Vietnamese food is trending in 2016. In fact, pho was considered one of the biggest food trends of 2016. As a Vietnamese American, I consider Vietnamese food one of the best cuisines out there. But when I talk to people about Vietnamese food, many only know about pho.Pho is dope. But there's still more Vietnamese food that is equally, if not more, delicious than pho. Here's a list of awesome Vietnamese dishes that you need to try:
1. Bánh mì
Why stick with Jimmy John's or Subway when you can have Bánh mì?
Bánh mì, or the Vietnamese Sandwich, comes with healthy and delicious fillings such as pickled veggies, fresh cucumber, and a well-seasoned meat of your choice.
The French influence (Vietnam was a former colony of France), shows strongly in this sandwich. From the pâté inside to the baguette that holds everything together, this sandwich is a wonderful mix of Vietnamese and French culture.
What makes the baguette so crispy? Well, the bread is made with rice flour instead of wheat flour.
2. Bánh xèo
Bánh mì isn't the only Vietnamese dish with a strong French influence. Bánh xèo is the savory Vietnamese take on the typical crepe. The difference is that it's made with rice flour, water, and turmeric flour. The insides are usually stuffed with pork, shrimp, green onion, and bean sprouts
It's typically served with a bunch of lettuce and other veggies on the side. Don't make the rookie mistake of eating the veggies and bánh xèo separately, though. Before you eat it, cut the bánh xèo into sections. Then wrap a section in lettuce and veggies, and eat it like a lettuce wrap. It'll make you feel healthy, even though you're really eating a fried pancake.
3. Cơm tấm
The name, cơm tấm, translates into "broken rice," because this dish is made with fractured rice grains. The broken rice doesn't stop this dish from being amazing, though. This dish also boasts meat (usually pork) prepared in three different ways: grilled meat, meat-floss, and an egg meatloaf.
This too comes with a small side of veggies (to pretend you're being healthy) and a bowl of fish sauce (to dunk your rice and meat in) on the side. Sometimes it's served with a fried egg on top and egg rolls on the side.
Don't worry if you don't know how to use chopsticks. Cơm tấm is supposed to be eaten with a fork and knife.
4. Bún bò huế
If you enjoy pho and are feeling a little ballsy, then try bún bò huế. This noodle soup originating from Vietnam's former capital city Huế is for those who want something more exciting than pho. Like pho, bún bò huế is a type of beef noodle soup with rice noodles—but the similarities stop there.
Bún bò huế has spicy chili oil inside of the broth, and the noodles are thicker and cylindrical. The toppings are things you wouldn't eat typically, such as pig's knuckles and pork blood. Even though the ingredients are a little weird, this dish used to be served to Vietnamese royalty. So, if you want to dine like a king, bún bò huế is the way to go.
5. Cà ri gà
If I had to choose only one dish that I had to eat for the rest of my life, I'd probably choose curry with rice. I love all types of curry, whether Thai or Indian. However, there's no curry out there that holds a place in my heart like cà ri gà, or Vietnamese chicken curry.
What's not to love about it? It has chicken, potatoes, carrots, and tons of coconut milk in the sauce. These ingredients combine to make cà ri gà comforting and great for a winter's day. Whether you eat it with rice, or with a baguette, it'll definitely warm your soul.
Chè is probably the most underrated Asian dessert. In Vietnamese, chè refers to any type of dessert soup. There are many variations. These variations can include, beans, aloe vera, taro, coconut cream, and even mochi-like dumplings.
Unsure which chè to try first? I highly recommend chè ba màu, which translates into "three colored chè." Chè ba màu got its name from the three types of beans used in it: yellow mung beans, white black-eyed peas, and the red azuki beans. It's the type of chè most Vietnamese kids eat first, as it is very colorful and not too weird.
Okay, I know I already said that everybody knows what pho is. But if you haven't tried pho yet, you're missing out. Pho is the dish that everybody associates with Vietnamese cuisine. Almost everyone I know says pho is their favorite Vietnamese dish. It's a comforting noodle soup that warms you up whether you're hungry after a long day or in need of a serious hangover cure.
Here's a pho-n fact about pho (pun intended): There are two types of pho, Northern-style and Southern-style. The latter is seen in most Vietnamese restaurants. Northern-style pho has wider noodles, only one cut of meat in it, and is only served with fish sauce, chili sauce and green onion as garnish. So if you haven't tried Northern-style pho yet, try it out and see what you think.
And if you've tried both of the styles of pho, don't forget to try the other six dishes above to expand your knowledge of Vietnamese food. Maybe one of them will be your new favorite Vietnamese dish!