Flavors In Vietnamese: 7+ Exciting Vocabulary

Are you a foodie planning to travel to Vietnam in the coming week? Then this blog is just the right source for you to learn some exciting food vocab and words for describing flavors in Vietnamese.

Once you land in Vietnam and start looking for Vietnamese dishes, it will become a constant need to engage with flavor vocab to express your thoughts concerning Vietnamese cooking more affectionately and locally. Thus, the knowledge of unique flavors regarding various food items, from rice noodles to fried rice, will help you explore the Vietnamese food world in a pure native way.

If you are interested, keep your foodie soul awake, make haste to a unique Vietnamese restaurant, and express the flavors in an authentic local sense. Keep reading and learn Vietnamese right away!


The Vietnamese Food Culture

Unlike the American food cuisine, Vietnam is known for unique traditional Vietnamese cooking practices that proffer dishes closely influenced by Chinese cuisine.

Most dairy products like milk and oil products are kept at minimal use. Instead, many Vietnamese dishes are strongly cumulated with spices, such as sugar, coriander, fish sauce, salt, pepper, and meat and numerous seafood alternatives.

Moreover, Vietnamese food aims at carrying the balance between the five fundamental flavors, namely, bitter, sour, sweet, salty, and spicy. Many dishes like grilled pork, sour soup, rice cakes, grilled meats, bean sprouts, Vietnamese rice noodles, and rice paper rolls are perfect examples of the flavor balance that Vietnamese food holds.

Also, full soupy dishes filled with Vietnamese herbs and fresh vegetables express the idea of raw food in Vietnam.

Unlike burgers and pizzas, Vietnamese cuisine is known for more half-cooked dishes decorated with raw vegetables like green onion, Thai basil, pickled vegetables, and the standard addition of soy sauce and sweet and sour soup garnished with fresh herbs.

Thus, we can see that Vietnamese food has a unique flavor. And to help you discover every bit of the traditional Vietnamese recipes, we will learn the common yet exceptional flavor vocab in Vietnamese soon!


Flavors In Vietnamese Cooking

Flavors in Vietnamese

Coming to the technical terms that describe various flavors in Vietnam, let us first learn how to pronounce “flavor” in Vietnamese.

Hương vị is the Vietnamese word for Flavor. It can refer to different and distinctive tastes related to a particular food or drink. You can say Bạn thích hương vị nào?, which means “What flavor do you like?” or Tôi thích hương vị sô cô la, which says, “I like chocolate flavor.”

Next, let us get onto Vietnamese’s basic and essential flavor vocab. These are words that Vietnamese people use daily to identify their food grounds. So, let’s begin.

The Five Basic Kinds Of Tastes

When it comes to tastes, the first thing we need to learn about them is the essential and fundamental tastes vocab that we can feel from Southern Vietnam to every corner of the Vietnamese food world.

Flavor Vietnamese Vocabulary
Sweet Ngọt
Sour Chua
Salty Mặn
Bitter Đắng
Savory Ngon

Flavors or tastes like spicy, salty, sweet, and bitter are required vocabulary for explaining essential dishes like stir fry, noodle soups, rice porridge, mung bean sprouts, or even rice flour dishes.

Sweet (Ngọt)

Unlike Indian food, which is mostly masala and spices, dishes in Vietnam have a balance of both sweet and sour. Most Vietnamese dishes have a sweet flavor added to the core. From shrimp sauce to jasmine rice, a sweet taste will always remain domain at the base of the plate.

Bitter (Đắng)

Vietnamese dishes are often balanced out equally concerning their flavors. Even in the simplest fried spring rolls or fried shallots, or any street food, the flavors are added very mildly. Thus, Vietnamese cuisine is not very bold when it comes to being of a particular taste, like bitter or spicy.

Salty (Mặn)

No matter where you go in Vietnam, the food’s salty, sweet, and hot nature will never leave you. Especially in street foods and typical fried dishes, the salty flavor and a sweet flavor touch are constant. Such dishes as shaking beef, crispy fried shallots, and sticky rice with shrimp paste are often served hot and fermented with fish sauce.

Spicy (Vị cay)

While the balance is always there, most soupy dishes such as hot sauce curry, beef noodles, or even sweet-hot pot are somewhat spicier in flavor than others. Again, unlike oily dishes, traditional Vietnamese food has more spices with curry and sauce. Not to mention, all these dishes will always have blissfully decorated green onions spread all over.


Related Food And Flavor Vocabulary

Food in Vietnamese

Besides the basic flavor elements, let us discuss some food and flavor-related words commonly heard in Vietnam. I’m sure they are nothing like the western dishes we order every day and something completely out of the box. So, let’s inherit some additional knowledge from the terms and examples presented in the table below.

English Vietnamese Vocab Example Phrase
Lime juice Nước ép chanh
Tôi yêu nước chanh ngọt 

(I love sweet Lime juice)
Palm sugar đường thốt nốt Đường thốt nốt là một loại gia vị rất phổ biến


(Palm sugar is a very popular spice)
Oyster sauce sốt hàu
Dầu hào làm thức ăn có vị mặn ngọt

(Oyster sauce makes food sweet and salty)
Hoisin sauce Sốt hoisin
Nước sốt Hoisin tạo ra một chất tạo hương vị tốt

(Hoisin sauce makes a good flavor agent)
Fried onions hành phi
Hành tây chiên mang lại vị ngọt trong các món ăn

(Fried onions bring about a sweet taste in dishes)
Vietnamese coriander Rau mùi việt nam Rau mùi Việt Nam và vị cay của nó rất ngon

(Vietnamese coriander and its peppery and spicy taste is delicious)
Noodle Soup Phở
Phở là một món ăn rất phổ biến của Việt Nam

(Pho is a very popular Vietnamese dish)
Rice paddy herb Lúa gạo thảo mộc Gạo tẻ là nguyên liệu nổi tiếng cho các món bò

(Rice paddy herb is a famous ingredient for beef dishes)
Black pepper Tiêu đen
Hạt tiêu đen với hương vị ấm áp của gỗ là vua của các loại gia vị

(Black pepper with a woody warm flavor is the king of spices)
Shallots hẹ
Hành tím phổ biến không kém hành tây trong ẩm thực Việt Nam

(Shallots are equally popular as onions in Vietnamese cuisine)


Learn More With Ling

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Food never leaves us, no matter where we go. In fact, we run after food, different cuisine, unique tastes, and extraordinary dishes in every corner of the world.

Thus, the knowledge of some essential vocabulary related to flavors in Vietnamese will help you go food hunting in a very smooth and relaxing way. You can easily read menus, describe orders, and also customize your food in Vietnam with the understanding of these few terms and phrases.

Moreover, if you are willing to learn more about the Vietnamese culture and some basic vocabulary you will need in day-to-day life, you can reach out to Ling App. Ling App provides quality content on topics like the Vietnamese flag, the conical hat’s secret, and the Vietnamese daily vocab to help you gain a concrete idea of the language.

You don’t have to worry about any cost. Ling provides free service with expert language mentors present from all over the world. Just click on the app and experience the joy of learning new and fascinating language tips!

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