• Bò né is Vietnamese steak and eggs. Tender veal with fried eggs mixed in with pâté and grilled onions. I recently had this dish and am so bummed my parents held out on me for 26 years of my life. This has actually become one of my favorites. The flavors, when mixed with the pâté and what appears to be Laughing Cow cheese, are heavenly. It's typically served with a French baguette.

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  • Soup is a weakness of mine; while growing up, there was always a steaming bowl served with my family meals. Vietnamese canh chua cá is a sweet-and-sour broth featuring catfish steaks and fresh vegetables. The flavors of the pineapple, garlic, fish sauce, and catfish marinate the broth well, and the elephant ear stems soak up the flavor for the best bite. You can eat it alone or over white rice.

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  • Nem nướng cuon is like a spring roll, but in my humble opinion, a thousand times better. The bulk of the roll features a pork sausage that is infused with garlic, fish sauce, and pepper. It is then grilled and wrapped spring roll–style into rice paper. Many versions feature a fried egg roll wrapper for an extra crunch. A must—try if you love spring rolls.

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  • Bánh cống was something I rarely got treated to as a child because it can be labor-intensive. Basically, it's a mung bean cake with a prawn on top that is flash fried to a heavenly crisp. Traditionally, you can wrap it in a lettuce leaf and dip it in fish sauce. The coconut milk in the little cake is what makes the dish taste so creamy and decadent.

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  • This, right here, was my childhood favorite. I still love it as an adult, but now that I've discovered bò né, my life has been a bit of Sophie's choice. This dish—commonly found at any Vietnamese restaurant, including your local authentic pho (no 9021pho please)—is catfish, caramelized in fish sauce and soy sauce, and peppered to perfection. The food Gods have blessed us.

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