In Vietnam, the early start on school and work means breakfast is usually rushed. It’s 7am on a Monday, your stomach is rumbling, the sun is glaring in your face, and work is calling. Where do you go? What do you get?
Traditional breakfast choices in Vietnam are incredibly varied and all worth a try. We have compiled here some of the most popular dishes and where you can find them in Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Otherwise known as the Vietnamese sandwich, bánh mì is one of the most popular Vietnamese specialties abroad. It’s also very easy to make by yourself. Bánh mì consists of Vietnamese baguettes with fillings of meat and vegetables, sometimes with rousong and often with chili sauce or mayonnaise.
Depending on your preference, the meat can be pork, chicken, chả lụa (Vietnamese sausage), chả cá (fish patty), fried eggs, liver paté, or meatballs. The vegetables typically include tomato, cucumber, and coriander. These are the two famous banh mi place we would recommend you to try:
Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa – 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, District 1, Saigon
Bánh mì Lãn Ông – 6 Chả Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi
Originally from Cambodia, where it is known as kuy teav, hủ tiếu has since acquired features unique to Vietnamese cuisine. Hủ tiếu consists of boiled rice noodles, pork, shrimp, quail eggs, with sliced pork liver and heart. Different locales make hủ tiếu differently, and two main varieties are Nam Vang and Mỹ Tho (made a bigger and more chewy type of noodles).
Hu tieu can both be served dry (khô) or wet (ướt) depends on your preference. Many Saigonese prefer the dry version because of the richness of its flavor. Popular Hủ Tiếu places are:
Hủ tiếu Nam Vang Bà Hoàng – Alleyway 46 Võ Văn Tần, Ward 6, District 3, Saigon
Cô Tuân – 47 Trần Quốc Toản, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Bo Ne ( Sizzling Beefsteak)
If you define the term Bo Ne in Vietnamese, it literally means “cow dodging”. But don’t worry, cows won’t be flying at you while you are enjoying this dish. Since the food is sizzling and served on a hot steel plate, you are going to need to dodge the oil flying towards you. And that is how the name Bo Ne originated.
Bo Ne is a favorite dish of many Saigonese. The dish is cooked with many different ingredients. It has marinated beef steak, sunny-side up eggs, pate, onions and topped with fries. Because of the oily nature of the dish, Bo Ne is always served with a side of lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad. Since Bo Ne is mostly popular in Saigon, we would recommend you to try it here for an authentic taste.
Beefsteak Phúc Lộc – 220 Âu Lạc, District Tân Bỉnh, Saigon
Xoi (Sticky Rice)
Xôi is a very simplistic dish. There are two main types: sweet and savory. The sweet varieties include sticky rice made with corn, black urad beans, mung beans, etc. The savory type is sticky rice with chicken, sausage, pork floss, and/or quail eggs. Sticky rice is sometimes served with bánh đa and pandan leaves. A good place to have sticky rice is:
Xôi Lá Chuối – 868 Trần Hưng Đạo, District 5, Saigon
Com Tam (Broken rice)
If you are looking for a rich meal to prepare for a busy day ahead, Com Tam is the right choice. Besides Hu Tieu, Com Tam is Saigonese’s top favorite dish for breakfast. Instead of white rice, Com Tam is made with broken rice, and this is where the name comes from. It is served with honey marinated pork, shredded pig skins, egg meatloaf, fried eggs, cucumber and pickled carrots. And of course you cannot forget a side of fish sauce.
Fun fact: Com Tam and Bo Ne are the only two dishes on the list that you don’t you use chopsticks to eat, in fact you will be using knife and fork.
Cơm Tấm Bụi Sài Gòn – 100 Thạch Thị Thanh, District 1, Saigon
Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Crepes)
Coming from a heavy dish such as Com Tam, Banh Cuon is the opposite. Since the rice crepe is paper thin, you will not have to worry about being bloated after breakfast. However, with the sides which come with the dish, you are sure to have a nutritious breakfast with Banh Cuon. The rice crepe is stuffed with ground pork and woodear mushrooms.
Banh Cuon is served with Vietnamese ham Cha Lua, chopped cucumber, boiled bean sprouts, cilantro, Vietnamese basil and topped with fried shallot. Since it is originated in Hanoi, Banh cuon is usually a go to choice for many Hanoians.
Bánh Cuốn Bà Hoành – 66 Tô Hiến Thành, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hanoi
Bánh Cuốn Thiên Hương – 179A 3 Tháng 2 Street, Ditrict 10, Saigon
Last but not least, you cannot have a list of Vietnamese breakfasts without Phở. Phở is the most well-known Vietnamese dish around the world. Originally from Nam Định, a province in the north of Vietnam, Phở consumption spread to the south and then to the rest of the world by Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, gaining widespread acclaim from the international community.
Phở can be made with beef or chicken, with the accompanying rice noodle and broth. The broth is the most distinctive feature of the dish, made from simmering the beef or chicken bones with seasoning and spices. And as with all Vietnamese noodle dishes, Phở is usually served with herbs and vegetables, as well as chili sauce. Places in Hanoi and Saigon to cure your Phở withdrawal are:
Phở Hòa – 260C Pasteur, Ward 8, District 3, Saigon
Phở Bát Đàn – 49 Bát Đàn Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi