Exploring Hoi An’s traditional food market

Vietnamese food is diverse. It’s sweet, savory, sour and spicy, but there’s one thing every dish has in common – the freshness of the ingredients that go into it.

Hoi An is a fantastic example of this. On one side of the town is an abundance of rice paddies. On the other side is the sea, with a wealth of fish and seafood. The rice and fish, along with fresh vegetables and free-range chickens, are delivered to Hoi An’s markets every day, waiting to be hand picked by everyone, from high end restaurateurs and street food vendors, to local men and women choosing ingredients for their daily meals.

If you’d like to take a trip to the Hoi An market, bear in mind that it’s advised to get there before 7am. As the day moves on, the temperature will rise and the strong smell of the market will only get more pungent. More tourists will start to gather in the market, more loud voices will begin to permeate the area, and the market stall owners may start to disappear as they sell out of produce.

The market is just a stone’s throw from Viet Deli, so make sure you come back to the area for lunch or dinner.

Visiting the market in the morning

Visiting the Hoi An market in the morning provides a genuine insight into everyday life. If you get to the riverside before 7am you’ll be able to watch as the market unfolds. Enormous piles of colorful vegetables are found at every corner and the herbs and spices stalls make for excellent photo opportunities. Best of all is the fish and seafood area: customers and fishmongers, predominantly women, haggle animatedly for the freshest fish, shellfish, and molluscs aboard their modest stands.

Time to suit up? Be ready to barter

Away from the fresh fish, you’ll be hit with a mix of different, more alluring smells. Fragrant herbs and spices drift through the air, and an explosion of colors adorn the stalls, with a range of Vietnamese silk available. Prices towards the entrance tend to be inflated for tourists, so you’ll need to take a deep breath and head into the belly of the beast if you want a bargain.

Hoi An is renowned for its cheap tailoring and this is fuelled by the fabric market. The tailors are located in a section all their own, with a selection of fine silk tailors cheaper here than anywhere else in the city. For every purchase you make, however, be sure to haggle for the best deal and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Top 10 Things to Do in Hoi An

Dating back to the 15th century, this port was the heart of Vietnam’s trade for 400 years. Thanks to the preservation of the Old Town, Hoi An is teaming with historical architecture, with Chinese shophouses and temples, French colonial buildings, and ornate Vietnamese tube houses lining the streets. While public transportation within the city is sparse, walking or cycling will paint a unique and vivid picture of this ancient city.

Eat Cao Lau

This noodle dish is a must-eat for anyone visiting Hoi An, as the ingredients that go into it can only be sourced here. It may seem odd, but it is the water that makes them so unique. The lye water from the local Cham wells is full of ash, which comes from the wood of the Cham islands. The well itself is a well-kept secret, so you’ll just have to have some faith in your chef and enjoy these noodles while you’re here. You can find the best bowl of Cao Lau at Ngon Villa within the city.

Take a bike tour

Pushbikes are the main mode of transport inside the centre of Hoi An, as cars and motorbikes are banned. There are many places to rent bicycles and many English-speaking tour guides are willing to show you around. The surrounding area is full of charming villages, so all you need to do is hop on your bike and venture out through its narrow backstreet and alleyways until you reach the country lanes. From here you’ll be able to explore its lush landscape, full of rice paddies and winding waterways.

Hoi An barbeque

Street barbeque is a permanent fixture in Hoi An’s food scene, with small charcoal braziers lining the bank of the Thu Bon river after dark. Grilled pork, chicken or prawns make up the range of barbequed meats, along with some herbs and greens on the side to wrap in rice paper. At Ngon Villa, we’ve taken traditional Vietnamese street food and turned it into high-end cuisine, using the freshest products and recipes that have been handed down to us through generations. You can try our approach to the Hoi An barbeque, with our table BBQ experience.

Find the source of Vietnam’s fresh veg

The real key to Hoi An cuisine is the abundance of fresh vegetables available to us. Hoi An prides itself on local rice paddies and free range chickens. Many vegetables can be sourced from Tra Que, the small farming community between town and An Bang beach. Visitors are free to wander the farms and chat to the villagers.

