I can eat Vietnamese food every single day. It is fragrant and delicious. Luckily for me, I can get it all over Biloxi and D’Iberville. There are so many more options than just their famous soup Pho. (It is pronounced Phuh.) If you live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, or anywhere near a Vietnamese restaurant, and have not tried some you are missing out! The Gulf Coast has always had a rich gastronomic history and it has only been made better by the arrival of Vietnamese immigrants in the 1970s.
In honor of Lunar New Year this week, I would like to honor and recommend these wonderful foods and places to try.
Vietnamese Along the Gulf Coast
The country of Vietnam has a long coast and its own maritime history. Immigrants found a home in the seafood centered Biloxi after the Fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War. The displaced families came to live on Point Cadet like so many before. (My family included!) Soon, food and shops specializing in Vietnamese food began to crop up along the Gulf Coast. Even after changing times and demographics Vietnamese is still the most common non-English language spoken in the entire state of Mississippi. As of the Census in 2010, over 7,000 Vietnamese Americans live in Mississippi.
Vietnamese Food Influences
Southeast Asia has many factors influencing its food. For years, Vietnam was under French control that influenced its cooking. There is also Asian components like hot noodle soups and rice based dishes. There are all forms of steam buns and dumplings. Vietnamese cooking can also take influence from curries and spices found in near by Thailand. Even if you think that you do not like Vietnamese food, read on and see all the variety available to you!
The Bahn Mi
Where I live, we have a sandwich we all call a poboy. It is often served with roast beef or seafood. However, there is another sandwich well loved as well. Bahn mi in Vietnamese simply means ‘bread.’ It is a sandwich using traditional french bread. There is a range of variety found inside. Most come with a homemade mayonnaise and or pate spread inside. They are topped with cilatro, jalepeno, and a type of carrot/daikon relish. My favorite fillings are the sweet marinated pork or traditional Vietnamese cold cuts. There is also fillings like curried chicken, meatball (nothing like the Italian meatball), and so many other flavor combos.
Where to get one…
280 Oak Street, Biloxi, MS
Le Bakery has delicious breads and pastries. They have been mentioned more than once for their King Cakes here. However, they are one of the best spots to enjoy a bahn mi. I love the lemongrass pork is a great place to start enjoying the delicious sandwich.
10345 Automall Parkway, D’Iberville, MS
Henry’s is just over the bridge in D’Iberville. They have a great list of sandwiches as well. My favorite is the meatball that is smashed into the bread. They also have a range of food including a full menu of pho, and other Vietnamese cuisine. **NOTE: They only take cash so have some on hand for your visit.
What the Pho?
This is a fun play on the name used for one of the restaurants previously along the Gulf Coast. Many people if they know one Vietnamese dish, know about Pho. It a hot noodle soup made in a broth that can take a good amount of time to make. There are different varieties as well including pho ga (chicken), pho tai (rare beef), and others that include more unique add ins like tripe. I love pho and found in Ho Chi Minh City it was enjoyed at all hours of the day including breakfast. The pho ga stand was so busy in the mornings that they had to hire a motorbike valet! It is a filling dish and I always recommend tasting the broth before adding any sriracha or hoisin sauce.
Where to get some…
10598 D’Iberville Boulevard, D’Iberville, MS
This is my favorite Pho place around. They have delicious soups and a good variety of other items like spring rolls.
156 Oak Street, Biloxi, MS
Named after a beach nearby to Ho Chi Minh City, this little spot has a big menu. They have 10 varieties of Pho and also make bahn mi sandwiches as well.
2667 Pass Road, Biloxi, MS
You can enjoy a taste of Vietnam and Japan here! They have a dual menu serving pho and sushi. The broth base is delicious and it is close to Edgewater Mall.
Vermicelli is an extremely thin rice noodle that is a base for many different Vietnamese dishes. It is often a filler in spring rolls. Vermicelli can also be paired with grilled pork or chicken with a piece of lettuce to create a refreshing wrap. My friend Abby in Vietnam introduced me to another vermicelli dish called bun cha. It is a yummy concoction of with pork with a rich dipping sauce.
Vermicelli can also be found in the noodle soup bun bo hue. This is a dish I would call expert level. It has a variety of things including congealed blood. I know it sounds gross, but it is delicious! You can get a great bowl at Henry’s Cafe mentioned above. Actually, all three restaurants mentioned that serve pho also service different vermicelli creations.
Bahn Bao and Other Buns
Bahn bao is a little different than dumplings. It has a soft and fluffy outer layer with egg or pork inside. Some also contain barbeque beef. They were my favorite to go snack in Vietnam. You can get them out of the case at Saigon Market in D’Iberville or Lee’s International Market in Biloxi.
Cafe Sua Da and Another Coffee Nation
There is a coffee shop commercial or independently owned all over Vietnam. A growing cafe culture is booming across the country. Where tea dominates most of Asia, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee besides Brazil in the world. Their coffee is rich and dark. The signature drink is the cafe sua da. It is dark roast drip coffee mixed with condensed milk while the coffee is still hot. It is then poured over ice. This drink is so addictive! There are several places to get one along the Gulf Coast including Henry’s and Le Bakery. Coffee Fusion in Ocean Springs and their sister shop Boba and Beanz in Edgewater Mall also have a good version. My actual first taste of the sua da was from Coffee Fusion after graduating from USM.
If you want to make one at home, you can get the drip containers cheap at the Asian markets locally and use Cafe Du Monde Roast with Chicory.
Bubble Tea and Milk Teas
Bubble tea also known as milk tea has been a craze for awhile. Although it originated in Taiwan, there are some great places in D’Iberville to get these sweet drinks. There are other Vietnamese dessert drinks that come with different jellies, flavors, coconut water, and finely shaved ice. They are a great way to enjoy a sweet treat on a hot day. If you want out of your comfort zone I recommend trying a different flavor like taro a sweet flavor from a purple potato like plant or grass jelly added into your drink.
Where to get one…
3680 Sangani Boulevard, D’Iberville, MS
This place has it all. You can view their impressive menu here. There is a range of teas, smoothies, juices, and coffee drinks. They also serve a delicious dessert waffle made with pandan and have a fridge full of mochi. I love the taro lover dessert and their classic milk tea with egg pudding.
11516 Lamey Bridge Road, D’Iberville, MS
Their kimchi fries with a fried egg are one of my favorite temptations before going to see a movie around the corner. However, they have so many combinations of flavors for milk teas that I cannot keep count of them all. This shop is a great place to start since many of their dishes are inspired or recreated from food found all across Asia.
Happy Year of the Rat!
I am so happy to be able to share my favorite places to enjoy Vietnamese food on the Gulf Coast. The suggestions are just a small sampling of food found at these places. Watch some travel food shows and get more ideas on what to try once you have tried these. This week begins Lunar New Year and has rotated to my birth year! The zodiac sign of the rat is the beginning of the rotation of animals. I was born in the year of the rat and now I am excited to see it return! I recommend finding a fun place to watch the lion dance to bring good fortune in the new year!
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới
Happy New Year in Vietnamese
What is your favorite Vietnamese food?
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