A food journey through Vietnam: bun cha to banh mi

A food journey through Vietnam: bun cha to banh mi is a remarkable experience. The food of Vietnam is a major attraction in and of itself, with regional variations (the south being spicier and the north being saltier) and a presentation style that harkens back to the Imperial Dynasty in the center areas. Vietnam travel guide is an essential companion for anyone exploring this culinary wonderland.

Many meals have the characteristic combination of palm sugar, chile, or salty fish sauce. Succulent meats, fresh seafood like prawns and catfish, and unusual vegetables like bamboo shoots and chayote accompany them. My Way Travel can help you navigate these delectable options.

Galangal, Vietnamese coriander, mint, and aromatic spices like Saigon cinnamon and aniseed waft through the air as you search the streets for a new and exciting culinary adventure. So, embark on your food journey through Vietnam: bun cha to banh mi with the help of a Vietnam travel guide and My Way Travel for an unforgettable experience.

Eat pho at a street stall

Vietnam's staple food is pho.

Street vendors around the country serve pho, the national dish, a rice noodle soup made with various flavored broths. The natives suggest washing it with a cold beverage at a plastic table on the pavement.

It's important to try as many variations of pho as possible since the ingredients might vary greatly from place to place. The broth is commonly flavored with anise, a pleasant spice underutilized in Western cooking. Beef is often incorporated and is cut very thinly. However, there are options for those who choose not to consume meat. Guests may season their meals with sugar, mint, lime, chili, and more.

Hanoi's soup is mildly seasoned but always has fresh mint, whereas, in the central areas, flavorful locally cultivated herbs like holy basil and coriander take center stage.

Try bun cha in Hanoi


Bun cha

The last time I had bun cha was when my guide insisted on feeding me first upon arriving in Hanoi after a long journey when all I wanted to do was check into my hotel.

I joined a large table of kind and curious locals in the rabbit warren of a restaurant in Hanoi's Old Quarter. When the grilled pork arrived, I remembered why I liked traveling around Southeast Asia. The fresh herbs, salt, garlic, and chile accompanying the meat, broth, and noodles made the dish delicious. Compared to the more watered-down versions of bun cha served at hotels where foods become different for Western palates, this one smelled and tasted amazing.

Spring rolls are a common accompaniment to bun cha at mobile eateries and food trucks. In the Hanoi region, like everywhere in Vietnam, this is a go-to meal for the working population during their lunch break.

Explore Hanoi on a food tour

Street food in Hanoi - grilled pork

A walking culinary tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter with a local guide who can tailor the experience to your preferences and schedule is a great way to burn calories and see the city simultaneously.

I tried the whipped egg 'coffee' served by the Vietnamese. It tasted just like sipping meringue. Since I'm not a fan of coffee, I ordered a lovely chocolate substitute. The green papaya salad was much more appealing with its spicy beef, shaved green papaya, fish sauce, palm sugar, beansprouts, and mint.

The next stop was for a chicken salad at a stand in a back alley. More polished variants are available, but this one may incorporate almost any chicken component.

You may start your day well with noodle soup and try duck or quail for lunch. While in Hanoi, your guide may also suggest some excellent eateries.

Sample Bun bo Hue

Bun bo Hue

Bun bo Hue, another noodle soup dish, is a central Vietnam staple. A meaty broth flavored with lemongrass uses infusion with fresh herbs and either beef or pork.

If you want the real deal, don't settle for the watered-down tourist version; instead, have your chef throw in some hoof (as gross as it sounds, it gives the meal a depth of flavor and a little sweetness).

My favorite spot to obtain authentic bun bo Hue is at one of the numerous stands in Hue's Dong Ba Central Market. Spend some time after lunch exploring the massive market, where you can find anything from fresh produce and herbs to antiques and handmade wares like carved stone Buddhas and colorful scarves.

Taste cau lau noodles in Hoi An

Cau Lau a traditional Vietnamese rice dish served in a circular bowl.

A warm bowl of cao lau noodles from a street vendor in Hoi An's cobblestone alleyways or along the seaside is a great way to spend a day. As the country's first major trade station, the town's cuisine draws inspiration from worldwide.

Cao lau noodles, similar to the thicker buckwheat noodles of Japan, are mixed with pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, mint, and herbs to make a filling main meal.

Try Banh Xeo on a Ho Chi Minh City street food tour.

The infamous Banh Xeo. Shrimp and bean sprout crepes made with rice flour in Vietnam.

The best way to see the culinary diversity of Ho Chi Minh City is with a street food tour. In the evening, you and your guide ride about the city on a Vespa; your guide will know all the finest spots to stop and will be an expert at negotiating the often chaotic city traffic.

Before driving to a local coffee establishment, our small party paused to sample mussels and frogs' legs served with peanuts and lemongrass. Like entering someone's home, this was the location you'd never stumble across accidentally.

Rice flour pancakes, another traditional food in Vietnam, were our last meal on the trip. They're really thin, like a crepe, and almost see-through. Fresh spring rolls are all set in various ways around the country, but the banh xeo pancakes of Ho Chi Minh City are in a league of their own.

You may customize your pancake with any ingredients and as much as you choose. Fresh herbs pair well with succulent prawns. On the other hand, my guide stuffed his pancake to the size of my lower arm while I erred on the side of moderation.

Banh xeos are a popular late-night snack in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They are thin pancakes gently cooked and topped with condiments like fish sauce, lime, and chili. The snack is available in portable and seated sizes.

Bite into a baguette

Banh Mi Sandwich Made with Pork, Daikon, and Cilantro in Vietnam.

When you're in the mood for anything other than noodles, a delicious banh mi is the way to go. This French baguette is perfect for stuffing with pork pâté, a carrot, a mint leaf, a bean sprout, a coriander leaf, and a pickle, among other things. You may buy one from a peddler and eat it quickly. If you, like me, feel awkward about eating a full-sized banh mi in public.

Restaurant dining in Vietnam

Hoi An has several excellent riverside dining options.

Vietnam has a weak restaurant culture since street cuisine is so popular and cheap. Many cater to tourists by offering Westernized versions of traditional dishes.

However, you may find some unique fusion restaurants, which often combine Vietnamese and French cuisine and other foreign dishes. Try some soft-shell crab and other delights at Hanoi's Ly Club, where the servers wear white colonial-era costumes and transport you to another era. Meanwhile, Hoi An's riverbanks are home to several highly regarded eateries serving a fusion of local specialties and food throughout Asia.

Take part in a cooking course

Fresh shrimp rice paper rolls are taught at the Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Many cities and towns in Vietnam offer great cooking classes where you may learn to prepare traditional Vietnamese fare. The Red Bridge Restaurant in Hoi An provided me with one of my life's most memorable dining experiences.

The day began with a boat excursion to Red Bridge Market, where we bought and collected other necessities from the surrounding gardens. Next, we gained knowledge of traditional farming practices by grinding rice into flour. When we were at the end, we began making dinner. I learned how to make a beautiful pancake and a deconstructed spring roll that can be used as a basket to hold the contents of the folded-up version.

Start planning your trip to Vietnam

Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.

Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.