Visit the spa

If you find yourself stuck indoors on one of Hoi An’s rainier days, or you just fancy indulging yourself in a bit of relaxation while you’re on holiday, check out one of Hoi An’s many spa and wellness centres. While many hotels and resorts offer their own spa treatments, Hoi An is full of local day spas, which may offer a more authentic experience.

Fix up look sharp

These days, one of the marks of Hoi An is its famously affordable tailoring services. The streets are littered with tailors, from small, family run businesses to larger, more corporate affairs. They all remain very cheap and quick though, and can often speak French and English, as well as Vietnamese. Your custom made suit or dress can usually be created and picked up within 24 hours, or delivered to your hotel.

Take a craft class

Along with Hoi An’s many tailors, a large portion of the shops are non-profit organizations, selling souvenirs made by disadvantaged and often disabled locals. You can support these causes in two ways: By buying the souvenirs, or joining the traditional Vietnamese painting or lantern-making classes that they hold.

Galleries and museums

For an insight into Hoi An’s rich culture, you can visit one of the many art galleries in the Old Town, where notable Vietnamese artists display their paintings and photography for sale. The larger portion of this work depicts traditional Vietnamese life. If that doesn’t take your fancy, however, you could try the Museum of Trade Ceramics or Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, for a different perspective of the town.

Scuba diving and snorkelling

With a rich sprawl of coral reefs and warm, tropical water, snorkelling and scuba diving are a must for the more adventurous traveler. There are hundreds of different varieties of tropical fish and coral lining the ocean floor in Hoi An, with the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park just 21km from Hoi An’s Old Town.

Take in the city on a walking tour

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An is teeming with history, through its colorful streets and grand designs. Another perk of Hoi An’s no-auto policy is the ability to take it all in on foot. The city has such an eclectic mix of architectural designs, across French, Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese heritage buildings, all of which can be discovered simply by wandering around.

Hoi An’s Must-eat Dishes

Once a bustling trading port linking the orient and the occident, Hoi An’s specialties have been heavily influenced by the outside world and are unlike anything else in Vietnam. Shaped by Chinese, French and Japanese cuisine, tastes from the sea itself and the special water used within the dishes, Hoi An’s food has become totally unique to the province. Don’t leave Hoi An before trying these five must-eat dishes.

Cao Lau

A dish exclusive to this ancient melting pot, you can see its various influences within the bowl: the fat rice noodles are soft and yellow and resemble Japanese soba noodles, while the distinctly Chinese influence shows up in the stir-fried pork, which is marinated in star anise and cassia bark.

If you want a dish that defines Hoi An, this has to be it. This hearty bowl can only be created here as the noodles must be cooked using water from the ancient Cham wells. You can try Hoi An in a bowl at Ngon Villa in our all-you-can-eat menu.

Banh Xeo

There are many aspects that make Hoi An’s food so delicious and unique – as a location, it seems to have everything. One of the key elements, however, is the fresh greens and herbs produced in the rich soil in the province. At Ngon Villa we’ve decided to make a banh xeo that really shows off these succulent greens in our banh xeo cuan la cai, a crispy pancake made with local herbs.

As well as being stuffed full of veg, banh xeo shows off all of the fantastic meat nurtured within the province. The dish itself is a pancake made of rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric, which is then stuffed full of ingredients like vermicelli noodles, chicken, pork, or beef slices. The best way to eat banh xeo in Hoi An, however, has to be with shrimp.

Mi Quang

 Mi quang, which originates from the central province of Quang Nam, is so popular in its hometown that it is eaten at every possible occasion: parties, death anniversaries (sort of like the anti-birthday), Tet holiday, everything. It’s easy to see why this dish is so popular, too – it exemplifies all of the fantastic ingredients in the area. People claim that, unless it has hand-cut noodles, countryside chickens and water from the local well, it simply isn’t mi quang.

Mi quang starts with a bed of vegetables, then the yellow rice noodles are added, followed by the flavorsome bone broth, which is well seasoned and made out of fish sauce, shallots and garlic and finally topped with a variety of meats, herbs and local greens. While many people add a range of different meats, at Ngon Villa we like to stick to tradition and add pork and shrimp.

Com Ga Hoi An

Though it may appear to simply be your average rice and chicken dish, Hoi An’s com ga distinguishes itself from the rest simply by providing the tastiest rice and finest farm-raised chickens. Made up of a mix of pandan leaves, chicken stock, and turmeric, cam ga has the wood-fired clay ovens to thank for its pale yellow exterior.

