Where to get the best food in Vietnam
The best food in Vietnam isn’t found in five star establishments or restaurants with Michelin Stars. It will be discovered sizzling by the roadside or steaming away from an inconspicuous market stall down a back alley. And the best food in Vietnam won’t be created by a hatted chef wearing a toque blanche. It will be cooked by locals who have mastered a century old recipe dreamt up by their ancestors. Each city and region in Vietnam is famous for a particular dish.
Here is our guide to Vietnam’s best food and where to find it.
Hanoi is famous for Bun Cha - a flavour-packed bowl of seasoned grilled pork and marinated pork belly served in a fish sauce broth. Diners then add their own rice noodles, herbs, and chill to the mix.
The flavour of the broth is a mix of sweet, tangy, and sour, but somehow it totally works. We have eaten Bun Cha all across Vietnam, but we think the pick of the bunch is a restaurant called Bún chả Hương Liên, and we’re not just saying that because Barack Obama and Anthony Bordain dined there.
Address: 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội
Hours: Open 8:30 am ⋅ Closes 8:30 pm
Price - 45,000 VND = $2 USD
Phở or pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of flavourful broth, rice noodles, herbs, meat – usually beef (pho bo) and sometimes chicken (pho ga). Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam and is served in restaurants all over the globe. The dish originated in the early 20th century in the North of Vietnam and was popularized throughout the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. Due to a lack of proper documentation, there is widespread disagreement over the cultural influences of the dish, hence why some in the South say their Pho is better than in the North, and vice versa. The primary difference in the styles of pho differs by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs. Just be careful how you pronounce Pho, as it has numerous meanings, one of which is rather derogatory and will either score you some laughs or funny looks from the locals,
Phở can be found on almost every street corner in Hanoi, our top trick to finding the best Phở is to look at where the locals are gathering, and as Phở is considered a breakfast food, go grab a bowl in the early A.M. Your average price for a scrumptious bowl of Phở is anywhere from 25,000 VND ($1) to 50,000 VND ($2)
During our search for the best food in Vietnam, we explored the former Imperial capital of Hue in central Vietnam. Besides being home to ancient citadels, king’s tombs, and a perfume scented river, Hue is home to pho’s more flavoursome cousin, Bun Bo Hue.
The broth of Bun bo Hue has a reddish tinge from the addition of annatto and shrimp paste. Like pho, the soup starts with pork and beef bones and finishes the job with a couple of delicious inclusions like crab balls, sliced brisket and, in some cases, squares of congealed pig’s blood.
We were tipped off by a local on where to find the best Bun Bo Hue in Hue.
24 Nguyễn Khuyến, Phú Nhuận, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế
Price - 30,000 VND = $1.20 USD
Da Nang is home to the gorgeous My Khe Beach, a Dragon Bridge that breathes fire and spits water every Friday and Saturday night at 9 pm, and Mi Quang - a bowl of authentic Vietnamese ingredients sure to get your mouth watering.
Mi Quang can be found from street food stalls all over the city and any number of restaurants, but we have sought out the Da Nang’s best Mi Quang.
At Mi Quang Bà Vị, diners gorge themselves on flavour-packed bowls of Mi Quang with their choice of chicken, pork, shrimp, or local delicacies of eel, jelly-fish, and even snake-head fish.
Unlike many other Vietnamese noodle soup bowls like pho and bun bo hue, which are usually covered completely by their broths, Mi Quang broth is added sparingly to soak the noodles without completely immersing them. Finally, Mi Quang is garnished with crushed roasted peanuts, rice crackers, herbs, lemons, and chilli.
166 Lê Đình Dương, Hải Châu 2, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000
Price - 30,000VND = $1.20 USD
Hoi An is home to a legendary dish known as cao lầu, made from rice noodles, meat, greens, bean sprouts and herbs and is most commonly served with a small amount of delicious broth. Typically, the dish’s main meat is usually pork, or shredded char siu- style pork (xa xiu), but shrimp can be used as an alternative. To add a crispy texture to this dish, cao lầu will have either fried squares of the same dough used to make the noodles or smoky pork rinds as part of the finished product. If you’re lucky it might have both. What makes this dish so “legendary” comes from the way in which the rice noodles are soaked in lye water; this gives the noodles their distinct texture and colour, being chewy,
Local legend suggests that the lye should be made by leaching the ashes of certain plants from the nearby Cham Islands and that the water used in soaking the rice and boiling the noodles should be taken from the ancient Bá Lễ well in Hoi An; for this reason, cau lầu is rarely found outside of Hoi An. We recommend visiting:
Address: 474 Cua Dai
Business hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Price: 28,000 VND (1.20 USD)
In our search for the best food in Vietnam we landed in the bustling, sprawling metropolis of Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is home to heaving markets, hundreds of rooftop bars, and Banh Mi - a crunchy baguette jam-packed with flavour.
Bánh mì was born in Saigon in the late 1950s. Each delectable bite reveals something new and exciting; smoky BBQ pork, shredded pickled carrot and papaya, and a tongue-tingling taste of chilli.
Bánh mì can be found in stalls on most street corners in Ho Chi Minh City. The street food vendors have stacks of fresh baguettes, pickled vegetables, eggs, herbs, chilli flakes, and various meats.
In our opinion, the best Banh Mi can be found at:
Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa.
62 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Price - 25,000 VND = $1.60 USD