When it comes to global cuisine, Canberra delivers in spades. Our multicultural city has attracted communities and culinary talents from all over the world, giving us a wide variety of restaurants to choose from when picking the next destination for a night out.
It’s no wonder that Vietnamese is a popular choice. From steaming bowls of pho noodle soup to aromatic dishes with delicious meats and plenty of fresh herbs, there’s plenty to choose from no matter your preferences.
With so many great options to choose from all over Canberra, trying to pick just one Vietnamese restaurant to visit for dinner can be an overwhelming choice. That’s why we’ve put together this article with a helpful breakdown of what to look for in a great Vietnamese restaurant, as well as a handy guide to some of Canberra’s top picks.
What makes a great Vietnamese restaurant?
If you’re on the hunt for great Vietnamese, try to keep the following in mind:
- Varied menu. Vietnamese food is already quite varied, and includes soups, noodles, rice dishes and salads. A great Vietnamese restaurant will have enough dishes available that there’s plenty to choose from without it becoming overwhelming.
- Able to cater to dietary requirements. Luckily, most Vietnamese food is already gluten free, and there are plenty of dishes that are vegetarian or vegan to begin with, such as vegetable-based broths for soups and san choy bow, the lettuce cups. However, if you maybe want to adjust spice levels or make a dish vegetarian, a great Vietnamese restaurant will be able to meet your needs.
- Lively atmosphere. No one wants to sit in an awkward and quiet venue while they eat. Great restaurants draw great crowds – look for a venue that is regularly attracting lots of customers to make sure you have a fun night out!
- Value for money. The cost of the food should reflect the quality of it. Great Vietnamese restaurants have reasonable serving sizes and consistent quality, leaving you feeling satisfied that you haven’t been ripped off.
- Helpful waitstaff. If you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine or haven’t branched out beyond pho, you might find yourself relying on your waiters to help explain what certain dishes are. Great Vietnamese restaurants will be staffed by friendly and helpful waiters to make sure you have the perfect dining experience.
The best Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Ms Ba Cô is a family business serving up traditional family recipes in a cool, casual and convenient setting. Street food may be fast, but it’s always fresh, and Ms Ba Cô uses freshly cut meat and vegetables in all their dishes for the tastiest Vietnamese dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for a light snack, a proper meal or even just a refreshing drink, Ms Ba Cô has something for everyone.
Happy customer Cameron Dawson writes in their Google review, “Amazing Vietnamese street food restaurant in the CBD. Staff were super friendly, and the food was amazing and fresh, and great value. Will definitely be frequenting for lunches.”
Fresh, healthy, quality vegan food – that’s what Au Lac is all about. This popular eatery offers an extensive menu of Vietnamese cuisine, with not a single meat or dairy ingredient to be found. All produce is sourced daily, and a select collection of speciality ingredients are imported to create a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience.
On Google, ‘Local Guide’ Rabin Neupane writes, “You do not get good vegetarian restaurants very often. This Au Lac @ Canberra is one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have been with varieties of delicious menu items. Clean and very friendly staff.”
Griffith Vietnamese is a family-owned and operated business dedicated to providing great food at great prices. They have an extensive menu of classic Vietnamese food and plenty of vegetarian options. Whether you’re a large group out for a meal or it’s date night, the friendly staff at Griffith Vietnamese will ensure a fun and delicious dining experience.
As ‘Local Guide’ Drew Wilkinson writes on Google, “Rates very highly on my grand tour of Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra. The chicken wings were excellent, and the bun was fresh and tasty and unique. Recommended for a lovely, lively meal!”
iPho is a Vietnamese street food restaurant dedicated to quality and authenticity. Owner Vanessa works hard to prepare the broth for their pho, from making the noodles by hand to preparing the soup over the broth for over a day at a time to produce the richest and tastiest pho possible. Also on their menu are staples of Vietnamese street food including summer rolls, com tam and banh mi.
As Heath Hiddleston writes on Facebook, “Love the unpretentious fit-out and amazing food. Pho broth is flavoursome and their pork chop with broken rice is to diet for. Always a winner here.”
Bistro Nguyen’s is located conveniently in the Melbourne Building in the city, and is serving up delicious, authentic Vietnamese food. With exciting and eclectic interior décor and an array of tasty soups, stir fry and other rice dishes, Bistro Nguyen’s is great destination for a group of friends or family.
On Google, ‘Local Guide’ Matty B writes, “Was visiting for the long weekend and needed something hot to warm me up, food was great! Just what I needed.”
Your experience with Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you been to any of the Vietnamese restaurants listed above? Did we miss your favourite? Share your thoughts and feedback below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Vietnamese food healthy?
Some of the defining traits of Vietnamese cuisine are its use of fresh ingredients, reliance on herbs and vegetables, and how little oil its recipes use. As such, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest and most balanced cuisines in the world.
Are there vegan options in Vietnamese cuisine?
Like most Asian cuisines, Vietnamese food features a lot of dishes that are already vegan or can easily be made vegan. Replacing bone broths with vegetable broths and introducing tofu or vegan meats to your dishes can be a great way of turning a classic pho into a vegan-friendly meal.
How expensive is Vietnamese food?
Vietnamese food is a relatively inexpensive cuisine because it largely relies on affordable and easily sourced ingredients. Staples of Vietnamese cuisine such as ginger, coriander, pork, chicken, noodles, and an array of spices can be found in many grocery stores as well as Asian grocers at very affordable price points.
What is pho?
Pho is a noodle soup dish consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. The noodles in pho are often translucent, and the flavours of the dish are very fresh and aromatic. Pho is considered Vietnam’s national dish.
Can I make Vietnamese dishes at home?
Absolutely! Vietnamese dishes are overwhelmingly simple to make, just make sure you have access to quality ingredients and the right equipment, such as woks for stir fry dishes or a big crock pot for soups.