Welcome, fellow food adventurers, to the vibrant and diverse culinary landscape of Vietnam! While the country is renowned for its pho, banh mi, and spring rolls, there is a world of unique and lesser-known culinary delights awaiting those willing to explore beyond the popular dishes. Join me on a mouthwatering journey as we uncover Vietnam’s unusual, non-pop food that will undoubtedly tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
1. Bun Bo Hue:
Prepare your taste buds for a spicy and aromatic delight with Bun Bo Hue. Hailing from the central region of Vietnam, this noodle soup features a rich and flavorful broth infused with lemongrass, chili, and fermented shrimp paste. What sets it apart is the addition of tender beef shank, pork knuckles, and congealed pig’s blood, which might sound unconventional but lend a unique and hearty character to the dish.
- Bún Bò Huế
2. Banh Cuon:
Let’s venture into the streets of Hanoi to savor Banh Cuon, a delicate and delicious treat. These translucent rice flour crepes are filled with a mixture of ground pork, mushrooms, and minced shallots, and then steamed to perfection. Served with crispy fried shallots and a side of sweet and tangy nuoc cham dipping sauce, Banh Cuon is a simple yet delightful culinary gem.
- Bánh cuốn
3. Banh Xeo – Vietnamese Pancakes: For those who love crispy treats, Banh Xeo is a must-try. These Vietnamese-style pancakes are made from rice flour, turmeric, coconut milk, and filled with a combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, and pork. The pancakes are then folded and served with fresh herbs and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. The contrast between the crunchy exterior and the savory filling makes Banh Xeo an absolute delight. Central Vietnam is known for its regional variations of Bánh Xèo Miền Trung. In places like Huế and Đà Nẵng, the pancakes are typically smaller in size and feature a greater variety of fillings, including local specialties like Huế-style beef or squid. These regional twists add further depth and diversity to the dish, showcasing the uniqueness of each locality.
- Bánh xèo miền Trung
4. Xôi bắp- Corn sticky rice, a delightful Vietnamese treat, brings together the natural sweetness of corn and the comforting chewiness of sticky rice.
- Xôi bắp – Corn sticky rice
In Vietnamese cuisine, sticky rice holds a special place, offering a versatile base for a variety of delicious dishes. Among its delightful renditions, corn sticky rice stands out as a unique fusion of flavors and textures. Blending the natural sweetness of corn with the comforting chewiness of sticky rice, this delightful treat is loved by locals and visitors alike.
5. Bún Chả Cá Quy Nhơn, a culinary delight from the coastal city of Quy Nhon in Vietnam, showcases the region’s abundant seafood and rich culinary traditions. This dish features fish cake noodle soup that combines the flavors of fragrant broth, tender fish cakes, and delicate rice noodles. The soup is simmered with aromatic herbs and spices, infusing it with a tantalizing aroma. Served with an array of fresh herbs and condiments, Bún Chả Cá Quy Nhơn offers a harmonious blend of textures and tastes, providing a satisfying and comforting culinary experience. Prepare to be transported to the coastal wonders of Quy Nhon as you savor the flavors of this renowned dish.
- the Coastal Delights of Quy Nhon’s Fish Cake Noodle Soup – Bún Chả Cá Quy Nhơn
6. Tàu hũ nước đường ( đậu hũ )
Traditional sweet tofu soup, a beloved dessert in Vietnamese cuisine, is a delightful treat that captivates with its silky smooth tofu and fragrant syrup. This dessert features soft tofu cubes immersed in a light and aromatic sweet soup. The tofu, known as “Tàu Hũ,” lends a creamy and velvety texture to each spoonful, while the syrup infuses the dish with a gentle sweetness. Served with a variety of toppings such as mung bean paste, coconut milk, or toasted sesame seeds, traditional sweet tofu soup offers a harmonious balance of flavors and textures that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. Indulge in this beloved Vietnamese dessert and experience the delicate pleasures it has to offer.
- sweet tofu soup – Tàu hủ nước đường
7. Cà phê muối – Salted coffee
Coffee lovers, get ready for a surprising twist on your favorite caffeinated beverage! In Vietnam, where coffee culture thrives, there is a hidden gem that might raise eyebrows but is definitely worth a try—salted coffee ( Besides coconut coffee).
- If you’re in Ho Chi Minh city , you can find good salted coffee at Santorino coffee & veggies 74 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong ward 19 Binh Thanh district, HCMC
Salted coffee – Cà phê muối , a unique twist on the beloved caffeinated beverage, offers a surprising and delightful flavor experience. Originating in Vietnam, this beverage combines the bitterness of coffee with the savory notes of salt, resulting in a harmonious and intriguing taste sensation. The coffee beans are roasted to perfection, and a small amount of sea salt is added to enhance the overall flavor profile. The result is a unique combination of flavors that balances the richness of the coffee while adding a subtle savory touch. If you’re an adventurous coffee lover looking to explore new taste horizons, salted coffee is definitely worth a try for its unexpected and captivating flavor profile.
8. Com Tam: Com Tam, or broken rice, is a popular dish that originated in southern Vietnam. It consists of fragrant broken rice served with various accompaniments such as grilled pork chops, shredded pork skin, a steamed egg cake, pickled vegetables, and fish sauce. This hearty and satisfying meal is often enjoyed for lunch or dinner.
- Com Tam: Com Tam, or broken rice, is a popular dish that originated in southern Vietnam.
9. Chè Thập Cẩm, a delightful Vietnamese dessert, is a medley of various sweet ingredients that come together to create a harmonious and indulgent treat, representing the diverse array of ingredients found in this dessert. Chè Thập Cẩm typically includes components such as sticky rice, mung beans, red beans, lotus seeds, jelly, coconut milk, and sweet syrup, among others. The combination of textures and flavors creates a delightful sensory experience that satisfies any sweet tooth. Whether enjoyed warm or chilled, Chè Thập Cẩm offers a delightful exploration of Vietnamese dessert traditions and is a perfect way to indulge in a variety of sweet delicacies in a single bowl.
- chè thập cẩm – sweet mixed beans soup
10. Bánh Tráng Nướng, a popular Vietnamese street food, is a delightful and flavorful treat that combines crispy rice paper with a medley of savory toppings. Also known as Vietnamese grilled rice paper, it starts with a thin rice paper sheet that is grilled until it turns crispy and slightly charred. The magic happens when it’s topped with a mixture of ingredients like minced pork, dried shrimp, green onions, quail eggs, and a tangy and savory sauce. The result is a mouthwatering combination of textures and flavors that tantalize the taste buds. Bánh Tráng Nướng is a must-try snack that captures the essence of Vietnamese street food culture and offers a delightful explosion of taste in every bite.
- bánh tráng nướng
Vietnam’s culinary scene extends far beyond its popular dishes, and embracing the lesser-known delicacies will open up a world of extraordinary flavors. From the spicy Bun Bo Hue to the delicate Banh xeo, the adventurous satled coffee to the comforting sweet tofu soup, and the sweet chè thập cẩm, these unusual non-pop foods will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your palate and provide a deeper appreciation for the rich culinary heritage of Vietnam. So, step off the beaten path, indulge your taste buds, and embark on a gastronomic adventure you won’t soon forget!