Taste Vietnam: Essential Vietnamese Foods to Add to Your Bucket List

Whenever people ask me where should they travel to Southeast Asia that's enjoyable at the same time affordable,I always suggest Vietnam. It's not the most common answer people expect me to say but ever since I went to Vietnam in 2009, it's became one of my favorite Southeast Asia country. 

I love how similar it is to Davao that you don't need to go broke to eat good food, all you need to know is where to eat. Speaking about food, if you're interested to go to Vietnam or try their dishes,I listed some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes.

Chả Giò (Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll)

Cha Gio are spring rolls made by wrapping filling in clear rice paper wrappers and then frying them. The filling usually consists of ground pork, vegetables, wood ear mushrooms, and glass noodles. They’re often served wrapped with lettuce and herbs, with special Vietnamese dipping sauce.

It's a different variation of Filipino's Lumpia Shanghai since our version doesn't have glass noodles and sometimes wood ear mushrooms and we don't dip it in a special Vietnamese sauce unlike their version.But can I resist lumpia in any country? The answer would be a big no.

Bánh mì ( Vietnamese Sandwich)

Bánh mì translates literally to “bread” in Vietnamese and is well-known today as a Vietnamese street food sandwich. The modern day bánh mì sandwich stemmed from French colonialism in Vietnam when French cuisine heavily influenced Vietnamese food culture. After the French defeat, Vietnamese cooks adapted a popular French sandwich made with cold cuts, butter, and cheese into what we recognize today as bánh mì. They incorporated rice flour into the baguette recipe, which produced a lighter interior and paper-thin crust. Mayonnaise replaced butter and veggies and pâté replaced expensive cold cuts.

Looking for a decent Bahn Mi in Vietnam was becoming a challenge in the past years since there was an influx of tourist, so some of the street vendors charge the same price but for less ingredients included in the sandwich since tourists wouldn’t know anyways. What I do is that I ask a local friend to buy it for me and I believe there are shops or coffee shops that also sells this but it's worth the try.

Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

Pho is a Vietnamese dish of slow-simmered broth, typically prepared with beef bones, served with rice noodles, protein (such as beef, chicken or plant-based protein) and toppings. Pho is the national dish of Vietnam and a beloved comfort food that evokes nostalgia for many Vietnamese people. “It’s a dish that came to America with our parents, who fled Vietnam as refugees,” Ly says. “It’s nostalgia, love and warmth in a bowl.”

I believe this is the most popular Vietnamese dish. I personally love noodle soup dishes and this one really hits the spot. I love how you can customize it by adding different protein or sauces to your liking, it's such a simple but complicated dish. I usually eat this every night whenever I'm in Vietnam.

Cơm Tấm (Vietnamese Broken Rice)

Cơm Tấm is a dish that consists of broken rice grains. The broken rice grains produced a somewhat sticky texture once cooked which absorbs flavors nicely. Because they are smaller, they also cook up much faster.

Cơm Tấm comes with many different items, which include:

Grilled meats, pickled and fresh vegetables, sunny side up egg, pork and pork skin, light clear soup and fish sauce dipping sauce. There are a lot of variations of this dish so some may serve the simple version of this dish.

Whenever I’m super hungry or a bowl of Pho can’t satisfy me enough, my go to dish would be Com Tam and I swear their grilled porkchop is so good, it tastes like it's been marinated for so long and the runny egg goes super well with it.

Bò Kho ( Vietnamese Braised Beef Stew)

Bò Kho is a hearty and flavorful Vietnamese beef and carrot stew. It is made with beef chucks (sometimes beef tendons), and carrots, all slow-cooked to perfection in a savory tomato-based broth. This stew can be made spicy or non-spicy.

Serve this delicious and comforting stew three ways: with a side of toasted baguette for dipping, with steamed rice for a more simple yet filling option, or make the stew soupier to ladle onto your favorite noodles.

An acquaintance made us try this dish, they owned a small restaurant near the guest house where we staying at so they made us try this even though it's not part of their menu. I even think it's their dinner but they shared it with us and it tastes like Kaldereta, they served it with baguette which is new for me since I'll probably eat it with rice like Kaldereta but I didn't expect that it would go well together. The stew makes the baguette soft and it seeps all of the flavor which makes the baguette the perfect vessel if you don't want to eat it with rice.

