Undoubtedly, food is an essential element of travel; exploring a country's array of foods, their attitudes towards it, the flavours they value and, even their cooking processes, can teach you so much more about a nation's culture. The Vietnamese food scene is simply enthralling and, as a bonus, coincides with what travellers really want in food: convenience, affordability, and satisfaction.

Virtual food travel: The beauty and tastiness of Vietnamese cuisine [photos]

Vietnam is home to affordable and interesting foods and spices. Image by author

Vietnamese foods

Banh Mi


The beloved Banh Mi is a famous Viet sandwich that can easily be found everywhere — from your nearest café to the street-side food stands and carts.


This is, perhaps, the preferred snack and dining option by locals and tourists alike, and can be followed with fresh pineapple juice, coffee, or street-side made iced tea…. if you aren't afraid of where the water may have been sourced from.

Virtual food travel: The beauty and tastiness of Vietnamese cuisine [photos]

Refreshing pineapple juice. Image by author


Banh Mi is usually composed of a variety of pickled vegetables, fresh, diced cucumber, a selection of herbs, which may vary according to the vendor, and marinated meats or processed meat slices (vegetarian options omit the meat or may have synthetic meat substitutes made from dried mushrooms), all encrusted in toasted, soft-centred baguettes.

Virtual food travel: The beauty and tastiness of Vietnamese cuisine [photos]

A feast for the tastebuds – Banh Mi. Image by author

Pho


Pho­, pronounced "fhur", which has quickly grown popularity abroad as an exotic meal option, is an aromatic Viet rice-noodle dish made with a variety of spices: star anise, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, and cinnamon.


The spices are stewed carefully — sometimes for several hours — in order to produce a rich, fragrant broth with subtle flavours. Pho is especially favoured in the winter months, when its warmth and wholesomeness is more than welcome.

Virtual food travel: The beauty and tastiness of Vietnamese cuisine [photos]

Fragrant, tasty pho. Image by author

Ban Xeo


From afar, this crispy Viet pancake looks like an unmistakable omelette: a golden yellow outer that is folded over, with a savoury filling. But, really, this classic Vietnamese pancake or crepe, is a thick batter, tinged yellow by turmeric, and then fried to perfection.


A variety of fresh ingredients — a combination of which is entirely up to personal preference — are then lined inside the crepe, before being speedily folded over and handed over.


Spring-rolls, fresh tropical fruits Southern-Eastern Asian fruits, like the pink dragon-fruit, mangosteen and fresh-pineapples, street-side meat barbecues and colourful tangy salads are also options that present themselves frequently.

The best ways to indulge in the Vietnamese food scene


Strolling the streets themselves and sampling options from vendors and street-side cafes is always the cheapest and best way to explore a city's food scene.


If, however, you wish to truly uncover the mysteries of Vietnamese foods, consider a food tour, where a guide will help you navigate through the alleyways and vendors so as to point you to the best eating spots in town.


A Vietnamese cooking class is also an option, most of which include a trip to the local market before class, so that you can truly experience the array of ingredients and electric atmosphere. Both food tours and cooking classes can usually be found easily on tour and travel booking sites, including Airbnb Experiences.

Virtual food travel: The beauty and tastiness of Vietnamese cuisine [photos]

Unusual fruits and foods. Image by author


Also read: Ciao, Italy: It's time to do some lockdown armchair travelling

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