At Ngon Villa, we understand that Hoi An’s com ga isn’t any old com ga, so when you come along, look for the proudly titled com ga Hoi An on the menu.

Hoi An’s Seafood    

Perhaps our finest produce, seafood in Hoi An is abundant and fresh due to the once thriving port that we dwell on. We’ve already spoken a bit about traditional dishes available in our Ngon Villa restaurants, so let’s take a minute to look at the fish you’ll find at Home in Hoi An.

We create our dishes with the same mentality that we put into our restaurants: A mix of comfort and tradition, with a focus on authenticity. We have a range of dishes, like wok-fried crab with chilli rock salt, steamed grouper with soya salt and deep-fried squid with tamarind sauce, delicately blended with local vegetables, created perfectly for a high-end, authentic meal.

Ngon Villa Hoi An: Where to Find Us

Down an alleyway, off of Bach Dang street and right next to Thu Bon River, sits one of Hoi An’s finest restaurants.

Cut up by canals, the architecture and style of this ancient port is a colorful mix of Chinese, French, Japanese and Vietnamese style, full of shophouses, temples, colonial buildings and ornate tube houses. Nestled inside a beautiful and well-kept 19th century French house is Ngon Villa, offering an out-of-the-ordinary dining experience in one of the finest buildings in town.

As our fantastic building is hidden away from the thoroughfare of the busier parts of Hoi An, it can sometimes be a challenge to find it. That’s why we’ve put together a list of directions for hungry travelers.

Where to Find Us

You’ll find Ngon Villa down alley 12, off of Bach Dang street. While public transport in Hoi An may be limited, you’ll likely be experiencing the city on foot or by Grab bike.

In order to find us on foot, head to Bach Dang street. If you pass Hoang Dieu bridge on your left (with the river on your left) look out for alley 12 on your right. If you pass it on your right, you’ve gone too far. Once you’ve found alley 12, walk an easy 50 metres down to number 12.

Similarly, if you head here by Grab bike or taxi, ask for alley 12, Bach Dang, then walk down the alleyway to number 12. Once you’re there, Ngon Villa will be easy to spot. Our yellow 19th century villa is full of traditional Vietnamese lamps, beckoning you in for a lovely meal of traditional Vietnamese food.

Like all hidden gems, Ngon Villa Hoi An is worth the effort.

9 Must-Have Dishes to Eat During Tet

Tet holiday, known as Lunar New Year through most parts of the world, is the biggest celebration in Vietnam. When it comes to Tet, nothing brings the family together quite like food, both the cooking and the consumption of it – it is, after all, the main event of the holiday.

You’ll find the whole family rubbing shoulders in the kitchen during the build-up to Tet. The customs of Tet are told mostly through the food, which is steeped in tradition and therefore central to Vietnamese culture during this festive period.

Sticky rice squared cake

No Tet dish carries as much significance as this savory rice cake. The story is regaled across Vietnam each year, often told while the sticky rice cake is being made, which takes some time. Following a victory over the Shang Dynasty in the 17th Century BC, the King gave his 18 sons one year to prepare their best dish, with the winner of the contest to become successor to the throne. His 18th son, too poor to travel in search of exotic ingredients, created two cakes of rice, pork and beans, emulating the sky and the earth. The youngest son won his father’s admiration and went on to become king, with his culinary legacy being celebrated by Vietnamese families every year since.

Boiled chicken

Simply prepared, a boiled chicken acts as a focal point for any Tet meal. It’s another dish that brings the symbolic weight of history and tradition to the table, for a boiled chicken is considered an emblem of purity. The finest chickens for Tet are bright red – a lucky color across East Asia – with smooth feathers and small legs. You’ll find many well decorated chickens out on display in family’s altars, with roses or trimmed carrots in their beaks.

Braised pork

Given the significance of food during the Tet holiday, cooking tends to take a lot of time, but it is a labor of love and always a worthwhile investment. Take the sticky rice cake for example; hours of work go into perfecting the dish and the braised pork is no different. With hours spent covering it in herbs and spices, braised pork is gently cooked over the course of a day to become extra tender and indulgent.

