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Traveloka SG

16 Aug 2019 - 7 min read

Heads up, pho-odies! Here are 10 delicious foods to try in Vietnam that’s not pho

When someone says Vietnamese food, is ‘pho’ the first thing (and sound) that comes to mind? Sure, that might be an famous dish, but there are definitely other more interesting dishes that you should try while you’re in Vietnam. We’ve included some less famous but equally delicious local fares, varying across street foods, scrumptious desserts and even the oddly-satisfying egg coffee!

Bánh xèo (crispy pancake)

This fluffy yellow morsel is very similar to a crepe or pancake, but it’s made of rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric, stuffed with vermicelli noodles, prawns, chicken or beef, and sliced onions, beansprouts, and mushrooms. Served with lettuce and rice papers, the deal here is to do it like the locals and wrap your banh xeo in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice papers. Don’t forget to Wrap it well before dipping it in fermented peanut sauce! You can find these on the streets, but for a halal-certified version, visit The Daun Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Customers can expect authentic Vietnamese dishes as well as a prayer room available for Muslim travelers.Where to find it:

The Daun Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City

132 Bis Ký Con, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls)

This next dish is easy on the eyes (and tummy!) and is notoriously common as a Vietnamese appetizer. Shrimp, herbs, and rice vermicelli are all rolled beautifully in translucent rice paper, and served with a decadent dipping sauce. Satisfy your taste buds with every bite, courtesy of the crunchy and refreshing herbs nestled in each roll. The alternating hues of orange and green as well as the silky smooth texture of the rice paper makes this appetiser an Insta-friendly plate. Get a taste of what’s available in Vietnam and beyond as their menu also includes dishes from Singapore, Malaysia and India.

Where to find it:

Kampung Pandan Restaurant, Da Lat

BL 16 Yersin, Dalat, Vietnam

Bánh Căn (crispy egg mini pancake)

If you happen to walk down the streets of Hanoi or Da Lat, follow the smell of freshly made pancakes and you can’t miss this tasty street-side snack. Bánh căn is a grilled batter of flour and quail egg, topped with either shrimp, tofu or herbs. Firm and opaque with a lightly charred bottom accompanied by the richness of quail eggs - it’s a perfect rainy day snack that hits the spot. There’s also alternate versions with chicken egg or duck egg!

Where to find it:

Quan Co Quynh

58/8 Đồng Nai, Phường 15, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Bún Riêu (crab and tomato noodle soup)

Tired of pho? When the weather calls for something soupy, our choice has got to be bún riêu. Bún riêu is a traditional tomato-based Vietnamese soup with freshwater crab meat and rice vermicelli, and has a fresh sour flavor much like the Thai tom yum. The soup is made of crab paste from paddy crabs, which gives the broth its main flavor, along with stewed tomatoes, contributing a slightly tart and natural sweetness to the dish. Yum!

Where to find it:

Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân

TK18/5 Nguyễn Cảnh Chân, Cầu Kho, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Chả Cá (grilled fish with dill)

Are you ready to experience one of Hanoi’s signature dishes? This dish is apparently so popular that they named an entire street after it. Chả Cá Lã Vọng hails from a Hanoi street formerly called Chả Cá, where according to oral history, a home cook named Lã Vọng invented the dish.

Cá lăng is a type of catfish that’s native to Southeast Asia and is typically used because of the firmness of the meat as well as the unique sweetness to it. The savory turmeric dish is served in a wok on your table mid-fry, and the DIY experience starts when you assemble the cooked fish, vermicelli and peanuts all to be eaten in a bowl.

Where to find it:

Chả Cá Lã Vọng Restaurant

14 Chả Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Bánh mì

If you’ve been to Vietnam before, you’ll know that it’s tough to find halal street stalls that sell this famous snack. Bánh mì or banhmi is the Vietnamese word for bread. Street vendors often have push carts that serve this sandwiches in the form of baguettes and filled with various savory ingredients. However, more often than not it is filled with pork and duck liver or pâté - which also contains pork and are not permissible for Muslims to consume. Halal Banh Mi is must-try street stall near Nancy Mosque, and their banh mi caters to budget-friendly Muslim travelers with a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian. Don’t forget to try their Vietnamese coffee too!

Where to find it:

Halal Banh Mi

Hẻm 553 Trần Hưng Đạo, Cầu Kho, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Xôi ngũ sắc (five-colored sticky rice)

Sa Pa is a town in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains of northwestern Vietnam, and hill tribes such as the Hmong, Tay and Dao, make up much of the town's local population. Popular as a trekking destination, the town overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley and that’s where this unique dish is from! The five-colored sticky rice, or the xôi ngũ sắc is made of five different kinds of sticky rice with five distinctive colors: magenta, yellow, blue, violet and purple. The unique cuisine combines traditional and meaningful values, making it the specialty of the rocky highlands. The steamed glutinous rice is usually served with grilled meats, but is also very good on its own.

Where to find it:

The Hill Station Restaurant

037 Fansipan, TT. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lào Cai, Vietnam

Chè Sương Sa Hạt Lựu (jelly rainbow dessert)

Our favorite segment - desserts! If the Vietnamese champion having a lot of colors on their plate, why should desserts be any different? This tantalizing rainbow dessert is no exception, especially when its vibrant ingredients include pomegranate seeds, mango, water chestnut, mung bean and agar-agar! This refreshingly sweet, crunchy dessert will definitely help you beat the heat after a whole day of sightseeing in Vietnam, trust us!

Where to find it:

Nét Sài Gòn

127 Láng Hạ, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Đá bào (shaved ice bingsu)

Now, just because you’re in Vietnam, doesn’t mean you need to have Vietnamese food all throughout your trip. On that note, Vietnam has borrowed a popular dessert trend which led us to our personal favourite, the melon bingsu. Bingsu is a traditional dessert in Korea. Popular during summer, the bingsu is made from shaved ice, not from water, but from frozen milk, chocolate, or even yogurt. The shaved ice is served in a large bowl and topped with fresh fruit and placed delicately on the mountain of snow ice, topped with toppings of red bean, fruits, cereal, jellies, ice cream - the list goes on. As a final touch, you are given a small pitcher of condensed milk which you are then instructed to drizzle all over the spellbinding dessert mountain. Salivating yet?

Where to find it:

Hurom Juice Cafe

80 Hàm Nghi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam

Cà Phê Trúng Sữa (egg coffee)

It doesn’t take too long a walk down any street in Vietnam to know that the coffee culture here is very strong. You may encounter locals in groups of four or more squatting or sitting on little stools along the five-foot-way, enjoying their cup of cold or hot brew - a scene Hanoi is almost always recognized for. Something you may have heard of but not yet tried would be the strange yet oddly satisfying cà phê trúng, or egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty in which a creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam rests on dense Vietnamese coffee. Try it cold or hot, but make sure to expect a more dessert-like experience rather than a caffeine affair.

Where to find it:

Cafe Giang

39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.

Can’t wait to get your Vietnamese food fix? Map out your trip with Traveloka. Don’t forget to share your cool, fun moments by tagging us @TravelokaMY on your Instagram shots. We’d love to see them!