Vietnamese festive red pork belly with rice on a plate with chopsticks
12 Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Dining At A Vietnamese Restaurant
Only Ordering Phở
Phở is a noodle soup made with beef bone broth, thin bùn noodles, and varying beef cuts. Phở is tasty but doesn’t represent the wide spectrum of Vietnamese food.
If you've only ever tried phở, try to branch out to other soups that your favorite Vietnamese spot might offer, such as the bright red crab-and-tofu-laden bún riêu.
Not Asking For Extras
Vietnamese cuisine strives to strike a balance between spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet, which is why you may need to ask for extra sauces and garnishes.
Because Vietnamese cuisine is so balance-driven and ingredient-based, missing even one component can make the food taste completely different than it should.
It's not entirely uncommon for a Vietnamese restaurant to serve dishes without enough of a certain ingredient. When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask for extras.
Drowning Food in Sauce
Common condiments at many Vietnamese restaurants, such as hoisin sauce, are useful additions to food, but they can easily overpower dishes and ruin the taste.
Adding a little bit of sauce to dishes should be fine, but since balance is key in most Vietnamese dishes, disrupting that balance can mess up the intended flavor.
Skipping Appetizers
Many incredible Vietnamese dishes, such as Vietnamese salads, are appetizers, and they can be easily overshadowed by the entrees, especially less familiar ones.
Vietnamese food has no shortage of delicious rolls, salads, and finger foods, so it’s very important not to skip to the entrees too quickly, especially if you're eating in a group.
Not Dressing Chả Giò
Chả giò are deep-fried spring rolls made with a filling consisting of ground pork, shrimp, rice noodles, mushrooms, chestnuts, carrots, kohlrabi, or jicama.
When served as an appetizer, chả giò are plated alongside large leaves of lettuce, pickled carrots, daikon (đồ chua), nước chấm, and herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, and mint.
Many American diners won’t utilize these, but the chả giò is meant to be wrapped in a leaf of lettuce and filled with the picked herbs, which help cool and brighten the rolls.
Daikon radish is added, and the rolls are finished by being dipped in the sweet and tangy nước chấm. This reflects the Vietnamese concept of striking balance.