Vietnamese Cuisine 101

Phở / noodle soup Pronounced: fuh (with a slight upward inflection at the end)

 Pho is made by simmering animal bones down into a rich stock, then adding spices such as ginger, cinnamon, star anise, etc. Most popular Pho has a beef base. A bowl of Pho comes with flat type noodle soaked in broth, topping with meat, onion, scallion, and cilantro. A bowl of pho also comes with garnishes and sauces that allow you to customize it to your taste. Typical garnishes include basil, lime, cilantro, jalapeños, crunchy bean sprouts, sweet hoisin sauce and spicy Sriracha. Popular combinations like pho bo vien/  beef meatballs, Pho tai/ thinly sliced rare steak which cooks in the broth and pho nam/ slides of brisket.  

Bún / vermicelli Pronounced: boon

The rice vermicelli noodles are served cool atop a bed of greens (typically shredded lettuce, beansprout, mint, cucumber, pickle carrot/ and or pickle daikon) to make sort of a rice noodle salad. Bun is usually topped with hot meat (chargrilled pork is a popular choice) for a nice contrast in textures and temperatures, then tossed with roasted peanut, roasted scallion,  fish sauce and whatever else you decide to jazz it up with.

 Cơm / jasmin rice platter Pronounced: gum  

Anything after "com" on a menu refers to the type of meat and other toppings that come with the rice. Cơm thịt nướng (gum tit noon), chargrilled pork and rice,  is the most common. But other favorites include ga nuong and bo nuong (chargrilled chicken and beef, respectively). All rice plates also come with nước mắm.

Nước mắm / fish sauce Pronounced: nook mom

  Fish sauce is exactly what it sounds like: a sauce made from fish that have been fermented and then slowly pressed to extract the briny liquid.
Vinaigrette nuoc mam is usually diluted with vinegar, water and/or sugar to create other sauces such as nuoc cham, which has a complex flavor that's salty, sour, and sweet (and goes great with many dishes such as bun, com, and cha gio). Another variation is jazzed up with chilli, lime juice, and/ or sugar and garlic to add aroma and flavor to the sauce.  

 Chả giò / crispy springrolls Pronounced: chah zoh  

These look like Chinese eggrolls, only smaller and filled with ground pork, mushrooms, carrots and other vegetables, depending on the restaurant. Ours is filled with ground chicken instead of pork. As with many other Vietnamese dishes, there's no "official" recipe. Dip your cha gio into the fish sauce that accompanies them, or chop them up and toss them with your favorite bun dish.

Gỏi cuốn / summer rolls Pronounced: goy coo-un

  Soft rice paper wraps filled with crunchy vegetables, vermicelli noodles and boiled pork and shrimp as traditional gỏi cuốn. However, our gỏi cuốn goes with grilled shrimp/ pork/ beef/ chicken/ marinated tofu instead of boiled meat. These are typically served with peanut sauce, and one of the most commonly encountered appetizers on any Vietnamese menu -- as well as one of the most accessible​​

Bánh mì / baguette sandwich Pronounced: bahn mee  

Though "banh mi" itself simply the Vietnamese term for baguette bread (also introduced by the French), the term has come to be synonymous with baguette-style sandwiches. As with any sandwich, the variations on banh mi are endless but most are garnished with cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon radish, cilantro and jalapeños as well as pâté and mayonnaise.