Vietnamese is one of my favorite cuisines. In fact, when I’m not stuffing my face with the food of my Italian heritage, I’m usually eating at a Vietnamese restaurant. For some of you that are like me, you know your way around a Viet menu. For others who may be a bit scared to go out with your friends to eat Pho — this is for you.
The Gateway Food: Pho
OK, so you probably know at least five people who “eat Pho” and you’re asking yourself “what is this magical food that everyone loves?”
Well let me tell ya, it sure is magical.
While there are multiple types of Noodle Soups in Vietnamese culture, Pho or Beef Noodle Soup may be the most popular amongst Viets and non-Viets alike.
Here are the main Noodle Soups that you should know about as a first-timer:
- Pho — Beef noodle soup with beef stock, rice noodles, some form of sliced beef, onions and greens (cilantro and green onions).
- Pho Ga — Chicken noodle soup with chicken stock, rice noodles, white meat chicken/fresh chicken (bone-in), onions and greens (cilantro and green onions).
You can’t go wrong with either of these. Some days I’m feeling Pho and some days Pho Ga. It’s your preference, but these are the staples.
Be more adventurous
My best friend is Vietnamese and I have numerous other Viet friends who have showed me the ropes over the years. For the longest time I was afraid of trying Bún bò Huế, but let me tell you — it’s worth every penny. I also found this to be the case with many other dishes I was afraid to try.
Bún bò Huế is a spicy dish made with lemongrass broth and has beef, thick tube noodles, sliced Huế pork sausage, onions and greens. It’s to die for!
Next up you have Canh Chua Ca which is a Vietnamese sweet and sour soup with roots back to the Mekong Delta region in South Vietnam. The soup is made with fish, fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, tomatoes, okra, pineapple, and herbs. It sounds weird, but it’s really good if made correctly.
Next up is an easy one, but Banh Mi are overlooked more often than not. What are Banh Mi? To put it in layman’s terms, they’re basically Vietnamese hoagies, heroes, or subs. You get a simple baguette filled with sliced pork, carrot, cilantro and a squirt of sriracha if you desire. There are other combinations, but a Banh Mi is a sandwich — and a delicious sandwich at that.
Lastly you have your bowls and platters. Vermicelli bowls are heaping bowls of vermicelli noodles, grilled meat (pork or beef), and veggies. These bowls are served with a small side of fish sauce, to which I recommend adding a scoop of chili paste and spooning into your bowl. Broken rice platters are a plate with a mound of white rice, grilled meat (pork or beef), omelette, shredded pork, veggies, and a sunny-side up egg.
There you have it. Next time you’re near a Vietnamese restaurant, stop on in and let yourself go. Submit to the process and enjoy 🙂
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