The Central Treats

Distinct from the North and light tropical tastes from the South are the spicy and strongly-flavored dishes from Central Vietnam. The dishes are usually defined by Hue’s imperial food and few other popular cuisines from Hoi An. There is much more to discover food-wise in central Vietnam, take a look at our top 11 must try dishes down below!


1. Banh It Ram (Fried Sticky Rice Dumplings)

This little appetizer has mung beans, pork belly and shrimp as ingredients. The shrimp is dipped into crunchy dough and fried, then soft rice pancake is served on top. Because of its different textures in each bite is what makes this dish so appetizing. The inside creates a chewy, toothy and soft texture. Do not forget to top it with some minced shrimp and dip into fish sauce.

2. Banh Beo (Glutinous Rice Cake)


A simple dish consisting of small rice flour pancake topped with prawn, dried prawn and fried pork fat.  What makes it so special is the different tastes and textures in each bite. Banh Beo comes in small portions and you might guess already – is served together with some sweet dipping sauce.


3. Banh Canh Ca Loc (Fish Soup Cake)

Considered as one of the most popular dishes in the center of Vietnam. It has ingredients such as snake head fish, thick noodles from rice flour or wheat flour. The noodles are also served with cabbage and bitter herbs. A delicious dish which can be consumed in the middle morning or as afternoon snack.


4. Banh Ep (Pork Pancake)


Tu Nguyen

Banh Ep is a thin pancake which is made from eggs, garlic, green onion, pork and shrimp. Then it is served with fish sauce, cucumber and shredded carrot and green papaya. The light flavors of the pancake, carrot and papaya combined with the meatiness of the pork dipped into fish sauce meld perfectly together.


5. Banh Khoai (Hue Pancake)


Made from rice flour and turmeric powder with additions of bean sprouts, pork, shrimp and then pan fried. It can be wrapped in lettuce leaf, mustard leaf or rice paper and is stuffed with various herbs. The dish is placed open-face and always served with fermented soy bean sauce. Due its greasiness and spicy sauce taste it is considered as a winter food.


6. Banh Trang Trung (Rice Pizza)


Chicz Chuot, 2014

For the preparations, eggs are broken out of their shells and smeared all over the crisp rice cracker. After that, chopped scallions, minced pork and shrimp are tossed on top. Then the whole thing is cooked on top of hot coals. During the cooking, a variety of sauces are poured on it creating a colorful dish of rice pizzas.


7. Bun Bo Hue (Hue Vermicelli Soup)


Premshree Pillai, 2016

One of the most typical food of Hue and popular vermicelli soup is Bun Bo Hue. For a long period of time the broth is prepared by beef and bones, after that chili and lemon grass are added in. Within the bowl, thin slices of beef, chunks of boiled oxtail, pig’s knuckles or pork are included. This dish too is usually served with a lot of herbs.


8. Bun Hen (Clam Noodles)


Dat Nguyen, 2015


‘Hen’ are small freshwater clams and is used as a topping to vermicelli noodles. What else belongs to this dish is the clam broth and a handful of coriander. The clams are steamed with lemongrass to create a nice fragrance and tasty flavor. The vegetables and herbs are the one thing that makes the dish so delicious.



9. Cao Lau (Thick Wheat Noodle Soup)


Cao Lau is Hoi An’s most famous dish and only available there. With ingredients of thick wheat noodles in a rich pork broth with fresh herbs, fried noodle croutons and roasted pork on top is what it makes the dish so different. It is said that the noodles can only be made with special water. Cao Lau can be almost found at every corner in Hoi An.


10. Hoanh Thanh Chien (Fried Wonton Dumplings)


Lady X, 2012

Another specialty in Hoi An are Fried Wonton Dumplings. Fresh shrimp are grinded and mixed with husked pork and onions and spices. Then the wonton is spread to put the ingredients in it. The next move is simple, they are cooked in oil. It is recommended to add coriander and fried tomatoes on the dumplings to make it more tasty and good looking.


11. Mi Quang (Mi Quang Noodles)


Bach Le, 2014


Unlike any other noodle soup, this dish is served with very little broth. It is like noodle salad or a dry noodle dish served with little broth to bring all the flavors together. What makes it distinctive are the ingredients of yellow noodles, roasted peanuts, sesame rice crackers and light broth. Moreover, the dish has a complex combination of texture and flavors.


The most complex and flavorful dishes in Central Vietnam is what boasts the country. It still maintains some of the French essence and techniques and the food is spicier.



Author: Thuy

Born and raised in Vietnam, she loves taking a culinary adventure in Hanoi, the chaos in the Old Quarter. She currently lives in Netherland, but never misses a chance to go back to Vietnam. She is never quite ready to head back to the city when it is time to go.