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A sweet old Vietnamese lady breaks her wooden spoon and throws her plates out of the window every time a traveler who visits Vietnam comes back home just to tell their family they only had banh mi for two full weeks. To stop this spoons and plates massacre, we decided it was time to write a guide of the top 10 Vietnamese dishes that every traveler must try during their time in Vietnam.

Top Ten Vietnamese Dishes You Must Try

Vietnamese gastronomy is a feast for the senses, interpreted differently in every street food stall, cozy family-run eatery, and even modern fusion restaurant. The most famous Vietnamese dishes are delicate and delicious, leaving no room to be scared of venturing out into this unknown food realm.

Follow us on this food tour across the country, where we will guide you through the top 10 Vietnamese dishes you must try and where to find them. Hope you are hungry!


Vietnamese Gastronomy’s Geography

If you will be visiting several cities in Vietnam, something you should know is that gastronomy exhibits regional variations throughout the country, and there are notable differences between the northern and southern regions of Vietnam. So, new city = new dishes to taste!

Here are some general differences between northern and southern Vietnamese gastronomy, that will give you an idea of the kind of dishes you will encounter:

flavor and seasoning:

  • North: Milder and subtler in flavors.

  • South: Bolder and sweeter flavors.


  • North: The proximity to China has resulted in a fusion of flavors and techniques. The north is associated with a more authentic, rustic and simple style of cooking.

  • South: Historical interactions with countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, and India have resulted in a greater use of spices and diverse range of flavors.

Hanoi street in Vietnam
People eating food on the streets of Vietnam

Keep in mind these distinctions are generalizations that mainly impact the most famous vietnamese dishes of the area. Additionally, there are many regional variations of the same courses within the north and south of Vietnam.

Top 10 Vietnamese Dishes


Iconic soul-warming noodle soup (Hanoi)

Pho is one of the most famous Vietnamese dishes. Internationally known and considered by many the Vietnamese national dish, Pho consists of a flavorful beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, and tender slices of meat. You then top it off to taste with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and lime. It is cozyness in a bowl.

pho soup a must try vietnamese food
Vietnam food street vendor

Where to eat Pho in Hanoi:

Phở 10 Lý Quốc SưDon’t expect stellar service, but the Pho is great.

Along with this Vietnamese dishes list, we will provide you with some of our favorite places to eat these delicacies. Click on the name of the restaurant to be directed to its location on Google Maps.

banh cuon

Delicate Steamed Rice Rolls (Hanoi)

Not sure what is more satisfying, to eat Banh Cuon or to see the delicate technique of making them. These light and silky rice rolls are filled with minced pork, mushrooms, and shallots. These come with a side of fish sauce and, if you are lucky, fried shallots sprinkled on top to give it a nice crunch. A delicious staple of any food tour in Vietnam.

Must try vietnamese food banh cuon

Where to eat Banh Cuon in Hanoi:

Traditional Banh Cuon Nong. The speed and skill of the lady outside making them, is mesmerizing. Very simple and authentic place.

bun cha

Succulent Grilled Pork Noodles (Hanoi)

This dish was made internationally famous by Anthony Bourdain and President Obama on their trip to Hanoi, but it has been on the top 10 Vietnamese dishes for locals since way back. Grilled pork patties and slices of succulent pork belly are served with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. It comes with a sweet tangy sauce for dipping the meat.

restaurant where to eat the must try vietnamese food Bun Cha

Where to eat Bun Cha in Hanoi:

Bún chả Hương Liên.  This is the famous restaurant where Bourdain had its meal with Obama.

Bun Cha Ta Hanoi. Go to this place if you really don’t care about which famous person ate there, and you only want great Bun Cha and no long queues.

