Vietnam culinary scene is vast, stretching from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, with each and every region having its own unique, signature dish. Vietnamese might share a common tough, but Vietnam’s cuisines are what truly unite the country as a whole. Food is the essence of its people, from the recipes to the ingredients, food can tell us many things about a culture and its values. By taking a look at some regional delicacies of Vietnam, we will uncover the hidden beauty within each of Vietnam’s regions.
It’s hard not to mention Hanoi when discussing Northern Vietnamese food. A melting pot of French, Vietnamese, and part Chinese culinary, Hanoi still has a deep connection to its’ roots in Vietnamese traditions. Here, Bún Chả undoubtedly reigns supreme as the queen of Northern Vietnamese food. Chả is often grilled meatballs, although any authentic Bún Chả vendor will cook its’ Chả over an open flame, smoking and searing it just right so the colours reach a pleasant dark brown, while oozing with juicy fat. Bún, you will find out, is a catch-all word for Vietnamese white noodles, used in a variety of soup-based food. In this particular case, Bún in Bún Chả is thin and long, sticky but always fresh and almost flavourless. A bowl of Bún Chả depends on its’ sauce, an iconic bowl of diluted fish sauce, accompanied with garlic and chili pepper. Bún Chả is very subtle in its’ delivery, its’ only distinction is a salty overtone of the fish sauce. Earthy and natural, Bún Chả represents Hanoi’s values in a traditional, simplistic lifestyle, using the minimal amount of ingredients but highlighting the possibilities within.
Let’s travel to Central Vietnam, where the hills are bountiful and lush with life. Unlike North Vietnam’s limited access to ingredients, Central Vietnam’s cuisine is always colorful, exotic, and varied. To create a full menu for Central Vietnam would be almost impossible, as people here often eat many dishes per meal, and had already memorized every dish by heart. Nothing displays Hue’s emphasis on assortment as Bánh Huế, which includes dozens of different types of cuisine. Often served in small dishes, Bánh Huế is meant to be consumed over a long meal, with the goal of trying out as many different types of Bánh Huế as possible. These are delicious snacks by themselves, such as Bánh Bột Lọc, with its iconic red color due to the shrimp wrapped inside a transparent layer of flour. Or maybe try out Bánh Bèo, where the shrimp is fried and diced to be placed on top of wheat flour, drizzled in fish sauce.
Saigon is Vietnam’s central hub for technology and economic advancements. This is why Saigon’s most well-known cuisine: Bánh Mì, has successful become the international symbol for Vietnamese cuisine. In Saigon, hundreds of Bánh Mì street vendors scatter the streets. Every Bánh Mì shop is famous for its own unique interpretation of the inclusive food. Bánh Mì represents Saigon’s flexibility and ever changing landscape, it’s components are yours to invent and combine, its’ taste depends on the maker’s preferences. If there’s one unifying aspect of Bánh Mì Saigon, it would be the hot sauce. Saigon’s food is generally spicier than Northern foods, perhaps because chili pepper grows extremely well in tropical weather. That’s why in every Saigon’s street vendor, you’ll always find a bright red bottle of hot sauce nearby.
Saigonese are also known for their sweet tooth, with their wide array of Chè and deserts. Mostly made from tapioca or melted sugar, Chè is the combination of fresh fruits and a sweet, syrup paste, a perfect desert food. Here’s a tip, for the best Vietnamese snacks and dessert foods, go to any High School’s front gate in Saigon. There, you’ll find high school students flocking like birds around trolley full of Chè and other sweets.
HOME’s menu is dedicated to exploring the diverse landscape of Vietnamese culinary. Every iconic regional dish can be found in HOME, prepared and cooked using traditional recipes and fresh ingredients.