Fried spring roll

Though not exclusively reserved for the Tet holiday, these crispy bites make for perfect finger food, but they also serve as an ideal side dish during the Tet holiday dinner too.


It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the table at Tet can be a little heavy on the meat and somewhat lacking in the vegetable department. Fortunately, no Tet dinner would be complete without the traditional Tet salad, which incorporates plenty of traditional Vietnamese herbs and vegetables and, yes, more meat.

Vietnamese sausage

A Vietnamese sausage is undoubtedly a unique creation. A little different and a little surprising to anyone expecting a western style grilled sausage. Made from lean pork, potato starch, garlic, ground black pepper and fish sauce, the sausage is ground down into a patty and wrapped in banana leaves as an embodiment of all that is delicious and Vietnamese.

Soup with pork skin

For this unique dish, dried pigskin is left to soak in water, before being put in the refrigerator from anywhere between eight hours and three days. The skin is then removed and left to boil with an assortment of vegetables, such as cabbage or bok choy.

Soup with softened bamboo and pig’s trotters

So, you’ve used the skin, but you’ve still got the trotters lying around, that’s fine, there’s another soup that will be perfect to make the most of your pigs. While it may seem unusual to some, Vietnamese cuisine traditionally uses an array of ingredients, where nothing – especially from an animal – goes to waste.

Momordica cochinchinensis sticky rice (a.k.a Xôi Gấc)

You’ll be able to spot Xoi Gac easily due to the distinctive red color. The Gac fruit may have found its way to dinner tables around the world, but it was first discovered in Vietnam. The tradition of eating sticky rice with this bright red fruit is subsequently an absolute must for Tet.

6 Reasons Why Viet Deli is the Perfect Choice for a Tet Party

When it comes to a Tet holiday party, there are a few boxes that need ticking. Good food and quality drinks are a must. Great atmosphere and suitable spaces are an important bonus. Fortunately, across all of our Viet Deli restaurants, we’ve got the ingredients to throw a roaring and memorable office party.

Here are six reasons why Viet Deli makes the perfect choice to welcome the turn of the lunar new year with your colleagues.

1.     Private rooms of all sizes, from intimate to extravagant

Whether it’s a small celebration with a few close colleagues, a big show of appreciation for business partners, or a lavish romp for an entire company, our restaurants have got you covered.

You can book a party of almost any size with Viet Deli, from the intimate 8 guest rooms at The Chopsticks in Saigon, to larger parties in our 40-guest rooms in Home Moc, Hanoi.

2.     Traditional Vietnamese cuisine

Tet is a Vietnamese holiday so why eat anything but Vietnamese food? We pair traditional Vietnamese cuisine and modern cooking techniques for every dish, with ingredients bought free range and fresh from local farmers wherever possible. You can rest easy knowing that, when you choose a Viet Deli restaurant for Tet, you’ll be served traditional Vietnamese meals, handcrafted by our chefs, drawing upon recipes passed down by generations.

3.     Historic buildings and fantastic décor

From the former residence of the Vice President of the South Vietnam Government before 1975 to the beautifully preserved French villas that make up our Ngon Villa restaurants, we take pride in offering the finest in stylish heritage dining experiences. Need photos of your team enjoying the festivities? The Viet Deli restaurants provide the perfect backdrops.

4.     Private floors for large groups

 While some of our private rooms can offer functions for up to 40 people, sometimes that’s simply not enough. For bigger parties, you may want to consider one of our many expansive floors for your office party. We’ve got a full range available, from capacity for 55 people in Saigon’s Home Finest, 60 in Home Moc, Hanoi, 40 in The Chopsticks, Saigon, 50 in Home, Hoi An, and 60 in Ngon Villa, Danang.

5.     Expert staff

Any Tet holiday party will have a few concerns surrounding it. If everything doesn’t go just right, you never know what could be in store for you the following year. Fortunately, our expert staff are on hand to make sure nothing goes awry. Thanks to our well-oiled team of waiters, seasoned chefs, and professional planners, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing we’ve got everything covered.

