North Vietnamese Food Vs. South Vietnamese Food: Is Food The Same In Any Part Of Vietnam?

If you are a fan of Vietnamese food, you might realize that there are some slight differences between different regional cuisines in Vietnam, especially from the north to the south.

In this article, we are going to explore Vietnamese food in the north and the south of this country to see how they differ from each other and what is more appealing to you.

Let’s get started!

What is special about North Vietnamese food?

Vietnam borders China in the north, therefore, it is easy to understand why North Vietnamese food has been heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine.

The most popular dishes in this region are pho (or actually a noodle soup) and banh mi, a famous Vietnamese sandwich that is voted as one of the most delicious street foods in the world.

North Vietnamese food is a mix of sweet, sour, and salty flavors, but none of these are overpowering.

Their dishes have a balanced taste that is easy to eat for most people, even foreign visitors.

They use a lot of fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, or shrimp paste as the main condiments in Northern cuisine.

In some ethnic Vietnamese groups in the mountainous regions from the northeast, you can find some iconic dishes like raw fish salad, fermented meat, and shrimp, or black sticky rice.

North Vietnamese food also features a lot of spring rolls and dumplings with various variations.

Fresh herbs play an important role in this cuisine to enjoy with noodles, spring rolls, and salads.

What is special about South Vietnamese food?

South Vietnamese food is a flavorful cuisine that uses more lemongrass, fish sauce, and chili peppers.

It is not spicy like Thai food or Chinese food, but in general, South Vietnamese food has a bolder flavor.

They tend to use more sugar and coconut milk in their cooking, making their food sweeter than North Vietnamese food.

There is an emphasis on rice and freshwater fish, mostly from the Mekong River.

Hot pot, or known as lẩu cá mắm, is a popular dish in the Southwestern region of Vietnam, which features different kinds of freshwater fish with vegetables, herbs, and tropical fruits.

What are the differences between North Vietnamese food vs South Vietnamese food?

Vietnamese food varies from region to region, therefore, there are some key differences that set North Vietnamese food apart from the south counterpart, as listed below:

North Vietnamese food has been heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, while South Vietnamese food is heavier on Laotian and Cambodian cuisines

Due to the difference in geographic location, these two regional cuisines have been influenced by different cultures.

For example, the north of Vietnam borders China, therefore, North Vietnamese food is more like Chinese food with some classic dishes like noodles, spring rolls, or dumplings.

On the other hand, South Vietnamese food, with more influences from Laotian and Cambodian cuisines, has its own flavor and signature dishes.

Noodles are more popular in the north of Vietnam, while rice and hot pot are dominant in the south

Another difference between Vietnamese food in the north and the south is that people from the north prefer noodles whereas rice and fish hot pot are more popular in the south.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot find rice and hot pot in North Vietnamese cuisine and vice versa.

This difference is often negligent, but it can be considered one of the special characteristics in each regional Vietnamese cuisine.

South Vietnamese food is bolder (sweeter and spicier) than North Vietnamese food

In terms of flavor, food from the south of Vietnam has a bolder taste than North Vietnamese dishes.

In the south, they use more chili pepper for spiciness, sugar and coconut milk for sweetness, and pineapple, vinegar, or lemon for sourness, all are richer compared to the light and balanced taste of North Vietnamese food.

What are the similarities between North Vietnamese food vs South Vietnamese food?

Despite some differences between North Vietnamese food and South Vietnamese food, they definitely share some similarities that originate in Vietnamese cuisine:

North and South Vietnamese dishes are made from fresh ingredients

The first thing in common is that no matter what region that Vietnamese food comes from, it is all made from fresh ingredients.

From meat, seafood, freshwater fish, vegetables, to spices and herbs, these ingredients are typically purchased from local markets in the early morning to ensure their freshness.

They share some staples like rice, meat, fish, spices, and herbs

Another similarity between dishes from the north and the south of Vietnam is their staple ingredients.

Rice plays an important role anywhere in Vietnam.

Rice flour can be used to make noodles, which are also very popular throughout the country.

Vietnamese also eat different kinds of meat and fish so there are countless delicious dishes made from these ingredients.

Spices and herbs like fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp paste, Thai basil, coriander, culantro, or fish mint, etc,…are widely used to season and enhance the flavor of their dishes.

Which one is better?

Our post has given you some insight into regional Vietnamese food between the north and the south.

They do share many signature dishes from Vietnamese cuisine, but North Vietnamese food and South Vietnamese food have their own flavors and cooking techniques.

So do you feel more drawn to one region over another? Hopefully, you find this article helpful in making your decision between North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese food.

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