Top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam – Eat like locals

23 Apr

Top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam – Eat like locals

Vietnam’s culinary landscape is a tapestry of vibrant flavors and textures, often overshadowed by the international fame of Phở and Bánh Mì. Yet, the true essence of Vietnamese cuisine lies in its local favorites—dishes that resonate with the soul of the streets yet remain underrated on the global stage.  In this blog, let’s discover top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam with Prime Travel aims to unveil these hidden gems, inviting you to a journey through Vietnam’s lesser-known but equally tantalizing dishes.

I. Top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam 


1. Bánh Đúc ( Steamed rice cake ) 

Originating from the countryside, this steamed rice cake symbolizes the simplicity and affordability of Vietnamese cuisine, accessible to all. It’s a dish that embodies the Vietnamese proverb “vợ chồng ta như bánh đa bánh đúc” (husband and wife are like girdle cake and steamed rice cake), representing a genuine, enduring relationship. 

To eat Bánh Đúc like a local, approach it as you would a communal experience. In the North, particularly in Hanoi, enjoy it hot, garnished with savory ingredients and a light dipping fish sauce or sometimes, in some families, people eat more simply: cut Banh Duc mixed peanut into small pieces and dip with soy sauce, although rustic but not inferior to other dishes. In the South, cut it into squares or rectangles and pair it with a flavorful dipping sauce, balancing sweet, savory, and tangy flavors for a complete sensory experience. 

 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Banh Duc Nong – special underrated dish during winter time in the North ( Source: Internet )

Here are some of the delicious hot Banh Duc shops that you should not miss:

  • Bánh Đúc Hang Be: Address:28 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 07:00 – 21:00. Reference price: 15,000 – 33,000 VND.
  • Oanh Hoe Nhai shop: Address: Opposite 57 An Duong, Tay Ho District, Hanoi Opening hours: 14:00 – 18:30. Reference price: 5,000 – 25,000 VND
  • Phan Dang Luu shop: Address: 11 Phan Dang Luu, Ward 3, Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh. Opening hours: 15:00 – 18:00. Price range: About 10,000 – 22,000 VND.
underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Banh Duc with honey sold on the corner of street ( Source: Internet )

2. Miến lươn ( Eel glass noodle ) 

This dish, with its origins shrouded in the mists of time, has become a famous dish, particularly in Nghe An, Hanoi, Ninh Binh. The eels, sourced from local waterways, bring a taste of the homeland to each bite, while the glass noodles provide a delicate ingredient for the flavors of the eel.

To join in this traditional Vietnamese experience, one must delve into the art of eating Miến Lươn. Begin with a bowl filled with silky glass noodles, then top it with succulent pieces of eel, which have been marinated and fried to crispy perfection.Decorating with a sprinkle of fried shallots and a generous helping of fresh herbs like coriander and green onions. Finally, pour over a ladle of warm, aromatic broth to complete the dish.

This dish is a celebration of contrasting textures and harmonious flavors, a true embodiment of Vietnam’s culinary beauty. 

 most underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Mien luon – Most underrated dishes in the North Vietnam ( Source: Internet )

Suggestion about places to try Mien Luon: 

  • Mien Luon Ba Lan: Address: No. 2 Tran Hung Dao, Vinh, Nghe An. Opening hours: 07:00 – 21:00. Reference price: 30,000 – 40,000 VND.
  • Mien Luon Minh Lan: Address: 1 Chan Cam, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 07:00 – 22:00. Reference price: 20,000 VND – 50,000 VND.
  • Mien Luon Ba Phan: Address: 999 Tran Hung Dao, Thanh Binh Ward, Ninh Binh. Opening hours: 7:00- 22:00. Reference price: 30,000 – 50,000 VND.
 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Some good places to try Mien Luon that you shouldn’t miss ( Source: Internet )

Read more>>>Hanoi Street Food: Top 10 DELICIOUS dishes You Can’t Miss

3. Bún đậu mắm tôm (Vermicelli with Fried Tofu and Shrimp Paste)

The soft rice vermicelli, known as ‘bún’, offers a delicate canvas for the contrasting textures and flavors that follow. The crispy fried tofu, ‘đậu’, provides a satisfying crunch, while the fermented shrimp paste, ‘mắm tôm’, delivers a robust, umami-packed punch that is both challenging and rewarding to the palate.

