So the one massive parts of visiting Vietnam that I loved the most was the food!
Go from the north to the south and the food flavours can be so different but are all so delicious! Even going to the food markets, you will be amazed at what is on offer to buy. The Vietnamese love food and eat a lot of different types of food, some you probably haven’t even heard of!
So I’ve decided to list the most authentic and my favourite foods from major cities in Vietnam. From Pho to Banh Mi, you won’t be disappointed!
If heading to Hanoi, you must try Bun Cha, only Barrak Obama’s favourite meal in Vietnam!
So where can you get Bun Cha? Well while I was in Hanoi I had it from two locations, Bun Cha Ta and Dac Kim. Both cheap and both delicious! I did love the eating experience at Bun Cha Ta. You went upstairs to a small room where you sit under the table which is at ground level, then your waitress yells the order downstairs, amazing!
As part of our food tour with Urban Adventures, we experienced the most amazing foods of Hanoi and Vietnam including fermented pork sausage, the bun cha, rice pancakes, a pate banh mi, fruit salad and my personal favourite, egg coffee!
As part of the tour, we got banh mi from Hoa near the Dong Xuan market, such a fresh baguette and just amazing. Then it was onto banh cuon at 12-14 Hang Ga – Hoan Kiem (this is the address), or otherwise known as rice pancakes, also delicious.
Next stop main course, bun cha at Dac Kim. Like I mentioned before and also, the sister restaurant to the one Barack Obama went to.
Vietnamese have a lot of fruit for dessert so we had a fruit salad from Hoa Beo, we sat on those tiny chairs which were impossible to get up off but the fruit was yum with condensed milk and coconut cream, all part of the experience.
The tour was fantastic, you learn a lot about food as well as the city of Hanoi, plus you get to see the sights!
Must try: Egg coffee, 100% the most amazing coffee I’ve ever had, nowhere else in Vietnam can compare and the Bun Cha, sweet pork noodle soup, yum!
Wanting to try your own street food, but not sure where to start? Look for the busy street stalls where locals go or try the places listed on the street food tour!
Or maybe you want a restaurant meal? Yin & Yang was fantastic and great for shared meals! We had spring rolls, papaya salad with prawns, pork in betel leaves, make your own fish springs rolls, just to name a few.
Hanoi was up there with the best food in Vietnam!
Looking for more on Hanoi? Travelling Vietnam – Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.
Hue is known for its amazing vegetarian dishes and here is where I had one of the best meals during my own time in Vietnam.
As part of our Intrepid tour, we got to share a meal at the house of our tour leaders friend’s home and oh my! This was not all vegetarian, but the food had so much flavour and was cooked with so much care.
The pork was hands down the stand out dish. We were served cooked spring rolls, tofu salad, pork in a hot pot (my favourite dish on the trip), pumpkin and peanut soup as well as rice wine. Well, little did I know the shot we were served was the rice wine – I was told it was the palate cleansing soup – so it caught me very off guard.
We did, however, have another amazing and special lunch whilst in Hue. A vegetarian meal in a pagoda. So peaceful and such an amazing experience and the meals didn’t disappoint with a fig salad (unlike Western figs) with rice crackers, traditional Hue steamed rice cakes, a tofu curry, fried rice and a coconut jelly.
Must try: Hue Pancake, which was like a Vietnamese taco. A fried crunchy shell with pawns and goodies in the middle! A huge starter, but a very nice dish and a speciality in Hue.
Looking for more on Hue? Travelling Vietnam – Hue and the overnight train.
Hoi An was hands down my favourite place in Vietnam and not just because of the beautiful lanterns that decorate the street on Ancient Town but because of the fresh flavours and that Banh Mi!!
My first experience was on the way to Hoi An in Da Nang, a bakery called Ba Hung Bakery, they offer an amazing Banh Mi if you are passing by.
But if you want the best in Hoi An, go to Phi Banh Mi. You can be experimental and try non-traditional flavour combinations, or you can go the real deal and get the pork banh mi, you will not be disappointed!
