21 popular dishes in Vietnam you should taste

Discover the most mouthwatering and popular dishes in Vietnam that you have to try. I’ve tasted it all and handpicked the best food in Vietnam.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Vietnamese food

Vietnamese food?

Yuuuum. It’s one of the most delicious and famous cuisines in the world. Like French food with an Asian flair.

Every note just feels right. Fresh ingredients, punchy herbs, and those age-old recipes that everyone’s grandma guards with her life.

I’ve rounded up 21 dishes that you just can’t miss. Whether you’ve tasted Vietnamese cuisine before or not, here are the best dishes you should when you travel through Vietnam.

Let’s dive in!

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Top 3 popular dishes in Vietnam (my favourites)

These are my favourite 3 dishes in Vietnamese food. Do yourself a favour and try them!

Banh baoSteamed bunpopular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Bao
Banh miBaguettepopular dishes in Vietnam - Banh mi
PhoSouppopular dishes in Vietnam - Pho

What is Vietnamese food?

Vietnamese food is fresh, flavourful, and balanced.

It’s all about rice, noodles, herbs, seafood, and meats, often seasoned with staples like fish sauce or soy sauce.

You’ve probably heard of phở, that delicious noodle soup, or bánh mì, a baguette-looking sandwich with all sorts of fillings.

Vietnamese dishes mix sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter just right. It’s tasty, fresh, and often pretty healthy.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Beo

Join a food tour in Vietnam

The best way to experience and discover food in Vietnam is on a food tour. Here, a guide will show you all the best dishes and where to find them. If you’re traveling in Vietnam, these are the best food tours throughout the country:

21 most popular dishes in Vietnam

Below, I’ll take you through the best Vietnamese dishes that you can taste in Vietnam. Some of them, you can probably try at Vietnamese restaurants in your own country.

1. Phở (Pho)

Pho is is definition of Vietnamese food.

It’s the national dish – a noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, and meat (or sans meat), primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà).

popular dishes in Vietnam - Pho
A delicious bowl of pho

2. Bánh Mì

Banh mi is also a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.

It’s a Vietnamese sandwich that consists of a French baguette filled with a variety of ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and condiments.

The traditional banh mi is made with Vietnamese ham, pork belly or bbq pork with slices of cilantro, cucumber & pickled daikon and carrots. It’s complete with Maggi Seasoning and black pepper, mayonnaise and pate.

I always had a banh mi with scrambled eggs for breakfast when I was in Vietnam. It’s so good!

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh mi

3. Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Goi Cuon are these fresh spring roll packed with greens, coriander, various combinations of minced pork, shrimp, or crab.

It’s usually dipped in peanut sauce or hoisin sauce.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Gỏi Cuốn

4. Bún Riêu

Bun rieu is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that pairs a slightly tangy tomato base with the richness of crab, tofu, and shrimp.

While tofu is a regular player, what sets this soup apart are the “riêu” meatballs, a hearty mix of pork, shrimp, crab, and prawns.

If you’re a soup fan, this one’s definitely worth a slurp!

popular dishes in Vietnam - Bun Rieu

5. Bún Thịt Nướng

Ever had bun thit nuong? Then you know it’s like love in a bowl.

It’s a mix of sweet, sour, a hint of caramel, a bit of crunch, and a burst of aromatic herbs—all in one vibrant dish.

“Bún” (sounds like ‘boon’) is all about noodles, while Thịt nướng is basically Vietnamese for barbecued meat, and traditionally, we’re talking pork here.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Bun Thit Nuong

6. Cá Kho Tộ

Fish (often catfish) that’s braised in a clay pot with caramelized sugar, fish sauce, and pepper.

This is a popular dish in southern Vietnam since meat and fish are plentiful. 

popular dishes in Vietnam - Ca Kho To

7. Bánh Xèo

Bánh xèo is an irresistable Vietnamese dish.

Picture this: a crispy golden exterior, and inside, a delicious mix of pork, shrimp, mung beans, onions, and bean sprouts. But there’s more!

This isn’t a ‘eat with a fork’ kinda dish. It’s meant to be hands-on: wrap it in greens and dunk it in a tasty sauce.

Often dubbed the Vietnamese pancake or crêpe, it’s the perfect street food in Vietnam.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Xeo

8. Chả Giò (Fried Spring Rolls)

Vietnamese egg rolls pack a flavorful punch with pork, veggies, mung bean threads, and mushrooms.

They’re deep-fried and usually wrapped in green leaf lettuce with herbs and classic fish dipping sauce.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Chả Giò

9. Bún Bò Huế

A spicy beef and vermicelli noodle soup, originating from the city of Huế.

This Central Vietnamese gem comes loaded with tender beef and pork slices. And for the grand finish?