6.     Handpicked wines and expertly crafted cocktails

We’ve got the finest in professional sommeliers and masterful bartenders to produce the best celebratory drinks list around. You can choose from imported wines on our wine list, paired to suit your meal, or a signature cocktail from our cocktail list. We’ve got an innovative selection available, like our signature Saigon at Night or the Legend Coffee cocktail.

Looking for Restaurants for Your Family Tet Celebration?

At Viet Deli, we understand the importance of family during Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet holiday is a time to rid yourself of any bad omens and welcome a prosperous year with the ones you love.

We understand that any mistakes made during your Tet holiday meal would be disastrous, that’s why we’ve got Tet-experts on hand to make sure your celebration is delivered perfectly.

Tradition is of the upmost importance when it comes to a good Tet holiday meal. We believe that any meal at one of our delicious restaurants would make the ideal way to say goodbye to one lunar year and greet the next.

We specialize in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, created with modern flair but by expert chefs that have been nourished by generations of tradition. We’ve combined our chefs’ expertise with fresh, locally sourced and free-range ingredients, ensuring the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

A mark of any Viet Deli restaurant is the pride we place in our residence. We’ve handpicked locations across Hanoi, Hoi An, Danang, and Saigon for their heritage and style.

Our locations range from the renovated art deco style villa of Home Finest in Saigon, to Hanoi’s Home Moc restaurant, where our expansive floors could accommodate parties of up to 60 people for an extended family celebration.

All of our restaurants come in a range of shapes and sizes, draped in various styles, from the dark, earthly tones and navy hues of Home Finest, to the playful French Colonial colors that make up Ngon Villa’s various locations.

Of course, when it comes to family, no celebration is too big or too small. Fortunately, you can book a party of almost any size with Viet Deli. Smaller family gathering can take their place in our restaurants, which range from 100 guests in Home Finest, to 180 in Danang’s Ngon Villa and Hanoi’s Home Moc.

For a private affair, we’ve got private rooms available from the intimate 8-guest rooms at The Chopsticks in Saigon, to more spacious 40-guest rooms in Home Moc, Hanoi, along with everything in-between.

With room available to accommodate every family size, along with the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, you can feel safe in the knowledge that Viet Deli will see you safely into the year of the pig.

Hanoi’s Edible Essentials

So much to eat but so little time. Hanoi is full of great dishes, but here are four you simply can’t do without. Grab a chair, pull out the chopsticks, and dig in.

 Bun Cha

 This dish is probably best known in the West for its cameo in Barak Obama’s Hanoi trip and meal out with Vietnam food fanatic Anthony Bourdain. Bun Cha is a hearty meal comprising rice noodles, grilled pork patties, pork belly, fresh herbs, and a rich sweet and sour broth.

It’s Hanoi’s favorite lunchtime dish, and with good reason. The best bun cha should come accompanied with fried spring rolls, especially those that are stuffed with crab. This is harder to find than you might think, but you can tuck into a delicious bowl of bun cha with a side dish of crab spring rolls at Ngon Villa.

 Pho Bo

 It’s hard to talk about Vietnam without mentioning pho (pronounced like “fur”). It’s a dish, like many, that has a variety of flavors across the country. Ask someone in the south who does the best pho and they’ll say the south, ask someone in the north and, well, you get the idea.

Consisting of rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and beef broth, pho is a canvas for you to paint. Garlic lovers can add their own garlic. if you’re a fan of citrus, a squeeze of lime with give you your desired tastes. And anyone looking for a kick can beef their dish up with a jar of chilli. You’ll find Hanoi’s tastiest beef broth at Home Restaurant.

 Cha Ca

 Cha ca is a dish so beloved in Hanoi that it has a street named after it. Once the freshly caught fish is thrown into the pot, which resonates in the centre of your table, an explosion of herbs will wash over you.

If you ask a Hanoi local which way they prefer to eat cha ca, they’ll likely attest to the unique flavors of mam tom – though it must be said, mam tom is something of an acquired taste. Visitors to Vietnam may, instead, prefer to enjoy this dish with fish sauce of soy sauce.

You’ll find Home Restaurant’s “grilled catch-of-the-day with Hanoi’s herbs and rice paper roll” to be one of the most authentic versions of the dish available in Hanoi.


