Vietnam was Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination in 2019. With diverse ingredients and various ways of cooking, there are many unique and delicious dishes in Vietnamese cuisine that can be eaten at any time of the day. One of the most special values in Vietnamese culture is that a breakfast meal is considered a crucial role as it is the energy source for a whole hard working day. This post will show you 6 common and delicious breakfast dishes in Vietnam that you must try when coming to the culinary paradise.
Some of these dishes are not easy and fast to do home-cooked but on other hand, they are easy to be found on any corners and streets of Vietnam. To prepare for these dishes, the chef must wake up early from 3-4 o’clock to buy new and fresh ingredients, make the broth, or mix flour so the diner can have the best experience and get ready to start the day.
Vietnamese noodle dishes
In the S-shaped country, Vietnamese people prefer having noodle dishes to start the day. There are various kinds of noodle dishes that they can have for breakfast including Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), Bun (Rice vermicelli), Mien (Glass noodles), and Banh da (Red noodle soup). Especially, each one can eat with many ingredients from meat to vegetable so these could satisfy all of the guests.
When mentioning Vietnamese cuisine, people from all over the world often think of Pho. Pho or Vietnamese noodle soup is not only one of the most famous breakfasts in Vietnam but is also considered a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine. Moreover, this delicious dish was named in the top 50 best dishes in the world as well as ranked 2nd of the 20 best soups in the world by CNN. Originally from a province in the North of Vietnam, Pho consumption spread to the South and then to the rest of the world, it became a national dish that symbolizes the country’s history and culture.
The main ingredients of Pho are noodles and broth with sliced beef or chicken. The noodles used in this dish are made of “gao te” (ordinary rice) which is known for its fragrance. The special taste of Pho is made by the combination of broth by stewing bones of cows or chicken and extra spices. Pho is also eaten with many kinds of fresh and green herbs like bean sprouts, coriander, or basil. Additionally, to meet the various tastes of customers, you can add more spices such as garlic-vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, lemon, or chili sauce.
Imagine that in the cool weather, eating a bowl of warm Pho in a local restaurant and taking a view of the crowded street and ancient houses of Hanoi Old Quarter, this is one of the Vietnamese distinctive experiences you should not miss. There are some famous restaurants for your choice such as:
- Pho Bat Dan (49 Bat Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Pho Thin (13 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi)
- Pho Hoa (260A Pasteur, Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City)
- Pho Hung (243 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City).
2-Bun (Rice vermicelli soup)
Bun or rice vermicelli is also made of rice flour but has a small and circular shape instead of a flat triangle shape like Pho. There are many kinds of rice vermicelli depending on their shape including bun roi (stirred vermicelli), bun la (vermicelli paper), or bun nam (twisted vermicelli). In Vietnam, from the North to the South, Vietnamese people have various ways to enjoy rice vermicelli. For example, in the North Vietnam, some of the famous dishes are Bun Cha (vermicelli with grilled chopped meat), Bun Rieu (vermicelli with crab meat soup) and Bun Ca (vermicelli with fried fish). On the other hand, Bun Bo Hue or Hue beef noodle soup is a specialty of an ancient capital province in the Central and Vietnamese Southern beef rice vermicelli is the symbol of rice vermicelli dish in the South of Vietnam.
Bun Bo Hue or Hue beef noodle soup is one of the must-try dishes when coming to Vietnam. Originally, this dish is a royal court dish but until now, it has become the common choice of Vietnamese people for breakfast even for lunch or dinner. It is a great combination of rice vermicelli, pork and beef bones broth, thin slices of beef shank, and pig knucklebones. In the delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue, it could not miss raw sliced onions, bean sprouts, sliced banana blossoms, and other herbs like basil, mint, or coriander to enhance the scent of the dish. All of the ingredients make the flavor of this dish a perfect balance of salty, spicy, sour, and sweet. Especially, you can add the fish sauce or shrimp sauce to the soup to taste the best flavor.
Bun Bo Hue Ngu Uyen, Bun Bo O Hoa, or Bun Bo Hue O Xuan are some of the most famous places with many branches in Hanoi where you can go to try tasty Bun Bo Hue.
