Pho is essentially Vietnam’s signature dish, comprising rice noodles in a flavourful soup with meat and various greens, plus a side of nuoc cham (fermented fish) or chili sauce. A basic bowl contains tai (beef slices), bo vien (beef meatballs) or nam (beef flank), topped with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and fresh herbs such as basil, mint, cilantro, and onions. Depending on the restaurant or roadside stall, you can also opt for more exotic ingredients such as gan (beef tendon), sach (thinly-sliced pig stomach), and ve don (flank with cartilage). Typically eaten for breakfast, pho is priced between VND 20,000 and VND 30,000 at a local restaurant or street market in Vietnam.
The fresh rice noodles used in this dish from Hoi An is similar to fettuccine in size and you can get them in white or yellow, the only difference between the two is the addition of turmeric powder to the batter. It is garnished with grilled rice crackers, lettuce, and herbs.
Bun Bo Hue
Bored of drowning your Pho in Sriracha because it is not spicy or tangy enough? Look no further. From the old imperial capital of Hue, Bun Bo Hue is a beef noodle soup cooked with lemongrass. It is packed with so much savory flavor and a good amount of heat, and will satisfy any noodle craving.
Bun cha is not a strong rival to some of the iconic street foods like banh mi, pho and cuon (spring rolls). The dish is a region specialty of Ha Noi popular and typically not well known outside of the capital. Even in Saigon, some restaurants have it on the menu, the taste just is not right as Ha Noi's bun cha. Unlike those of other favorites, bun cha’s ingredients are easy to find and the recipe is not very complicated. But what makes Ha Noi’s bun cha different from other versions is in the skills required to make it, which cannot be mastered overnight. This is a remarkable dish thanks to a balanced dipping sauce and soft grilled pork meat without charred bits.
The base of the broth for this noodle soup dish is made from freshwater paddy crabs, tomatoes, and tamarind, which adds a tart-sweet flavor to the dish. Bun rieu is served with rice noodles, a crab paste with a texture similar to tofu, and blood cubes. Some variations of this dish add annatto seeds, which give the broth a red hue; fried pork or tofu are other common additions. The soup is almost always served with a side of fresh herbs, shaved banana blossoms, and bean sprouts.
Cao lau is the most famous noodle dish from Hoi An. This roasted pork noodle dish cannot be found in any other city, which is why it is a must that you try it while you are in Hoi An. The reason you cannot make an authentic cao lau elsewhere is that the broth can only be made with water drawn from the local Ba Le well. The origin story of this dish is still unknown.
Hu Tieu Nam Vang
This is a Cambodian and Chinese-inspired noodle dish, popular in the south. There are a dozen variations of hu tieu, but the broth is pretty much the same in every version, made of bones, dried squid, rock sugar, pork and a bunch of vegetables left to simmer for hours. Add to it some noodles, veggies and meats and you are good to go.