Che, which, in Vietnamese simply means desert, comes in many varieties. There is che with mung beans (che ba mau), che with black beans (che dau den), which is one of the most popular varieties in northern Vietnam, a jelly che called che thach or any number of fruit, jelly, bean or dumpling rice variety.

Che can be hot or che can be cold. It can be a sweet beverage, a dessert soup, or a pudding. Needless to say, che can be a lot of things.

If you want to try a truly delicious and unique che, head to Home Moc for the coffee jelly and almond che. It’s a hit with locals and foreigners alike.

Vietnam’s Top 10 Street Food Dishes

Vietnamese food has seen rocketing popularity in recent years, and it all starts with what was traditionaly found on the street. Here are ten unmissable dishes that you’d be a fool to miss when traveling through Vietnam.

Bun Cha

With roots in Vietnam’s capital, bun cha slowly made its way into the rest of the country. While there are many similar dishes throughout the rest of Vietnam, like Saigon’s bun thit nuong, nothing beats the original. A hearty broth, with rice noodles, grilled pork patties, pork belly, and fresh herbs, this dish is usually paired with nem (see below for more on nem). Try a bowl at Ngon Villa in Hanoi.

Phở (Hanoi)

Pho (pronounced like “fur”) is Vietnam’s most famous dish, so it should come as no surprise that there’s a bit of division in tastes around the country. Hanoi pho is balanced, hearty, and relies on the flavors created from hours of boiling beef or chicken bones. Give Hanoi’s pho a go at Home Restaurant in Hanoi.

Banh My

Some people say that when the French were kicked out of Vietnam, they left their bread behind. A popular lunch option for anyone who likes to eat on the go, banh my is a small baguette stuffed full of meat, herbs and vegetables. Try the banh my Quang Nam in Danang’s Home restaurant.

Cao Lau

While cao lau may not be such a commonplace dish throughout the rest of the country, you won’t be able to move for cao lau in Hoi An. The dish has deep ties to the city, with Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Indian traders gorging on bowls of it in Hoi An’s ancient seaport as far back as the 17th century. Try a traditional bowl of cao lau in Hoi An’s Ngon Villa.

Banh Xeo

Like many of Vietnam’s meals, banh xeo can be a different affair in different parts of the country. In the northern provinces, people wrap their banh xeos, filled with pork and beansprouts, in rice paper, while further south banh xeo is commonly consumed with seafood, fish sauce, chillies and peanut sauce. They’re also smaller and might be wrapped in fresh greens, or served completely naked. Try Danang’s version at Ngon Villa’s Danang residence.

Mi Quang

This traditional central dish comprises of a soft, chewy noodle, made fresh on a daily basis, stuffed full of slices of moist roast pork, fresh lettuce, local mint, basil, garlic, and spring onion. Having originated in Quang Nam, mi quang adds some local specialities: shrimp, boiled quail eggs and crushed peanuts, topped with a savory broth. Get stuck into a bowl at Hoi An’s Ngon Villa.

Phở (Saigon)

While the differences between Saigonese and Hanoian pho noodles might seem minimal, the differences in the broth are vast. Unlike it’s northern counterpart, pho in Saigon is served with a huge array of sauces and herbs, like the usual lemon, chilli, soy, mint and cilantro, but also rice paddy herbs, sawtooth herbs, bean sprouts, basil and even hoisin sauce. You can try some at The Chopsticks, Saigon.

Bun Bo Hue

This is a street food dish originating from the central Vietnamese city of Hue, the Imperial City that stood as the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. This hearty bowl of broth comes with an array of flavors, starting with pork and beef bones, then a squeeze of lime, herbs, lemongrass, annatto and shrimp paste, with some crab cakes thrown in for good measure.

Hu Tieu

While its appearance may be similar to that of pho, the ingredients that go into hu tieu have differences that separate it significantly from its cousin. The dish simmers for hours on end in a mix of bones, dried squid, and rock sugar. Slow-cooked pork and fresh vegetables decorate the soup and, unlike pho, it can be served both in and outside of the broth.


While nem can have various meanings throughout the country, on this occasion we mean the delicious nem ran (if you’re in the north) or cha gio (if you’re in the south). These delicately fried spring rolls are a popular finger food at events like weddings, death anniversaries, and during Tet. Best of all, however, is a fried nem soaked in a bowl of bun cha. You can give this winning combination a go at Ngon Villa in Hanoi.

