If you ever wanted to explore the differences between Vietnamese food and Thai food, I’m going to share with you in this article the similaries, differences in spices, as well as talk about regional differences between the two!
Comparing Flavors and Tastes Between Vietnamese Food vs Thai Food
The differences in their food dishes is the use of leaf vegetables and raw herbs. If you had to generalize, Vietnamese cuisine has herbs and leaf vegetables eaten raw. These vegetables include basil, mint, sprouts, cilantro, and green onion. Thai cuisine generally has vegetables stir fried or boiled. These vegetables include basil, mint and lemongrass.
What’s the main difference between Thai food and Vietnamese food?
Vietnamese food tends to have more mild flavors, whereas Thai cuisines have strong flavors due to the use of more stronger usage of spices. Thai food generally has copious amounts of spicy chili peppers, whereas Vietnamese food uses hot peppers on occasion usually as toppings.
The Culture and Food Origins
Vietnamese food has more of a French influence. Vietnamese common dishes are rice noodle dishes.
Thai food has more of an Indian and Malay influence. Thai food has more of a curry based dish with rice.
Popular Cuisines in Vietnamese Food versus Thai Food
Vietnamese dishes that are especially popular include pho (chicken or beef broth with rice noodles), banh mi (sandwich with pork and pickled carrots and jimica), and spring rolls. Famous dishes for Vietnamese food is pho and banh mi.
Thai dishes that are especially popular include green curries, tom yum (a flavorful soup with chicken or shrimp as the protein), pad Thai (popular noodle dish), and basil fried rice. Famous dishes for Thai food include pad Thai and Som Tam.
Cooking Vietnamese Cuisines versus Thai Cuisines
Vietnamese cuisines have a more simple approach in terms of the number of ingredients as compared to Thai cuisines.
In general, popular Vietnamese dishes have a pretty simple base for their soup (like flavored stock) whereas Thai dishes have a heavy emphasis on coconut milk and shrimp paste.
Are there different regional variations?
Yes, for both dishes, there are definitely regional variations.
Vietnamese dishes can be segmented by north, central, and south. The flavors in the northern region are subtle and harmonious. The central region comparatively is much more flavorful in terms of spices as compared to the northern region. Southern Vietnamese dishes tend to be much sweeter.
Thai dishes can be segmented by the cultural influences, Hokkien/Teochew, Moo Yong, and Chinese Style.
Spices in Viet Food versus Thai Food
The way that the spices are handled are different in general between each of the cuisines. With Vietnamese food, the spices are normally added separately by the person eating it. With Thai food, the spices are typically embedded during the cooking process.
Is Vietnamese food similar to Thai food?
Short answer is no. The do share some general common ingredients and flavors. For example, they both share rice and noodle dishes. They make use of a lot of herbs and spices!
How spicy is Vietnamese food compared to Thai food?
It really depends on the dish and how much spice is added to the cuisine. Again, with Vietnamese food, you generally add the spice yourself (if you want any at all). With Thai food, the spice is embedded into the dish. If you are going to the restaurant, you can always specify the spice level.
But, if we had to generalize, Thai food is definitely spicier than Vietnamese food.
Is Vietnamese cuisine healthier than Thai cuisine?
Each of the different cuisines have their fried version of something, Vietnamese food tends to be lighter in sauces and sweets along with fresh herbs and vegetables.
Vietnamese food is heavy on carbohydrates derived from rice and rice noodle dishes.
Thai food tends to be heavier on sauces and coconut bases.
Does Vietnamese food or Thai food rely on using chopsticks?
Vietnamese food is more associated to using chopsticks. You will also see them at Thai restaurants, but chopsticks are not the primary utensil when eating Thai food.
What’s the difference between ordering at a Vietnamese restaurant or Thai restaurant?
At a Vietnamese restaurant, you are guaranteed to have a section dedicated to pho dishes. The difference typically lies in the type of protein that you want to order. The fried noodles will be listed in a different section.
At a Thai restaurant, you’ll typically see the noodle dishes which comprise of fried noodles mixed with proteins, vegetables and sauces.
What do you recommend ordering at a Vietnamese restaurant versus a Thai restaurant for the first time?
At a Vietnamese restaurant, I would order shrimp and sweet potatoes fries as your appetizer (cold spring rolls, not fried, come in a close second). I would recommend ordering Pho Dac Biet which includes all proteins! Make sure you add at the minimum basil, serrano peppers, sprouts, and fish sauces when the dish arrives.
At a Thai restaurant, I would recommend getting pot stickers as the appetizer. I would then recommend getting Phad Thai (which is a popular dish). My FAVORITE dish would be the Phad See Eaw (which stands for “Noodles in Soy Sauce”. It typically has wide hoodless fried with soy sauce and includes egg, Chinese broccoli, and mushrooms.
Of all the dishes between Vietnamese and Thai food if I had to compare, Phad See Eaw is absolutely my favorite dish hands down.
Here are my favorite dishes for first timers with Vietnamese food:
- Cold Spring Rolls
- Vermacelli Noodles
Here are my favorite dishes for first timers with Thai Food:
- Phad Thai
- Phad See Eaw (also known as Pad See Ew)
- Tom Yum Soup
This content was originally posted on cookingwithlane.com.
Now that we’ve taken a comparative look between Vietnamese food and Thai food, such as differences in terms of health, types of food, healthy options, regional flavors, ordering from restaurants, as well as popular dishes, I hope I’ve provided you clarity on the deliciousness of both cuisines and what each has to offer.
What gets your vote? Do you love them both?
Comment below to let me know what your favorite cuisines are when you find your favorite Vietnamese and Thai dishes!
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