What is Typical Vietnamese Food? Mint and Basil

What is Typical Vietnamese Food?

If we talk about a typical meal for the average Vietnamese family, it would be Cơm Trắng – There is cooked white rice. Món mặn to eat rice: Fish/seafood, tofu (boiled, grilled, steamed, stewed or stir-fried with vegetables), meat, Rau – boiled, sauteed and raw fresh green vegetables.  

Traditional Vietnamese Food  

  • Phở Cuốn – Vietnamese rolled noodles or rolled pho. 
  • Bột Chiên – Fried rice flour cakes with eggs.  
  • Cơm Tấm – Vietnamese broken rice.  
  • Xôi Xiêm (Sầu Riêng) – Durian sticky rice.  
  • Gỏi Cá Mai – Raw fish roll. 

For the best Vietnamese food in Hong Kong, come over to Mint and Basil.  

  • Vietnamese food contains the brilliant balance of heat, sweet, sour, aromatics and fish-sauciness. With other Asian cuisines, it is all about the combination of sweet and salt, cool and warm, fresh and fermented. Some of the popular Vietnamese food items are Pho – A national staple made with flat rice noodles, a warming broth and usually chicken or beef, Bun Cha, Bánh Mì, Bánh Cuốn, Gỏi Cuốn, Chè,  Hủ Tiếu and Bánh Xèo. 

Irrespective of the food you order, Vietnamese food is super healthy as it is prepared using fresh herbs and vegetables. Fresh spices give a better flavour and balance to Vietnamese food items. There is no doubt that Vietnamese cuisines are delicious. The best part is the spices that are used to cook food items have medicinal qualities. So, eating Vietnamese means you get the best of both worlds – Taste and health benefits.  

At Mint and Basil, Hong Kong, you will have options to choose from. There is a whole menu that offers a variety; right from Vietnamese to Thai and Indian food.  

Typical Vietnamese Family Dinner 

Dinner food items usually include one or two main dishes such as steamed chicken, fried fish, stewed pork, one dish of stir-fried or boiled vegetables and one bowl of broth. Steamed rice is inevitable in most Vietnamese meals. 

Vietnamese Food Ingredients  

Balance is the most important part of cooking Vietnamese food. You see it in the national dish, a double-digit hour-simmered beef broth with rice noodles with a lot of steamy, soulful noodle soups laden with fresh herbs, potent spices, searing chiles, squirts of citrus and dashes of fish sauce.  

This reflects the culinary Buddhist-inspired five-element philosophy that pairs natural elements with flavors: Fire to bitter, wood to sour, earth to sweet, water to salty and metal to spicy.  

Every dish must show harmony between the elements and their corresponding flavors. Even though recipes differ from city to city and region to region, a common theme across all Vietnam is contrasting textures – chewy and fleshy ingredients are served with crunchy items such as soft rice noodles are layered with fatty pork, crunchy fresh vegetables, and fried onions. 

Fish Sauce  

Also known as nuoc mam in Vietnam, fish sauce is made by salting, pressing and fermenting anchovies – this is a process that results in a dark, amber-hued liquid. Just like olive oil is to Italian cooking, fish sauce is the main ingredient in Vietnamese cuisines.  

Fish sauce is an extremely versatile condiment. It can be diluted with water and sugar for dipping sauces, splashed into broth, or even mixed with palm sugar to glaze and caramelize meaty clay-pot “casserole” dishes. When choosing a fish sauce, take nitrogen grading into consideration – 40 is optimal and 20°N is the average.  

Oyster Sauce  

Oyster Sauce

This sauce is made from the essence or reduction of boiled oysters which are mixed with water and sugar and thickened with cornstarch. The resultant is savory. The sweet and caramel sauce works the best in sautés as it is able to spread evenly on the food items. A staple of South Asian cooking and Cantonese – it is used most commonly in the Vietnamese dishes to mellow down the bitterness of green leafy vegetables and add sweetness to beef cubes dish also known as bo luc lac, or shaking beef. 

Fermented Shrimp Paste 

This paste is rarely used in large amounts. This sauce is still important for Vietnamese people to keep in the house. It is pungent in smell and rich with bold, umami flavor, the gray colored paste is made just with fermented silver shrimps and salt. Even though it is used for sauteing or marinating, it is the most famous bun rieu – a beloved noodle soup made with tomato broth, escargots and freshwater crab.  

Jasmine Rice 

Rice is common in every Vietnamese meal. There cannot be any meal that can do without rice. Jasmine rice is fragrant. These add another element of flavor as a complement to umami-rich sauces and sour-salty broths. It is important to note that, unlike regular white rice, sushi rice, and jasmine rice is not glutinous but drier, but it can still hold together when cooked properly. 

Pickled Vegetables 

Pickled Vegetables

These are also known as do chua, or sour things in Vietnamese. Pickled vegetables can be found jarred in almost every household. There are no regulations on the types of vegetables to be used but these include cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots and mustard greens.  

Pickled vegetables are usually presented as side dishes. These add a pop of brightness to the dish.  

Sambal Oelek

Sriracha may be the condiment du jour, but when it comes to cooking, Sambal Oelek cannot be beaten. It gives a stronger and more balanced heat that goes well with other ingredients such as rice, fish sauce and pickled vegetables. It is named after the Indonesian words for hot sauce, mortar and pestle. The sauce is chunky and less finely grounded. 

Rice Vermicelli 

Vermicelli noodles are also called bun. Vermicelli can be used in place of jasmine rice. People often swap both jasmine rice and vermicelli. These are hearty and healthy to eat. However, you will not feel stuffed after eating it.   

Fresh Herbs  

As already discussed above, fresh herbs are a part of every dish. Most Vietnamese noodle soups, and a handful of appetizers use the same combination of fresh herbs such as green onion, cilantro, mint and Thai basil. Whether it is Northern pho, Central bun bo Hue, or Southern hu tieu, it is always safe to assume that before serving, you will throw on a pile of roughly chopped herbs whose fragrant juices seep into the steaming broths, and whose stalks and stems will give a slight crunch to offset the chewiness of meat and noodles. Vietnamese eggrolls get the addition of lettuce leaves used to roll them up with basil, cilantro and basil.  

Fried Shallot and Shallot Oil 

These are sprinkled on the top of many dishes. These are used to add a nutty, onion taste. Also, these are easy to make. Shallot oil is used in a lot of Vietnamese cuisines.  

Vietnamese Cinnamon  

Cinnamon from Vietnam has a bigger bark and higher level of spice than Indonesian cinnamon. It is also sweeter in taste. this is used in many soups and stocks, including broth for pho, goes right in pho. It gives the undertone of warm sweetness. Generally, one stick of cinnamon is used for an entire pot.  


Just like cinnamon, black pepper in Vietnam is also different than the pepper. When it is served fresh, peppercorns appear green at first then turn black in an hour. Vietnamese people like to have black pepper almost on everything.   


Again, it is used in every Vietnamese cuisine. You will find it in almost every household. There are different forms of lemongrass. The grassy herb is used most commonly in braising meats, often alongside sugar, fish sauce and chilies. It adds bright, lemony and citrus notes to the dish.   

To eat typical Vietnamese food, come to Mint and Basil, Hong Kong.