Hoi An is known for their fresh herbs, they use loads of them in their cooking! We experienced this in the amazing cooking class we did with Green Mango.
For our cooking class, we made (but you have an option on what menu you want) smoked duck spring rolls, BBQ fish in a banana leaf, mango sticky rice, green mango salad with shrimps and chicken Pho, which we got a copy of all the recipes to take home. It was amazinggg! Highly recommend.
If you’re looking to try a traditional dish while in Hoi An, try the Quang Noodles, just like a Pho type dish, it has pork it in and thicker noodles, so it is less of a soup. We did attempt to make these noodles on our bike tour of Cam Kim island, yeah fail but good.
For a street food experience, check out the night market. Some meals are hit and miss, but the fresh seafood is amazing!
Loads of flavour and so delicious! Looking to read more about the beautiful Hoi An, read here: Travelling Vietnam – Hoi An.
Must try: BANH MI, obviously! Hot tip though, don’t get it for dinner. It is at its freshest in the morning/lunchtime.
Ho Chi Minh
Now you have Ho Chi Minh, the biggest city in Vietnam, full of culture, delicious food and a lot on offer.
Pho is the most popular dish in the south, eaten mainly for breakfast and lunch there are loads of places you can get Pho. One of those places to put on your list, Pho 2000. We were told this was the restaurant Bill Clinton and the First Daughter ate at. His photo is on the wall and under our table was the options he ordered as well the Miss Chelsea’s order. We happened to be sitting in the exact seats, yep I’m famous now.
Or if you’re looking for a mixture of cuisines on offer in Ho Chi Minh head to Asiana Food Town. It is like a hawker hall mixed with a food court and the food is great!
Ho Chi Minh is a melting pot with different dishes on offer, but it is also a great chance to see what other cuisines they can offer.
If you are looking to eat somewhere nice but also want to support the locals go to KOTO, a hospitality school and restaurant opened by an Australian to give those with no education or income a chance to free schooling in the hospitality industry.
As part of our meal, we shared duck wontons, glass noodle chicken salad, fresh rice paper rolls, stir-fried squid, braised pork belly with vegetables and rice. One of the highlight meals on the trip, the Vietnamese can cook pork!
Must try: Pho and pork is a must!
But if you want to learn a lot about the history of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is the place to go. You can read more about my time here: Travelling Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh.
Then you have Nha Trang, the very popular tourist destination where you can get these delicious filled crepes on the street – probably more of French influence – or a lot of different cuisines and seafood.
But if you want more traditional food, try the Urban Adventures food tour. This is where you will, like Hanoi, walk the street of Nha Trang, learn about the history of the city and go away from the popular tourist-filled streets to the local restaurants where the locals eat.
During the tour, we stopped at Quan Nem for fresh spring rolls, they were nice! But try wetting the rice paper before you roll them up if you can. Inside was a pork sausage which was yum! Then we headed a few back streets for egg pancakes with different meats in them at Hai San.
The main course was fish bun ca at Nguyen Loan, don’t let the smell turn you off when you get there, it is actually nice! The next meal was easily my favourite! Found in a back alleyway called Bo Ne- Hem 19 and to describe it would be to call it steak and eggs, Vietnamese style! You get the baguette to eat it in and wow it was amazing!
Our last course was dessert at Diem Tam Sang, which was really just fruit juices and ice cream. I went for the coconut ice cream but because the durian ice cream is in the same freezer, it just tasted like durian, not ideal!
Nha Trang is a beach city and if you’re looking to explore, you can find out more here: Travelling Vietnam – Nha Trang and VinPearl.
What are the other amazing foods to try nearly everywhere you go to Vietnam? Rice paper rolls, or as the Vietnamese refer them, spring rolls are delicious! Each city has a different spin on them and then lemongrass anything, that flavour is seriously amazing!
So head to Vietnam for a food experience unlike anything else, you will enjoy every minute!! If you’re looking to travel to Vietnam and need a visa. Click the image below.