Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Eating Customs of Vietnam


In Vietnam, rice is one of the staple foods. It is eaten in every day meals, and is also processed to create other common cakes and noodles.

Herbs are very common in Vietnamese meals as well, especially lemon grass, kaffir and lime. There is a good selection of vegetarian meals, due the the Buddhist population, but most of the meals are a combination of meats, vegetables and herbs. Common meats are beef, pork, chicken, as well as seafood and prawns. There are some other meats, like lamb, duck and even dog, but these are not very common. Peanuts are often used, so people with allergies should take caution. Most meals are served with extra soy sauce and fish sauce.

In terms of utensils, Vietnamese usually use chopsticks and spoons. Lots of foods are also prepared by being wrapped in banana or coconut leaves.

The most common cooking styles are deep frying, stirring, boiling and steaming. Roasting and baking are not as common; food was traditionally cooked over a fire. Vietnamese food tends not to be very fatty, as they use minimal oil in their dishes. Cooks like to emphasize the fresh, natural taste of the ingredients.


A typical meal in Vietnam will consist of steamed rice, a soup dish, a meat or fish dish, and a vegetarian dish which is either boiled or stir fried. The food is eaten family-style, all placed in the center of the table. All members of the family have individual bowls, and serve themselves from the center dishes with chopsticks. It is common to see people put a small amount of rice on their bowl with the spoon, and then use chopsticks to take individual pieces of meat or vegetables on the bowl and then eat them. People tend to hold bowls close to their faces when eating.

If you are invited to a Vietnamese home to eat, you should wait to be told when and where to sit. People all usually wait for the eldest person to begin eating. Dishes should be passed with both hands. You should place your chopsticks on the table when not eating; hold the spoon with your left hand. Try to eat all of the food, and when you finish your meal, you should place your chopsticks on top of your rice bowl. If you use a toothpick after your meal, you should cover your mouth.


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