Bahn Xeo - Translation "sizzling cake"
This is a fun one to have with a group of friends! Named for the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the hot plate, Bun Xeo is a huuuuge pancake/savoury crepe situation filled with your choice of vegetables, meat etc. and comes with a stacked plate of greenery like lettuce Vietnamese mint, basil and a delicious swamp plant called claw. To eat, everyone grabs a green leaf and uses it to tear off a piece of pancake then roll it up like a rice roll and dip it in fish sauce. For vegetarians out their many places have a vege friendly ‘fish sauce’ option too!
You can’t go to Vietnam and not have a Banh Mi. Since the French colonized Vietnam, they created an awesome fusion of flavours using the prefect crispy French baguette and filling it with Asian flavours. Banh Mi is hard to miss with a street vendor every 100 meters your guaranteed to never go hungry. Street price 15,000 VND / Less than $1 NZD
Crispy Rice Noodles
These are god’s gift to Vietnam/ the whole of South East Asia. Take a large portion of vermicelli rice noodles and stick em in a deep fryer. It makes the lightest and tastiest crunchy yum noodles in the world, have these topped with some veges and some secret Vietnamese sauce recipe and you’re good to go.
These tiny bites are steamed perfection. Rice flour and water mixed up into a batter and spread into a teeny tiny flat pancake steamed on a cloth over boiling water. We had these with a good friend which we topped with vegetarian ‘fish’ sauce, crushed cashew nuts and a touch of HOT chilli.
Cao Lau Noodles of Hoi An
It’s a regional Vietnamese dish found only in the town of Hội An in central Vietnam. Its super special and is only made by two families! The buzzy taste and texture is from using water from an undisclosed ancient Cham well, just outside the town. To make Cao lầu noodles, the rice has to be stone ground and mixed with ash and water. The ash is made with firewood from the Cham Islands, around 19 km from Hội An. The super smokey flavour gets the taste buds zinging so make sure you give it a go while in Hoi An.
Pronounced “fa”, Vietnamese eat phó for breakfast lunch and dinner. Like Banh mi it can be found everywhere from the side of the road to fancy restaurants and even on river boats floating up the Mekong. Super cheap and no two alike, if you’re doing Vietnam on a budget phó will be your best friend.
Dried pomelo skin and anything else dried…
Dried fruits are the Vietnamese version of lollies/sweets/candy. At any local market you’re bound to come across all colours of the rainbow in dried fruit. Our favourite was dried pomelo skin. We first tried this sweet treat while enjoying a tea ceremony with a local girl and became addicted to the sweet yet bitter flavour. From then on it was a staple in our back packs and the perfect snack for sightseeing.
Dried banana pancake
Cycling is a great way to see Vietnam - need potassium – dried banana pancakes from the street are great. Buy from the local ladies who squat over a sidewalk fires. To make them they slice thin pieces of banana and lie them flat over wire mesh then dry them over the charcoal embers. While drying they constantly fan away the smoke so your treat comes out tasting fresh, chewy and super yum.
Ca phe sua da - Vietnamese iced coffee
Ca phe sua da is so rad. It’s a specialty of Vietnam and is made by reaaally slowly extracting rich coffee and pouring it over ice with a spoonful of condensed milk (fresh milk is often unavailable and very expensive). You can feel the sugar soaking into your teeth but it’s totally worth it.
If your stomach is feeling a bit upset or you are worried about how last night’s chicken is sitting try switching to a vegetarian’s version of meat - jackfruit. The majority of restaurants throughout Vietnams utilises this diverse fruit for anything from deserts to main courses - we recommend TIB in HCMC - its a vegetarians food haven!
Not in the traditional sense. This is sweet corn off the cob that comes in a smoothie container served with fresh onion, herbs and salt and pepper perfect to fill you up on a hot afternoon.