The food in Vietnam is plentiful and delicious. On your backpacker budget there’s no doubt you’ll be hitting up the street food hard, and you'll be well rewarded for you efforts. This is how the locals eat, as the walk in restaurants are generally just there for the tourists.
With fish, seafood, meats and veggies, all served up in noodles, vermicelli, spring rolls and pancakes you’ll never go hungry, trust me.
Vietnamese social culture is based all around food – every holiday in the Vietnamese calendar has some special food associated with it. Particular foods are also brought out to mark important milestones in a Vietnamese person’s life and it’s the main focus of family life. You should follow suit and eat as much as possible at every opportunity.
If you like your dinner with a spicy kick stay south as they love to pepper it up with all sorts of hotness.
Nước chấm – fish sauce mixed with lime juice, sugar, water, and spices to form a tasty dip.
Phở – broth soup with beef or chicken and rice noodles. Served with plates of fresh herbs, cut limes, hot chillies and scalded bean sprouts. This is the original Vietnamese food eaten by locals and available any time of day, although it’s often eaten for breakfast. Grab it from any street stall.
Cơm – rice. This is pretty much eaten with every meal.
Banh Chung – sticky rice cakes made from rice, pork and green beans all wrapped in bamboo leaves. This is a popular dish during the huge Vietnam festival of Tet.
Com Chay – vegetarian. This could be anything, but at least you know it doesn’t have any meat in it.
Bánh mì – French bread sandwiches. Thanks to the colonisation in the olden days some French influences have been left behind – these popular sandwiches are one of them.
It’s not unusual for menus to be up to 10-15 pages long with the variety of food available in Vietnam. If you’re feeling overwhelmed just ask for the speciality of the day as it will be freshest and best prepared.
Try the seafood if you travel to a seaside village or beach resort area. It will be affordable, delicious and the freshest fish you’ll ever eat.
Vietnamese restaurants are generally open 10am to 10pm. Any restaurants in Vietnam that are open 24 hours will usually have a different price range depending on what time it is. It can be doubled after 10pm, just so you know.
Top tip: beware of the packets of moist towelettes they put on your table at the end of a meal. If you open it, you’ll have to pay for it.