In Vietnam food options are brilliant for all tastes – from Banh Mi to Pho, you can never go wrong as you explore the incredible cuisine.

Healthy eating is pretty difficult when traveling. But in Vietnam food is always delicious and brimming with flavor, so you just have to try them all! A lot of foods that you may eat when traveling, may come in really big servings, which make it easier for you to feel guilty after the trip. In this country, you’ll never feel guilty after eating. The country has so many vegetarian options and just adds vegetables to literally almost every meal! Many Vietnamese dishes contain meat in them, but they always serve a vegetarian option. These meals will make you full but won’t make you feel drowsy when you’re traveling.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that contains a baguette, some type of protein, pickled carrots and radish, cucumber, pate, mayonnaise, and jalapeno for spice. People also like to add scallions and cilantro to enhance the flavor and aroma of the sandwich. The baguette was introduced in Vietnam when the country was part of French Indochina in the mid-19th century. The sandwich itself hadn’t been fully developed until the 1950s in Saigon, where it became a very popular street food and the food itself began taking shape into what it is today. There are many versions of Banh Mi, depending on what you put inside. For vegetarian options, there is a tofu Banh Mi which is fried tofu and all the other original ingredients. Of course, you can choose to take certain ingredients out if you don’t like it in your sandwich.

Anthony Bourdain actually popularized the sandwich on his trip to Vietnam and went to Banh Mi Phuong. They branded their banh mi to be the best in Vietnam.

Tofu Banh Mi

Photo: isaac’licious via flickr


One of the most popular Vietnamese dishes is Pho. Pho is a rice noodle dish that is originally made with broth from simmering beef bones, oxtails, and spices: star anise, coriander seed, fennel, cinnamon, black cardamom, ginger, and onion. The aroma of pho is from all the spices that have been infused with the beef bones and oxtails and it gives off a very sweet smell. This dish is mainly enjoyed with meat but for vegetarian options, the dish can be transformed in a completely different way. The aroma of Pho won’t disappear because of the spices but the way the broth is made can change.

Some may use mushrooms as a replacement for the meat, as well as tofu. The garnishes will always finish off the extraordinary dish: scallions, cilantro, mint leaves, onions, and bean sprouts. Finding a completely vegetarian Pho dish in Vietnam may be difficult, but there are definitely restaurants that serve them: Thien Duyen Ben Thanh and Karma Waters.

Vegetarian Pho

Photo: via

Banh Xeo

This is a Vietnamese style pancake made of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. For those who have a sweet tooth, sorry it’s not a sweet pancake. It is savory, but it is not salty. Banh Xeo is a dish that is basically free for all because you can put in anything that you like.

Traditionally, Vietnamese people put in bean sprouts, shrimp, and beef. The sizzling pancake is also paired with a lot of vegetables, mainly lettuce to wrap around the pancake. Some like to stuff in mints and other greens inside as well. It’s a very popular dish so you can find this just about anywhere.

Banh Xeo

Photo: stu_spivack via flickr

Goi Cuon

Also known as spring rolls, is popular among many Asian countries. In Vietnam however, it is distinct for its use of different sauces and its vegetarian styles. Spring rolls consist of rice paper, which becomes more flexible when dipped in warm water, rice noodles, cucumbers, lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, and some sort of meat, usually shrimp and beef. For vegetarian options, people replace the meat with tofu. Sometimes people just eat it with noodles and vegetables alone inside the moistened rice paper.

For the dipping sauce, there are mainly two types: hoisin peanut sauce, and nuoc cham. The hoisin peanut sauce is made out of chili, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and sugar while nuoc cham is made out of fish sauce, lime, garlic, sugar, and chilies or just fish sauce, sugar and vinegar. Try the restaurant Quan Em in Ho Chi Minh City for quality spring rolls.

Spring Rolls

Photo: stu_spivack via flickr

Goi Du Du

As cute as the name may sound, it is actually a delicious savory dish. The term ‘du du’ is papaya, in this case, the dish is specifically a green papaya. It is a savory dish in some parts of Asia, mainly in Thailand, which might sound strange since papayas are usually sweet. Because it is green, the fruit itself is not yet ripe, it has a tangy flavor with a crunch. There are savory and sweet versions of the dish in Vietnam. Usually, the dish is served with peanuts, mints, and fresh herbs. There may be meat with the dish, but you can always choose to leave that out.

Goi Du Du

Photo: Takeaway via Wikimedia Commons

Try all these healthy, vegetarian optioned meals, on your next trip to Vietnam. In Vietnam food is something to savour and remember!

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