If you are only visiting the South of Vietnam, we also got you covered with an amazing alternative to this dish, in Saigon: Bún Thịt Nướng Chị Tuyền. A true hidden gem that only locals visit. The spring rolls in their noodle bowls are divine!

banh beo

Steamed Rice Cakes (Hue)

Banh Beo is the perfect introduction to Hue’s gastronomy: delicate, beautiful, and full of taste. It consists of small rice cakes topped with savory ingredients such as pork, shrimp, and fried shallots. Not sure how this is not one of the most famous Vietnamese dishes among travelers.

must try vietnamese dish Banh Beo in Hue
plate with best vietnamese food one must try

Where to eat Banh Beo in Hue:

Madam Thu Restaurant. There are plenty of places where you can try Banh Beo, so why here? Because they have a tasting menu that allows you to taste not only this local delicacy but several others in one go. You don’t want to miss out on this!

bun bo hue

Beef Noodle Soup (Hue)

If  you liked the idea of Pho but felt it was missing a little kick, then Bun Bo Hue is what you are looking for. A robust and spicy broth infused with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili, served with delicious noodles and filled with tender beef, and occasionally pork knuckles. This Vietnamese dish might make you sweat a bit, but it will be worth it!

bowl of Bun bo hue a must try dish in Vietnam

Where to eat Bun bo Hue in Hue:

Nina’s Cafe. Is this the most authentic Bun Bo Hue? Probably not. There are dozens of places doing this dish around Hue, each with its special twist. But we would not forgive ourselves for not mentioning Nina’s Cafe in this Vietnamese dishes list. Their Bun Bo Hue, like every single dish we tried in this restaurant, is superb and absolutely worth the visit!

Hue’s food elevates Vietnamese gastronomy to a whole other level. So, even if Imperial Cities, pagodas, and abandoned water parks are not your jam, but food is, add this city to your Vietnam itinerary. Hue’s gastronomy is renowned mainly due to its Royal Heritage. Once the imperial capital, the palate of emperors who demanded elaborate and refined meals had to be pleased. To this day, the culinary tradition focuses on balanced flavors, colors, textures, and aesthetics, using elaborate techniques and recipes that involve multiple stages of cooking and meticulous attention to detail. You won’t struggle to find dozens of amazing places where to eat in Hue.

restaurant with the best food in Vietnam

cao lau

Brown Chewy Noodles (tastes better than it sounds, we promise)(Hoi An)

A hot bowl of savory broth with thick chewy noodles, slices of juicy roasted pork, and fragrant herbs. But haven’t you heard this before? Kind of. But these are different and live on our top 3 of this top 10 vietnamese dishes list.

This is one of the best Vietnamese dishes, and to experience it, you must visit Hoi An. Sorry, no Plan B. The secret lies in the water used to cook the noodles, which is (said to be) sourced from a legendary well in Hoi An, believed to possess magical properties (we did not experience any magical side effects, so we can’t confirm this😅). A man named Mr. Cu discovered this well and created the Cao Lau noodles, made from a special combination of rice and ash.

Must try food in Hoi An in Vietnam called Cao Lau
Cao Lau Noodles in local Vietnam market

Where to eat Cao Lau in Hoi An:

Cao lầu Không Gian Xanh. Chances are, it will be busy, but it will be worth it.

You can also order a portion of White Roses and Goi Cuon, which are two must-try dishes in Hoi An! If you are not hungry for all of it, don’t worry, you can find these two everywhere in town.

banh mi

The Sandwich of all Sandwiches (Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City)

Get that jaw ready to bite into the world famous Banh Mì, a delectable combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors presented in a crusty baguette filled with ingredients that may vary slightly, but usually include cold cuts, grilled pork, cucumber, cilantro, and carrots.

man eating best Banh mi in Vietnam
two vietnamese women riding a bike in Hoi An, Vietnam
three vietnamese women selling food in hoi an

Where to eat Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City:

Bánh Mì Huynh Hoa. This sandwich was born in Saigon, so you need to try one here, and this is the place! Get ready, this is HUGE, and probably the heaviest Bánh Mì you will try in Vietnam. But still, delicious!

