Explore the tastes of traditional Vietnamese dishes and their French influences in some of Vietnam’s best restaurants.
Vietnam has a diverse range of food with local specialities that you can find across the country. A number of these dishes exhibit France’s influence on the country. You can find the country’s favourite dishes anywhere in the country but each area has its own flavours to share. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are home to the finest dining in the country along with street food. Hoi An, Dalat and Nha Trang share both local and international favourites.
Top Vietnam restaurants to dine at
La Terrasse Du Metropole
Vietnam was heavily influenced by the French in their buildings and cuisine. La Terrasse Du Metropole embraces French culture and takes inspiration from the famous Parisian cafes. It serves traditional French light dishes, such as cheeses and cold cuts, full meals, such as steak-frites, or simple coffee. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District
Highway4 serves traditional Vietnamese dishes among classic furnishings. This hot spot is popular with locals and visitors. Fresh local herbs are served with dishes that are cooked using many different Vietnamese techniques. The different cooking styles are explained on the menu, so you will know what you’re getting into. 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Green Tangerine appeals to gastronomists with its creative dishes that use French cooking techniques. Innovative dishes such as king prawns with mango or strawberries and mashed eggplant create a tantalising experience for any tongue. 48 Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
The Deck Saigon
Just outside the bustling city centre is the quiet and relaxed atmosphere of The Deck Saigon, situated along the Saigon River. The menu is kept simple with ingredients of the finest quality that incorporate international tastes into Pan Asian cuisine. The bar serves their signature martinis and is the perfect spot to catch the sunset. 38 Nguyen U Di St., Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
The Refinery Saigon
The location brings French charm to what was once an opium factory. The building now houses The Refinery Saigon and retains all of its original colonial fixtures. French bistro style dishes along with modern European cuisine are served inside or on the garden terrace with old or new world wine. 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q.1, Ho Chi MInh
Red Bean Saigon
Red Bean strives to be Vietnam’s leading restaurant brand serving modern Vietnamese dishes. The restaurant stays true to its country’s roots by using local ingredients to create authentic dishes. 216 De Tham Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
At Morning Glory, you’ll find authentic street food made with family recipes. Morning Glory is the fifth establishment by Ms Vy and serves traditional dishes found in Hoi An. Choose to dine in or take a cooking class. 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An
Aubergine49 is a fine dining restaurant in Hoi An. Modern European dishes are served with locally sourced and imported ingredients to create Eurasian dishes. 49A Lý Thái Tổ, Hoi An
Kiwami serves Japanese cuisine with ingredients sourced from Nha Trang. Japanese style BBQ is available with a smokeless grill system, and Japanese chefs will prepare other dishes for you as well. 136 Bach Dang, Nha Trang
V Cafe brings together good food with live music. International dishes, including Mexican and Italian, share the menu with Vietnamese favourites and other Asian cuisines including a wide selection of vegetarian dishes. Local and imported beers and wines are also available. 1 Bui Thi Xuan, Da Lat
Top five must-try Vietnam eats
1. Banh mi
Banh mi is the most commonly found street food in Vietnam along with pho. Banh mi is the Vietnamese word for bread but also refers to the French baguette sandwich. These sandwiches come in a number of varieties that can include pork, luncheon meats, pate, egg, cheese, mayonnaise, pickles, cilantro, cucumber and chili stuffed into a crusty baguette.
You’ll find this traditional dish on almost every menu at sit-down restaurants. It’s a noodle soup made with soft rice noodles in a chicken or beef broth, depending on your choice of meat. The dish is then topped off with green onions. Chili, Vietnamese coriander and mint are often served fresh on a separate plate.
3. Summer roll
Another Vietnamese favourite is goi cuon, a fresh spring roll, often called summer roll in English. Translucent rice paper is used to wrap minced pork, shrimp, crab or combinations of these three ingredients. Coriander, lettuce, other greens and rice vermicelli are added and then rolled. A fresh peanut sauce is used for dipping. In the south, you’ll find a variation with BBQ pork, star fruit and green banana.
4. Bun cha
Originating from Hanoi, this is grilled pork cooked on a charcoal brazier with rice vermicelli noodles. Accompanying it is a semi-sweet sauce and assorted herbs.
5. Cao lau
Cao lau is a Hoi An speciality packed with flavour. A light soup is flavoured with mint. Thick but soft rice-flour noodles are added and then topped with thin slices of pork. Pork-rind croutons, bean sprouts, rice-flour crackers and crispy rice paper are used to top it all off.
Food tours and cooking classes
Have a local show you around the diverse street food in Vietnam and teach you how to cook some of the best Vietnamese dishes.
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Image: The Refinery Saigon