To truly appreciate Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm, one must dive into the communal spirit that is at the core of Vietnamese dining etiquette. The preparation of the dish is almost as important as its consumption. The shrimp paste is a critical component, and its preparation is an art form. It is traditionally mixed with cumquat juice or lemon extract, a touch of sugar, and a hint of sliced chili, creating a perfect harmony of tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors.

As you sit down to a plate of Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm, use your chopsticks to pick up a piece of vermicelli, dip it into the shrimp paste, ensuring each strand is coated with the flavorful sauce, and then savor the combination of soft noodles, crispy tofu, and the pungent, savory paste. The dish is often accompanied by a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables, such as lettuce, perilla, basil, and cucumber, adding freshness and complexity to each bite.

most underrated dishes

Bun Dau Mam Tom – Unique flavor dish to try in Hanoi ( Source: Internet )

Here are some Bun Dau Mam Tom in Hanoi that you can eat: 

  • Bun Dau Mam Tom Co Tuyen: Address: End of alley 29 Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours: 10:00 – 14:00. Reference price: 45,000 – 65,000 VND.
  • Bun Dau Cay Da: Address: No. 4, Ngo Gach, Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours: 9:00 – 14:00. Reference price: 50,000 – 110,000 VND.
  • Bun Dau Trung Huong: Address: No. 49, Ngo Phat Loc, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours: 10:00 – 15:30. Reference price: 20,000 – 50,000 VND.
top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Bun Dau Mam Tom Trung Huong at Phat Loc alley, Hanoi ( Source: Internet )

4. Xôi Xéo ( Mung bean sticky rice ) 

Xoi Xeo is one of the most famous dishes in Hanoi. This dish has a delightful combination of glutinous rice tinted with turmeric, giving it a signature golden color, topped with mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, and a drizzle of fragrant oil. Its name, intriguingly, translates to ‘sizzling sticky rice’, hinting at the sound the rice makes when it’s being cooked.

To enjoy Xoi Xeo, scoop a portion onto your plate, ensuring you get an even mix of the soft, chewy rice and the savory toppings. It’s often enjoyed with additional sides like cucumber salad, fried eggs or chicken, making it a hearty meal that’s perfect for starting the day.

Most underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Xoi Xeo – a dish has combination of glutinous rice tinted with turmeric and mung bean ( Source: Internet )

Some good places to try: 

  • Xôi Yến: Address: 35B Nguyen Huu Huan,Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi. Opening hour: 8AM – 10PM. Reference price: 20.000 – 100.000 VND.
  • Xôi Cô Mây Hàng Bài: Address: 35 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 6 AM – 12AM. Reference price: 10,000 – 20,000 VND Xôi Cát Lâm
  • Xôi Cát Lâm: Address: 24B Duong Thanh,Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi. Opening hour: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 20.000 – 50.000VNĐ. 
most underrated dishes in Vietnam

This dish will be wrapped in banana leaf to keep warm ( Source: Internet )

Read more>>>Top 5 best Vietnamese traditional food that you must try


5. Bánh Căn ( Can Cake ) 

Bánh Căn is a traditional dish  from Central Vietnam, this cake is crafted from a thin rice flour batter and often graced with toppings like shrimp, pork, or quail eggs. The cooking process is unique, utilizing specialized terracotta molds on outdoor grills, imparting a distinctive flavor and texture that’s both soft and slightly crispy.

underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Banh Can – a traditional dish from Central Vietnam ( Source: Internet )

To savor Bánh Căn in its authentic form, you must visit the local eateries where it’s made fresh on soil stoves. The batter is poured into small holes in the stove, then cooked to perfection and served with a dab of onion oil. The experience is elevated when these pancakes are wrapped in fresh herbs and dipped in a fish sauce or a peanut sauce, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Some famous place to try Banh Can in Vietnam such as: 

  • Ngoc Van Danang Bánh Căn: Address: No. 255, Nguyen Hoang, Hai Chau, Da Nang. Opening hours: 6:30 – 22:00. Reference price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND. 
  • Bánh Căn To Hien Thanh: Address: 51 To Hien Thanh, Nha Trang. Opening hours: 16:00 – 21:00. Reference price: 20,000 VND – 150,000 VND
  • Bánh Căn Thuy Danang: Address: No. 154, Huynh Thuc Khang, Hai Chau, Da Nang. Opening hours: 15:00 – 18:00. Reference price:13,000 – 22,000 VND 
top 12 most underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Banh Can is considered as the underrated dishes but having amazing taste ( Source: Internet )

6. Bánh tráng cuốn thịt heo ( Rice paper rolls with Pork ) 

Banh trang cuon thit heo is a specialty of Central Vietnam, particularly around Da Nang. It’s a harmonious blend of tender slices of marinated grilled pork, fresh herbs, crisp vegetables, and sometimes rice vermicelli, all wrapped in translucent rice paper.

To savor this underrated dish, simply dip the roll into the accompanying savory, tangy, and slightly sweet dipping sauce called “nước chấm”, which enhances the flavors and adds an irresistible kick to each bite. 

 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Banh trang cuon thit heo – A cool, delicious roll dish on a hot summer day ( Source: Internet )

Some good places to try: 

  • Dai Loc Nho restaurant: Address: 27/2 Thai Phien, Hai Chau, Da Nang. Opening hours: 6:30 AM – 8:30 PM. Reference price: 30,000 VND – 79,000 VND.
  • Mrs. Huong’s restaurant: Address: 460 2/9 Street, Hoa Cuong Nam Ward, Hai Chau District, Da Nang. Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 80,000 – 120,000 VND.
  • Phu Cuong Pork Rice Paper Rolls: Address: 1st floor, 104 Yet Kieu str, Hai Ba Trung district, Ha Noi. Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 50,000 – 100,000 VND per person.
underrated dishes in Vietnam

Try this dish at local market to have authentic experience ( Source: Internet )

7. Cơm Hến ( Baby clams rice )

Hue Steamed Rice with Baby Clams or Com Hen is one of the most famous Hue dishes which tourists should not miss when traveling to the old kingdom of Vietnam. Steamed rice is popular in Vietnam but Hue people eat steamed rice in a very Hue style. Crunchy rice is served cold with baby clams, deep-fried pork fat, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, banana blossom strips, herbs, sliced star fruits, taro stem, fermented shrimp sauce. Clam broth is a must to eat with Com Hen to add flavor to it.

The most interesting thing here is the strange but unique combination of cold rice and hot clams, hot broth. Vegetables bring fresh, crispy and vibrant flavors.

underrated dishes in Vietnam

Com hen – Most underrated dish in Hue ( Source: Internet )

Some good places to try: 

  • Cơm hến Hoa Đông: Address: 64/7 Ung Binh, Vy Da, Hue, Thua Thien – Hue Province, Vietnam.Opening Hours: 07:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 10,000 – 20,000 VND.
  • Cơm hến bà Lam: Address: 49 Tung Thien Vuong, Vy Da, Hue, Thua Thien – Hue Province, Vietnam. Opening Hours: 06:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Reference price: 10,000 – 50,000 VND.
  • Quán Nhỏ: Address: 28 Pham Hong Thai, Hue, Vietnam.Opening Hours: 06:00 AM – 10:00 AM.Reference price: 20,000 – 39,000 VND.
underrated dishes in Vietnam

Various ingredients are used in Com Hen to create a delicious dish ( Source: Internet )

Read more>>>TOP 7 Best Vegetarian Restaurants Hanoi that you MUST TRY

8. Bánh bèo ( Savory steamed rice cakes ) 

Originating from the ancient city of Hue, Bánh Bèo is a delightful appetizer made from a blend of rice flour and tapioca flour, steamed to perfection and served in small, delicate bowls. These tender rice cakes are typically topped with savory ingredients such as minced shrimp or a mixture of pork, shrimp, and wood ear mushrooms, creating a symphony of flavors that are both subtle and satisfying.

