One of the first things we learned when traveling in Vietnam is that pho is a breakfast dish. Our friend, Tam, pointed this out quickly when we searched for pho for lunch in Central Vietnam. That’s the thing about Vietnamese cuisine, it’s very different from other countries’ foods, starting with breakfast. Here is our list of Vietnamese breakfast dishes you must eat when traveling in Vietnam.
If you’ve ever visited Vietnam before, you’ll know that this is a country that wakes up early! Even during the warmest months, public places are quickly filled with people as the hustle and bustle of the cities and towns begin. Breakfast in Vietnam is the most important meal of the day, providing locals with the energy they need for the day.
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What Do Vietnamese People Eat For Breakfast?
Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by its French history, and you will see signs of this in the architecture and cuisine. From large leaving arches to baguettes stores on every corner, even the Vietnamese city and street names have French-sounding pasts.
Most Vietnamese cities will have French-style bakeries, patisseries, and traditional meals that are a European-Asian fusion of tastes and textures. Breakfast in Vietnam tends to be light and fresh, with fresh produce and meats cooked or broiled using traditional methods for delicious flavor infusions.
Vietnamese people don’t just eat pastries and bread – classic rice dishes, noodles, and the famous phở are all regular features on a Vietnamese breakfast menu. So whether you’re eating breakfast in Hanoi or sipping rich Vietnamese coffee in Ho Chi Minh City, there are so many commonalities between breakfast foods that you’ll find a favorite wherever you go!
Learn more about Vietnamese food:
10 Vietnamese Breakfast Foods For You To Try
We have our full description of dishes below, but here’s our quick list. We often keep lists like this when traveling to new destinations. We’ve traveled to Vietnam almost a dozen times in the last 10+ years. Many of these trips we took when living in Indonesia and Thailand, which was a great way to compare the cuisines of these popular Southeast Asian countries.
|🇻🇳 Vietnamese Word
|🥪 Vietnamese Sandwich
|🍜 Beef Noodle Soup
|🍜 Noodle Soup From Huế
|Bún Bò Huế
|🥟 Vietnamese Rice Rolls
|🍙 Vietnamese Rice Porridge
|🍚 Vietnamese Sticky Rice
|🍚 Vietnamese Broken Rice with Meat
|Cơm Tấm Sườn
|🍜 Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Noodles
|☕️ Vietnamese Coffee
|Cà Phê Đá
Vietnamese breakfast food may vary slightly from place to place, but some staples never go away. Even pho is different in the north and the south. This is because even though Vietnam is a relatively small country, it’s a regional cuisine.
Here is a list of 10 of the best Vietnamese breakfast foods for you to try!
Top Breakfast Foods In Vietnam
If there’s one Vietnamese breakfast food you would have heard of on this list, it’s the bánh mì! These delicious breakfast sandwiches are a staple of the Vietnamese diet and for a good reason. Crispy, fresh bread rolls are served with whatever fillings your heart desires and eaten on the go.
The most traditional banh mi is served with slices of pork, pork pate, shredded pork called pork floss, along with herbs and sometimes slices of cucumber and other vegetables.
For some people, they are hesitant to try the pate that is common on a banh mi in Vietnam. Then, look for the omelette banh mi, called banh mi op la. It’s similar in that is served on a fresh baguette with fresh herbs and vegetables. It’s also common to find this breakfast sold by street food vendors, particularly around the edges of parks or office buildings.
It’s easy to see why this Vietnamese breakfast food is so popular – from perfect fresh bread to tasty fillings, bánh mì are easy to eat on your way to work, school, or wherever the day takes you. This is one of our must eat foods in Saigon and all of Vietnam.
Ok, perhaps we were a bit hasty by saying that bánh mì would be the most well-known dish on this list. The rich, hot taste of fresh phở (pronounced fuh) is a great way to kickstart any day and gives a significant nutritional boost for extra energy!
If you decide to have phở for breakfast, you won’t regret it! When we first started traveling to Vietnam, we ate pho for lunch until our local friends set us right! Pho is for breakfast (or late-night drunk food too!).
These delicious fresh Vietnamese breakfast soups are popular at any time of the day and can be easily customized to your tastes. Most breakfast phở contains eggs, noodles, chicken, or beef in a rich broth that is offset by fresh lime and chili – however, varieties with fish, pork, or tofu are also common.
It’s possible to visit one of the many restaurants in major cities and towns, and order a bowl of this fresh, revitalizing Vietnamese breakfast soup. Or, you can even find tasty pho streetside!
Bún Bò Huế
Taking its name from the Vietnamese city of Huế, Bún bò Huế is a rich and popular Vietnamese breakfast soup of beef, lemongrass, and rice vermicelli noodles. Formerly a royal court dish, this delicious Vietnamese breakfast is now typical across the country and enjoyed at all times of the day.
Raw beef is sliced incredibly thinly, then dropped into boiling broth, where it cooks almost instantly. The result is tender, delicious meat that will melt in your mouth as you sip this rich, umami Vietnamese dish.
