40 delicious Vietnamese dishes (2)

Vietnamese cuisine doesn't win any points for complexity. Many of the most popular dishes can be made just as well on the side of the road as in a top-end restaurant.

But it’s precisely this simplicity, the subtle variations by region and the fresh ingredients that keep us pulling up a plastic stool for more.

40 delicious Vietnamese dishes (1)

21. Ca tim kho to

Eggplant alone tends not to get us excited. Although when it’s diced and sautéed in a clay pot along with tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and (depending on the recipe) minced meat, the once bland vegetable redeems itself.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

22. Bot chien

Saigon’s favorite streetside snack, bot chien, is popular with both the afterschool and the after-midnight crowd. Chunks of rice flour dough are fried in a large wok until crispy and then an egg is broken into the mix.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Once cooked it’s served with slices of papaya, shallots and green onions, before more flavor is added with pickled chili sauce and rice vinegar.

23. Bun dau mam tom

This plain-looking tofu and noodle dish is served with mam tom sauce -- the Vegemite of Vietnam. The pungent purple dipping sauce is used to flavor the slabs of deep-fried fofu that are at the core of the meal.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

24. Banh goi

These pockets of deep-fried goodness are often described as the equivalent of a Cornish pastry or as a Vietnamese samosa, depending on the nationality of the person explaining.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Inside the crispy exterior you’ll find that it’s similar to neither description, with its filling of finely minced pork, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles.

25. Com suon nuong

This simple meal is the Saigonese equivalent of bun cha -- with rice in place of noodles. A tender pork cutlet is barbecued over hot coals to give it a rich, smoky flavor, and laid over the fluffy white com.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

26. Chao

With its thick and creamy texture Vietnam’s rice porridge is the best pick when your queasy stomach can’t handle much else. If you want to jazz it up you can always add slices of chicken, fish, beef, duck or pork ribs, along with a sprinkling of herbs and shallots.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

27. Bo luc lac

Cubes of beef are tossed around a steaming wok with garlic, pepper, and some vegetables to make shaking beef. There’s nothing special about the beef that makes it shaking.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
The name is just a literal translation that refers to the process of mixing the beef around while cooking.

28. Hat de nong

The smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire can bring back fond memories of Christmas carols -- until a moped transporting a giant blow-up Santa whizzes by. Pick the street vendor with the most enticing smell.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

29. Banh uot thit nuong

It’s all about the marinade when it comes to the grilled pork in fresh rice paper rolls that are popular in central Vietnam.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
The typical mixture coats the meat in a blend of sugar, salt, chili, lemongrass and fish sauce. Cilantro, basil and mint are added when it’s served up to add some green to the appetizer.

30. Bun cha

Pho might be Vietnam’s most famous dish but bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in the capital.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Just look for the clouds of meaty smoke after 11 a.m. when street-side restaurants start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire. Once they’re charred and crispy the morsels are served with a large bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles.

Hanoi’s most famous bun cha outlet is 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

Banh mi31. The baguette, upgraded and improved.

31. Banh mi

The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level. How exactly depends on what end of the country you’re in.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
In the north chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein—bread, margarine and pâté—but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.

32. Lau

Eating this hodgepodge hotpot dish is a communal affair with everyone digging in to the oversized boiling pot. We’ve found that just about anything can (and will) go into this soup from tofu to frogs.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
It’s best to stick to one main protein rather than opting for the mix of meat, poultry and seafood together.

On the northern edge of Hanoi’s Truc Bach lake you’ll find a number of restaurant staff crossing the street to deliver lau to lake-side diners.

33. Banh bao

Steamed pork buns aren’t traditionally Vietnamese but that doesn’t stop the spongy rolls from being sold by street vendors and in traditional Vietnamese restaurants.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
The best buns have a hard boiled quail egg buried within the minced meat, while the cheaper ones come without any filling at all. Remember the lower the price the less stuffing, so you might not be getting the good deal you thought you were.

34. Com rang

Fried rice may not be the most adventurous option, but sometimes you just want some familiar grub done right. Baby sized chunks of meat and colorful vegetables are mixed with soy and fish sauce in a wok streetside to create a rice dish that is still moist but slightly smoky.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Make it Vietnamese by supplementing with Bia Hanoi.

35. Bo bit tet

Vietnam’s equivalent to steak and eggs fills the void when you’re hankering for some greasy pub tucker. The thin flank steak is usually served with eggs, thick potato wedges, and Vietnamese meatballs on a sizzling cast iron plate.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

36. Com chay

Com chay refers to two things in Vietnam: vegetarian food, or Vietnam’s homemade rice crispies that are popular with children. Unlike the sweet treats in the United States, Vietnam’s version of a crispy comes with meat instead of marshmallows.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Vietnam’s vegetarian restaurants use mock meats to create all the traditional dishes and usually do a pretty good job. Although some places include artificial creations we would rather not try. Fake rubbery snails anyone?

37. Che

This dessert can be served in either a bowl or a glass. The latter is the more enticing option with the visible layers of bean jelly, coconut milk, fruit, and ice.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Best had when you’re craving something sweet on a scorching day in Saigon.

38. My xao bo

Mix noodles with a dollop of oil, then add beef, onions, garlic, morning glory and some tomato for color and you have a platter of my xao bo. The whole dish takes about as long to make as instant noodles -- but oh so much more flavor.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes
Any bia hoi establishment serves this dish, but the eateries on Tang Bat Ho, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, have perfected it.

39. Dau phu sot ca chua

The English translation of “tofu in tomato sauce” doesn’t really do this dish justice. The slabs of deep-fried soy are doused in a rich fresh tomato and spring onion coating, and seasoned with a speckle of fresh herbs.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

40. Canh bun

Another hearty soup that’s high on the lunchtime agenda, this is a crab and morning glory noodle soup. Canh bun is similar to the more well-known bun rieu crab soup, but has a small handful of variations -- including the type of noodle used.
Vietnamese best food - 40 delicious Vietnamese dishes

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