Must-Try Food in Vietnam for Kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

Looking for must-try food in Vietnam for kids or the other picky eaters in your family? You’re in luck. There is plenty of kid-friendly Vietnamese food. Here are a few eating options for everyone you’re traveling with.

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters fire shrimp

Must-Try Food in Vietnam for Kids

If you’re planning any travel in Southeast Asia, we highly recommend visiting Vietnam. It’s one of our favorite countries to explore. There are so many things to do in Vietnam with kids! And we love, love LOVE eating in Vietnam, and there is plenty of delicious and accessible food in Vietnam for kids.

***Save & Share with Pinterest!***

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters PIN 2

If you’re traveling with picky eaters, I’ve put together a list of some of the most kid-friendly Vietnamese food we know. When it comes to food in Vietnam for kids, there are lots of choices. In fact, I’d say that there is more kid-friendly food in Vietnam than in most Southeast Asian countries.

Why? Well unlike much of what you eat in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, chili peppers aren’t cooked into Vietnamese food — at least not as often. Sure, Vietnamese cuisine can be spicy, and peppers are part of the Vietnamese diet. However, they are often served on the side, or as a condiment for you to add at your own discretion.

Less Chili, but Beware of Nuoc Mam

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters nuoc mam

Compared to Thai food and other food in Southeast Asia, there may be fewer chili peppers cooked into Vietnamese cuisine, but there is another Vietnamese condiment that you should be aware of. It’s called nuoc mam (nước mắm), and it’s made from fermented fish.

The flavor? Very, very, well….fishy.

Our family loves the sauce in certain dishes, but we’re already fans of fishy food. After all the years living in Japan, eating Japanese food and consuming so much from Japanese fish markets, we all love fishy stuff. Indeed, even here in Valencia, Spain, we have a bottle of nuoc mam in our fridge (we have to go to Valencia’s small Chinatown to buy it).

So nuoc mam is an acquired taste. It’s in many Vietnamese dishes, but not everything, and it’s not cooked into most of the food in Vietnam for kids that I list out below.

Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters Hoi An kids

To be clear, this post is not about all Vietnamese cuisine. Instead, I onlywrite about the most accessible popular Vietnamese food. Even the finickiest members of your family should be able to find something they like.

Don’t want to try Vietnamese food? That’s a shame really, but don’t worry: there’s plenty of Western food. There’s also fast food and dishes that resemble something your picky eaters will be familiar with. For the less adventurous, look for things like steamed buns (Bánh bao), fried rice (Cơm chiên), and fried chicken (Gà Nướng). Another is Vietnamese curry (Cà Ri), which is usually mild, but ask first.

If your kids like shrimp, then they’ll be in heaven in Vietnam. There is plenty of shrimp and other seafood and shellfish around.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can read about eating crickets and cobra in a different post. For everyone else, start with the list below.

Pho (Phở)

Pho in HCMC: Vietnam with Kids — An Epic Education Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters nuoc mam

Let’s start with the most popular Vietnamese food for kids…and adults too. Pho is a noodle soup with many varieties, and if you live in a large or mid-sized city anywhere in the West, then there’s probably a pho restaurant near you right now. Go try it before you leave on your trip!

Pho usually uses rice noodles and a clear broth. There are versions with beef, chicken and more. Make sure to experiment with the condiments and raw veggies that are served on the side. Or not. Depending on how particular your finicky eater is.

Banh Mi (Bánh mì)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters banh mi

Another very popular food in Vietnam for kids, banh mi is the Vietnamese sandwich. We have French colonialism to thank for the ubiquity of fresh baguettes in the country.

What’s in a banh mi sandwich? There are many varieties, but the most common versions have any number of pork fillings (sausage, pork belly, pâté, or all three). You’ll also usually find mayonnaise and pickled veggies such as carrots, cucumber, and radish.

We have a particular fondness for versions that also throw a fried egg on top.

You’ll find banh mi stands on the streets of most towns and cities across Vietnam. Some banh mi stands use less kid-friendly ingredients such as sardines and chilis, but most are safe. If in doubt, buy one sandwich to start and try it before buying for everyone.

Banh Xeo & Banh Khot (Bánh xèo / Bánh khọt)

Banh Xeo Sizzling cakes in HCMC — Vietnam with Kids Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters

This is one of our personal favorite kid-friendly Vietnamese foods. It’s often called a “Vietnamese crepe,” but the crunchy, chewy texture of the rice flour shell reminds my kids of something between an omelet and a taco.

Inside you’ll find fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and green onion. Served alongside is a basket of greens to wrap each bite in. One of those greens is often a mustard leaf, which can have a very slight kick to it. Think extremely watered-down horseradish or wasabi.

Some of the greens are aromatic herbs, while others are neutral like lettuce. They’re there for the crunch and possibly so your hands don’t get greasy. Side condiments can get fishy or spicy, but they’re optional.

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters Banh Khot

Banh Khot is the bite-sized version of Banh Xeo. These are excellent, too, and may be enough to satisfy the appetites of smaller kids. Keep in mind that banh xeo are often large and very filling.

Banh Beo (Bánh bèo)

bánh bèo: Vietnam with Kids — An Epic Education Banh Xeo Sizzling cakes in HCMC — Vietnam with Kids Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters

These little single-serving rice cakes that are scooped out of their cute little dishes. Toppings are usually shrimp and crunchy, crouton-like bread for an excellent final texture.

This is a dish of central Vietnam. Look for it in places like Hue. Especially Hue.

Nem Lui (Nem lụi)

Ne Lui: Vietnam with Kids — An Epic Education

Another must-try Vietnamese food best eaten in Hue. Nem Lui is usually ground pork that’s smeared over a stalk of lemongrass and then cooked over charcoal. It’s exquisite, and light on the spices. You can add them later, eat it wrapped in rice paper, or on its own.

