3 Must-try Vietnamese dishes that are NOT Banh Mi or Pho !
The Vietnamese cuisine is as rich and colorful as Vietnamese history. There’s more to discover than the publicly-acclaimed Banh Mi or Pho, which have both spawned various creative modifications (The Pho Burrito – a strange combination we can’t quite fathom yet). While we do not hate the popularity of Banh Mi or Pho, we think it’s time to shift the spotlight to other dishes in the Vietnamese cuisine.
According to our team here at Vietcentric, here are the top 3 Vietnamese dishes that have been underappreciated for way too long!
1. BBQ Pork Noodle (Bún thịt nướng) – Vegetarian option available
Ingredients: Mainly rice vermicelli and BBQ Pork.
Bún Thịt Nướng in Vietnam is enjoyed by the locals in rustic restaurants that usually specialize in only this particular dish ( a common phenomenon in Vietnam) or from street vendors, sitting on low, colorful plastic tools that foreign visitors usually find too small to comfortably sit on but try to anyway so they can enjoy this flavorful dish.
Bún Thịt Nướng at Vietcentric
Eaten as a main-course, the dish is served cold with fresh herbs like basil, mint, bean sprouts, and a salad. It is enjoyed with a serving of dipping sauce, usually a mix of fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar. In some instances, it is also served with roasted peanuts, pickled vegetables, and a pork sausage or grilled prawns. For vegetarians, the BBQ Pork is made from soy protein, wheat gluten, wheat fibers, and soybean oil, and then marinated to perfection. No one should be excluded from this gastronomic journey!
The most important part of making a great Bún Thịt Nướng is the pork marination process. The ingredients must be fresh and adequately seasoned with the right herbs and spices. This is why we make our own seasoning and source our herbs/spices responsibly from Vietnam.
Trivia: Bún Thịt Nướng is popular everywhere in Vietnam but Hanoi, where Bún Chả is preferred instead.
Tip: Join our Cooking class to learn how to make an authentic Bún Thịt Nướng !
2. Vietnamese Girdle Cake ( Bánh Tráng Nướng)
Ingredients: Girdle cake, egg, chili sate, shallot, chicken floss, and shrimps.
Bánh Tráng Nướng at Vietcentric
Probably one of the least known and underrated dishes, Bánh Tráng Nướng is the Vietnamese version of a pizza. It is light, crunchy, flavorful, and perfect as an appetizer.
Because it is so light and requires little preparation as well as equipment, Bánh Tráng Nướng is almost exclusively served by street vendors.
A popular Bánh Tráng Nướng spot in Sai Gon bursting with young people on a night out. Source: kenh14.vn
The girdle cake is made from a paper thin sheet of rice paper. The sheet itself has no taste, but provides the perfect non-intrusive base to carry the myriads of toppings. While it is regarded more as a snack than a full meal, it is definitely not uncommon that one person enjoys 2 or 3 at once. It is just that delicious!
3. Vietnamese Lemon Iced Tea (Trà Chanh Hà Nội)
Ingredients: Honey, lemon, liquorice, green tea
A glass of Trà Chanh Hà Nội in its usual setting. Source: toilamme.com
A cool and sweet companion for your food or a refreshing finisher for your meal; the Vietnamese Lemon Iced Tea can be anything you want it to be. It must be said that Trà Chanh Hà Nội is not just a drink, it is a culture and deserves its own blog post so follow us to find out WHAT IS Trà Chanh Hà Nội.
The drink itself is simple, just like the way it is enjoyed, pictured here at a popular spot in Hanoi.
Locals enjoying Trà Chanh Hà Nội. Source: Foodclick.vn
Trà Chanh Hà Nội is particularly popular amongst young people. It is a common sight to see an entire square filled with people sitting on colourful plastic stools (Clearly, along with rice and coffee, the tiny plastic stool is an undeniable staple in Vietnam), sipping their Tra Chanh – which is placed on a make-shift table i.e. another plastic stool.
Trivia: Trà Chanh Hà Nội is also widely known as Tra Chanh Chem Gio, which roughly translates to Banter Lemon Iced Tea.
If you wish to try one of these dishes in Nottingham, aside from Vietcentric, Bun Mii Café on George Street also serves Bún Thịt Nướng and Trà Chanh Hà Nội.
All 3 dishes are available daily at Vietcentric along with many other Vietnamese gastronomic delights. You are warmly welcomed to visit us to taste and even try your hands at making them yourself by enrolling in our Cooking class !