Vietnamese food is quite varied and unforgettable with delightful tastes, low in fat, healthy, and always fresh. The local cuisine has been influenced over the years by immigration, history, trade and climate.
In relation to food, the country is split between the north, central highlands and the south with a noticeable difference in food traditions, culture and climate. Generally, the cuisine in the north of the county has taken a lot of influence from local neighbours China and with the north’s four seasons, the dishes are also impacted by the climate. The food in the south of the country has Thai and Khmer influence and the much warmer climate puts a lot more emphasis on grilled meats, salads, and other cooling foods. Also, for the central highlands the local cuisine is a combination of the two styles from the north and south.
Many of the ingredients common in the local Vietnamese dishes are quite similar to neighbours like Cambodia and Thailand – although Vietnamese food still has the ability to maintain its own distinct style. Meals are likely to be fresher, more fragrant, lighter and less spicy. Plus, the meals served in a restaurant have multiple shared dishes served at once and dining can be a leisurely affair. For instance, a salad, fresh fruit, a vegetable dish, steamed meats, rice and soup can placed on the table at the same time.
For the traveller exploring the major cities on the Vietnam travel there are plenty of high-class dining establishments to stop and eat. The upmarket restaurants not only serve the best and most varied dishes, but offer ambient settings with a varied range of styles from local Vietnamese to French, Thai and Indian.
Vietnam's best restaurants
Banh Xeo Zon Pancake
The Banh Xeo Zon Pancake is a great restaurant to discover on the tours in Vietnam. The house specialty of this restaurant is of course banh xeo which is delicious crispy pancakes filled with shrimp, bean sprouts, sauce, herbs, salad and pork. This family run restaurant also serves plenty of other Vietnamese dishes. It is a great place to be in the evening when it is truly animated and is geared more towards the tourist than the local people.
Bien Mo Floating Restaurant
For the most unique dining experience, the Bien Mo Floating Restaurant is well-located in Halong Bay and certain to appeal to tourists. This restaurant on the water serves some of the finest seafood dishes which are cooked with a local-style and include succulent prawns, snails, lobsters, cuttlefish, crabs and oysters.
Cha Ca La Vong
Located in Hanoi, the Cha Ca La Vong restaurant serves a single delicious and iconic dish known as cha ca which is fish grilled with fresh herbs, roasted peanuts, sliced chillies, nuoc cham dipping sauce and rice noodles. This dish is cooked on clay brazier and served table side.
The Green Tangerine is located in a restored and gorgeous French villa in the centre of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This restaurant has a French chef who prepares a variety of his country’s traditional dishes, as well as other international dishes. It is a very atmospheric restaurant with an option to eat inside or relax outside in the garden courtyard area. Prices are relatively agreeable with a 3 course meal costing in the region of $19.50 with decent size portions and friendly service.
A great fine-dining culinary experience in Ho Chi Minh City is available at the La Camargue with its romantic ambience. This restaurant has a menu consisting of classic Mediterranean and French cuisine that is complemented with Asian accents, such as a duck confit samosas with shallot and balsamic dipping sauce. As a high-end restaurant, tourists on the holiday in Vietnam can expect to receive immaculate service and an extensive wine list. Prices are a little expensive by Ho Chi Minh City standards, but certain to be worthwhile for the outstanding food and wine.
The Louisiane Brewhouse is a lovely establishment located on the beachside in Nha Trang with its restaurant and bar. The food served is mostly local Vietnamese seafood, but there is also a limited choice of other foods, such as sushi, pizza, burgers and streaks. The is a great place for local home brews and unique beer choices which are pretty tasty - though a little bit more pricey compared to other places. Other features include the large outside swimming pool for a relaxing and cooling time, as well as live music on occasion.
The Morning Glory restaurant is located in Hoi An old town and a popular sit down establishment that serves the best local Vietnamese street food. It is based in an old, elegant French-colonial villa that gets very busy and it is worth booking in advance for those wishing to eat the excellent food like crispy pancakes, smoky eggplant, squid stuffed with pork or white rose dumplings while on the Vietnam tours. Also, the atmosphere is great with friendly staff and is nicely decorated.
Nineteen11 is located in the capital city and named after the year of completion of the Hanoi Opera House. This restaurant has a menu serving plenty of refined Vietnamese, French and western dishes. Some of the superb dishes include the seafood bouillabaisse and the salmon, hummus and prawn bisque. The service, wine, presentation and food are all at a high standard. Plus, this restaurant features a walk-in wine cellar.
The Refinery in Ho Chi Minh City is a French-style bistro and based in a former opium refinery located close to the Opera House. A visit to this restaurant on the travel to Vietnam makes it possible to taste a delicious contemporary European menu that includes great weekend brunches and homemade ice-creams. The fish dishes are always a great choice in this restaurant. It has a relaxed atmosphere with the option of sitting inside the restaurant with its bars or outside in a peaceful sitting area.