Traditional Vietnamese Breakfast vs. American Breakfast: A Vietnamese Immigrant’s Morning Meal Journey in the US

When I first moved to the United States from Vietnam, one of the most significant changes I had to adapt to was the difference in breakfast culture. In Vietnam, breakfast is a hearty affair, often consisting of a bowl of phở, a traditional noodle soup, or bánh mì, a baguette filled with various ingredients. However, in the US, breakfast tends to be a quicker, more straightforward meal, often consisting of cereal, toast, or eggs. This shift in breakfast culture was initially a challenge, but over time, I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy both styles of morning meals.

The Traditional Vietnamese Breakfast

In Vietnam, breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. It’s often a warm, hearty meal designed to fuel the body for the day ahead. Phở, a noodle soup with beef or chicken, is a common choice. The soup is rich and flavorful, often simmered overnight to develop a deep, complex flavor. Bánh mì, a French-influenced baguette sandwich filled with meats, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs, is another popular choice. These meals are typically enjoyed at local food stalls or at home, and they provide a substantial, satisfying start to the day.

The American Breakfast

In contrast, the American breakfast tends to be quicker and more straightforward. Many Americans opt for convenience, choosing foods like cereal, toast, or bagels that can be prepared and eaten quickly. Eggs, bacon, and pancakes are also popular choices, especially on weekends or for a more leisurely breakfast. While these meals may not be as hearty as a bowl of phở or a bánh mì sandwich, they still provide a good source of energy for the day ahead.

Adapting to the American Breakfast Culture

Adapting to the American breakfast culture was initially a challenge. I missed the warm, hearty meals of my homeland, and I found the quick, convenient American breakfasts to be less satisfying. However, over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity and convenience of American breakfast foods. I’ve also discovered that many American breakfast foods can be adapted to incorporate Vietnamese flavors. For example, I often add Vietnamese spices to my scrambled eggs, or I’ll make a bánh mì-inspired sandwich with a bagel instead of a baguette.


While the Vietnamese and American breakfast cultures are vastly different, both have their unique charms and benefits. As a Vietnamese immigrant in the US, I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy both styles of breakfast. Whether it’s a bowl of phở, a bánh mì sandwich, or a simple bowl of cereal, each meal provides a comforting, satisfying start to the day.