5 Vietnamese must-try dishes in that are not Pho

1. Vietnamese BBQ

BBQ @ Hang Buom

Vietnamese BBQ is a real sharing dish. We had one in Hanoi in a street full of small BBQ restaurants, good mix of locals and tourists, and a super buzzing atmosphere. You will get a super hot grill/bbq topped with tinfoil. you put on some oil and start baking. I think this might have been the most cosy and fun dinner of the entire trip, I will never forget the buzz and the sounds in that street. Downside, we got tricked by one restaurant that had a special deal that night, a liter of free home brewed beer. It was served in a measuring jug and it was honestly the grossest thing I ever tasted. As you can see in the picture I ordered a real bottled one to wash it down :-).
Adress: Hang Buom , Hanoi, go and pick one!

2. Hot pot (lẩu)

Lẩu - Vietnamese hot pot

Hot pot is a fun sharing dish. We had it in a white cafeteria like restaurant including TL-lights. Nothing fancy, but no need for fancy here. In the middle of the table you will get a hot bowl of steaming broth. Prepare to get sweaty! Vietnamese humid hot air plus a room full of steaming hot pot is kind of like going to a sauna, but worth it. Order a cool beer to cool down and start cooking. You will get ramen noodles, vegetables and very thinly sliced meat to cook in the broth. Probably something to spice up your broth with and fresh herbs to finish everything off.

3. Spring rolls (Nem rán / Chả giò)

Spring rolls (Nem rán / Chả giò)

Not much to explain on spring rolls I guess? They were the perfect apero beer snack, and also the perfect late night snack. They are often filled with ground pork, vermicelli and chinese mushrooms, but the filling can vary a little per region. Don’t mix them up with the cold ones (although they are super tasty as well, they are more of a light lunch than a beer snack in my opinion). You can find the cold ones on the menu as Gỏi cuốn.

4. Grilled lemongrass Pork skewers or pork chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa)

lemongrass pork over broken rice

We came across these stalls most in Ho Chi Minh, and their smell is a-ma-zing. Charcoally, roasty, full of grill marks, these pork skewers are to die for. Order them to eat them on the go, or sit down on a tiny chair and eat them served on broken rice with some greens or soup. Caution: once you tried them you will start a life long quest to a recipe that replicates them, I haven’t found them yet, so if you go to Vietnam, order them more than once, you will need the food memory!

5. Cao Lau – Hoi An’s typical noodle soup

Cao Lau

As promised in the title this list will not include Pho (do try it do, no way you around anyways). Tis Cao Lau felt a little bit like Pho’s older brother, fattier, chunkier noodles, and more umami flavoured broth. I would actually place it somewhere between a Pad Thai and a Pho Cao Lau consists of the signature cao lầu noodles, slices of barbecue pork, pork crackling, bean sprouts, lettuce and herbs, it is then finished with a spoonful of stock.  We didn’t really find it outside of Hoi An, but had it there more than once.

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