A generous sprinkle of fresh herbs.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Bun Bo Hue

10. Bánh Canh Cua

Bánh canh cua is a thick noodle soup with a tapioca/rice flour noodle, often served with crab meat and various vegetables.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Canh Cua

11. Cơm Tấm (Broken Rice)

There’s no avoiding this one.

Com Tam, also known as grilled pork (often shredded) over broken rice.

It’s usually made with prawn paste cake (chả tôm), grilled prawns, or egg meatloaf (chả trứng).

popular dishes in Vietnam - Cơm Tấm

12. Mì Quảng

Mi Quang is turmeric noodles served with a little broth and various ingredients like shrimp, pork, chicken, and herbs.

It originally comes from the Quảng Nam province, but you can get it all around Vietnam.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Mi Quang

13. Bánh Chưng/Bánh Tét

Banh Chung or Banh tet are these cute little rice cakes wrapped as presents for the Lunar New Year (Tết).

They consist of a sweet or savory sticky rice cake with various fillings. Mung beans, pork, and sticky rice are the core ingredients in this recipe, and they’re wrapped in a banana leaf.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Chung

14. Bún Chả

Grilled pork (often shredded) is served over vermicelli noodles and usually paired with a dipping sauce.

This is a Vietnamese dish you should definitely try – it’s so good.

popular dishes in Vietnam - bun cha

15. Cá Kho Tỏi (Garlic Braised Fish)

Ca kho toi is another popular Vietnamese dish where fish is slow-cooked in a clay pot with heaps of garlic, fish sauce, and a touch of pepper.

It’s a rich, caramelized delight that’s a staple in local homes. Best served with steamed rice to soak up all those flavors.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Ca Kho Toi

16. Xôi (Sticky Rice)

If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ve probably tasted sticky rice with mango (if not, you should try it!)

Xoi is the Vietnamese version of sticky rice: A sweet or savory rice dish often infused with colors from natural sources, and served with mung beans, coconut, chicken, or pork.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Xoi

17. Nem Rán (Northern) / Chả Giò (Southern)

Nem Ran is Vietnam’s version of the spring roll.

It’s a deep-fried roll filled with seasoned meat, mushrooms, and sometimes clear vermicelli noodles.

The northern version (nem ran) tends to use a rice paper wrap, while the southern one (cha gio) usually has a thin egg wrap.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Nem Ran

18. Cơm Cháy


Crispy rice crackers served with a spiced ground pork topping. It’s particularly popular in the city of Ninh Bình in northern Vietnam.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Com Chay

19. Banh Bao

This is my favorite Vietnamese dish and I often cook it myself.

Banh bao is fluffy, cloud-like buns enveloping tender, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, and fresh, thinly sliced vegetables.

Marinated to perfection and slow-cooked, the pork belly inside offers a delightful contrast to the soft bao exterior.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Banh Bao

20. White rose dumplings

This dish is unique to Hoi An, a beautiful historic town in central Vietnam. You can only get them here.

White rose dumplings are a special kind of dumplings made from translucent white dough, which is why they’re called “White Rose.”

The shrimp filling inside is seasoned with garlic, spring onions, pepper, and sugar.

popular dishes in Vietnam - “white rose” dumplings

21. Lẩu (Hotpot)

Lau is a popular communal dish in Vietnam.

Various ingredients like seafood, meat, tofu, and vegetables are cooked in a pot of simmering broth at the table.

The broth can range from a simple chicken base to more exotic ones like sour soup or fermented fish.

popular dishes in Vietnam - Lao (hot pot)
Cao lau

FAQ about Vietnamese food

What is the most popular dish in Vietnam?

The most popular dish in Vietnam is “pho,” a fragrant noodle soup with beef or chicken.

What is Vietnam’s famous food?

Apart from the legendary pho, you’ve got the epic banh mi sandwich, fresh-as-you-like goi cuon spring rolls, and mouth-watering bun cha with grilled pork.

And let’s not forget the sweet kick of ca phe sura dá iced coffee or the iconic egg coffee in Hanoi.

What are the top 5 foods in Vietnam?

The top 5 foods in Vietnam are:

1. Pho: A flavorful noodle soup with beef or chicken.

2. Banh mi: A unique sandwich with fillings like grilled pork, pâté, and pickled veggies.

3. Goi cuon: Fresh spring rolls packed with shrimp, herbs, and vermicelli.

4. Bun cha: Grilled pork served with noodles and a tangy dipping sauce.

5. Ca phe sua da: Iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk.

What is Vietnam’s main dish?

Pho is Vietnam’s national dish, and you can get it everywhere from upscale restaurants to street corners where local grandmas whip it up in their pop-up kitchens.

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