July 23, 2021 | 4 mins
When it comes to the luscious balance of salty, sweet, hot and sour, Vietnamese food flavours are unforgettable. Given the plethora of Vietnamese cuisine, eating your way through Helsinki requires stamina. In this round-up of Helsinki’s best Vietnamese restaurants, here are five of our favourites that cater to the contemporary palate.
Phở, a fragrant, nourishing bowl of noodle soup was made since the early 20th century. The humble French-influenced is both as subtle and complex as its flavours. The clear broth has been through a simmering process before being served piping hot with chicken or pork, a sprinkling of leafy greens and various aromatic herbs.
We all know about the frying spring rolls, but its fresh counterpart is a lighter, healthier appetizer alternative. The translucent rice papers are first wrapped with lettuce, layers of coriander and mint, vermicelli noodles, slices of pork and shrimp, yellowish fried eggs, then finally decorated with chives stem before being rolled and dunked into peanut hoisin or fish sauce.
Vietnam is well-known for its second ranking in exporting rice to the world. It comes as no surprise that we have taken its versatility to create an array of noodles. A flavorful bowl of rice vermicelli, charcoal-grilled marinated pork dressed in scallions in oil, and crushed peanuts. A handful of fresh herbs, pickled daikon, and carrots sound deceivingly ordinary, but it is an all-star dish with special sauce. You can order a side of Cha Gio (spring rolls) accompanied by the meat.
Being said as the best comfort food around the world, Bánh Mì lives up its reputation in second place from Lonely Planet’s The World’s Best Street Food. The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it as an epitome of street food. It all begins with a crisp crust and soft, airy texture slightly grilled over the charcoal. After a thin spread of butter, a dollop of pâté, Bánh Mì filled with layers of meat, crunchy pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. It is then spiced up with a few drops of soy sauce and a spicy chilli condiment. “That’s a symphony in a sandwich” is how Anthony Bourdain once described the most famous Vietnamese sandwich.
Boasting almost 2,000 miles of coastline plus a handful of renowned island destinations, Vietnam’s beaches embrace purity and are home to an amazing array of fresh seafood and a stunning variety of more than 200 species of fish. In Vietnamese cuisine, we rarely over-season the seafood since we try to keep them fresh. Fresh oyster and steamed crab might bring you the stunning flavour. We can add more twists to the dish by grilling shrimp and squid over charcoal, drizzled with scallions in oils or spicy chilli paste. It is served with lightly zingy salad and peanut sauce.