What to eat in Vietnam - Explore the cuisine culture of 3 regions

What to eat in Vietnam – Explore the cuisine culture of 3 regions

Vietnamese culture has a special attraction that every tourist comes here want to try its amazing tastes. In order to enjoy the true taste of this cuisine culture, tourists must know what to eat in Vietnam. It is not that all the dishes show the traditional culture but some of them.

Vietnamese cuisine is a combination of five fundamental tastes. In a meal, there are different dishes which offer enough types including soup, fried, and steam dishes. Each dish has a distinctive flavor which reflects one of those five elements. That is the reason why there is always meticulousness in every Vietnamese family meal. In Vietnam, the cuisine culture is different from three regions, the north, central, and the south. Hereunder, we provide you with the most signature dishes of each region that you must try at least once when visiting that region.

What to eat in Vietnam - Explore the cuisine culture of 3 regions

The diversification of Vietnamese food might cause you difficult to choose which one to try in your trip.

What to eat in Vietnam when visiting the north?

The cuisine in the north of Vietnam is frugal and delicate. It has gone with the local people for thousands of years since this is the area that Vietnamese people had the longest time of living. The northern people in Vietnam prefer vegetables and freshwater seafood. Every dish in the northern meal always has a harmonic combination of spices. It makes the special and delicate tastes of the northern cuisine. To answer the question about what to eat in Vietnam when visiting the north, we list some most famous dishes that tourists must not miss out.

Vietnamese Pho

When mentioning about what to eat in Vietnam when visiting the north, it cannot miss out Pho which is the most famous and traditional dish of the capital Ha Noi. Pho Ha Noi, or known as Vietnamese Pho, is the signature beauty of the capital of thousand years of civilization.

what to eat in vietnam

Pho Ha Noi has become an image of the capital – Image: @R47natjan.

There are differences in the taste of Pho Ha Noi. It depends on different chefs. The main ingredients of Pho Ha Noi are Banh Pho noodles, soup, and some vegetables. The dried Banh Pho noodles are made from rice. The different tastes of Pho Ha Noi are from the soup and vegetables that accompany with a bowl of Pho. Pho soup is the broth of pork bones. After that, they add some slices of ginger and beef into the soup to make it tastier. Vegetables must include basil, anise leaves, and cardamom. The local people usually have Pho with Vietnamese hot crullers and other spices such as vinegar pepper and some drops of fresh lemon.

Some recommended places to have a true taste of Pho Ha Noi:

Pho Ganh Hang Trong (opens from 16:00 – 20:30) – 01 Hang Trong street, Hoan Kiem district, Ha Noi.

Or pho Bat Dan – 49 Bat Dan street, Hoan Kiem district, Ha Noi.

Pho Cuon (Pho Roll)

This is an innovation of Pho Ha Noi. Among different types of Pho such as dried or fried ones, Pho Cuon is still the best one after the traditional Pho. Besides, roll dishes in Vietnam are so famous with its fresh and frugal tastes. Therefore, Pho Cuon with the perfect combination of Pho and roll will bring to you an amazing taste. This is a great choice if you do not know what to eat in Vietnam when coming to the north.

what to eat in vietnam

Pho Cuon is an innovation of the original Pho ha Noi – Image: @Lyndascatering.

The main ingredients of Pho Cuon are the pieces of fresh Banh Pho, beef, and some popular kinds of vegetable of the north. Beef is fried with garlic and ginger. It must not be fried too long so that beef will not be tough. Vegetables include lettuce, coriander, and basil. All beef and vegetables are rolled in the pieces of Banh Pho. It is eaten with fish sauce. The fish sauce must have both sour and sweet tastes.

Some recommended places for Pho Cuon in Ha Noi:

Pho Cuon Huong Mai – 25 Ngu Xa street, Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi.

Pho Cuon Hung Ben – 33 Ngu Xa street or 35 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi.

What to eat in Vietnam when visiting the central?

The central cuisine prefers salty and hot tastes rather than the other two regions. The main colors of central cuisine are red and brown which is from the chilies. The main taste that you can feel in the dishes is the fish sauce. There are two food streams in the central region which are royal and street styles. They two combine so harmonically and delicately. While the royal food is luxurious and elegant with serious manners and fussiness, street food is simple but great. If you have the chance to visit the central of Vietnam, trying street food and royal food is the answer to your question about what to eat in Vietnam central.

Bun Cha Ca (Noodles with fish pie)

what to eat in vietnam

If you get bored of Quang noodles, let’s try Bun Cha Ca – Image: @Mslindadoan.

If everyone talks about Quang noodles and Banh Xeo when answering what to eat in Vietnam central, we offer you a different answer. It is Bun Cha Ca. This is a type of noodles which go with fish pie (cha ca). Bun Cha Ca in Danang has a special sweet taste. It is a combination of the salt from fermented fish sauce, the sweet of potato and pumpkin, the sour of pickled bamboo shoots and fresh lemon. Moreover, as it is a traditional food of Danang, this noodle has a signature color of the local cuisine. It is so attractive with the yellow color of the soup which is from fish. Moreover, the red color of chilies and cashew oil also make it look good. When having Bun Cha Ca, the local people usually add some more pickled onion, fermented fish sauce, and basil leaves.