Bò Lúc Lắc Recipe (Vietnamese Shaking Beef)

Seared, fatty ribeye with aromatic onions paired with the sweet and citric flavors of tomato rice. Can you feel your mouth watering? Bò lúc lắc is a very accessible dish because it has the familiar taste of steak and onions with a twist. It’s most popularly called “shaking beef,” but makes more sense as “shaken beef” to me (because it’s obviously not quivering on the plate).

I tried this dish in 2011 in Cambodia and I didn't know that it was a Vietnamese dish until 2015.It tastes like steak but saucier and I like how bite sized the chunks of beef are and it's so soft and the flavors are on point.

Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee)

Vietnamese coffee is an intensely strong and sweet coffee, that’s sure to dissolve your morning daze and perk you up for the day. Its dark roast coffee and potent condensed milk, slowly dripped through a metal filter (phin) make this a unique coffee.

I didn’t love coffee as much as now but up until today,I can still remember how top tier their coffee is and you don’t even need to go to an expensive coffee shop to get your coffee fix. Even though it has condensed milk, the coffee itself is strong, it’s like the stronger version of Spanish Latte. 

Trà Dào (Vietnamese Peach Tea)

In Vietnamese cuisine, peach tea is a common, refreshing, summer drink (as is Vietnamese iced coffee).

Often you will see the drink made using a flavored syrup or flavored teas, but the best versions are those that use fresh, ripe peaches to infuse the tea with a subtle sweetness and the perfect peach flavor.

Aside from coffee,I’m obsessed with their iced teas specifically iced peach tea. It’s super hot in Vietnam so hot tea is not a popular choice and my personal favorite shop that sells iced peach tea is Phuc Long, they were founded in 1968 and aside from teas they are also selling Coffee, Milk Tea and other Vietnamese food and desserts. I also buy my pasalubong here because they sell tea bags, coffee beans and coffee sets perfect as gifts for your loved ones.

Banh flan (Vietnamese Creme Caramel) 

It is a smooth and soft custard covered in a dark amber caramel. The caramel is slightly bitter which helps cut through the sweetness of the custard to give you a rich but balanced dish. This banh flan was initially introduced to Vietnam by the French and over the years has become very much a part of Vietnamese cuisine.

This dish is super similar to our own Leche Flan but in my experience a little less sweet than what Filipinos would prefer.It's the perfect dessert to end your meal every single time.

Maybe what made me fall in love with these Vietnamese dishes is that the palate is similar to Filipino cuisine but at the same time they added their own twist.As they say, same same but different.

If you want to try authentic Vietnamese dishes, why not go to Vietnam? Aside from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi,Cebu Pacific Air launched a new direct flight to Da Nang, Vietnam.

Da Nang, city and province-level municipality, central Vietnam. Lying at the southern end of a horseshoe-shaped bay, it is one of the largest cities in Vietnam and the chief port of the central lowlands. 

By the early 1980s Da Nang had one of the most modern and largest ports in Vietnam. Other facilities include a hospital and a polytechnic college founded in 1976. Da Nang is linked to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Hanoi by a major national highway and by railway, and the former air base is now an international airport.

Da Nang is a great destination year-round. However, the best months to visit are from March to May and September to October, when the weather is warm. June to August sees little rain and the sea is clear and calm. The rainy season from November to February brings long rains and moody weather.

With broad beaches, fantastic street food, the fabled Hai Van Pass, and a growing collection of cafes, restaurants, and bars, it’s no wonder the residents of Da Nang sport some of the broadest smiles in the country. The warm sands of My Khe Beach sweep south from the mountainous Son Tra Peninsula. Da Nang hosts some of Vietnam's top luxury resorts, but much of the beach still belongs to the people who make it their playground, gym, and source of livelihood.

If you want to know more about Vietnam, places to go, visa requirements, itineraries, things to do and many more,visit https://vietnam.travel/.

Cebu Pacific Air launched it's first non stop route from Manila to Da Nang last December 7,2023. Manila-Da Nang flight will operate thrice a week, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

To book your flight, www.cebupacificair.com and #LifeFullyinVietnam!

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