3-Mien (Glass noodles soup)
Mien or glass noodle has a similar shape to Bun – a small and circular shape but it is not made of rice flour, people use seaweed and cassava flour instead. That is the reason why Mien contains fewer calories compared to other kinds of noodles like Bun or Pho. Similar to Pho, Mien is also served with broth which is sour and fishy because it is usually eaten with different kinds of seafood. And one of the most popular Mien is Glass Noodles Soup with Stir-Fried Eel. This is a nutritious dish for all ages from children to the elderly as well as can eat it whether on a cold winter day or a hot summer one.
A bowl of Mien Luon includes glass noodles, fried eels, fried shallots, sliced spring onions, sliced coriander on top, and then, pour in the broth that is made of pig and eel bones. Eating a bit of this dish, you will taste a special combination of the soft glass noodles, the crunchy fried eel, the spicy ginger, and onions as well as the fresh coriander. All of them created a specialized flavor for this dish that you can remember its taste forever.
If you have an interest in Mien Luon, there are some suggestions for good places to eat it in Hanoi such as:
- Mien Luon Phu Doan (No 9 Phu Doan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Mien Luon Dong Thinh (87 Hang Dieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Mien Luon Bui Ngan (No 4 Yen The Alley, Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi).
4-Banh da (Red rice noodle soup)
Banh da or red rice noodle is also made of rice flavor and has the same shape as Pho. However, if Pho has a white color, Banh da has a red color because, in the process of making Banh da, people add a special sugar to make this color. Talking about Banh da, Vietnamese people often think of Red noodle soup with crap from Hai Phong which is a beautiful city in the North of Vietnam. This colorful dish includes pork-based broth that is topped with a variety of ingredients like the orange of the crab meat, fresh herbs, pork balls, sausage (cha lua), or the green ground meat wrapped with betel leaves (bo la lot), and distinctly red thick wide rice noodles. All of the ingredients will create a combination flavor of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy for this dish.
In order to taste the special and delicious dish, you can go to:
- Banh da cua Hang Dong (No 8 Hang Dong Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Banh da cua Ba Cu (No 21 Alley 185 Chua Lang Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi)
- Banh Da Cua Hang Chinh (No 17 Hang Chinh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).
5-Vietnamese noodles (noodle soup and fried noodles)
Apart from Pho, Bun (Rice vermicelli), Mien (Glass noodle), or Banh da (Red rice noodle), Mi or Egg noodle is another kind of noodle that Vietnamese people often use to cook breakfast dishes. Different from others made of rice flour, Mi is made of eggs and wheat flour so its flavor is chewy, soft and clear. Combined with various ingredients and flavorful seasoning, this choice of noodles can bring you a good experience. There are 2 ways to cook egg noodle dishes: soup or stir-fried egg noodles.
For the egg noodles with soup, you can taste wonton noodle soup which is one of the most delicious dishes for breakfast even if you can eat it for lunch or dinner. It is a tasty and comforting bowl of pork broth with tender orange-pink shrimp and pork wontons served with delicious chewy egg noodles. To fit your preference, you can add chili, garlic, vinegar, or soy sauce which are excellent compliments to go with the noodles.
There are some common places you can go to taste this dish such as:
- My Van Than Dinh Liet (No 9 Dinh Liet, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- My Van Than Hang Chieu (No 19 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- My Van Than Phung Gia (No 31 Nguyen Ngoc Doan Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi).
Moreover, stir-fried egg noodles are other great options for you. Egg noodles can be cooked with seafood, meat, or beef. One of the most delicious examples is My xao thap cam or Vietnamese combination dried egg noodles. In this dish, egg noodles will be cooked with various toppings including many kinds of proteins (pork, ground pork, quail egg, shrimp, or squid) and vegetables (cabbage, onion, and carrot). And of course, it is served dry meaning no broth on the noodles that can make the flavor of this dish newer for diners. If you want to taste this dish, you can go to:
- My Chinh (No 20 Hang Bot Alley, Dong Da District, Hanoi)
- My Xao Vit Quay (No 34 Ngoc Khanh Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi).
