All about Vietnamese Noodle

When I share a recipe for a Vietnamese dish, I usually have to find its English name, commonly used by foreigners. I’ve realized that there are often confusions among the dozen types of Vietnamese noodles. This post is to explain some common types of Vietnamese noodles, including Pho rice noodles (sợi phở), rice vermicelli (bún), hu tieu noodles (hủ tiếu), thick noodles (sợi bánh canh), Quang noodles (sợi mì Quảng), and glass noodles (miến).

Pho Rice Noodle (Pho)

Pho is the most famous Vietnamese noodle dish, known for its rich and aromatic broth. Nowadays, pho is sold around the world, becoming a source of pride for Vietnamese cuisine.

The noodles used in Pho are Pho Rice Noodles (in Vietnamese: sợi phở). These are flat, 3-4mm wide rice noodles. The main ingredients in Pho Noodles are rice flour, with a bit of tapioca starch or corn starch. The more tapioca starch, the chewier the Pho Noodle becomes. Pho Rice Noodles are made by steaming a very thin layer of the flour mixture, then cutting it into strips.

In addition to Pho, in Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Noodles are also used in dishes like Pho Tron (Vietnamese Beef/Chicken Rice Noodle Salad) or Pho Xao (Vietnamese Stir-fried Pho).

If you are looking for Pho Noodles, choose the flat, wide rice noodles with rice flour as the main ingredient.

pho tron, vietnamese beef noodle salad, acecook pho noodles
Pho Noodle: flat, wide.

Rice Vermicelli (Bun)

Rice Vermicelli is also a very popular type of rice noodle in Vietnamese cuisine, alongside Pho Noodles. The ingredients of Rice Vermicelli are nearly the same as those of Pho, mainly rice flour and a bit of tapioca starch. However, the difference lies in the shape and how it is made.

vermicelli noodle sợi bún

Rice vermicelli is formed into round strips by dropping the flour mixture into boiling water. There are several sizes of rice vermicelli, ranging from large for Beef Noodle (Soi Bun Bo), to medium/small sizes for a various of dishes. Here are several typical dishes using medium to small-size rice vermicelli: Bun Bo Nam Bo, Bun Thit Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork and Rice Vermicelli), Bun Rieu Cua (Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup), Bun Dau Mam Tom (Tofu & Rice Vermicelli with Fermented Shrimp Sauce), Bun Cha (Meatballs & Rice Vermicelli), Bun Oc (Escargot Noodle Soup), Hot Pot, etc.

boil vermicelli for bun bo nam bo
Boiling dried rice vermicelli. Rice vermicelli’s strip is round in shape.

I would also like to mention “banh hoi” here. For me, banh hoi is also a type of “rice vermicelli”, because the method to make banh hoi is the same. However, banh hoi vermicelli is really “tiny”, so it can’t form into strips like normal vermicelli but rather into pieces.

Hu Tieu Noodle (Soi Hu Tieu)

Hu Tieu is another type of Vietnamese rice noodle, but it is less popular than Pho Noodles and Rice Vermicelli. In general, the ingredients and process of making Hu Tieu Noodles are quite similar to Pho. The significant difference between Hu Tieu and Pho lies in the size of each strip. Usually, each strip of Hu Tieu Noodles is 1-2mm wide. Some of the most popular variations of hu tieu include hu tieu Nam Vang (with pork and shrimp), hu tieu muc (with squid), hu tieu Sa Dec, or hu tieu kho (without broth).

hu tieu noodle

Thick Noodle (Soi Banh Canh)

Soi Banh Canh (Thick Noodle) is another special Rice Noodle of Vietnam. It is wider and thicker than the typical rice vermicelli mentioned earlier. They are often flat to round, resembling wide, chewy ribbons. The components in thick noodle can be rice flour, tapioca starch, or a mixture of rice and tapioca starch.

These noodles have a texture ranging from soft to chewy, depending on the ratio of rice flour to tapioca starch. The softness comes from rice flour, while tapioca starch contributes to the chewiness of the noodle.

Quang-Style Turmeric Noodle (Soi Mi Quang)

This type of noodle is used in Quang Noodle, a special dish of Quang Nam Province in the middle of Vietnam. From Quang Nam, it became popular across the country. Quang Noodle has a similar appearance to Pho Noodle, which is flat, 3-4mm wide, but in a vibrant yellow color instead of the white color of Pho. This color comes from the addition of curcumin powder to the noodle. The aroma of curcumin powder makes Quang Noodle unique among various types of rice noodles in Vietnam.

quang noodle
Fresh Quang Noodle

Glass Noodle (Soi Mien)

Cellophane Noodles or Glass Noodles, also known as Fensi (粉丝) in Chinese and Soi Mien in Vietnamese, are various terms for the same type of noodle. Different from all the noodles mentioned above, which are mainly made of rice flour, glass noodle’s main ingredient is starch. It can be mung bean starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch, tapioca starch, or canna starch. Not only in Vietnam and China, but this noodle is also popular across Asia.

glass noodle miến sợi
Dried Glass Noodle

The name “glass noodles” is derived from their translucent appearance when cooked. Glass noodles are slightly chewy and are available in various thicknesses, ranging from very thin to wider strands.

In Vietnamese cuisine, canna and mung bean glass noodles are the most common. People use Glass Noodles to make Cha gio (Fried Spring Rolls), Chicken Glass Noodle (Mien Ga), Goose Glass Noodle (Mien Ngan), or Stir-Fried Glass Noodle (Mien Xao).

With this information, I hope you can distinguish all types of Vietnamese noodles! Each type of noodle has its unique taste, texture, and appearance. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *