Displayed above is a wide array of dishes that mainly have its origins tied back to Vietnam but also features some dishes that have their roots directly in the United States. An important feature of a group’s preservation and maintenance of their culture is their cuisine so when Vietnamese Americans brought new dishes to the United States, they invited new tastes and ingredients that work together to communicate Vietnam’s history and essence. As the United States is infamous for being known as the “melting pot” of culture, it isn’t surprising that Vietnamese-Americans were able to infuse their cuisine with their surrounding environment to create new dishes that are equally unique as they are delicious.
In the United States, the most popular dishes include phở, which is a noodle soup with a beef broth, bánh mì, a baguette sandwich with meat, pickled vegetables, and pâté (meat paste spread), bánh xèo, a savory crepe with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, cà phê sữa đá, Vietnamese-style iced coffee using condensed milk, and many more. These dishes are primarily created with a strong Southern Vietnamese influence as many Vietnamese-Americans today immigrated from the Southern region. This is important to mention as there are also differences in the ways the North and South prepare their individual dishes. Similar to the divergence in language, cuisine also follows trends where many of the recipes have primarily originated from the 1970’s Saigon era. Little has changed from the original recipes which go to show the great lengths that are taken to preserve that cultural period in America.
Vietnamese-American food businesses serving these popular dishes have also risen in influence across the country as the growing appreciation of these foods continues. Many restaurants based in the United States have grown to become national and even international chains such as Lee’s Sandwiches. The Vietnamese-American fast-food chain has amassed an international reach serving bánh mì and Vietnamese iced coffee. Founded by boat people refugees, the restaurant has been around for 40 years and continues to grow. Phở Hòa is another popular chain that serves the Vietnamese soup dish in restaurants spanning the West coast to the East coast as well as in Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan. Besides the restaurant industry, many Vietnamese food items have become staples in various communities such as Sriracha sauce. Created by a Vietnamese American, the condiment achieved massive levels of popularity and is a critical ingredient for many Vietnamese recipes.
The evolution of Vietnamese-American cuisine can be seen in the emergence of Viet-Cajun Food. The Acadians were French colonizers living in Acadia, Canada who were exiled by the British causing them to live in Louisiana where they practiced French cuisine. When Vietnamese-Americans began immigrating to cities in Louisiana such as New Orleans, they mixed their traditional flavors with Cajun styles of cuisine. The notable example of these is seen in the Viet-Cajun crawfish dish which incorporates Vietnamese ingredients such as lemongrass and ginger with Cajun seasonings like cayenne pepper. These combinations effectively give rise to new recipes that fuse different cuisines together and are an important reminder that as Vietnamese culture gets integrated into the fabric of America, its connections with other cultures will yield new experiences on the dining table.