Com tam – Broken rice
This simple meal, is one of the most popular dishes from South Vietnam at any time of the day, but particular in the morning. It is usually served grilled marinated pork chops, plus a mixture of thinly shredded pork and pork skin over broken rice. On top of the meat, there are several customary ingredients such as: finely sliced cucumber, tomato and pickled vegetables, along with prawn paste cake also known as steamed pork and egg custard or pork meatloaf with egg, fried egg, and grilled prawns.
As a dry dish, it would normally be served with a small bowl of fish sauces on the side.
Cơm Tam Moc, 82 Nguyen Du, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1. Price: 25.000 VND – 69.000 VND (from $1.5 USD)
Banh mi – Bread
This baguette sandwich filled with greens and a choice of fillings, including paté and freshly made omelette, is so good it’s been imitated around the world.
Pho – Rice noodle
By no means is this a definitive list—just 20 of the most memorable, most interesting, and most delicious dishes in my experience. Many of them vary by region. For example, the phở of the north is defined by a clear broth whereas the southern-style phở in Saigon might be murkier with more sauces, herbs, and other add-ins.
Banh xeo – Sizzling cake
Banh Xeo are giant savory pancakes that literally translate to sizzling cake because of the noise they make when they are being cooked. A good sizzling cake is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.
Banh Xeo 46A, 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, HCMC. Price: 15,000 VND – 55,000 VND (from $1 USD)