info introducing food and drink in Vietnam


Staff member
Jun 28, 2020
Although Chinese and French influences are discernible (French baguettes, for example), Vietnam has its own distinct cuisine, reputed to encompass more than 500 different dishes. Rice is the staple food and a typical meal comprises rice served from a communal bowl, eaten with helpings from other shared dishes of pork, beef, chicken, vegetables, fish and seafood (Vietnam's long coastline ensures abundant supplies). Soup is generally part of the menu and side servings of fresh raw green vegetables are also common. Desserts are typically sweet, such as sticky rice cakes and pastries, or fresh fruits.

The basic condiment is nuoc mam, a nutritious fermented fish sauce, a piquant flavouring and salt substitute. A spicier variation, nuoc cham, adds various ingredients such as chilli, lime juice, garlic and sugar to a base of nuoc mam. Other flavorings commonly used in Vietnamese cooking include lemongrass, basil, coriander and mint, as well as other spices typical of Southeast Asia. The food, however, is not especially spicy and while southern dishes tend to be hotter and make greater use of coconut milk than those in the north, many dishes are common to both regions.

"nuoc mam" with chilies - a common fish sauce in Vietnam

Most typical of Vietnamese cuisine are noodles (pho), prepared as a soup with prawns, shredded beef or chicken. The Vietnamese eat noodles for breakfast, lunch or dinner - indeed, in villages, the traveler may find the dining choice limited to noodles. Another local favorite is spring rolls (cha gio in the south and nem in the north), fried thin rolls of rice paper stuffed with minced pork, prawn, crab meat, vermicelli, mushrooms and vegetables.

Pho Vietnam - pho bo ( shredded beef noodle )

Drinks include oriental tea (usual with meals), strong coffee brewed from beans grown in the Central Highlands), imported and local beer (333 Export brand is a quite acceptable brew) and locally produced wine from Da Lat, which is quite palatable. Various local and imported soft drinks tend to be very sweet. Avoid drinking tap water or drinks containing ice.