What’s So Special (and Different) about Vietnamese Food? Your Top Questions Answered

You may be wondering why Vietnamese food is so special – what makes it stand out amongst ‘similar’ food found in Southeast Asia? There are more and more people enthralled with Vietnamese food, and once you try it for the first time, you’ll be hooked as well. But this brings us back to the question: what makes it special? Is it the fact that it’s fresh, fragrant, and sweet? Is it because it has just the right combination of flavours and ingredients? If you’ve tried food from different places and consider yourself a food aficionado, you would know that there’s something different about Vietnamese cuisine and aren’t surprised at its popularity. So what’s so special (and different) about Vietnamese food? Let’s find out.

It’s not just about the spice

Yes, Vietnamese food may be on the spicy side, but it’s not just about the spice. Unlike other Asian food such as Indian curry, Indonesian sambal, or Thai Tom Yum, Vietnamese food isn’t just focused on the spiciness. Rather, it’s a balance of different elements – it’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s spicy, it’s sour, and it’s bitter. The result is a balanced, subtle, and incredibly aromatic dish with a kick, but not too much. Many cooks and chefs in Vietnam will tell you that there are two properties to every ingredient: there’s a cooling property and a heating property. The cook or chef will then try to create an ideal equilibrium between each ingredient’s properties, coming up with a genuinely scrumptious dish.

It’s fresh and light

Unlike other Asian specialities such as curry, which tend to be rich and somewhat oily, Vietnamese food is the opposite. In fact, in Vietnam, they don’t use a lot of oil or dairy in their dishes and instead rely on fresh, light flavours from vegetables and herbs. This may have contributed to Vietnamese food being seen as one of the healthiest in the world. Herbs in Vietnamese cuisine are plentiful, from the ubiquitous mint and cilantro to basil, lemongrass, lime leaves, green onions, ginger, turmeric, tamarind paste or pulp, and so on.

It’s got a French twist

As you may already know, Vietnam was under French rule for a while, and this French influence is evident in Vietnamese food as well. The baguette, for instance, has been transformed by the Vietnamese into the delicious Banh Mi sandwich, and the ideal Banh Mi sandwich consists of a freshly-made, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside baguette loaded with pate and fresh cucumber slices, pickled vegetables, meat, and fried eggs. Another French culinary influence in Vietnam is the coffee and caramel combination, although the difference is that in France, coffee is served hot and black as an espresso (with steamed milk on the side), while in Vietnam, you can enjoy coffee with lots of ice and condensed milk.

Vietnamese food has come out as one of the most popular foods around the globe, and although you can probably get Vietnamese food (or a version of it) in the city where you live, there’s nothing like the authentic kind. If you want some authentic Vietnamese food in the heart of London, look no further than Vieteat.co.uk, which serves delicious Vietnamese food ranging from Banh Mi sandwiches to Pho to meat and seafood dishes and so much more.

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