1. BÁNH MÌ

    “This year’s must eat bánh mì” reads the bolded title of an article on the independent.co.uk website. The UK is just finally realising how delicious and cool these sandwiches are. But Việt Nam has been in the know since the early 20 century, when it was introduced by the French.

    Originally consisting of just bread, butter and ham or pate, the Saigonese took this basic Parisian sandwich and added some pizzazz garnishes such as cured and cooked pork, green herbs, sweet pickled vegetables, sliced chilli peppers and even a local form of mayonnaise, all sandwiched into a baguette. There are now bánh mì shop all over the world. Often called a “Saigon Sub” or “Vietnamese Sub” in America , many other incarnations have evolved, including a New Orleans version, the “Vietnamese Po’boy” and the Philadelphia styled “Vietnamese Hoagie”.


    2. GỎI NGÓ SEN

    Vietnamese lotus stem salad with prawn and pork is the most popular starter in any party.



    3. CÀ PHÊ SỮA ĐÁ

    Việt Nam is presently the world’s number one producer of green coffee, unroasted, raw coffee beans. Ever since the French introduced coffee in the 19th century, Việt Nam has matured into a nation of coffee lovers. Drink morning, noon and night, coffee brings people together and has woven itself into the fabric of Vietnamese society. This is the mystery and magic of Vietnamese coffee: cà phê sữa đá, black coffee with condensed milk & ice. Unlike other typical coffees like espresso, cappuccino and latte, cà phê sữa đá needs no sugar. Apart from mixing with condensed milk, if you are a lover of strong coffee, you can also try the plain black coffee without adding anything. It may be stronger than San Francisco ’s Blue Bottle and less flavour than your average espresso, but it suits many of us, just fine.

    4. BÁNH XÈO

    Forget everything you think you know about pancakes, Vietnamese savory flapjack, bánh xèo is completely different, but nonetheless delicious take on this dish. This pancake is not for breakfast. If you come to Việt Nam expecting jam, syrup or fruit on your hotcakes, you are in for a big shock. And unless fatty pork pieces, shrimp and fish sauce are your kind of thing for breakfast, it’s probably not best consumed before noon. The name bánh xèo (sizzling cake) comes from the loud sizzling sound that the batter made from rice flour, turmeric, coconut juice and water, makes when it hits hot oil. While cooked, one hand is used for pouring the mixture fast and the other is used to quickly revolve the pan. Next, bean sprouts, meat and green beans are added to the concoction. The fire is kept at a high heat while the mixture is cooking. As soon as the edge turns yellow and crisp, the cake is ready to be served. The edge should be crispy while the central part of the cake is soft. Then the fun and messy part begins. Wrap it up in lettuce leaves, and then throw in some mint leaves, basil, star fruit and some other herbs. Just hold on the syrup and reach for the sweet fish sauce instead.

    5. Bia Hơi

    The scene is a sea of ‘well-oiled’ middle-age men talking at the top of their voices. The beer is cheap and the conversation is non-stop. You can only be at one place: a bia hơi joint. But bia hơi has not always been the drink of choice, the original tipple was rice wine. That all changed when the authorities cracked down on homemade spirits during the mid-20th century and people turned to the refreshing, low alcohol and legal drink of bia hơi. Brewed mainly from rice, bia hơi was introduced to Việt Nam by the French in 1890s. The Hommel Brewery, which employed 30 workers and made 150 liters a day, was the lone original producer. After the French left, the production facility was renamed the Hà Nội Brewery. These days more than 300 companies nationwide produce the brew. Initially, bia hơi was served on small footpaths and beer gardens at the edge of the Hà Nội ’s lakes. Just like then, today it comes straight from the brew tank to the keg and takes just a few days to make. Thanks to this speedy production, bia hơi comes free of colouring and preservatives, and is made for consumption on the day it is ready to drink. You will be thankful for the lack of additives the morning after as well. You can get it at a beer garden or a couple of places on Bùi Viện Street . It has made almost daily and the brewers often sell it in big plastic jugs. In Hà Nội , try bia hơi at the corner Lương Ngọc Quyến & tạ Hiền or 19C Ngọc Hà for more authentic take.

    6. Cơm tấm

    Among different kinds of rice in Việt Nam , broken rice or “cơm tấm” is tastiest. Broken rice is a haphazard break, generally resulting from milling process or just being banged around in the back of a truck during transport. Broken rice seems to be just the left over but it becomes the most favourite. Due to the different size and shape of the grains, broken rice has a different texture. The Vietnamese love broken rice so much that there are dozens of restaurants specialising in broken rice only. It usually served with grilled pork, (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin), pickled vegetable. 

    7. Chè

    If France brings us Flan or Creme Caramel , Việt Nam will bring you Chè. This nation loves Chè. Chè is a kind of sweet pudding or compote made with beans, sticky rice, fruit or jelly remains somewhat of a mystery to many foreigners. It is in demand all day. For more than two centuries, in the royal palace, chè was indispensable dish in any royal meal of the Nguyễn dynasty (1802-1945).

    8. Phở

    This is the most distinctive Vietnamese dish. Vietnamese people call it comfort food, even soul food. To many persons, phở is no longer a dish. They are simple addicted to it. The Vietnamese diaspora following the war spread phở across the globe. Today there are more than 2000 such restaurants in US and Canada alone. You can get your phở on anywhere in the world. In fact, so popular is this dish that it is now even become a musical statement. Just do a search on YouTube for “phở rap” and you will get your fill of the latest craze. A phở fan? Get a cool t-shirt “Iphở made in Vietnam” to put on!

    9. Gỏi cuốn

    Vietnamese fresh spring roll is listed at number 30 on World's 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011.Gỏi cuốn has gained popularity among Việt Nam 's neighbouring countries and in the West. Many Western restaurants serve Vietnamese summer rolls as an entrée.

    10. Chả giò

    It is another version of spring roll but deep fried.


    Published 17/01/2013 Viewed 3200 Category DINING
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