Where to eat Banh Mi in Hoi An:

Madam Khanh -The Banh Mi Queen

Even though it was born in Saigon, the best bread of the country is said to be in Hoi An. Bánh Mì Phượng is known (once again thanks to Anthony Bourdain) as the best Banh Mì in the world. They are delicious, and we will never go against Bourdain’s words, but we invite you to avoid the queues here and head around the corner to Madam Khanh. The title of “queen” fits her perfectly, as it was the best Banh Mi we ever had.

banh xeo

Crispy Savory Pancakes (Meklong Delta)

Yellow, crispy and with more instructions on how to eat it than one would expect, but ultimately a delicious dish of Vietnamese gastronomy. For us this dish is perfect to eat with family and friends while talking all night long. Is a fun social food. Banh Xeo’s batter has coconut and turmeric hints, but the goodness is in the shrimp, pork and mushrooms stuffing. Wrap them in lettuce leaves and dip them in tangy fish sauce.

must try vietnamese food Banh Xeo

Where to eat Banh Xeo:

Bánh Xèo Tôm Nhảy Thanh Sang. Having in mind you might not get the chance to explore the Mekong on your first trip to Vietnam, we suggest this place to eat Banh Xeo in Hanoi. It is a simple place, outside the tourist routes, with a fantastic Banh Xeo and a team that will gladly help you to learn how to properly eat it.


Colorful Desserts 

What is a meal without something sweet to wrap it up? Let us introduce you to Che, which you can find all over the country. Che is a general term encompassing various sweet treats, including Chè Ba Màu (three-colored dessert), Chè Chuoi (banana with coconut milk), and Che Bap (corn pudding). Unlike many countries where restaurants typically present a dessert menu after the main course, Vietnamese restaurants tend to specialize in only one or two dishes, so no dessert menu at the end. To enjoy a delicious Che, you will likely need to visit a dessert shop.

must try vietnamese sweet dish Che
motorbike full of colorfull flowers in Hanoi, Vietnam

Where to eat Che in Hanoi:

Che Dung. For us, a visit to Hanoi demands a stop here for the coconut ice cream and pandan rice Che. You will certainly find a Che that suits your taste, out of the dozens of options available.

Egg Coffee


Yes, yes…We know Egg Coffee is not a dish, but this Hanoi classic is the perfect end to your meal and to this top 10 vietnamese dishes list. The Vietnamese LOVE coffee! No matter where you turn, you will encounter coffee, either in the hundreds of specialty coffee places or at the endless street stalls operated by absolute coffee pros. However, Vietnamese coffee is quite strong, so  the delicious Egg Coffee, which combines the richness of coffee with the sweet taste of egg custard and a velvety texture, is an absolute homerun.

Where to drink Egg Coffee in Hanoi:

Cafe Giảng. This famous cafe was credited with creating the drink in the 1940s.

The Note Coffee. A cute cafe with walls covered in notes and post-its from every traveler who has visited. Their egg hot chocolate is also amazing!

must try egg coffee in Vientma

Food Tour in Vietnam

A fantastic way to start your Vietnam itinerary is with a food tour in either Hanoi or Saigon. We did it as soon as we landed on our first trip to Vietnam, which allowed us to take baby steps into Vietnamese gastronomy. We visited local eateries we probably would have not discovered on our own, tried a bit of everything to see what our palates loved, and what we were not so fond of, all while having fun insights from our local guide: Mango (a very suitable nickname for a food tour guide, right?🤭).

There are tours by car, on foot, or even on the back of a local’s scooter, which offers a two-in-one epic experience! Here are some awesome food tours for you:


Planning Time

If you are ready to start planning your next trip, here you have all the usefull links you need to make it happen! By using them you are supporting our work as we might get a small fee from it. But hey! You pay the same (or might even get a discount), so is a win-win situation!

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