushrooms, shrimp, pork, chicken meat, chopped duck meat, marinated beef, or squid.

The most notable part of the meal is the basket of herbs. The herbs can serve as the wrapper of Bánh xèo, or be used as a filling when combined with rice paper, using either roll it up like a mini spring roll and dip the roll into the supplied dipping sauces to enjoy.

Found throughout Vietnam – try them where ever you see them try different regional flavors.


Cao lầu (High Noodles)

Every region of Vietnam has its own local style of cooking. Each region is famous for certain dishes, and are must-tries for foodies, none more so than Hoi An’s famous noodle dish Cao lầu . This amazing mouthwatering dry noodle dish comprises thinly sliced marinated roast pork, squares of crispy fried noodle, bean sprouts, herbs, and fresh leafy greens, placed atop the famous Lau noodles and to complete the dish, just a dash of the reduced marinade. . These noodles are traditionally made from well water, sourced from a few remaining wells in the Old Town, making cao lau unique to Hoi An. Vegetarian versions of this dish are also readily available. A true foodie must-do list when in Vietnam

Specialty dish of Hoi An

Quán Cao Lầu Thanh

26 Thái Phiên, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam

Cao lầu Hai

6a Trương Minh Lượng, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam


Mì quảng (Quang noodles)

Mì Quảng, one the most underrated dish in Vietnamese Cuisine. Every region in Vietnam features unique culinary specialties. Phở hails from Hà Nội. Bún bò comes from the central city of Huế, and in central Vietn,am you will find the home of Mì Quảng, one of Vietnams most underrated noodle dishes.

Mì Quảng is a harmonious combination of fresh ingredients, comprising three parts: the noodles, the broth, and the toppings.

Freshly made soft wide rice noodles are placed atop of a bed of fresh herbs in a bowl (or vice versa), and then warm or lukewarm broth and meat are added.

Depending on regional location, the meat added to this amazingly fragrant dish can include, pork, shrimp, chicken, fish, eel, and even vegetarian.

The broth is usually strongly flavored and only a small amount of it is used, generally enough to partially cover the vegetables and noodles. This is a not to be missed dish when traveling through central Vietnam

Specialty Dish of Quảng Nam province central Vietnam

Mì Quảng Tiếng Quý

ĐT610, Duy Châu, Duy Xuyên, Quảng Nam,

Mỳ Quảng Bích

272 Hùng Vương, Thanh Hà, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam


Cơm Gà Xé (Vietnamese Shredded Chicken with Rice)

One of the signature dishes of Central Vietnam is Cơm Gà Xé.

This super healthy and tasty dish features steamed whole chicken which is hand-shredded, combined with lime juice, coriander, thinly sliced white onions, and loads of black pepper.

This chicken salad is then placed atop turmeric-infused, and served with pickled carrots and daikon radish, chili jam, and garnished with slices of cucumber and tomato. To top it off it is served with a small side bowl of hot chicken stock, completing this tasty and refreshing dish.

Found throughout Vietnam, with the best being found in Hoi An, Da Nang City and Tam Ky city.

Cơm Gà Xí Hội An

47/2 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam

Quán Cơm Gà Trang

195 Đ. Lê Thanh Nghị, Hoà Cường Bắc, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng

Quán Cơm Gà Tam Duyên

576 Phan Châu Trinh, Phường Hoà Hương, Tam Kỳ, Quảng Nam


Cơm tấm Sài Gòn (Broken Rice)

Cơm tấm, or broken rice, this Vietnamese dish is made from rice with fractured rice grains. Tấm refers to the broken rice grains, while cơm refers to cooked rice. It is usually served with grilled pork cutlet and the Vietnamese dish bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over the broken rice. Cơm tấm is served with various fresh herbs, chả trứng egg meatloaf, pickled vegetables, a small bowl of fish sauce dipping sauce (nước mắm), as well as a small bowl of garlic and fresh chives broth (canh).

Found throughout Vietnam, but the best can be found throughout Ho Chi Minh City

Cơm tấm Ba Ghiền

84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Phường 10, Phú Nhuận, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh