10 Vietnamese Dishes Everyone Knows and Loves & 10 Lesser Known Ones To Try

10 Vietnamese Dishes Everyone Knows and Loves & 10 Lesser Known Ones To Try

Looking to explore Vietnamese cuisine beyond just your comfort picks? Because no, there's more to Viet food than just Pho and banh mis! Let's explore them all today by discussing 10 Vietnamese dishes everyone knows and loves, and 10 lesser-known ones that you definitely need to try.

1. Phở

If there's one Vietnamese dish out there that everyone knows and raves about, it's got to be Phở. This beloved staple highlights everything that's amazing about this cuisine - the amazing use of herbs, a deeply rich broth, tasty noodles, and delicious toppings that bring everything together. It's perfect as a pick-me-up when you're sick or down in the dumps. 

Pho-263127 1280Image by Bill Kasman from Pixabay

2. Bánh Mì

Forget about Subway - if you haven't had a Bánh Mì before, this is your sign to go out and try one! This popular Vietnamese sandwich is worth all the hype. It takes the best of both French and Vietnamese influences, resulting in this delicious sandwich that consists of the crispiest baguette you'll ever have, filled with a various mix of ingredients like pâté, your choice of protein (usually cold cuts or chicken), pickled vegetables, topped off with fresh cilantro.

Ben-Lei-Ubbwnvrsark-Unsplash (1)Photo by Ben Lei on Unsplash

3. Gỏi Cuốn

You might have never called it by its real Vietnamese name before, but Gỏi Cuốn is simply those tasty Vietnamese spring rolls you know and love. With its chewy rice paper exterior, these goodies are typically filled with shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, and fresh herbs. But what really makes it hit is the delicious dipping sauce it comes with. It's light, healthy, and so refreshing - perfect for the summer!

1024Px-Gỏi Cuốn At A Vietnamese-Style Restaurant In Beijing (20180103175625)N509FZ on Wikimedia Commons

4. Bún Chả

Does anything get better than a classic Bún Chả or Vietnamese vermicelli bowl? It's a Hanoi favourite that'll quickly become yours too as soon as you've tried it. Featuring flavourful grilled pork that's served over vermicelli noodles, topped with fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, and served alongside a tangy, tasty sauce, you'll be surprised by how well all the flavours come together.

1024Px-Bún Chả GiòNgô Trung on Wikimedia Commons


5. Cà Phê Sữa Đá

While the name Cà Phê Sữa Đá might seem intimidating, this is simply that delicious Vietnamese iced coffee that's beloved around the world. Known for its very strong coffee flavour that's sweetened by condensed milk, this drink is typically served cold and is a refreshing summertime favourite for many. 

Cà Phê Sữa Đá하나두리 on Wikimedia Commons

6. Bánh Xèo

Does the name Bánh Xèo ring any bells for you? It should because it's a popular dish! This savory Vietnamese pancake is different from what you might expect when you hear the word "pancake." Because no, you don't want to drizzle syrup on this dish! It's not sweet, it's savory, made from a rice flour mixture and usually filled with ingredients like shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. It's even served with lettuce and herbs, not to eat alongside it, but to wrap the pancake in!

Banh Xeo With Fish Sauce And Vegetables (1)HungryHuy on Wikimedia Commons

7. Chả Giò

If you love the classic Chinese fried spring rolls, you'll definitely love Chả Giò which is Vietnam's take on the dish. These have all the crispiness that you know and want out of a good spring roll, but have a different taste thanks to its unique fillings and sauce which consists of fish sauce and garlic.

1024Px-Chả Giò (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) - 12Satdeep Gill on Wikimedia Commons

8. Cơm Tấm

Cơm Tấm is a tasty Vietnamese rice dish that uses something called broken rice. While that might sound unappealing at first, you have to try it to experience that unique texture. Besides, when it's paired with delicious grilled pork, pork skin, fried eggs, and pickled vegetables, how could you say no?

1024Px-Cơm Tấm Sg (Cơm Sườn) Ng27Th9N2020 (2)Phương Huy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. Bún Bò Huế

But if you're somehow not feeling Pho (for whatever reason) but still want to enjoy some Vietnamese cuisine, you'll always have Bún Bò Huế as another tasty noodle dish to fall back on. Completely different from Pho, this spicy beef noodle dish consists of thick and satisfying rice noodles, tender cuts of beef, and fresh herbs that give it the extra oomph it needs.

1024Px-Bun-Bo-Hue-From-Huong-Giang-2011Kham Tran - www.khamtran.com on Wikimedia Commons

10. Cà Ri Gà

Craving curry? Why not give Vietnam's take on the dish, Cà Ri Gà, a try? This Vietnamese chicken curry will taste different from what you might normally expect, but that's not to say it isn't delicious in its own way. Thanks to its rich and creamy coconut milk-based sauce, it's filled with tender chicken, potatoes, and carrots for a hearty meal.

1024Px-Cà Ri Gà Vietnamese Chicken Curry 2019-1600 (1)Paul R. Burley on Wikimedia Commons


1. Bún Riêu

Vietnamese cuisine features plenty of amazing noodle dishes so of course we have to introduce you to Bún Riêu. Instead of a meat-based broth, this dish is a crab noodle soup that features the most heartwarming tangy tomato broth. Served with the familiar rice vermicelli, variety of seafood toppings, tofu, and fresh herbs, you'll definitely fall in love with it.

1024Px-Bún Riêu Cua NướcAlpha on Wikimedia Commons

2. Cá Kho Tộ

Want something a bit more traditional? You'll love Cá Kho Tộ then, especially if you love fish and seafood. Because this slow-cooked fish is the most tender, and flavourful thing you might ever eat. Are we exaggerating? Maybe, but maybe not! With a delicious sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper, this fish dish goes best when served atop a steaming bed of rice and fresh vegetables.

1024Px-Cá Kho Tộ, Cá HúCharles Haynes on Wikimedia Commons

3. Hủ Tiếu

Served in a soup or dry with a savory broth alongside it, Hủ Tiếu is a unique noodle dish that thrives thanks to its amazing versatility. Eat it how you like it! Consisting of fresh rice noodles, pork, shrimp, and loads of veggies and herbs, it's a honest meal that'll taste like your mom's cooking.

1024Px-Hủ Tiếu KhôChristopher on Wikimedia Commons

4. Bò Kho

Often served with a toasted baguette or rice noodles, Bò Kho is a fragrant, rich, and hearty Vietnamese beef stew that'll warm you up on any cold evening. It has the most tender chunks of beef, often served with carrots and other goodies. You'll be surprised by how much the broth packs a punch!

1024Px-Bo-Kho-2011Kham Tran on Wikimedia Commons

5. Bánh Đúc

For another traditional and more unique dish, consider giving Bánh Đúc a try to really experience everything Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. These little rice cakes are typically served with toppings like minced pork and fried shallots, all topped off with a healthy drizzle of fish sauce. But the best part is, the versatility of these rice cakes allows for a sweet take too! Sometimes sweetened with some sugar, it's served with coconut milk and crushed peanuts for a delectable sweet experience.

1024Px-Bánh ĐúcMemberofc1 on Wikimedia Commons

6. Bánh Bột Lọc

If texture is a big deal for you and you love foods that are on the chewier side, you won't be disappointed by Bánh Bột Lọc. These translucent, chewy, and addictive dumplings are made from tapioca flour and filled with shrimp and pork. They're not pan-fried like most dumplings, they're usually steamed or boiled which gives it that fun chewy bite.

1024Px-Bánh Bèo, Bột Lọc, Nem ChuaThang Nguyen from Nottingham, United Kingdom on Wikimedia Commons


7. Canh Chua Cá

While this dish might not be for everyone, you have to be open to new experiences when trying lesser known dishes from different cuisines! Canh Chua Cá is a sour fish soup that combines tender fish, pineapple, tomatoes, and tamarind paste. It has a very unique tangy flavour that some will like and some won't.

1024Px-Canh Chua Cá Lóc Ở Thủy Trúc Quán, Đường Nguyễn Nhữ Lãm (3)Phương Huy (thảo luận), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Bánh Cuốn

With its silky texture and fun to eat nature, Bánh Cuốn are essentially steamed rice rolls filled with a delicious mix of pork, wood ear mushrooms, and shallots. They're so satisfying to eat, and when served with fish sauce for dipping, it's a flavour explosion just waiting to happen.

1024Px-Bánh Cuốn Nhân ThịtCasablanca1911 at vi.wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

9. Gỏi Ngó Sen

Expand your horizons of what you know salad to be with Gỏi Ngó Sen, a lotus stem salad. It's a great summer dish given how refreshing it is! Made from lotus stems, and served with a variety of herbs and typically shrimp and pork, you'll grow addicted to the fun, crunchy texture in each bite. Tossed in a light fish sauce dressing, it's a cool dish to give a try this summer.

Phồng TômRasheel Karmacharya from Champaign, United States

10. Bánh Căn

Another fun pancake dish (but this time in a mini size), Bánh Căn uses a tasty rice flour batter to whip up these savory pancakes which are filled with quail eggs, shrimp, or pork. But that's not all! They're usually served with herbs, pickled vegetables, all alongside a fish sauce dipping sauce that ties it all together.

1024Px-Bánh Căn In Phan Rang, VietnamSaigon Time, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons