Finding local food while travelling in Vietnamese restaurant where the must-try dishes aren’t on the menu. I recently had dinner in a small Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Phu Ngan, Hanoi’s old quarter. The place was tiny and the food was pretty good – for Vietnamese. But the place is known as one of the best places to go to for fresh seafood. There are hundreds of seafood restaurants in Hanoi, but this is the one you need to be at if you want good seafood.
Probably the most famous Vietnamese food is Banh Muong, which translates literally to “bitter melon”. This dish is so common, it is sometimes referred to as banh cao, which is literally just “cabbage”. In Vietnamese, banh muong is prepared with vegetables, meat and fish. For a relatively simple dish, banh muong often has an accompanying soup that accompanies it. Typically, this soup is made from rice or wheat flour and served alongside the nutritious dish.
Another traditional dish in Vietnam that you’ll find on a Vietnamese restaurant menu is gai lan pho, which means sweet soup with rice. This soup originates from Vietnamese rice paddies (vienna beans), but the style of preparation has really come a long way. Gai lan pho typically includes noodles (totally unripe), meat, vegetables and an added sweetness. Typically, you will start off with noodles, and then work your way up to the beef and then finally the vegetables. Vietnamese people also like to add onions and garlic, and sometimes fish or other ingredients depending on what the recipe calls for. Although gai lan pho is considered a meat dish, Vietnamese people often serve it with rice.
Ngu Ratchaburi is another one of the more popular Vietnamese foods that is often found on a Vietnamese restaurant menu. Like gai lan pho, ngu ratchaburi is prepared from rice. Typically, however, the rice is not raw in this dish. Instead, it’s cooked in a fragrant and flavorful broth with fresh herbs and onions. Ngu ratchaburi can vary widely by region, but typically there are several versions of the dish that can be found throughout Vietnam.
Nguy Din Tai is a popular dish in Vietnam known as crispy rice. Nguy dua is similar to the ubiquitous pho – where the rice is steamed and the herbs and vegetables are usually included in the boiling liquid. However, Vietnamese diners usually like to top their dumplings with a savory sticky rice mixture. The most common ingredients in sticky rice are fish sauce, sticky rice, raisins and mangoes.
One of the most popular noodle dishes in Vietnam is Pho Ngan, or Brown Noodle soup. This dish typically begins with noodles in a brown sauce, with vegetables added at the end. Typically there are a variety of types of noodles used in Vietnamese noodle soups. Rice noodles are very common, and also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are long thin ones, along with circular ones, and large ones which are often used for stir-frying. Vietnamese people also use egg noodles and even glutinous rice for this dish.
Vietnamese noodles are usually served with Vietnamese soup. Typically, these soups contain such flavors as lemongrass, bay leaves, carrots, cauliflower, onions, garlic, and fish sauce. To enhance the flavor of their Vietnamese noodle soups, Vietnamese people frequently include jalapenos or other hot peppers, cumin, coriander, ginger, star anise, and various types of spices. Often you can also find raisins or dates added to the dishes to enhance the nutty flavor of the Vietnamese noodles.
Vietnamese noodles are popular not only because of the taste, but also because of the variety that they provide. Because many Vietnamese people speak English, they are able to learn how to prepare these wonderful dishes, which they love so much. Often times when you are in a Vietnamese restaurant, there will be numerous options for you to choose from, which is a great way to get a variety of Vietnamese dishes in one meal. If you love Asian food, then you will truly enjoy all that Vietnam has to offer – starting with their famous pho noodle soups!