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Favorite Vietnamese Dishes? And Why?

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I have to confess I've never had Vietnamese food, but am open to trying things, just need guidance.

What is the best dish? what is your favorite? What do I have to try?

What is their food like? Is it spicy?

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Food is spicy as you like it and from my experience is a lot simpler than Thai but a lot more "earthy" i.e. like village Thai food, all the bits you'd rather not see.

One of my favourites is pho bo (pronounced four boar with silent r's) which is a noodle soup with beef although chicken and even seafood options are available. A similar soup is bun bo Hue, Hue style noodle soup. Both of these soups you add your own condiments of chilli pastes, chillies, bean sprouts, leaves etc etc. Quite a lot of dishes are served up with rice pancakes and an array of various leaves to the point that I sometimes think I've gone herbivore.

From my experience they don't have many named dishes, the menu just describes what's in the dish and how it's cooked : gà xào ớt (chicken fried (sauted) with chilli). However sometimes the English translations stretch the imagination, as with Thai restaurants, for example "Camel breasts", "Pigs uterus".

But all in all, if you like Thai food you'd like Vietnamese.

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Agree that Pho is probably one of the best dishes out there, if (and that is a big IF) the broth is done well.

I also like Bo La Lot, minced beef wrapped in a herb from the North and grilled.

Like my wife, who is from Ha Noi, I will travel far for good Bun Cha (noodles, pork and herbs) in the North as well as good Ban Xeo (pancake) in the South.

We both like our food spice and in this regard Vietnamese cuisine falls far short of Thai or even Cambodian food; especially Northern Vietnamese food tends to be bland. However, chillies and fish sauce are always served on the side to liven things up.

My 2 favorite things in Vietnamese cooking? Fish sauce (does not compare with its Thai counterpart) and the copious amounts of herbs served with many dishes, though the latter do require a de-worming tablet every 6 months. :)

Overall, it is pretty good food and generally healthy as it incorporates plenty of veggies, herbs, seafood, and fish.

Having said that, every-day meals eaten at home have little in common with restaurant food and are not always easy for a "Westener". My whole family loves chicken feet and I still do not see the point :D

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though the latter do require a de-worming tablet every 6 months. :)

yes I have met Mr Ascaris once, a "pleasure" not ot be repeated.

Overall, it is pretty good food and generally healthy as it incorporates plenty of veggies, herbs, seafood, and fish.

Having said that, every-day meals eaten at home have little in common with restaurant food and are not always easy for a "Westener". My whole family loves chicken feet and I still do not see the point :D

I've had the head and the feet bob up in a pot of Thai tom yam so that doesn't bother me but yes, for those who come to S. E. Asia looking for that "comfort" factor I would advise them to stay in Thailand. Viet Nam is Asia.

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Vietnamese was my first "real" Asian food.

The flavors of things like coriander and lemongrass left me absolutely stunned.

What we had, and still my favorites:

Vietnamese cold rolls

Hot and sour combination soup

Vietnamese roast pork with rice noodle salad.

180px-Summer_roll.jpg

180px-Canhchua2.jpg

Edited by sceadugenga

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From Wikipedia:

Vietnamese cuisine: fish sauce, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are commonly used. Vietnamese recipes use a diverse range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves.

The Vietnamese also have a number of vegetarian dishes, influenced by Buddhist values.The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, chicken, shrimp, and various kinds of seafood. Beef is used less commonly, save for pho, bun bo Hue, thit bo xao rau muong, canh bo xao... Duck and goat are used.

Three regions

Vietnamese cuisine can be basically divided into three categories, each pertaining to a specific region. With northern Vietnam being the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, many of Vietnam's most notable dishes (such as phở and bánh cuốn) have their birthplace in the North.The North's cuisine is more traditional and less diverse in choosing spices and ingredients.

