Hoi An is a magnet for foodies and cooks looking to learn the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine. Farms all around contribute just-picked vegetables, herbs and fruit, and fishing boats yield their catches to the markets daily, so you’ll have no shortage of memorable meals. Most cooking classes include a trip to the bountiful Hoi An Market, although some will ferry you as far as the vegetable farms and fishing villages.
In a nation of outstanding cooks, Hue has managed to carve out a name for its revered culinary traditions. The Nguyen Emperors, who once ruled all of Vietnam from the Imperial City of Hue, were discerning eaters. Their elaborate banquets refined Hue’s gastronomic reputation over the decades. Today, you’ll still encounter a deep love of food and some of Vietnam’s most delicate dishes in Hue.
Vietnamese street food rightfully holds a stellar reputation within the region and around the world. Where else can you truly eat like a king for a dollar? When in Vietnam, go beyond bánh mì and phở, and dive into the specialties of each region: hearty mì quảng noodles in the centre; bowls of smoky bún chả in the north; sizzling bites of bánh xèo in the south – plus anything else that catches your fancy.
Phở is the quintessential Vietnamese dish. Flat rice noodles dance around with medium-rare slivers of beef or boiled chicken in a hearty beef stock. The more popular of the two widely known varieties is Phở Hanoi. Originally from the north, it is distinguished by a clear broth and dressed only with a squeeze of lemon and slices of bird’s eye chili. The southern iteration, Phở Nam, has a murkier broth and is served with a bouquet of fresh herbs like bean sprouts, basil and mint.
In just a few years, craft beer in Vietnam has gone from almost non-existent to a must-have at all the city’s best bars. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have enthusiastically jumped onto the global craft beer bandwagon. A bevy of craft brewers ranging in size from friends making beer in their kitchen to professional large-scale breweries have appeared. These days, it seems every downtown bar offers at least one brew from a local company.
7 Must-try Vietnamese Dishes
In Vietnam, before eating we say “Chúc ngon miệng!”-- meaning 'enjoy your meal.'
Phở is the quintessential Vietnamese dish, the word phở referring to the type of noodle used in the recipe. Flat rice noodles dance around with medium-rare slivers of beef or boiled chicken in a hearty beef stock.
Bánh mì is as Vietnamese as it comes. Paté and margarine are spread swiftly across the soft, chewy interior of a baguette, which is then loaded with pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, pork belly, chilli slices and cucumber.
Bún bò Huế is a mighty demonstration of both beauty and taste. The aromatic red broth is the result of hours spent simmering beef bones and stalks of lemongrass to produce a citrusy concoction.
Cao lầu is a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese influences. Slices of barbecued pork are fanned over thick cao lầu noodles, then doused with a spice-laden broth and topped with fresh herbs and crushed pork cracklings.
Bánh xèo is widely eaten around south and central Vietnam. The batter creates a sizzling sound as it hits the pan. The savoury pancake is filled with slices of boiled pork, bean sprouts and shrimp.
Bún chả is a classic northern dish made of cold bún (rice vermicelli); slices of seasoned pork belly; a mountain of fresh herbs and salad greens; and last but not least, medallions of minced pork swimming in a bowl of fish sauce.
Chả cá is a uniquely northern delicacy from the capital. Chunks of flaky white fish are marinated in turmeric before being sautéed in butter on high heat, together with dill, spring onions, shallots, chilli slices, and a squeeze of lemon to finish.