Art. Music. Pop Culture.
By: Matt Thao
When people think of Vietnamese restaurant, they think of Phở or the Vietnamese sandwich, Bánh mì. It’s like “Hey, let’s go get phở” or “Let’s pack up some Vietnamese sandwiches for the trip” or “I’d like to get orange chicken with fried rice” which isn’t even Vietnamese food! What about the other dishes that aren’t in English or weirdly named like “Dark Chicken Lemongrass Peppers”? What about the clear and chewy noodle soup, the pork broth thick noodles with shredded lettuces, broken rice platter and Vietnamese grilled meats? These dishes are often underestimated and quickly skimmed over the menu, but these five choices I highly recommend others to try and taste the regional cuisines of Vietnam.
#5 Bún thịt nướng (Grilled meat on noodles)
A cold vermicelli noodle dish that is topped with fresh vegetables, such as lettuce and herbs, topped with Vietnamese BQQ pork or beef, with an eggroll and a Vietnamese sweet & spicy sauce to be poured all together called nước chấm. There are two styles to this dish. The Southern Vietnamese Sài Gòn style, which is all collected in a bowl, and the Northern Hà Nội style called Bún chả, similar in ingredients and recipe, but that they eat the dish like a lettuce wrap!
“During summer, my mother would make those vermicelli noodles. It just feels more delicious eating it during the summer heat with spicy fish sauce.“ -Dylan Huynh. Melbourne, Australia
#4 Cơm Tấm Bì Sườn Chả (Broken Rice, Shredded Pork, Meatloaf)
Com Tam at Pho ’59 in Arlington, Texas.
For whenever I am craving rice and steak. This dish comes with fragrant broken rice, that is served with a platter of meats, such as Vietnamese steak known as thịt nướng with fried green onion on top, a thinly shredded pork mixed with shredded pork skin called bì, chả trứng a Vietnamese egg & meatloaf, all topped with a fried egg.
“The rice is cooked perfectly, the meat is thinned out and char grilled, amazing! And then omg nuoc mam, I pour as I go, it’s amazing. It’s just perfect and then they put the oiled spring onions on, omgggg, I die. Its’ so good.” - Anthony Nguyen. Melbourne, Australia
#3 Hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho (Pork & Seafood Clear Noodle Soup)
Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Pho 59 in Grand Prarie, Texas.
A Southern Vietnamese dish, compelling of various seafood and ground pork and clear chewy noodles! It is an absolute favorite of mine. The pork bone broth is mainly clear, giving it a sweet and succulent taste that differs from the brothy phở.
#2 Bún riêu (Crab & Tomato Broth vermicelli soup)
Another Southern Vietnamese dish, with origins from the Mekong Delta with bountiful fresh water crabs. It has a fragrant smells of crab and seafood, with the sweet and tanginess from the tomato. A true delight as some Vietnamese restaurants only serve these on the weekends!
#1 Bún bò Huế (Hue style Pork Noodle Soup)
Bún bò Huế at Trieu Chau in Saint Paul.
A hearty and spicy pork broth soup with a lemongrass based chili oil stock and thick noodles (Bún). This is one of the most promising favorite of mine and many may be turned-off by the ingredients and how it is made, because it includes the broth being made from chopped pork feet, with a great taste from the smelly shrimp paste ( mắm ruốc) then it comes served with cubed blood, topped with cabbage.
“It is highly recommended by people because of its unique flavours. Ideally it would normally contain a lot of chilli as this is what makes the dish so authentic. The beef is finely sliced which empowers the spices that has been used for flavour. This provides a very unique taste and to me is considered the best part of the dish.” - Kevin Le. London, England