most underestimated dishes in Vietnam

Banh Beo is made from a blend of rice flour and tapioca flour ( Source: Internet )

Some good places to try:

  • Bánh Bèo Huệ Sương: Address: 4 Đoan Huu Trung, Phuoc Vinh, Hue. Opening hours: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Reference price: 10,000 – 60,000 VND.
  • Bánh Bèo Bà Bé: Address: 100 Hoang Van Thu, Hai Chau, Đa Nang. Opening hours: 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Reference price: 30,000 – 60,000 VND
  • Bánh Bèo Bà Bảy. Address: 2 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An. Opening hours: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Reference price: 5,000 – 50,000 VND.
 top 12 underrated dishes in Vietnam

Some good recommendations to try Banh Beo in Central Vietnam ( Source: Internet )


9. Hủ Tiếu ( Rice noodle soup ) 

Hu Tieu is a cultural dish of Southern Vietnam, where the Mekong Delta’s bountiful harvest meets the culinary legacy of the region. The magic of Hu Tieu lies in its slow-simmered broth, which typically cooks for 7-8 hours. It starts with pork bones and white radish to create a sweet base, to which grilled red onions, dried squid, and shrimp are added for a smoky depth and a hint of the sea. The noodles, known as “hủ tiếu dai,” are distinct for their chewy texture and are made from rice starch, giving them a unique transparency.

Enjoy Hu Tieu – the underrated dish like a local, dive into the bowl with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other. Savor the noodles and toppings, then sip the broth directly from the bowl. It’s customary to adjust the flavor with chili peppers, lemon, and bean sprouts. For a complete experience, pair it with sides like roasted peanuts and chili sauce. 

Some good places to try Hu Tieu: 

  • Hu Tieu Nam Vang: Address: 25 Thu Khoa Nghia, Chau Phu A Ward, Chau Doc, An Giang. Opening hours: 07:00 – 22:00. Preference price: 30,000 – 35,000 VND.
  • Hu Tieu Sa Dec: Address: 75 Tran Hung Dao, Group 1, Ward 2, Sa Dec, Dong Thap. Opening hours: From 06:00 – 22:00 (the restaurant may close earlier if sold out, especially on weekends). Preference price: 20,000 – 35,000 VND per normal bowl.
  • Hu Tieu My Tho: Address: 108/9 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 6, My Tho. Preference price: 40,000 – 60,000 VND per bowl.
top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

A rustic dish that shows the rich river culture of the Southwest ( Source: Internet )

Read more>>>What makes Cafe in Hanoi most unique and special 2023?

10. Lẩu Mắm ( traditional fermented fish hotpot )

Originating from the Mekong Delta, it features a savory broth made from fermented fish, which is meticulously prepared with coconut water, sautéed pork belly, garlic, lemongrass, and chili. The result is a broth that is both spicy and flavorful, setting the stage for a variety of fresh seafood, meats, and an array of indigenous vegetables.

To enjoy Lau Mam, gather around the simmering pot, and dip your choice of fresh ingredients into the bubbling broth until they are perfectly cooked. The dish is typically served with a side of rice vermicelli and a platter of fresh herbs and vegetables, allowing you to customize their bowl to your interest. Each bite is a celebration of flavors, from the umami depth of the fermented fish to the fresh crunch of vegetables.

Some good places to try: 

  • Lau Mam Ba Du: Address: 19 Tran Khac Chan, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1. Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 25,000 – 120,000 VND.
  • Quan Huong Dua: Address: Mac Thien Tich Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho. Opening hours: 3:00 PM – 10:30 PM. Reference price: From 50,000 VND to 200,000 VND.
  • Lau Mam Truc Giang: Address: 293D Nguyen Thi Dinh, Phu Hung Commune, Ben Tre. Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
most underestimated dishes in Vietnam

The dish is a harmonious combination of goby fish sauce and fresh ingredients ( Source: Internet )

11. Cơm cháy kho quẹt (scorched rice with caramelized fish sauce )

Cơm cháy kho quẹt is a underrated dish with combination between crispy rice and savory dipping sauce.To prepare “cơm cháy,” one must use leftover rice, which is then fried to a golden crisp. The “kho quẹt” sauce is a hearty mix of caramelized sugar, fish sauce, and various ingredients like pork belly, dried shrimp, and spices, simmered until thickened.

