If you think phở is the greatest dish you can’t pronounce, think again, ‘cos here are some other Vietnamese noodle dishes you’ll definitely need to wrap your tongue around. The following is by no mean a definitive list, but it features dishes from all around Vietnam, offering a culinary tour around the traditional regions of the country.
1. BÚN ĐẬU MẮM TÔM
The concept of this Hànội favourite is simple. You take a little bit of fresh bún (rice noodle) and fried đậu (tofu) and dunk them in the pungent sauce made of mắm tôm (shrimp paste). But there’s more to it, as the vendor will also add chả cốm (fritter of minced pork, minced prawn, and young rice flakes) and chân giò hầm (stewed pork hock) to your plate, as well as rau thơm (odoriferous herbs), making this a delicious treat that is fun to eat!
2. GỎI VỊT BẮP CẢI
Duck haunch or breast is boiled along with ginger and nước mắm (fish sauce) to be placed on top of a bed of cabbages and other fresh greens, served with either bún măng (rice noodle with bamboo shoots) or cháo huyết (rice porridge with blood pudding). Dip the duck meat in a special condiment made of ginger and fish sauce to enhance the warming effect.
3. BÚN BÒ HUẾ
If you like your food to have that spicy kick, then this dish of bún (rice noodle) and tender slices of bò (beef) is for you. The special part of bún bò Huế is the soup which has the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty. The accompanying greens and sometimes banana blossoms are meant to temper the heat. Since this dish originated from Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, you could say that this is a dish fit for a king!
4. MÌ QUẢNG / MỲ QUẢNG
Quảng Nam Province is home to the famous attractions of Đà Nẵng and Hội An as well as mì quảng, a much-celebrated dish of Central Vietnam. This rice noodle dish has a bold-tasting broth seasoned with củ nén (garlic-like chives) fried in peanut oil. Marinated chicken, pork, and beef are joined by eggs, peanuts, pork sausage, rice crackers and fresh greens which make for a festive bowl that is usually seen at special occasions such as Tết (Vietnamese New Year).
SEE ALSO: Haute in Hoi An
5. HỦ TIẾU NAM VANG
Hủ tiếu is related to various local Chinese noodles found in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia’s kway teow and Indonesia’s kwetiau. Unlike those two countries, though, the Vietnamese prefer to use rice noodles instead of ricecake strips. South Vietnam was probably introduced to the dish by way of Cambodia, hence the Vietnamese translation of kuy teav Phnom Penh (hủ tiếu Nam Vang). The toppings of hủ tiếu varies from shop to shop, usually including pork slices, prawns, eggs, offal, dumplings, fried shallots, fried garlic, and many more.
6. BONUS: THỊT BÒ NƯỚNG LÁ LỐT / BÒ LÁ LỐT
Thịt bò nướng lá lốt or just bò lá lốt for short is ground beef mixed with garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ngũ vị hương (five-spice powder) and peanuts rolled inside piper lolot leaves which releases a strong and smoky flavour when charred. The most interesting part of this beef wrap is the way you eat it. You have to roll it in a bánh tráng (rice crepes) along with rice noodle, fresh herbs, chillies, and fish sauce, making it a twice-rolled wrap! What a foodception!
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