Vietnam is famous for its unique cuisine and culture. Being a vegetarian, I was honestly sceptical about whether it’ll be a problem, but honestly, there were so many good vegetarian options available. I tried such amazing dishes that by the end of my internship in Hanoi, I was literally asking my native friends there, to teach me how I could make some of these at home, in India. More than savoury, I feel I was more a fan of the Vietnamese desserts as they were so different and delectable.
These are my top 11 food recommendations for you. Let’s have a look!
1. Vietnamese Coffee
The coffee fanatic in me had to put this at the top of the list. The unique and famous Vietnamese coffee is traditionally made with condensed milk instead of regular milk, creamer and sugar. It is sweet enough, strong and creamy which makes it so scrumptious. The aroma of this coffee is so strong and inviting that you won’t be able to resist. There are a lot of shops in Hanoi where they sell filter coffee and instant coffee powder which you can buy. This is a perfect souvenir for your friends who love coffee.
A popular street food and one of the most famous desserts of Vietnam is Che. It is a sweet dessert soup/pudding which is usually custom made and can be made in more than 20 varieties. The popular ingredients include nuts, ice, mung beans, tapioca, jelly, fruits, coconut cream, etc. This was hands down my favourite dessert I ate there.
The best combination would be milk jelly, matcha jelly, ice, tapioca, longan fruit and nuts.
Pho is basically a Vietnamese noodle soup. This dish was influenced by French culture. This appetizing and filling dish is perfect to be eaten as any meal throughout the day. Pho is usually of two types- meat and beef-based served with clear soup, rice noodles and veggies. However, you can ask the vendor to make a vegetarian (chai) version of the dish, where they replace the meat with tofu. This dish is easily available in every other restaurant.
4. Bubble Tea/Boba
Bubble tea is a very famous delicious beverage that you can find in Vietnam. There are a lot of chain stores of bubble tea namely ShareTea, Dinh Tea, etc. everywhere in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. This super refreshing east Asian drink is a blend of sweeteners and other flavourings, mixed with tapioca and other chewy fruit pearls which burst in your mouth. This cold beverage is usually served in many varieties such as Thai milk tea, fruity flavours, cold coffee, and other different varieties of tea.
5. Banh Mi
The Banh Mi sandwich is a very popular breakfast and evening snack in Vietnam. It looks similar to a subway sandwich but tastes very unique. It originates from the southern part of the country, presumably in Saigon. Banh Mi sandwiches are typically baguettes filled with different kinds of meats, cucumbers, pickled carrots, coriander, tomatoes, fried eggs and other savoury ingredients. In the vegetarian version, they usually add tofu. You can ask the vendor to customize the sandwich according to your taste.
6. Bun Cha
One of the most authentic Vietnamese dishes is Bun Cha which are little bowls of rice vermicelli noodles filled with a grilled combination of ground and whole pork or tofu tossed in a sweet yet savoury sauce made with ingredients like fish sauce, sugar and vinegar. These are served with greens like lettuce, purple and green Vietnamese shiso, cilantro and bean sprouts. You can add whichever topping you wish to and enjoy this appetizing meal.
7. Egg Coffee
This noteworthy beverage is the highlight of Vietnamese cuisine. Egg coffee is made with egg yolks, sugar and condensed milk. Even if you’re a vegetarian, I would highly suggest you give this a try. You won’t be able to taste the egg, however, it gives an extraordinary creamy texture to the drink. You can even order it with variations with chocolate, rum and beer. These are served both hot and cold, however, I suggest you go for the hot variant. A cup of egg coffee is usually $1.15.
8. Vietnamese steamed rice rolls
These are thinly steamed rice flour wrap with ground pork, cold rice vermicelli, sliced mushrooms and shallots usually served with fish sauce, steamed bean sprouts and sliced cucumber. You can prepare these rice rolls according to your preferences.
9. Bean curd
Bean curd is another very popular Vietnamese dessert. Bean curd (fermented tofu) is a healthy dessert usually served with ice, tapioca pearls, fruits such as longan, coconut etc topped with nuts. It’s creamy, and the best part is that it’s customizable. The natives also prefer having this as a breakfast meal.
10. Vietnamese spring rolls
This is one of the best-loved dishes of vegetarian people in Vietnam. The vegetarian version includes minced mushrooms and veggies.
These are fried rolls made up of rice paper rolls loaded with prawns and pork. This is usually served with a sweet peanut sauce and makes a perfect snack.
11. Local cheap beer
Vietnam is famous for its local cheap beer which is even less than half a dollar. Bia hoi is probably the cheapest beer in the world! And these are available everywhere in Hanoi, Vietnam. It costs about 5,000 VND, That’s about 0.23 cents USD per cup. For all the beer lovers out there, you can enjoy some really good beer here for sure!