To enjoy the “Cơm cháy kho quẹt”, you dipped the crispy rice into the warm, flavorful sauce, often accompanied by fresh vegetables, creating an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Com chay kho quet is a harmonious blend of sauce and crispy fried rice dish ( Source: Internet )

Some good places to try: 

  • SH Garden: Address: 26 Dong Khoi, district 1, Ho Chi Minh. Opening hour: 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM. Reference price: 100.000 VND – 150.000 VND.
  • Cơm cháy kho quẹt má Bảy: Address:  No.126 Hai Ba Trung road, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho. Opening hour: 2:00 PM – 11:00 PM. Reference price: 35.000 VND- 50.000 VND.
  • Phương Nam restaurant: Address: 13 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung district, Ha Noi. Opening hour: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Reference price: 80.000 VND – 120.000 VND. 

12. Bánh canh ( Soup cake ) 

Banh Canh, often referred to as Vietnamese “soup cake,” is a hearty and traditional dish and most underrated dish hailing from the Southern regions of Vietnam.

This thick noodle soup is a staple comfort food, beloved for its chewy noodles made from a blend of rice and tapioca flour, and its rich, savory broth typically based on pork or seafood.The noodles are the star of the dish and can be made fresh at home. The dough is a simple mix of rice flour, tapioca starch, and hot water, which is then rolled and cut into thick strands. The broth is equally important, simmered with pork bones or seafood to extract deep flavors, and seasoned with fish sauce and a touch of sugar for balance. 

Some good places to try: 

  • Bánh Canh Cua Út Lệ: Address: 204 – 210 To Hien Thanh, Ward 15, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.Opening hours: 17:00 – 21:00.Reference price: 35,000 – 60,000 VND.
  • Bánh Canh Nguyễn Phi Khanh: Address: 12C Nguyen Phi Khanh Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.Reference price: 30,000 – 50,000 VND.
  • Bánh Canh Trần Khắc Chân: Address: 87 Tran Khac Chan Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 11:00 – 20:00.Reference price: Approximately 30,000 – 55,000 VND.
top 12 most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Bánh Canh – One of the most underrated dishes in the South of Vietnam ( Source: Internet )

Read more>>>Vietnam Trip Cost from Philippines 2024: Best Reviews for Filipino Travelers

II. Dining etiquette

Embarking on a culinary journey in Vietnam is an adventure for the tourists, but it’s essential to dine with local savvy to fully embrace the experience. When dining in Vietnam, immersing yourself in the local customs can transform a simple meal into a cultural experience. Here are some dining etiquette that you should follow when joining in culinary experience in Vietnam: 

  • Always use both hands when passing dishes to show respect and ensure communal harmony. 
  • Never double-dip your utensils in shared dishes, as it’s considered impolite. 
  • Do not stick chopsticks vertically into your bowl; it resembles incense sticks used for offerings and is considered disrespectful. 
  • Do not eat directly from shared dishes; transfer food to your own bowl first
  • Stay seated until other people finish their meal to honor the communal dining experience. 
  • Refrain from digging into dishes; instead, take portions from the top to show consideration for others. 
  • Never point chopsticks at anyone, as it’s seen as accusatory. 
most underrated dishes in Vietnam

Some dining etiquette that you NEED to know when eating like Locals in Vietnam ( Source: Internet )

Although underrated dishes or not widely known, these dishes are not just ordinary food to Vietnamese people; they also carry symbols and cultural meanings behind them. If you have the chance to visit Vietnam, don’t forget to try these dishes and eat like a local to fully discover the hidden beauty of the destination.

Check out some best seller Vietnam tour package of Prime Travel here: 

The North Vietnam package 5 days

The Central Vietnam package 5 days

Dinner With Locals

Authentic Vietnamese Coffee Workshop


Leave a Reply:

You don't have permission to register