The dishes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have different cooking methods to suit the taste of each region – showcasing an array of authentic Vietnamese cuisines. Despite having a similar name and nature, some dishes in the two cities still have a distinct difference in their taste and how they are made – keeping each dishes’ character. This offers a distinct culinary experience, especially for tourists.
BÁNH MÌ (VIETNAMESE BAGUETTE)
Banh mi is popular in both cities and can be eaten for any meal of the day. Basically, the two types share the same recipe of a banh mi and ‘toppings’ inside. However, in Hanoi, banh mi is generally served with pate, eggs (excluding variations such as grilled beef, cheese, some herbs and spices).
Meanwhile, back in Saigon, banh mi can be eaten with meatballs and grilled meat. The biggest difference is in the ‘stuffing’. A famous bakery owner interviewed by an SCMP reporter concluded that the HCMC version is often more plump. “They usually add all kinds of things they can get in. Therefore, the bread in HCMC is very big,” he added.
Many people who have eaten sandwiches in both places say the Southern version is quite huge that you have to split it in half to eat or share with someone. The Hanoi version is of the right size, just enough to fill the belly.
GG TRANSLATION (TO BE CHECKED)
PHỞ (PHO THE BEEF NOODLES)
Pho is a Hanoi specialty dish. It consists of seethed broth made from beef bones boiled, grilled ginger, rice noodles, meat, onions, poached eggs, and ‘quẩy’ (finger-shaped souffle).
The broth portion of Hanoi pho is traditionally plain and simple while the broth of Saigon Pho has a sweet taste. Adding a finger-shaped souffle is also a rare thing in Ho Chi Minh City. Many food enthusiasts commented that “a bowl of Pho without the finger-shaped souffle and the poached egg is basically bland and non-appetizing.
There is also a difference between how Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh locals prefer their Pho. Hanoi locals would only eat a bowl of Pho with added green onions whereas the locals from Ho Chi Minh prefer adding more herbs and sprouts.
If you ever stumbled upon a Street Food show on Netflix that hailed “snail” as the main dish of Saigon according to their culinary expert, you would be familiar that it created an uproar. Although, some foodie claimed that snails found in Ho Chi Minh City takes it to a higher level.
Locals from Saigon have various ways of cooking snails. Snails can be cooked through frying, grilling and steaming with an infusion of different spices and herbs. Best paired with an array of sauces depending on your taste – coconut milk, tamarind sauce, cheese, salted egg yolk, spicy and shrimp salt to name some. Recently, these new ways of cooking snails have been introduced to locals living in Hanoi and are gaining popularity in the market. Traditionally, the snails in Hanoi are just boiled and dipped in fish sauce served with figs.
CÀ PHÊ (VIETNAMESE COFFEE)
Coffee is a favored drink for both Saigon and Hanoi. The people from Saigon fancy drinking coffee almost all day while Hanoi locals would get a cup but not as much in volume.
The people in Hanoi would usually prefer to grab a cup for a sip in a coffee shop whereas the ones from Saigon would love a cup and have a seat on little chairs (Cafe Bệt). More so, the latter would prefer their coffee with a lot of ice and the locals from Hanoi prefer their coffee served hot. A general trend that can be observed from the southern regions since their climate is mostly hot.