Along with Pho, a Vietnamese baguette or Banh mi is one of the should-not-miss breakfast dishes for Vietnamese people. Moreover, Banh mi is named one of the 100 best dishes in the world. Banh mi is cheap, convenient, and insanely tasty so it is suitable for everyone from the North to the South, from the poor to the rich, especially for students and workers at any time of the day.
Depending on your preference, the combination of bread stuffing has various flavors from the meat to the vegetables. The meat options are pork, chicken, Vietnamese sausage (cha lua), fried eggs, pate, or meatballs. The vegetables typically consist of tomato, cucumber, green papaya, carrot, and coriander. With under a dollar on every street corner in Vietnam, you can easily taste a Vietnamese baguette with a very light, fresh, and crispy texture.
Besides the traditional fillings, Banh mi can be packed with grilled chopped fish or “Banh mi que” in the shape of a big flat chopstick which is filled with pate, pork floss, and cilantro.
There are some top spots to enjoy Banh mi we would recommend you to try:
- Banh mi 25 (No 25 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Banh mi Ba Dan (No 34 Lo Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Banh mi Pho Co (No 38 Dinh Liet Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).
Vietnamese rice cakes
In Vietnamese cuisine, there are various kinds of rice cakes that highlight the quintessential creativity of Vietnamese that we can turn simple ingredients into subtle tasty treats. Some of the most delicious and unique rice cakes are Banh cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice rolled) and Banh bot loc (Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumpling).
1-Banh Cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice rolled)
If you are looking for a breakfast that is not bloated but a delicate dish to eat in the morning, Banh Cuon or Vietnamese steamed rice rolled is a good option. This dish is made of thin and curled steamed rice flour and rolled with meat and wood-ear mushroom. The ingredients of this dish are actually common foods including rice, minced pork, fried onions, wood ear mushroom, and Vietnamese pork sausage. But the art of cooking rolled cake is really hard to make because it is extremely thin and silky.
Taking a bit of Banh Cuon – the thin rice paper rolled with a few wood ear mushrooms and some fried shallot onion and dipped in diluted fish sauce – is a delight for the senses. In some restaurants, the traditional minced pork can be replaced by chicken or shrimp as per the diner’s preference. Some gourmets can drop the essence of “ca cuong” which is a fragrant oil from an insect body into the fish sauce to make the dish more perfect.
Since it is originated in Hanoi, some most-loved Banh cuon venues you can go to:
- Banh Cuon Ba Hoanh (No 66 To Hien Thanh Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi)
- Banh Cuon Phuong (No 16 Dao Duy Tu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Banh Cuon Thanh Van (No 12-14 Hang Ga Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).
2-Banh bot loc (Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumpling)
Banh bot loc or Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumpling are not only considered a symbol of Hue folk cuisine where it was served as a snack proportion to the Emperors but also became a delicious dish that many Vietnamese choose for breakfast. The dumpling is made with a combination of the thin rice sheet and full of pork and shrimp filling in. Dipping a piece of Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumpling in sweet chili sauce, you can feel the unforgettable taste of this dish – soft, a bit chewy dough with savory minced shrimp and meat filling.
If you are curious about the flavor of Banh bot loc or Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumplings, you should go to some top places such as Net Hue Restaurant, Quang Binh Oi Restaurant, or Banh bot loc Ba Thao.
Vietnamese sticky rice (sweet and savory)
In a country with a long-lasting rice cultivating culture, dishes that are made from rice hold an important position among Vietnamese people. Xoi or Vietnamese sticky rice is one of the fascinating street foods and popular breakfast meals in Vietnam. This traditional dish is made from glutinous rice, covered in multiple toppings and sauces that are divided into 2 kinds of sticky rice: sweet and savory.
The sweet varieties include sticky rice made with gac fruit, peanuts, corn, coconut, black beans, and mung beans which are named Xoi Gac (sticky rice colored with Gac’s oil), Xoi Ngo (sticky rice with corn), or Xoi Lac (sticky rice with peanuts). And the savory type is sticky rice with chicken, sausage, pork floss, or quail eggs which consists of Xoi Trung (sticky rice with egg) or Xoi Cha (Sticky rice with meat rolls).
From sweet to savory, Vietnamese sticky rice makes an interesting selection to include in Vietnamese breakfast choices. If you want to taste this dish, the top places to eat bellow:
- Xoi are Xoi Yen (35b Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Xoi Co Kim (25 Lo Duc Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi)
- Xoi Ba Thu (57 Tho Nhuom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).
