Vietnam is a certified foodie paradise. Anthony Bourdain has dedicated numerous episodes to his love of the country’s cuisine especially the street food, and after visiting I understand why. Now that travel is opening back up, here’s a list of some of the foods you MUST try when you visit!


This is probably the most well known dish of Vietnamese cuisine — a rich bone broth served usually with beef (bo) or chicken (ga), rice noodles and an array of fresh herbs like cilantro and basil along with jalapenos for heat and bean sprouts for crunch. As hot as it was when Michael, my travel partner, and I visited, we still TORE up some pho especially in Hanoi.

Bun Cha

If you’re in Hanoi, you MUST try Bun Cha!

It’s a grilled pork dish with rice vermicelli noodles, a sweet vinegary dipping sauce/broth, which you can also doctor up with fresh herbs, garlic and chili oil. Of course we had to visit Bún Chả Hương Liên, where Anthony Bourdain famously took President Obama during that historic episode in 2016. It’s so popular that they even have the “Combo Obama” for tourists like me who want to eat like a President. However, there were also locals mixed in with visitors from all around the world because it’s delicious, authentic and cost-effective (roughly $7 USD). If we learned anything from Bourdain…go where the locals go!

You’ll get a whole smorgasbord of the ingredients because the meal is DIY so you can flavor it as you like. Also, don’t forget the beer, Bia Ha Noi, to wash it down.

This meal is meant to be enjoyed with friends and the idea is to take your time and savor the flavors which can be tough because it’s so bangin’! And Bún Chả Hương Liên has lots of communal seating, so even if you’re alone you can make new friends!

Local friends we met at Hoàn Kiếm Lake

Banh Mi

Banh mi is one of the most well known dishes and best beloved street food options across Vietnam. It’s a French-Vietnamese hybrid with usually some sort of pork and/or pate with a combination of cucumber, carrots, pickled daikon, cilantro and chiles on a crusty baguette. If they have hot sauce available, I recommend!


Say what?! Yes, snails.

To be honest, I don’t know what snails actually taste like because they are served coated with various spices. I tried them coated with red pepper and garlic and even though my mouth was on fire, I kept eating. They require a little bit of work because they are in the shells. So you use the safety pin to dig them out and yum. It kinda reminded me a bit of the texture of calamari but mostly you’re getting the flavor of the spices. I wouldn’t recommend for a full meal but they are fun to share and definitely something to check off your bucket list!

Fried Chicken

You cannot go wrong with fried chicken in Vietnam. Yes, they do have Popeye’s out there but I mean FRESH chicken! This was from a farmstay hotel that had a farm but there’s many places that will offer fresh meats.

If you look at the bottom of the picture, there’s that small white bowl. You can’t quite tell from the photo but in it is a lime and a mix of salt and pepper. The way to eat the chicken is squeeze the lime into the salt and pepper mix and then dip the chicken into it. It’s so simple and so flavorful!


Egg coffee is delectable and decadent

Coffee culture is massive in Vietnam. Did you know it’s the world’s second largest coffee producer after Brazil? Every city we visited had an abundance of coffee shops open into the late night that were full of couples, families, friends and tourists like us. Basically you’re more likely to spend an evening at a coffee shop than at a bar — unless you’re committed to being around tourists.

I became obsessed with a typical Vietnamese iced coffee which uses condensed milk instead of cream or milk. I am still obsessed to be honest. But if you want to try something a bit more fancy and unique, egg coffee is a good choice. It’s rich and sweet because it’s made by beating an egg yolk with condensed milk. Michael loved it!

Weasel poop coffee

One of the coffee delicacies is “weasel coffee,” or more accurately known as civet coffee, which is produced from partially digested cherries that are eaten by Asian palm civets. Apparently the cherries are fermented as they pass through the animal’s intestines which breaks down the proteins in the coffee. Proteins generally make coffee bitter but because of this process the coffee, also called kopi luwak, has little to no bitterness. And the civets are picky about what beans they eat, getting rid of inferior beans. Thus, this coffee is one of the most expensive in the world. So when you visit you gotta try it, I promise it doesn’t smell or nasty like caca.


The dragonfruit matches my lipstick

Anytime I visit somewhere tropical, I always want to indulge in all the tropical fruits. Dragonfruit was easy to come by, sold already cut up in markets or by street vendors. During a hot day of touring and walking, fresh fruit can be a real pick-me-up. I love the colors and flavors that we don’t get access too in the States. Fruits can be an easy and quick snack to carry and definitely will rehydrate you in the South East Asia heat!

Also the mangos and pineapples sometimes come with chili salt which made me feel very at home and connected to California. Tajin, a brand of chili salt, is popular within Mexican communities so I get all geeked when I see the ways we are all country cousins.

I got Vietnamese Tajin in bag swag

This is just a taste and a tease of all the delicious goodies across Vietnam. Let us know your favs!

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