Cha Gio & Nem Ran (Chả giò / Nem rán)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters cha gio

Spring rolls like these are excellent Vietnamese food for kids. That is, of course, if you love deep fried things with pork in them. Warm and savory on the inside, crispy on the outside.

Goi Cuon (Gỏi cuốn)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters vietnam summer roll & fire

This is the Vietnamese food most associated with the country. They’re also an excellent Vietnamese food for picky eaters because the ingredients aren’t that exotic and people are more familiar with them.

However, I should mention that goi cuon are sometimes referred to as “spring rolls,” and sometimes as “summer rolls.” What’s the distinction? Spring rolls are often fried, while, summer rolls are always served with uncooked ingredients. The shrimp is cooked, but many of the veggies inside (carrot, daikon, etc.) are probably raw.

Bun cha (Bún chả)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters Bun cha

This marinated pork is grilled over charcoal and served with rice vermicelli noodles. Usually very tender and juicy, I could eat this a few times a week and never complain.

Banh goi (Bánh gối)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters banh goi

This is the Vietnamese version of a samosa or empanada. Banh goi are deep-fried pockets with sausage, mushrooms and other ingredients.

Vietnamese Desserts

We haven’t tried all of the Vietnamese desserts on offer, but here are a few that we’d recommend.

Chuoi Chien (Chuối chiên)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters banana fritter

If you’ve been to Malaysia or Indonesia, then you may be familiar with pisang goreng: otherwise known as the fried banana. Chuoi Chien are the Vietnamese version, and they’re delicious.

When we took a cooking class near Ho Chi Minh City, we made a fritter using bananas and sesame that we wrapped in rice paper and deep fried. Served with a side of coconut ice cream (see above). Amazing.

Banh Kep La Dua (Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters Banh Kep La Dua

Yes, these waffles are supposed to be green. They’re addictive too. There’s coconut milk in the batter, so they’re naturally sweet. That doesn’t stop some vendors from adding more sticky sweetness on top.

Banh Phen La (Bánh phèn la)

pancake snacks — Vietnam with kids: An Epic Education Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters banh phen la

These small pancakes are enjoyed as a sandwich with fillings spread between them. Fillings included a variety of jams and chocolate (sôcôla).

Hat de (Hạt dẻ)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters chestnuts

Like chestnuts? You’ll find them Vietnam. You’ll see them roasting in markets and street stalls. Chances are that you’ll smell them before you see them.

Che (Chè)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters che dessert

Is this dessert a drink or a soup? Neither really captures it, but it is a very popular Vietnamese food for kids. The ingredients vary, but it often includes things like pudding, coconut milk, ice cream, and a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, and/or sweet beans.

Fruit in Vietnam for Kids to Try

We love the fruit of Southeast Asia. I should note that most of the fruits you can eat in places like Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia can also be found in Vietnam. Here are a few we especially enjoyed.

Mangosteen (Quả măng cụt)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters mangosteen

This is my son’s favorite fruit. He ate them all the time when we lived in Penang and sought them out all over Malaysia and Thailand. The hard outer shell doesn’t look appetizing, but inside, you’ll find delicate white flesh. It has a similar texture to a peach, but flavors akin to strawberry and banana.

TIP: Be careful of the pulpy red outer layer, as it can stain clothes (and walls, and furniture, etc) easily, and hard to get off. Once it’s stained, it ain’t coming off.

Lychee & Rambutan (Vải thiều / Chôm chôm)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters banh goi

These plump little darlings are a super Vietnamese food for kids. Lychee and Rambutan have similar flavors. I preferred lychee, but the kids wanted rambutans.

Why? I think because they look more like something out of a Dr. Seuss book than a food. There’s a version that seems like a hybrid between the two as well — like a furry lychee (see image above). The best rambutans we’ve ever had were in Krabi, Thailand, but we’ll eat them anywhere.

Mango (Trái xoài)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters mango

You can find delicious mangos all over Southeast Asia, but some of the best ones we’ve ever had were in Vietnam. We absolutely loved them in juices mixed with condensed milk. Try that in Ho Chi Minh City if you can.

Custard Apple  (Mãng cầu)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters custard apple

We found lots of these in the Mekong Delta area. There are several versions of this fruit. Our favorite had a thin skin and thicker flesh. All are worth trying, however.

Pineapple (Dứa)

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters vietnam pineapple

The best pineapple I’ve ever eaten was in Taiwan. The second best? Vietnam. Surprisingly, some of the smaller pineapples were the most delicious.

What’s Your Favorite Food in Vietnam for Kids?

This list is far from complete. Is there a kid-friendly Vietnamese food missing from this list? What do you consider a must-try Vietnamese food for picky eaters? These are the food we know, but we want to eat more and more! Talk to us about Vietnamese food for kids in the comments below, or contact me directly!

*** PIN THIS! ***

Must-try Food in Vietnam for kids: Vietnamese Food for Picky Eaters PIN 1

Image Credits: #3, #6, #8, #11, #13, #14, #16, #19, #20, #23, #25

Comments

  1. Bobby Saint says:

    Wow! The Banh Mi looks really delicious. I like the fact that some of the ingredients included in the sandwich are pickled veggies such as carrots, cucumber, and radish. This should be a good alternative to hamburgers for kids. I would definitely consider dining at a Vietnamese restaurant if ever we get the opportunity. Thanks.

  2. Amanda Drew says:

    I’m a picky eater, but I want to try and expand my horizons and try new foods. I’ve decided to try Vietnamese foods for now. That goi cuon looks good, how it has normal ingredients and the shrimp will be cooked. I’ll have to find someone who can deliver some Vietnamese food so that I can try it.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

css.php

Like this post? Please spread the word! Thanks :)