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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Sound Like a Tool: How to Pronounce Common Vietnamese Dishes

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Don't Sound Like a Tool is SFoodie's series of audio

pronunciation guides to sort-of-common-but-not-obvious words we keep

encountering on wine lists and menus. No more shame, no more pointing,

no more godawful imitations of a language you don't speak.

Phở: Is it fo or fuh? Are those cold noodles we live on during May heat waves pronounced buhn or boon? Even though Vietnamese is spelled using the roman alphabet, it's a tricky tonal language for non-Viet English speakers to hear and pronounce correctly.
Broken rice and BBQ pork at S.F.'s Pagolac. - RSUN78/FLICKR
  • rsun78/Flickr
  • Broken rice and BBQ pork at S.F.'s Pagolac.

In an effort to narrow the gap between what we read and what we say when we're trying to order, SFoodie asked Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Asian Dumplings, to read off a short list of food words ― minus tones ― that we regularly encounter on menus. We're not hitting for a home run. We just want to stop whiffing every time we bat. (In case you're curious about the tones, after the list we've posted a second audio file, with dramatic reading from our SF Weekly coworker Alexandra Nguy.)

Click to hear

of the following Vietnamese food terms (for comparison, listen to

Phở (beef or chicken noodle soup)
Bánh mì (sandwich)
Bún thịt nướng (cold noodles with grilled pork)
đặc biệt (special, or house special)
Nước chấm (dipping sauce)
Chả giò (Imperial rolls)
Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls)
Hủ tiếu Nam Vang

(Phnom Penh-style noodle soup)
Bánh xèo (lacy crepe)
Bánh cuốn (steamed rice-flour pancakes)
Cơm tấm (rice plate)
Bò lúc lắc

(sometimes called "shaking beef")
Bò kho (beef stew)
Bún bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup)

Bun riêu (crab noodle soup)

(puddings and drinks)

Find us on Twitter: @SFoodie. Find me on Twitter: @jonkauffman.

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