Vietnamese rice dish
In Vietnam, rice dishes are the most common and indispensable dishes in every family’s rice trays. With the taste of soft and fragrant rice seeds, it can help Vietnamese people feel full for a long time and give the body more energy, so understandably, rice is used in the main meals like lunch and dinner as well as breakfast. For breakfast, some of the best options for rice dishes are Com Tam (Vietnamese broken rice with pork) and Com Chien ( fried rice).
1-Com Tam (Vietnamese broken rice with pork)
Com Tam or Vietnamese broken rice with pork is known as a signature dish of Southern Vietnam. If you are looking for a dish that is simple, delicious, and inexpensive to prepare for a busy day ahead, Com Tam is the right choice. Originally, Com Tam was the meal of poor farmers who picked up what was left after the milling in the area around Saigon and until now, its popularity spread to students and middle-class families throughout the country.
Vietnamese broken rice with pork is a great combination of grilled pork chop, meatloaf, pork skin, fried eggs, cucumber, and pickled carrots. It will also be served in a small bowl of dipping fish sauce that can make the taste better. The flavor of the delicious dish is sweet, salty, and even a little bit spicy. That much is enough to wake up the diner’s sense of smell and taste.
To taste the traditional and best flavor of Com Tam, some famous restaurants you can go to eat such as:
- Com Tam 36 (No 11 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Com Tam Ali (No 304 Kim Nguu, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi)
- Com Tam Sai Gon Nam Phuong (No 102 E6 Ta Quang Buu, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi).
2-Com chien (Vietnamese fried rice)
Com chien or Vietnamese fried rice is another option to start a busy day. Vietnamese fried rice is very easy to cook at home or buy in restaurants on crowded streets. This dish includes rice fried with vegetables and meat or seafood, flavored with soy sauce, garlic, and seasoning. One of the most special things that make Vietnamese fried rice different from other fried rice is its crunchy texture. The crunchy texture comes from the rice being cooked slowly in a large pan until it becomes slightly burnt which can make the flavor of this dish tastier.
If you are looking for a restaurant that can serve the best Vietnamese fried rice, you can go to:
- Com Rang Ngo Trang Tien (No 8 Trang Tien Alley, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Com Rang Ba Dung (No 38 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Com Rang Khai Beo (No 12 Van Phuc, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi).
Vietnamese porridge (sweet and savory)
Along with rice or sticky rice, Chao or Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnam not only for breakfast but also for lunch or dinner. Moreover, this is also typically made for someone who is sick or can not chew (for the elderly) as well as for babies who are learning to eat solid foods. So it is a light meal and suitable for diversifying preferences. Like sticky rice, Chao is also divided into two types: sweet and savory. The sweet porridge is the combination of rice and mushrooms, black beans, or mung beans. On the other hand, the savory type could be much fancier when cooked with a variety of meats.
For example, Chao Ga is rice stewed with a whole chicken with bones to get the tastiest broth. Other dishes such as Chao Vit (Porridge with duck, Chao Luon (Porridge with eel) or Chao Ca (Porridge with fish) are cooked with the same method. In order to have the best flavor, porridge is also eaten with salted shredded meat (Ruoc) or Vietnamese bagel twists (Quay).
If you want to taste the special flavor of this dish, you can go to some of the most famous places including:
- Chao Suon Sun Huyen Anh (No 14 Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Chao Long Thuoc Bac (No 88 Thuoc Bac, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi)
- Chao Ca Doan Xom (No 213 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).
To sum up, traditional breakfast dishes in Vietnam are very diverse and all worth a try. In Particular, it can be said that rice plays an important role in Vietnamese people’s lives. With only rice seeds, people throughout the country can create many kinds of rice-based dishes that are very delicious, healthy, richly nutritious, and unique.
Hope that it can help you to have a deeper understanding of Vietnamese cuisine in general as well as Vietnamese breakfast meals in practice to choose the delicious and nutritious dishes for your tongue and body to start a great brand new working day and have a good trip exploring Vietnam – a warm, colorful, and super diverse kitchen of the world.