Recommended places for Bun Cha Ca in Danang:

Bun Cha Ca Hon – 113/3 Nguyen Chi Thanh street, Hai Chau district, Danang.

Bun Cha Ca Ba Lu – 319 Hung Vuong street, Thanh Khe district, Danang.

Banh Mi – The best street food in the world

If Vietnamese Pho is a quintessence and meticulousness of the national cuisine, Banh Mi is the simplest and the most popular fast food which goes with the local daily life. It is the same with sandwich or KFC, McDonald in the western countries, Banh Mi is one of the must eat dish when the question of what to eat in Vietnam central comes.

what to eat in vietnam

Banh Mi is the most delicious street food in Vietnam – Image: @Kokubutti.

There is an interesting thing about Banh Mi is its popularity in the central of Vietnam. Comparing to the other two regions, it is easier to find a Banh Mi stall on the streets in the central provinces. Moreover, its taste in central Vietnam is more special and impressive. That is the reason why Banh Mi becomes more famous in this region. Moreover, in Hoi An ancient town, Banh Mi Phuong is known as the most delicious Banh Mi in Vietnam and around the world. So why don’t try it once?

The most important thing to make the special taste of Banh Mi is its core. Normally, it is made of grilled pork, pork pie, eggs, or fried fishes. With pâté, vegetables, cucumber, and pepper salt, it makes you feel the perfect and harmonic combination of the simplest ingredients in the central cuisine.

Some recommended Banh Mi stalls in Danang and Hoi An:

Banh Mi Phuong – 2B Phan Chau Trinh street, Cam Chau district, Hoi An.

Banh Mi Ong Ty  – 272 Hung Vuong street, Hai Chau district, Danang.

What to eat in Vietnam when visiting the south?

The southern cuisine prefers sweet and fat tastes. It is because of the coconut milk and natural spices. Especially, the southern people like clearly distinctive tastes. If it is sweet, it is only sweet. If it is fat, there is only fat taste. And if it is hot, it is hot only.

To the tourists, to answer the question about what to eat in Vietnam when visiting the south might be a hard question. The reason is that the southern cuisine is the mixture of the northern and central cuisine. Moreover, the local people also add the taste of Chinese, Champa, and Khmer cuisine to theirs. Therefore, it makes a special and unique taste.

Com Tam (broken rice)

If people think about the capital with Pho Ha Noi, they will think about Com Tam when mentioning about the specialty of Sai Gon. Hence, the first answer to the question about what to eat in Vietnam when visiting Sai Gon must be Com Tam. Com Tam is made from the broken part of the rice core when the farmers try to peel the grains. In the past, only rich families could have the chance to eat Com Tam. The reason is that the Tam that they collect is much fewer than the rice core from the same amount of grains. Broken rice when is cooked brings a sweet smell. The broken rice rises less than the normal rice that people eat everyday.

what to eat in vietnam

Mentioning about Sai Gon food without Com Tam is a big mistaken – Image: Zenisfood.

Normally, Com Tam is eaten with the pork ribs. However, due to the increase in the demand of the market, the local people make a more diversified topping for Com Tam. There are chicken, fish, or shrimp Com Tam. There must be a small bowl of soup goes with a dish of Com Tam. Furthermore, people also have it with greaves and fried onion.

Some recommended places for Com Tam in Sai Gon:

Com Tam Cali – 32 Nguyen Trai street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

Com Tam Ba Ghien – 84 Dang Van Ngu street, Phu Nhuan district, Ho Chi Minh city.

Hu Tieu Go

This is a type of noodles that is familiar with the midnight in Sai Gon. Normally, there are no fix stalls serving Hu Tieu Go. They move around the city. It is called Hu Tieu Go since the seller always uses two bars to make the sound instead of using mouth to shout out loud. These bars usually are made with wood or iron.

what to eat in vietnam

Having a bowl of Hu Tieu Go with smoking in midnight is the most popular local lifestyle – Image: @Somewheresaigon.

Hu Tieu Go is rarely available in the morning. It is usually from 2 PM until midnight. It was a kind of food for the poor. However, time passes, Hu Tieu Go becomes a signature image of Sai Gon. The ingredients of a bowl of Hu Tieu Go are the dried noodles, pork pies or fresh slices of pork, quail eggs, greaves, green onion, and the most important part to make its taste is the soup. To enjoy the true taste of Hu Tieu Go, it must have a smoke of hot soup with slices of fresh lemon and chilies.


The cuisine culture of Vietnam is diversified depends on the region. However, it still accompanies with agriculture. That is the reason why local people always have vegetables with every dishes. Hope the information above could help you to answer the question about what to eat in Vietnam. So that you could have a great trip with wonderful natural sceneries and delicious food.