11 artery-clogging and delicious Vietnamese dishes

11 artery-clogging and delicious Vietnamese dishes

Dough, grease, butter and about every kind of fat make these heart-attack helpers a guilty pleasure

Vietnamese cuisine is known for being fresh. But for every zinging piece of papaya there’s a fatty artery clogger hiding in the fryer. Here are some of the latter. 

11. Bot chien

Bot chien

This is a simple dish, a bit like a fry up. Cubes of rice flour dough are sautéed in a wok, an egg broken over the top and chives and peanuts added.

The whole gooey mess is plated, with a side of papaya slivers and doused in rice vinegar.

Visit: Cong Quynh street where it intersects with Pham Ngu Lao in Saigon’s backpacker district.

10. Bo nuong

Bo Nuong

Nuong means barbecue and bo, in this case, beef. Although it isn’t really barbecue.

Unlike ribs or chicken, other popular options, the marinated beef strips aren’t grilled over hot coals but instead cooked table side, by you. In a skillet. Filled with butter / margarine. With no run off.

Visit: Ma May street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter any evening.

9. Banh chuoi

Banh Chuoi

Banh chuoi is a banana fritter. A banana, sliced lengthways, drenched in batter then dumped into the deep fryer to fizz and spit until it’s pulled out golden brown, the batter pocked and puffed up and dripping in fat.

Bunched slivers of sweet potato receive the same treatment.

8. Xoi


Sticky rice can be nothing more than the glutinous white side to a bigger meal. But other varieties, such as xoi xao or xoi ngo -- sticky rice with corn kernels -- are less innocuous.

They are served with a generous squirt of oil, sliced mung bean cake, soy sauce and a choice of toppings which can include cha lua, a kind of bologna, or thick cuts of marinated pork belly, or a preserved egg.

Visit: Xoi Yen, Nguyen Huu Huan street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

7. Banh my

Banh my

These are the famous baguettes which a couple of years ago became so popular in the United States.

The southern style involves more fresh vegetables but the northern variety, with its large and crisper baguette, egg fried in a kilo of goo, thick dabs of pate and only a scant slice of cucumber for crunch factor is an excellent way to fill up on calories or soak up too many bia hois.

6. Banh goi

Banh goi

These are not originally from Vietnam but like banh bao (steamed pork buns) have become popular snacks. Resembling a samosa they’re filled instead with minced pork, wood ear mushrooms, glass noodles and sometimes a slice of fatty, deep pink Chinese sausage and half a steamed quail egg. Then deep fried.

Visit: Ly Quoc Su street in the Old Quarter

For more greasy Vietnamese dishes click "Next" below.

5. Chim chien bo

Chim chien bo

This is a less common street snack. They’re small quails first roasted then deep fried in butter.

With a meat to bone ratio favouring the latter it can be hard to see why they’re so popular but find one cooked well and it can be a fantastic take-home snack.

4. Pho chien

Pho chien

Here the humble, low-fat rice flour noodle is cut into thick squares, rather than the usual thin strips then deep fried until it puffs up like battered tofu.

Eating this can cause injuries when the hot fat squirts out of a juicy bite. It’s usually served with strips of fried beef, vegetables like tomato and water spinach and a good dose of garlic.

Visit: 26 Nguyen Khac Hieu in Truc Bach precint, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi.

3. Bit Tet

Bit tet

This is usually served as a dinner meal, a thin flank steak drenched in pepper gravy with chips. However there are variations, including the increasingly popular heart stopper.

Rather like bo nuong, in that it’s served in a skillet, the steak is drenched in spitting oil when brought to your table. A fried egg and ball of pate are there for those whose arteries have not yet been sufficiently clogged.

Visit: 9 Hoa Ma street, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi.

2. Bun Cha

Bun Cha

Though pho is considered Hanoi’s most famous dish, the Anthony Bourdain-approved bun cha should run an equal second.

Small patties of pork minced with fat, spices, chives, ginger and sometimes shrimp are barbecued over a small coal brazier with thick, bacon-like strips of pork belly.

The noodles and herbs are both fresh but the hit of fat from the main act isn’t cancelled out by the healthier sides.

Visit: Virtually any part of the city between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. The shop at 1 Hang Manh street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

1. Nem


Spring rolls. Vietnam does some grand fresh spring rolls, all soft rice paper, prawns and loads of fresh herbs and vegetables.

They also stuff others with fatty pork mince and deep fry the things like they’re a Mars Bar in a Scottish fish and chip shop.

Visit: To Lich street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, adjacent to Hoan Kiem Lake. Or visit the famed bun cha outlet at 1 Hang Manh, also famous for its accompanying nem nuong.



Helen Clark is a Vietnam-based freelance journalist. She has written for Time, The Economist, Australian Associated Press, GlobalPost, IRIN News, The Independent and IPS News. 


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