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Vietnamese cuisine doesn't win any points for complexity. Many of the most popular dishes can be made just as well on the side of the road as in a top-end restaurant.
But it's precisely this simplicity, the subtle variations by region and the fresh ingredients, that keep us pulling up a plastic stool for more.
Here are 9 food dishes from Vietnam you can't miss:
Source: CNN Newspaper
What list of Vietnamese cuisine would be complete without pho?
It's almost impossible to walk a block in Vietnam's major destinations without bumping into a crowd of hungry patrons slurping noodles at a makeshift pho stand. This simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, features predominately in the local diet -- and understandably so. It's cheap, tasty, and widely available at all hours.
Just look out for a mass of people on plastic stools -- or try a tried and tested favorite: Pho Thin, 13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi.
2. Bun cha
Pho might be Vietnam's most famous dish but bun cha is the top choice when it was popularized by President Obama and Anthony Bourdain earlier this year. Just look for the clouds of meaty smoke after 11 a.m. When street-side restaurants start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire. Once they're charred and crispy the morsels are served with a large bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles.
Hanoi's most famous bun cha outlet is 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.
3. Banh mi
Banh mi is one of Vietnam's most famous exports. Arriving in a crispy, fresh baguette, fillings can include pickled veggies, cilantro, pork, pate, sausage and even cheese.
One of the better baguette vendors in Saigon sets up shop beside the Cherry mini-mart on DoQuang Dao, District 1, HCMC
4. Banh xeo
A good banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes. To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.
Banh Xeo, 46A Dinh Cong Trang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), 125 Doi Can, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
5. Bun bo Hue
Central Vietnam's take on noodles caters to carnivores with its meaty broth and piles of beef and pork. The thick slippery rice noodles also make for a heartier meal than noodles found in the north and south.
You don't have to go to Hue to enjoy this dish; if in Ho Chi Minh City try Tib Express, 162 NguyenDinh Chieu, District 3, HCMC
6. Nem cuon
These light and healthy fresh spring rolls are a wholesome choice when you've been indulging in too much of the fried food in Vietnam. The translucent parcels are first packed with salad greens, a slither of meat or seafood and a layer of coriander, before being neatly rolled and dunked in Vietnam's favorite condiment -- fish sauce.
Quan An Ngon, 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
7. Bun dau mam tom
This plain-looking tofu and noodle dish is served with mam tom sauce -- the Vegemite of Vietnam. The pungent purple dipping sauce is used to flavor the slabs of deep-fried tofu that are at the core of the meal.
Bun Dau 5, 6 Ma May, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
8. Banh cuon
Originally from the north of the country, banh cuon is as fun to eat as it is to watch being made.
A ladle full of rice batter is steamed on top of a cloth stretched over a pot of boiling water. Then, the resulting rice sheet is filled with ground pork, mushroom and shallots before it's rolled up and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Popular for breakfast, banh cuon is often accompanied by fish sauce, bean sprouts and slices of cucumber.
14 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
9. Cha ca
Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish. This namesake alley is home to Cha Ca La Vong, which serves sizzling chunks of fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric and dill on a hot pan tableside.
Cha Ca La Vong may be the busiest but the service is a bit gruff and the food overpriced. Instead make your way to Duong Than in Hanoi's Hoan Kiem district, where you'll find plenty of more affordable but just as tasty options.