The cuisine of South Vietnam has been influenced historically by the cuisines of southern Chinese immigrants and French colonists. Southerners prefer sweet flavors in many dishes.As a region of more diversity, the South's cuisine uses a wider variety of herbs.

The cuisine of Central Vietnam is quite different from the cuisines of both the Northern and Southern regions in its use of many small side dishes. Central of Vietnam consider as the old kingdom of the empire, so that most of the dishes are made small and dedicated to the kings. Compared to its counterparts, its cuisine is more spicy.

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Anyway, this one's great, too:

Nem nuong are grilled spiced pork "meatballs" that come to the table accompanied by: moist, thin rice-paper wrappers; large lettuce leaves; basil leaves; mint leaves; other spice leaves; chopped cucumber, eggplant, bitter melon, garlic (often other/more vegetables & some soft cooked rice noodles) and a bowl of spicy, chili peanut sauce. You place a lettuce leaf on the palm of the hand, followed by a delicate rice paper round. Then, a small piece of meat, a bit of each vegetable and then some sauce. Finally, fold the edges around the filling into a pouch shape and then, bomb's away! Great stuff...!

post-72929-1257661884_thumb.jpg

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Vietnamese food is not spicy but has a very refined palate.

Besides pho, I would suggest

banh xeo - crepes with shrimp, bean sprouts, etc.

banana flower salad

bun bo hue, is beef noodle soup from the central region

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I lived in Adelaide at the time the post Vietnam War refugee influx and a number of arrivals started little bakeries where they produced a new type of light bread roll that we claimed were made from rice flour.

I'm still not sure if they were but they were and are still extremely popular.

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This is my favourite from a local cafe.

post-34490-1257678242_thumb.jpg

Heo rung nuong (wild pig barbequed) but you need strong jaw muscles, good teeth and a stomach for the chilli flavoured dip.

This is served in a local cafe the likes of which most Europeans wouldn't feed their dogs in but it has it's attractions.

post-34490-1257678730_thumb.jpg

A massive 22 cents a liter.

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those meatballs look good!

I am not a huge noodle soup fan but, since it seems to be sort of the national dish, I guess I will have to give it a try. I just assumed they ate rice like the rest of SE Asia but maybe I got that wrong?

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In addition to pho, I like the cold summer rolls (Gỏi cuốn), but the Banh mi, is what really gets me going when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. The Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, served on a wonderfully baked French roll, and highlighted with pickled vegetables (carrots, radishes (daikon), cucumber etc.), cilantro, and some kind of meat or fish dish (like curried chicken or spicy pork. I know a few really good Banh mi shops in San Francisco/San Jose and Honolulu, but have never seen anything close to it in Thailand.

800px-Bnh_m_xu_mi-meatball-sandwich.jpg

800px-Bnh_m.jpg

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Funny but that is what I had for tea last night but it didn't look as good as those :) . I will have to try some other places.

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I will have to try some other places

I have often heard it said (even by Vietnamese) that the best VN food is found in Australia and the USA. I have eaten Banh mi all lover Vietnam but have rarely seen them look this delicious. The Banh Mi opposite Relax Bar in Ha Noi is very good, but that might have something to do with the fact that I am usually pretty sloshed by the time I order :)

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Banh mi as good as San Jose can now be found in many large American cities, its a big trend, and it helps they are cheap! Its funny that Vietnamese food is one of the foods I eat in abundance when visiting the US now. I would have figured there would be decent Viet food in Thailand but it doesn't compare.

Edited by Jingthing

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another vote for pho bho...where I lived on Mac Dinh Chi St in HCMC there were 5 stalls across the street that sold it and when I got up early before work would brave the motorcycle swarm to cross to get me sum...

about the same time in the morning two old ladies would pull up with a cart and sell sandwiches right out in front...I got to know them and they knew what I liked; 'none of that hog's snout, please...' would get two to take to work...when the rest of the crew went for lunch I scarfed the banh mi at my desk and had a snooze after... :)

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