• April 13, 2024

Ten reasons why my favorite cuisine is Vietnamese

Since I grew up in Canada, where the cuisine is decent but not exceptional and most definitely not well-known on the global culinary scene, I can be reasonably neutral in any conversation about food.

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Food usually ignites an emotional argument more quickly than any other cultural subject. Many of us will argue to the very last over which cuisine from our own country is the greatest. Years ago, I decided that Vietnamese food was my favorite, but now I’m drooling over the cuisines of Peru, Thailand, Indonesia, France, and Italy.

Why, therefore, does Vietnamese food rank first on my list?

1. Flavor

There are so many wonderful food options in Vietnam that I can only remember having a few uninteresting dinners there. The majority of establishments are owned and operated by food enthusiasts who use family-inherited recipes and cooking methods, and Vietnamese diners are picky and well-informed.

Vietnamese food features a lot of flavors—sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter, and pungent—so there’s something for every taste and mood.

2. Variability

Vietnamese food has evolved into what it is now over the course of centuries, dating back more than a millennium. The variety of dishes available is so great that you could easily go on eating without ever repeating one.

You could actually go for years without eating the same dish again because there are over 3,000 different dishes in the whole Vietnamese cuisine repertoire.

3. Customized tastes

In Vietnam, a lot of meals are made using just the herbs and spices needed to make the basic version, with very little or no use of hot chili peppers. Then, using fresh chilies, chili sauces, pastes, and spicy oils that are offered on the side, guests may easily adjust the heat level to suit their own tastes.

There’s no need to specify whether you want your food to be light, medium, or hot—as is frequently the case with many cuisines—and instead, let the servers and cooks decide how spicy you want your food to be.

It’s amazing how many different types of condiments are available; pickled onions, daikon radish, carrots, and garlic are just a few examples. There’s also fresh raw garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper, kim chi, pickled or fresh mustard greens, soy bean sprouts, crispy fried onions and shallots, lemon wedges, fish sauces aplenty, and plum sauce too.

Next, a plethora of fresh herbs, such as perilla leaves, coriander, chives, basil, cilantro, and mint, are added, according on the recipe. That list definitely includes a few that I overlooked!

4. Influence from abroad

Wherever we travel, it’s wonderful to sample authentic local cuisine, but what happens when we want something with a taste from abroad?

Vietnamese food is widely available and has been greatly impacted by French, Chinese, and other cuisines.

Breakfast of sizzling steak and eggs (bo ne)? You got it! Different sausages, hams, and head cheeses? Yes! Pate? If you’d like, you can put it on every sandwich.

Pasta meals frequently contain meatballs in the French way, and Vietnamese xiu mai dumplings are delicious. Bread? Vietnamese banh mi baguettes are lighter and simpler to chew than their French counterparts, with a crispy, crackly texture.

On a cool day, how about beef stew? A winning combination of ginger and lemongrass is the local bo kho! Do you need anything similar to pizza? The grilled rice paper dessert known as banh trang nuong is similar to a cross between an Italian pizza and a Mexican quesadilla.

The best part is that many Vietnamese copies of international cuisines employ delicious local ingredients that cost a fraction of the price, so you don’t have to pay outrageous costs for dishes prepared with costly imported components.

5. Not just rice

Till it’s pouring out of your ears, rice is a staple of many Asian cuisines. There are countless types of noodles to be found in Vietnam, including rice and egg-based noodles, stringy, thick, thin, glass, flat, macaroni, and nui (elbow macaroni), as well as rolled rice dishes like banh cuon and banh uot, adorable little woven bundles of banh hoi, and turmeric-infused noodles like mi quang.

The Vietnamese have noodles of every kind!

Dumplings, mini-pancakes like crispy banh khot or banh can, wraps like goi cuon (fresh cold spring rolls), sizzling banh xeo crepes, banh gio dumplings, and rice paper-based creations that are rolled or grilled follow.

6. Nutritious value

Since most Vietnamese food is high in nutrients, maintaining a balanced diet is easy for me even if I dine out most of the time. If you select a soup, a heaping serving of crisp greens and high-protein soy bean sprouts will be served alongside.

Visit any typical working-class (com binh dan) restaurant in the area, and you’ll find a steam table piled high with a variety of freshly cooked veggies.

In general, vegetarian (chay) food is widely available in Vietnam, particularly on the two days each month that relatives honor departed loved ones.

You practically never see wrinkled, stale, old veggies or garnishes in Vietnam because Vietnamese customers want fresh food.

7. Illumination

The majority of Vietnamese dishes are flavorful and light, with light sauces and broths that won’t make you feel bloated. Many people consume soups every day, typically made with rice or egg noodles and topped with an abundance of fresh veggies.

Heavy fried meats and vegetables that may be found elsewhere, as well as thick, creamy sauces that make you feel sleepy, are absent. Additionally, Vietnamese people prefer to grill and marinade meat and seafood than frying them in oil.

This delicious appetizer, sup mang cua (asparagus crab soup), strikes the ideal balance between the crab, asparagus, and corn; it’s light and flavorful.

This lau ca tam (sturgeon) is another example of a light broth-based meal that will blow your socks off! Hotpot foods are cooked in broth.

8. Low price

If local food satisfies the other requirements, price becomes irrelevant. If the meal is bad, what good is it cheap? We have some of the greatest and most affordable meals in Vietnam—a hard combination to top!

I typically eat well, spending between VND100,000 and VND120,000 (US$4.30-5) per day on well made meals that generally contain unprocessed products. I usually dine outside for all of my meals. A light dinner usually costs around VND15,000 to VND30,000, breakfast between VND15,000 and VND30,000, and lunch between VND30,000 and VND50,000.

There are upscale restaurants that charge VND200,000-300,000 ($9-13) and much more, if that’s what you’d want. With such a wide selection, you may get exactly what you want for the amount you’re prepared to spend.

9. At any moment

Vietnamese people usually eat rice for lunch and a light meal in the evenings, after starting the day with a robust soup or banh mi baguette.

In Vietnam, mealtimes are not set in stone. The majority of foods are available day or night. When I visit to other countries and find out that certain foods are only served during particular hours of the day, it drives me absolutely nuts.

Would you want to have breakfast of bun rieu cua crab noodle soup? I get it frequently in the morning, so don’t worry. In the evening, perhaps? accessible in the vicinity. Rather than in the morning, how about a banh mi in the evening? On any major street, all you have to do is glance left or right to spot a banh mi stall. What about banh uot pork with noodles or barbecued bun thit nuong for breakfast? Simple to locate!

10. The banh mi

The national snack is this delicious baguette sandwich, which costs between VND10,000 and VND20,000 (US$0.45 and $0.90) at a normal street vendor or bakery. It’s light, tasty, diversified, and deserving of a point all by itself.

If you’re in the mood for a big feast, you can get upscale versions that cost up to VND50,000 and have a ton of pork and other stuff.

There are an apparently limitless number of variations of banh mi made with various toppings and sauces. It is inexpensive, fast, and features both fresh and pickled veggies, making it the ideal meal to eat on the run.

What piques your interest in flavor?

The great thing about food preferences is that everyone has a unique set of criteria to consider.