Xôi, Phở, and Other Lip-Smacking Vietnamese Breakfast Dishes

Nothing beats a bowl of phở in the morning. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Vietnam’s traditional breakfast dishes are full of flavor and focus on providing energy to get you through a hard day at work. Every bite of a Vietnamese breakfast gives you a new experience, whether it be the savory taste of meat, the earthy savors of herbs and fresh ingredients, or something else. Here is a quick roundup of the most popular breakfast foods in Vietnam.


Check out the stalls in Vietnam in the morning and you’ll find xôi. This sticky rice is one of the favorite breakfast foods in the country.

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A lot of street vendors, stalls, and even traditional restaurants have at least one or two varieties of xôi wrapped in banana leaves. There’s the yellow and grounded mung bean-topped xôi xéo — popular for its affordability. There’s also the xôi gấc, distinctive for its red hue. It looks spicy but is actually sweet and is mixed with the puree of baby jackfruit.


When foreigners try Vietnamese food for the first time, it’s usually phở that introduces them to the country’s gastronomy. Phở is like the face of Vietnamese cuisine. It’s not only a popular morning dish, but it’s also a frequent serving during lunch and dinner.

Phở is a soup with a flavored broth of either chicken, pork, or beef with spices, herbs, and rice noodles added. Phở bò tái (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) and phở gà (chicken noodle soup) are arguably the best versions of the phở dish.


Bún is also a noodle soup just like phở. To an untrained eye, the two may look similar. But once you grab your chopsticks and eat the two dishes, you will discover the difference in the noodles. Compared to the fettuccine-like noodles used in phở, bún has vermicelli noodles, which have circular shapes.

But just like phở, there are many ways to prepare a bún dish. There’s the bún chả that’s served with grilled chopped meat, the under-the-sea taste of bún riêu (crab meat soup), and probably the most popular version of the dish — the beefy bún bò huế.

Just a tip for first-timers: There’s a lot to choose when it comes to bún and phở dishes. When in doubt, ask some of the locals for guidance.

A báhn mì full of meat and other fillings. (Image: Stewart Spivack via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0)

Báhn mì

Báhn mì is like a localized version of baguette, which is probably why it appeals to both the locals and Western visitors. This bread contains familiar flavors that the Vietnamese and their Western counterparts can appreciate. Vietnam was colonized by the French. And even though the Asian nation has already reclaimed its independence, the taste of French cuisine lives on in foods like báhn mì.

The bread is generally good on its own. You can eat it with a cup of coffee in the morning if you like. The explosive flavors of a báhn mì sandwich are something that you should definitely try. Ingredients found in a typical báhn mì sandwich are lettuce, tomatoes, duck liver paste, and sliced pork. In addition, toppings such as shrimp, sausage, mint, and other ingredients create wonderful variations of this morning go-to food.


It looks weird, but balut tastes good! (Image: Marshall Astor via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0)

Eggs are universally known as a breakfast food, even in Vietnam. But Vietnamese take the idea of eggs for breakfast to the next level with balut. This exotic food is a fertilized developing duck embryo boiled in the steamy heat. Its appearance can be a bit off-putting, but don’t mind the look. Be adventurous, take a bite, and you’ll realize that it tastes a thousand times better than a normal egg.

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