1. Banh Mi
Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette) is a cheap and widely available food in Vietnam. It is familiar to all Vietnamese people and being seen by many as one of the cheapest and fastest food to relieve hunger.
Compared to its Western counterpart, Vietnamese baguette is airier with a thinner crust. It is made with rice flour along with wheat flour. Banh Mi is often kept warm to be served freshly hot and eaten alongside dishes such as bò kho (a beef stew)and phá lấu, or dipped in condensed milk. Its fillings are varied to suit personal taste, including roasted meat, pate, pork belly, omelet or peanut butter… accompanied by vegetables and condiments.
Because of Banh Mi’s widespread popularity, it can be found in almost every corner of the street, from street food stalls to inexpensive and luxurious restaurants.
2. Banh Beo Hue
Banh Beo Hue is one of the highlights of Hue cuisine. The cake is made from various ingredients including rice flour, scallion oil, crispy rendered pork fat, shrimp, mung bean paste and crispy fried shallots. It is served in a small shallow dish and accompanied by a sweetened fish sauce.
You can try this special cake in restaurants serving Hue’s cuisine, which are widely available in big cities. Or you can eat Banh Beo during your trip to Hue.
Fun fact: In modern Vietnamese, due to its soft and rubbery texture, Banh Beo is used as slang among young Vietnamese people to describe a girl who is over-feminine and weak-willed. It is used mainly among a group of close friends in a joking manner.
3. Banh Duc
Banh Duc is a very popular dish in almost all rural areas in Northern Vietnam. Its main ingredients are from agricultural products, including non-glutinous rice flour or corn-flour and peanut. It is in white colour with a soft texture and mild flavor.
Banh Duc is typically accompanied by such savory ingredients as ground pork, fried onions, sesame seeds, peanuts and grilled ground spawns. It is served commonly with tuong (Vietnamese sweet soya sauce) or mam tom(Vietnamese shrimp paste).
In Southern, Banh Duc is coloured green and cut in blocks. It is served with syrup or coconut juice.
Where to try Banh Duc?
Hanoi: Banh Duc nong Le Ngoc Han: Alley 8, Le Ngoc Han Street, Hai Ba Trung District.
Ho Chi Minh City: Banh Duc Phan Dang Luu: 116/11, Phan Dang Luu Street, Ward 3, Phu Nhuan District.
4. Banh Tro
Banh Tro (pyramidal sticky rice cake) is another traditional Vietnamese cake which is in brown-yellow colour and eaten with honey. It is made from glutinous rice soaked in mix of water and ash and wrapped in banana leaves or Dong leaves. The making process gives Banh Tro special colour and sweet cool taste. Banh Tro is a very popular food during the Doan Ngo Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
Where to buy BanhTro?
Hanoi: Home Market, Pho Hue Street.
Ho Chi Minh City: BanhTro is sold at local markets before or during the Doan Ngo Festival.
5. Banh Da Heo
Banh Da Heo (literally “pig skin cake”) is a Vietnamese steamed layer cake, which is especially popular in the Mekong Delta region. Although its name may sound strange for many, the ingredients for this cake are quite familiar with tapioca starch, rice flour, mashed mung beans, taro, or durian, coconut milk, water, and sugar. Its taste is sweet and its texture is soft, with thin colored layers alternating with layers of mung bean, durian, or taro filling.
Where to get Banh Da Heo?
Hanoi: Banh Chin Tang May: 16A Ly Nam De, Ba Dinh District.
Ho Chi Minh City: A Muoi: 270 Vo Van Tan street, Ward 5, District 3.
6. Banh Chung
Banh Chung (square glutinous rice cake) is the most famous and irreplaceable food in Tet Holiday. Main ingredients include glutinous rice, pork meat and green beans, which will be wrapped in square “Dong” leaves. According to a Vietnamese legend, the cake’s square shape represents the shape of Earth.
Making “Banh Chung” requires a lot of times and the contribution of several people. Therefore, in the traditional conception of Vietnamese people, the process of wrapping Chung cakes for New Year is the opportunity for the whole family to gather together. However, people in some big cities nowadays, people rarely have times to prepare the cake at home. Instead, they go to the store to buy some then place them on ancestor altar for ancestor worship during Tet holiday.
7. Banh Troi Nuoc
Banh Troi Nuoc (Floating rice cake) is a sweet and light Vietnamese traditional food. It is a combination of rice flour with a small brown sugar cube inside, adorned with roasted sesame seeds and copra on top. Banh Troi Nuoc can be served with sweet soup cooked from ginger and sugar.
Banh Troi Nuoc is often eaten in almost every Vietnamese holiday on Cold Food Day, which falls on the third day of the third lunar month. It is sold around the year and in almost any market.
8. Banh Gio
Banh Gio (Rice Pyramid Dumpling) is a pyramid-shaped dumpling filled with minced pork, black forest mushroom, wood ear mushroom, black pepper and chopped shallot. It is wrapped in layers of banana leaf.
Banh Gio tastes the best when eaten fresh from the steamer, when they are still hot and soft. It can be served with soy sauce or chili sauce. Banh Gio can be used for a filling breakfast or a yummy dinner. On a cold day, what can be more wonderful than sitting in a food stall eating a hot rice pyramid dumpling?
Banh Gio can easily be found at almost any convenient store or supermarket. You can also enjoy this special cake at a lot of street food stalls.
9. Banh Cuon
Banh Cuon (Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls) is a speciality from Northern Vietnam with one of its famous versions called Banh Cuon Thanh Tri in Hanoi. A dish of Banh Cuon consists of several thin and delicate sheets of steamed rice filled with minced pork and mushroom. The rice rolls are sprayed with crispy fried shallots then placed on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers and bean sprouts. The dish is also served with Vietnamese sausage (cha lua) and a sweet fish sauce mixed with water.
Where to eat Banh Cuon?
Hanoi: Banh Cuon Nong Kim Thoa, 49 Ham Tu Quan Street, Hoan Kiem District.
Ho Chi Minh City: Banh Cuon Nho, 353 Le Van Sy Street, District 3.
10. Banh Dau Xanh
Banh Dau Xanh (green bean cakes) is the most famous speciality of Hai Duong province. It was even recognized as Asian speciality gifts by the Asia Book of Records. The careful preparation and mixture of such ingredients as green bean, sugar, fat or vegetable oil, grapefruit flower essence and coconut essence gives this cake the sweet flavor and attractive smell.
Vietnamese people, especially those living in the North, often enjoy the cake with a warm cup of tea, which gives them the most impressive treat. If you are in Vietnam, do not miss out on a chance to try Banh Dau Xanh and indulge in a simple but pleasant and unique taste of Vietnamese countryside.
Banh Dau Xanh is easily found in various convenient stores and supermarkets.