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Ethnic Dining Quick Guide: Vietnamese


Updated February 15, 2014

raw fish Vietnamese dish

Vietnamese restaurants may offer a dishes made of raw fish, such as this one.

Image: CDC.gov
Vietnamese restaurants offer dishes similar to those found at Chinese or Thai restaurants. Dishes may be steamed, fried, or simmered and usually include rice or noodles. A number of dishes are naturally low in fat, but be sure to ask about preparation methods if you are in doubt. This guide will help you make healthy choices at Vietnamese restaurants.

Good Choices:

  • steamed or simmered dishes
  • lean roasted meat
  • salads rolls or summer rolls
  • Canh chua soup
  • Vietnamese bouillabaisse
  • La sa or laa pho soup
  • grilled vegetable skewers
Choose Less Often:
  • caramel sauce
  • spareribs
  • fried dishes
  • deep-fried spring rolls
  • dishes containing peanuts (or ask for them to be omitted)
  • xao gung (pork, shrimp or chicken with honey sauce)


Grilled vegetables on skewers are a good alternative to traditional barbecued spareribs.

Caramel sauce is typically listed as nuoc duong thang on Vietnamese menus; be on the lookout for it. It is high in sugar and therefore high in extra calories. Dishes that have been simmered may sound healthy, but the addition of this sugary sauce makes them less so.

Look for soups that contain lots of vegetables to up your fiber intake. They will help you feel fuller and prevent you from overeating on other foods during your meal.

When eating "family style," you experience a wider variety of foods, but just be careful about portion control. Choose a roast, rice or noodles, a simmered dish and/or a steamed dish to share among the entire table. Leave off the deep-fried choices, though.

More Restaurant Quick Guides

Check out About.com's Calorie Count for calorie information for many different types of ethnic foods and restaurant choices.

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