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Must try Vietnamese food

Published June 5th, 2013

Sweet, salty, spicy and sour. When combined together these Asian flavour combinations result in nothing shorter than a mouth orgasm. In our eyes the country that does it best is Vietnam, where the ying yang balance is channelled into everything from a big bowl of noodle soup to a delicate rice paper roll. The food alone is worth the flights. So if you’ve got your eyes on a Vietnam holiday, and your taste buds dreaming of a tasty adventure, have your chopsticks at the ready for these 5 must-try foods.

 

Pho

Oh Pho. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Firstly, you’re broth. So salty. Perfect for upset stomachs in the midst of a Hanoi hangover. Then there’s the rice noodles. So soft and kind to sore throats after a night of shouting over loud music. Then there’s your meat, either chicken or beef, soaked in broth and so tender it practically melts in your mouth. And then, the herbs. A well-thought out concoction that each play their part to make my mouth incredibly happy. Yes Pho (pronounced fo) is a ripper of a dish. A big meat-y, noodle-y, soup-y bowl of perfect more than worth its incredibly cheap price.

 

Banh xeo

Don’t let the fact that this is technically a savoury pancake put you off. I hate savoury pancakes almost as much as I hate savoury muffins. In my eyes, pancakes should only ever be served with maple syrup, strawberries and other sweet concoctions. Banh xeo however, is the one exception. The difference is banh xeo’s pancake is thin and slightly crispy, making it more complimentary to its mouth-watering filling of sliced pork, prawns and bean sprouts. Served with lettuce, the trick to eating banh xeo is to wrap a lettuce leaf around a portion of pancake, add some of the herbs, dunk it in the dipping sauce and behold – an explosion of flavour, not to mention wonderfully crunchy textures. It’s by no means a neat meal but the best never are.

 

Bun Cha

If you find yourself asking ‘what’s for lunch?’ in Vietnam, then the answer should always be a delicious bowl of Bun Cha.  Consisting of char grilled pork meatballs floating in a fish-sauce based soup, the popular lunch time dish is eaten with a side of rice vermicelli noodles and sprinkling of herbs. For the ultimate bun cha lunch, pork spring rolls are also a popular accompaniment.

 

Banh Bao

Oh god, just thinking about Banh Bao makes me want to throw my stupid ham sandwich in someone’s stupid face and book some flights to Vietnam stat. Fluffy on the outside, sweet and meaty on the inside, Vietnam’s version of a steamed pork bun are pretty much the love child of dinner and desert. While pork is the most common filling, more adventurous eaters can branch out with a range of other sneaky fillings like chicken, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables. Is there anything these delicious doughy balls of happiness can’t do? Nope!

 

Che

So Vietnam isn’t really known for its desserts but when you are hankering for something sweet, make a bee line to a street stall selling Che. Like one of those bubble tea places but better, Che is like a buffet of weird and wacky jellies and sweets. From pearls to sweet corn, beans and even mini dumplings, the aim is to experiment with various combinations to create one glass of Che to rule them all.

 

 

Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.