If there’s anything you can expect to discover in this war-ravished nation it’s the freshly prepared meals with home grown produce- so fresh you’ll have to pluck the feathers and remove the claw from your plate. Depending where you go in Vietnam, you’re chicken dinner is literally made to order.
Two popular noodle dishes I fell in love with after licking my plate were Bún chả and Mì Quảng. Bún chả is served with vermicelli noodles over a bed of cucumbers and salad mixed with your choice of ground pork or chicken, bean sprouts, herbs, chopped spring rolls and a side of nước chấm. Try saying that 5 times. Nước chấm is a common name for Vietnam’s most popular dipping sauce usually made with fish sauce, chopped red chilli flakes lime, vinegar, ginger, and sugar. Unlike China, soy sauce is less frequently used in south Vietnam for a more healthy alternative, like nước chấm.
Mì Quảng is slightly more difficult in preparation featuring sharp contrasting flavors and textures in a shallow bowl of broth, noodles, herbs, vegetables, and roasted rice chips. Yummm.
A very common Vietnamese dish popular to western nations, travelers and backpackers is Phở. Phở is a noodle soup with a rich, clear broth made from meat and spices. There are many varieties of phở usually made with beef or chicken and typically served in bowls with spring onion, slices of boiled meat, and broth. It’s extremely filling.
Gỏi cuốn, usually called Vietnamese fresh rolls or summer rolls, are rice paper rolls stuffed with shrimp (sometimes pork), herbs and rice vermicelli dipped in nước chấm or sweet peanut sauce. I order this EVERY time! If they don’t have Gỏi cuốn, then ask for Chả giò spring rolls. These are wrapped in lettuce and mint leaves then dipped into sauce.
Oddly enough.. whenever I tried ordering these meals out loud, I’d get a baffling look in return. Note to self: If you don’t speak Vietnamese, just point at the picture.