Since we started the Buffalo Tours travel blog in July of 2013, we’ve spent plenty of time writing about one of our very favourite topics – Vietnamese street food. From banh mi to pho bo to Vietnamese coffee, street food in our native nation has had a starring role not just on our travel blog, but on our plates too!
But one thing we’ve come to realize in our nearly two-year blogging love affair with Vietnam’s street food is this: sometimes, food is well worth travelling for. And of all of the destinations worth packing your bags for the promise of delicious culinary creations, Vietnam is one of the very best! So good, in fact, that we created an entire tour dedicated to Vietnam’s incredible food.
So exactly which dishes are really worth that plane ticket to Southeast Asia? Here’s what 17 blogs, 3 infographics and 19 months of food blogging told us.
1. Bun Cha
Bun cha is second to none for travelling carnivores in Vietnam – and it’s got all of the signature lightness and sweetness of classic Vietnamese fare. Equal parts barbeque pork and tasty bun noodles in a light and slightly peppery soup, bun cha is a popular choice of local lunchers and a particular icon in the country’s capital city of Hanoi. Here you’re sure to find a great spot to sit down for a quick bowl along a stroll through city centre, perched on the country’s iconic plastic stools and while enjoying an icy glass of tra da, or iced tea.
Want more? See the whole blog post about bun cha here!
2. Pho Cuon
So iconic is pho cuon in Hanoi, that most will say you’ve wasted your time travelling through the city if you haven’t had a few of these tasty rolls. A signature Vietnamese food staple, pho cuon is great as both a quick snack or as a full meal, depending on how much you eat! Either way, make sure you dip these rolls of unsliced pho noodles sheets wrapped around beef, onion and basil in the super-sweet sauce served with it. This one will have you ordering seconds in no time.
3. Pho Bo
It’s not surprising that Vietnam’s iconic noodle soup would make it on this list, since it’s earned a special place in the hearts of foodies everywhere. That said, cooking a really great bowl of pho bo takes a whole lot of skill and plenty of experience – and that’s a skill that’s best cultivated in the country where it all started. A bowl of pho bo, or beef noodle soup, is absolutely at its best in here – where some Vietnamese families continue to create their own brands of pho bo in restaurants that have been handed down for generations.
Want more? See the whole blog post about pho bo here!
4. Banh Mi
Once dubbed one of the “best sandwiches in the world” by BBC Travel, banh mi is something of a culinary celebrity in Vietnam. But despite its status as one of the country’s best treats, banh mi is a deceptively simple concept. Like plenty of other Vietnamese food, banh mi owes its tastiness to its simplicity – that is, a perfect blend of fresh vegetables, light sauces or pate, and meat or egg on a French-style bread baguette. Although there are a few local favourite versions, there are plenty of different kinds of banh mi to enjoy in Vietnam. If you need help deciding, head to our helpful infographic for the basics in finding your perfect banh mi.
Want more? See the whole blog post about banh mi here!
If there ever was a country that knew how to make beans and rice a staple of dessert, Vietnam is it. Surprisingly sweet and a staple of summertime street fare, che (or sweet soup) is a tasty blend of glutinous rice, beans, fruit, jellies, coconut cream and ice. Together, it creates a perfectly balanced dessert that’s just a little sweet, and a little bit savoury. But what really makes che a treat worth travelling for is where you enjoy it – we’re convinced che tastes that little bit better on the frenetic streets of Vietnam’s cities!
Want more? See the whole blog post about che here!
6. Banh Khot
A specialty of southern Vietnam, banh khot is sometimes lovingly referred to as a Vietnamese nacho. Piled on top of a crunchy rice pancake is a hefty helping of prawn, onions and sometimes some minced pork. Add that to a sweetened fish sauce with lettuce and herbs, and this crunchy snack is better than any bag of chips you’re likely to find anywhere in the world.
7. Bia Hoi
Out of all of the dishes on this tasty list, there are few that we can confidently say is quite literally only available in Vietnam – but a true glass of bia hoi is one of them. Born from Vietnam’s wartorn years as a brew of solidarity, true bia hoi is sans-preservatives and usually must be consumed within just a few hours of being brewed. Thanks to its close ties to Vietnam’s recent history and its decidedly short shelf life, there’s absolutely no better place to try bia hoi than in central Hanoi, it’s hometown.
Want more? See the whole blog post about bia hoi here!
8. Banh Xeo
Hailing from the sunny shores of central Vietnam, banh xeo is culinary artistry all rolled into some perfectly cooked eggs. Sometimes called a “Vietnamese crepe”, banh xeo is a perfect blend of lightly fried egg wrapped around fresh vegetables including shrimp, bean sprouts and pork. Just a bit crunchy and always served best hot with a side of fermented soybean paste called tuong, banh xeo in Vietnam is absolutely worth not just the trip to Vietnam, but some time to try it from its central Vietnamese hometown of Hue.
10. Cao Lau
There are a whole host of good reasons to visit picturesque Hoi An on Vietnam’s central coast, but the town’s iconic noodle dish is certainly at the top of that list. With influences from both Chinese and Japanese flavours thanks to Hoi An’s history as a major port and trading town, cao lau is a mesmerizing blend of thick, doughy noodles and fresh veggies with a special heartiness and sweetness. Although not the most iconic of Vietnamese foods, its flavour speaks for itself. Cao lau is a dish best enjoyed surrounded by Hoi An’s ancient architecture and along the sleepy Perfume River.
Don’t just settle for tasting each of these tasty Vietnamese dishes – learn how to cook them, too! Check out our Gourmet Vietnam tour designed for the travelling foodie in all of us.