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Vivian’s Vietnam Food Diary

a bowl of food on a plate

The best food in Vietnam has no store name, plastic stools to sit on outside, and runs out of a family’s home; and I stand by that statement. Therefore, apologies in advance if you wanted to know any restaurant names for if you plan on visiting because… there weren’t any. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to taste foods right from my motherland. Now, I want to share some of my favorite foods I ate during my time in Vietnam. 

1. Bánh mì

Vietnamese bread is built differently. Bánh mì translates to “bread.” The humid and climate of Vietnam make the bread-making process unique compared to other methods. Allowing the bread to develop a golden crust, while maintaining a fluffy and light interior. I’ve always eaten my Bánh mì with pâté, grilled beef, and stuffed with fresh herbs. So I had to keep that same order when I went to Vietnam.

a close up of a sandwich

2. Cà Phê Sữa Đá: Iced Coffee 

Vietnamese iced coffee is a game-changer for any coffee fan. I must emphasize, it is strong. Stronger than cold brew, espresso, or anything you can think of. People of Vietnam drink coffee at any time of the day. It’s a leisure activity whether you’re reading the paper, watching the view of locals scootering in their commute, or even an afternoon break. Vietnamese coffee is paired with sweetened condensed milk over ice. Even back in the states, this is the only coffee I will consume because it’s just that good. 

a cup of tea sitting on top of a wooden table

3. Seafood

Before immigrating to America, a large part of my family lived on the coast in Vietnam and worked in fishing. This probably explains my massive love for all types of seafood. The crab I had in Vietnam couldn’t have been any fresher, as we saw fishers pull crabs out of the water and boiled them in a matter of minutes. The best way to enjoy fresh seafood is to dip it in a mixture of lime juice, salt, and pepper. Nothing fancy, just pure flavor. 

a crab on a table

4. Phở

This would not have been a true Vietnam food diary if I didn’t try phở. Fun fact: different regions in Vietnam all have their own variations of phở. Since my family is from Southern Vietnam, I got to try the herby, flavorful, and meaty phở broth. 

Phở Facts: Northern phở has a more mellow broth. Ginger and ground pepper are some of the few accoutrements that can be found. Meanwhile in the Southern bowl of phở, various meats, herbs, and sauces can be added into the soup. I like to think of Southern phở as the remix of the Northern soup. Both are great in their own ways.

The broth was so good that I didn’t even need to add hoisin or sriracha. Phở was the best heart-warming trip finale meal.

a bowl of food on a plate

I hope you were able to experience a little part of my Vietnam food journey through your screen. If you would like to try any of these dishes, please support your local Vietnamese restaurants during these times!

Vivian Nguyen