Your Guide to Vietnamese Food :: What to Order


Happy Asian American Heritage Month!

I had no idea that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. So when I found out about it, I knew I had to write a post to celebrate it. If you’ve read my previous post, you know both my parents are Vietnamese and came to the United States before I was born.

I recently read an article that talked about the importance of food and how it plays a main role in culture. In celebration of my heritage, let me be your guide to the best local Vietnamese restaurants including:

Vietnamese Food :: What to Order

First Timers: Order Pho

When most people think of Vietnamese food, Pho is the number one item. Pho is something everybody will enjoy. I make this at home a lot, and my three year old loves it. It’s a noodle soup.

There are different types of Pho you can order, and it all depends on what meats you want in it. Pho Dac Biet includes a special assortment of meats since Dac Biet means “special.” Pho Tai includes thinly sliced beef, and Pho Tai Nam has thinly sliced beef and brisket (which is my personal favorite). You can also get meatballs (Pho Bo Vien) or chicken (Pho Ga).

There are many Pho options, so my recommendation would be to order the Pho Tai which will give you two options of meat. If you feel like you want the whole experience, then order Pho Dac Biet. 

I feel like I have to mention what to do after you get your noodle soup to the table. Let me break it down: there are two big sauces (one is brown and the other is red) that you can add to your soup. The brown one tastes like a thicker soy sauce and the red one adds spice. Put a little of each to see if you like it. They definitely add more flavor to your Pho! There will also be bean sprouts, thai basil, and jalapeño on a plate for you to add. Bean sprouts is a must for me because they add a nice crunch to the dish. 

Spice Enthusiasts: Order Bun Bo Hue

These are my people! If you love spicy food, then this is a meal you will enjoy. This is also a noodle soup meal, but these noodles are thicker than Pho noodles. This noodle soup has a spicy broth with a ton of flavors. You will find beef and pork in this soup. For the garnishes, you will find bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions, and white onions. Throw all of those in there because they add to the flavor. 

Hesitant but Adventurous: Order Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuang

If you love egg rolls, then this meal is for you! This is another noodle meal, but this one isn’t a soup like the two meals above. You will be adding fish sauce to this meal, and if you haven’t had fish sauce before, then you are in for a treat. This meal has thin white noodles, shredded lettuce and carrots, cut egg rolls, and yummy charbroiled meat. 

Adventurous: Order Bánh Xèo

This meal is special. You’re going to have to ask the restaurant if they have it, since only a few do. The outer shell is made out of flour and coconut cream, and it reminds me of a crêpe. It’s filled with shrimp, bean sprouts, pork belly, and onions. You usually dip your banh xeo in fish sauce and can add lettuce for some extra crunch. I definitely recommend this meal since it is different from other meals. 

Vegetarian Options, Too!

Vietnamese meals are very versatile and can be customized. Almost all Vietnamese meals have meatless options since many Vietnamese people are Buddhist and don’t eat much (or any) meat.

Enjoy some delicious Vietnamese food at one of these Birmingham restaurants and join me in celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!