While Bún bò Huế might be too warm for a hot summer’s day, it’s the perfect Vietnamese breakfast food for starting the day in the cooler months and colder regions.
Every country has pancakes, and bánh cuon are Vietnam’s take on the classic breakfast food. Don’t expect fluffy, sweet American-style treats if you order this breakfast food in Vietnam, however. Made from steaming fermented rice batter, bánh cuon is rich and savory, with a strong umami taste to the finished sheets.
These pancakes are usually served with ground pork mince and mushrooms, then finished with minced shallots and fish sauce. While this might sound like an unusual way to start the day, this Vietnamese breakfast food is definitely worth trying!
Cháo Long (Congee Or Rice Porridge)
Originating in China, congee has become a staple of Vietnamese breakfast culture. Made by boiling down white rice until it becomes thick and gluggy, congee is often given as a healing soup or warming winter treat.
For a delicious take on this classic breakfast dish, Vietnamese cháo gà incorporates rich, salty chicken broth and roasted meats to make a comforting, tasty meal for all occasions. Eat during winter, on weekends or just whenever your soul needs a pick-me-up!
Xôi (Sticky Rice)
Popular with school kids, xôi (or sticky rice) is an easy, nutritious way to start the weekday. It should come as no surprise as rice is eaten all day in Vietnam, including as a snack or dessert. This traditional Vietnamese breakfast food is made from glutinous rice, covered in multiple toppings and sauces. Common additions to xôi are fried onions, shallots, quail eggs, sausage and mushrooms.
If you want to try this schoolkids breakfast in Vietnam, many street vendors or markets will sell portions of xôi in small plastic bags. Choose your toppings, and enjoy your meal under the warm Vietnamese sun. Be careful when ordering this way; however – rice that hasn’t been appropriately stored can turn rancid quickly, and the last thing you need on your tour of Vietnam is an upset stomach!
Cơm Tấm Sườn (With Broken Rice)
The best part about many Vietnamese breakfast dishes is how customizable they are. Cơm Tấm Sườn is a perfect example, topping cheap broken rice with anything and everything possible. Fish, pork, pickled vegetables, and mung beans are just some of the common additions to this traditional Vietnamese breakfast.
While you can find Cơm Tấm Sườn sold at some street vendors or markets, the best option is to visit a restaurant for the widest selection of fresh toppings. Affordable and delicious, Cơm Tấm Sườn is one Vietnamese breakfast food you should try!
Bún Chả refers to a type of dish made with rice vermicelli noodles, popular across Vietnam. Like so many other Vietnamese dishes, Bún Chả soups can be customized, with ingredients added or taken away depending on your mood. Plentiful stacks of noodles are served with rich fatty pork, spring rolls, mushrooms, beef strips, or pickled veggies for a quick, filling Vietnamese breakfast.
There are different varieties throughout the country, but almost all are served with pork, or sometimes different kinds of pork. Our favorite often includes grilled pork as well as ground pork meatballs.
Vietnamese Coffee (Cà Phê Đá)
If some of the dishes on this list seem intimidating, there is always Vietnamese coffee. Famous for its rich, dark roast, Vietnamese coffee is the pinnacle of international beverages. Heavily influenced by the French colonial past, coffee in Vietnam has richer flavor notes of chicory, butter, or even whiskey. Locals will drink large cups of this delicious, decadent beverage in the morning, or simply as the day goes on for a caffeine hit.
You’ll smell this delicious Vietnamese breakfast treat before you see it, so make sure you go in and grab a cup for that mid-morning energy boost!
For the adventurous foodies out there, Hủ Tiếu is for you! This popular Cambodian dish is a regular feature on Vietnamese breakfast menus across the country. Thick noodles are smothered in oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar, then added to a broth of pork bones, squid, and fish sauce. Salty, sweet, and fatty, this unique Vietnamese breakfast food packs a massive flavor punch.
Tasty Vietnamese Breakfast Dishes
While breakfast food in Vietnam might not be what you’re used to, the rich flavors and history behind so many of these dishes are worth knowing about. However, don’t feel restricted to eating these for breakfast – so many Vietnamese breakfast soups and dishes are just as delicious for lunch and dinner!
If we’ve missed something, or you want to know more about any of these delicious breakfast foods in Vietnam, let us know in the comments!
FAQs – Vietnamese Breakfast Dishes
Unlike in Western countries, where you’ll typically see eggs, bacon, or pastries for breakfast, in Vietnam, the most common dish is soup. Specifically the national dish phở. You’ll also find Bánh mì and rice porridge at breakfast time.
100% yes! Bánh mì is incredibly popular for breakfast in Vietnam. You can find Bánh mì vendors all over the cities in Vietnam selling these sandwiches. You can also find banh mi op la, which is made with egg instead of pork.
Yes, pho is primarily a breakfast dish in Vietnam. It can be eaten all day and into the late evening too. We will never forget our friend, Tam, in Dong Ha wondering why we were looking for pho for lunch!