Top 10 Must-try Dishes in Vietnam

 Vietnamese food is having something of a moment in the West – and for good reason. This unique cuisine crosses salty, sweet, and sour flavors for dishes that are distinct and unforgettable.

Vietnamese dishes are more than just pho though, with some of the best seafood in the world, along with rice noodles of every variety, we’re sure there’s something for everyone.

We’ve compiled a list of dishes that show off everything this country has to offer. Grab your chopsticks and dig in.


1.     Banh Xeo

Banh xeo is the pride of every major fishing port, including Danang and Hoi An. A mix of fresh greens, vermicelli noodles, and meats like chicken, pork, beef or, best of all, shrimp come together in a pancake made of rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric.

Head over to Ngon Villa Danang or Hoi An for a traditional, indulgent take on this Vietnamese staple.

2.     Cao Lau My

 This traditional dish shows off everything that Hoi An has to offer. In fact, it’s so distinct to Hoi An that, unless it is made with water from the local well, it isn’t really cao lau my.

The noodles that make up the base are one of the defining distinctions of this dish – yellow rice noodles that are unlike those you’ll find in the north. The well-seasoned bone broth is the perfect match of a variety of meats, herbs and local greens. Try a bowl of at Ngon Villa Hoi An.

3.     Com Ga Hoi An

Hoi An is known throughout the country for having the finest farm raised chicken and the tastiest yellow rice. That’s why we’ve named our com ga after Hoi An – just so everyone knows. The mix of pandan leaves, chicken stock and turmeric, along with the wood-fired clay ovens that it’s cooked in give it an unforgettable pale yellow hue. Come along to Ngon Villa Hoi An for a taste.

4.     Bun Cha

 This dish may be one of the most famous Vietnamese meals besides pho and banh mi and not just because Barak Obama and Anthony Bourdain sat down for a bowl.

A hearty meal good for summer and winter and a Hanoi specialty, made of rice noodles, grilled pork patties, pork belly, fresh herbs and a rich sweet and sour broth. Try yours with an absolutely essential side of nem cua be at Ngon Villa Hanoi.

5.     Pho Bo

 It would be surprising if you’ve come this far without hearing about pho – it’s probably the most famous Vietnamese dish out there. This hearty bowl starts with rice noodles, before thinly sliced beef and beef broth is added, followed by a mix of garlic, chilli or lime, flavored by you, to your taste buds. Visit Home Restaurant in Hanoi and try it for yourself.

6.     Cha Ca

 While mam tom, the signature sauce that is served with cha ca, is a point of division between locals and visitors to Hanoi, it’s worth noting that other sauces are available.

This fishy dish, that’s served in a pot in the centre of your table, can be eaten with fish sauce or soy sauce instead. Try the grilled ‘catch-of-the-day’ at Home restaurant in Hanoi.

7.     Che

Dessert lovers can find a different sort of sweet tooth quencher in Vietnam. Che, which is the Vietnamese word for dessert, comes with some surprising ingredients.

Served with a range or beans, jelly, dumplings, sweet potato or fruit, which will surprise and delight even the most discerning of taste buds. Try a bowl of che with coffee jelly and almonds at Home Moc in Hanoi.

8.     Ca Kho To Mien Tay

In the south, there’s nothing better than stewed fish, caramelized and cooked in earthenware pots. While it may never get cold enough in Ho Chi Minh City to truly enjoy comfort food in a conventional way, there’s always a good opportunity to indulge in ca kho to Mien Tay – best served in Saigon’s own Home Finest.

9.     Vit Nuong Lu

Though it may seem like the farthest place in Vietnam to be influenced by Chinese cuisine, the traditional Chinese roast duck is one of the most popular foods in Saigon. A big dish when it comes to takeout and special occasions, roast duck can be found in Ho Chi Minh City’s Home Finest.

 10. Banh My

 While banh my may just mean ‘bread’ in Vietnamese, this popular lunch on the go is so much more than that. Stuffed full of fresh herbs and a range of meats or egg pate, the banh my is the pinnacle of Fresh inspired Vietnamese food. We believe the finest banh mys resonate in central Vietnam, so head to Ngon Villa Danang to try one for yourself.