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What About Vietnam – S3-20 

Learn “special dietary requirements” in Vietnamese language

Kerry Newsome:  00:35

Xin Chào and welcome to “What About Vietnam!”. Today, we're talking to Hà again, as part two of the mini-series talking about language and some tips for you as, you're getting around Vietnam. The first episode, we covered some greetings, that's definitely going to help you engage and interact with locals. 


In this episode, I've decided with Hà, that we would bring some of the tougher questions, that you need to ask, and it would be really helpful to know the words in Vietnamese. And that's when you want to make some special food requests. I often see people who are trying to find something on the menu, that is gluten free, or they don't want peanuts or something like that. And trying to express that or point to that right picture or just explain it generally, can often come hard. So, we cover these in this episode, and I hope you find them helpful. Please welcome Hà back to the program.


So, a lot of people, when they travel, obviously are concerned about food and the food that they eat. And some people have allergies. Peanuts is one of them. Some people are gluten-free. Some people don't like chili, and things like that. So, I thought with your help, we would get some good words to use for people to check that out. But I have to ask you a crazy question is, when I go to a restaurant and just say I want to attract the waiter to come to my table to take our order or whatever. I say the word, 'em ơi'.

Hà:  02:31


Kerry Newsome:  02:33

But I looked that up and the description for that in English is called 'My dear'.

Hà:  02:42

Yeah, yeah. It's actually that, but you know, as you said before, for each person in our relationship or in our circle, like everybody around us, we give them nouns to say them, for example, if they are younger than you, you call them 'em' or older than you can call them this, like that, same age, with your father, you call them this. So, in the restaurant, you are absolutely right to call the waiters or the waitress, 'em ơi', even though it basically means 'my dear'.

Kerry Newsome:  03:17

Right? Okay, because I have been using that term for a long, long time. So, I'm glad I got that right. But just for everyone listening, it is a way of being able to, in English standards, summon the waiter to your table. So, it kind of covers everything from like:

• 'Excuse me', 

• ‘Waiter', to get your attention. 

It kind of covers all that, because they always turn their heads and then they will look at you and they can see you and then they will try to come to your table to serve you food. So 'em ơi' is a really good one for that.

Hà:  03:57

A very good one.

Kerry Newsome:  03:57

And most of the staff are younger than me.

Hà:  03:59

So that's good. 

Kerry Newsome:  04:01

That's good, yeah.


What about- and I don't know I haven't tried this myself. But if I was to say, 'No chili', so, 'We don't want anything with chili.' Sometimes they will point it on the actual menu to point that out. But how would I say that in Vietnamese?

Hà:  04:29

I think it would be easier for you to say, 'No spicy.'

Kerry Newsome:  04:35

'No spicy', and how do you say that?

Hà:  04:38

No is 'không'. Spicy is 'cay'.

Kerry Newsome:  04:46

Cay. So how do I say them together?

Hà:  04:50

You just connect them together. You say, 'không cay'.

Kerry Newsome:  04:53

'Không cay'.

Hà:  04:55

'Không cay'.

Kerry Newsome:  04:57

'Không cay' is 'no chili' or 'no spicy'.

Hà:  05:00

No spicy. Yeah, because the word chili is- I guess it could be hard for you to pronounce. Chili is- [laughter].

Kerry Newsome:  05:09

Yeah, you're getting a really good understanding of how bad my pronunciation is.

Hà:  05:13

No, not for you, don't think like that, yeah. Because I am living with my husband. Obviously, he's not Vietnamese. And so, I know what is hard for him and what is not hard for him. So, I'm teaching him- and I'm also teaching him some basic Vietnamese like I did to you now, so I didn't mean that your pronunciation is bad, I just mean like-

Kerry Newsome:  05:23

No, I get it. That's fine.


So, if we say, 'No peanuts', would it be không- How do you say peanuts?

Hà:  05:54

Well, that's the hard one. Peanut is 'đậu phộng'. 

Kerry Newsome:  05:58

Đậu phộng.

Hà:  06:01

Yes. 'Không đậu phộng'.

Kerry Newsome:  06:01

'Không đậu phộng'.

Hà:  06:03

Yes, but remember, if you go to Hanoi or any province in the North, they have another word for peanuts. They don't usually use đậu phộng'. They use 'lạc'. 

Kerry Newsome:  06:07


Hà:  06:21

Yes. So, in the South, and Center, you can use 'Không đậu phộng'.

Kerry Newsome:  06:26

'Không đậu phộng'.

Hà:  06:28

Yes. And in the North, 'Không lạc'. 

Kerry Newsome:  06:34

'Không lạc'. Không lạc?

Hà:  06:36

Không lạc. Lạc is very down. Không lạc

Kerry Newsome:  06:39

Lạc is down. Okay.


I bet this one is going to be a hard one, too. 

"Do you have gluten-free?"`

Hà:  06:54

Oh, gluten-free. Gluten-free is-- oh, that's going to be hard. It's mean-

Kerry Newsome:  07:01

I knew, it would be.

Hà:  07:03

Because you--

Kerry Newsome:  07:03

It comes up for a lot of people. They want to know if there are things on the menu that are gluten-free?

Hà:  07:09

Gluten-free is like no rice. No wheat.

Kerry Newsome:  07:16

Yeah. No wheat. Yeah.

Hà:  07:18

So 'không' as in 'No'. Yeah, like-

Kerry Newsome:  07:24


Hà:  07:23

Yeah, and gluten-free. You can say, 'Không tinh bột'. That is hard, is it?

Kerry Newsome:  07:28

I am just looking at your face, going, 

"Oh my God. How am I going to say that?" 

Can you say one more time?

Hà:  07:38

Không tinh bột.

Kerry Newsome:  07:42

Không tinh bột.

Hà:  07:48


Kerry Newsome:  07:48

As in boat. 

Hà:  07:50

Bột, it is B, O, T.

Kerry Newsome:  07:55

So just one more time.

Hà:  07:57

Không tinh bột.

Kerry Newsome:  08:00

Không tinh bột.

Hà:  08:02

Yeah, you got it right. How are you going to get gluten free in Vietnam? That's going to be hard. 

Kerry Newsome:  08:14

Well, the thing I've suggested to people is, that they can have the soup without the noodles.

Hà:  08:21

They can have a soup without the noodle, yes.

Kerry Newsome:  08:23

Yes, and they can have the herbs, and they will still get all the lovely flavors. And they can also eat other things like maybe duck or chicken on its own and things like that. So yeah, there's plenty, and seafood. 

Hà:  08:40


Kerry Newsome:  08:41

Yeah, so that is your best option for gluten free. But the noodles, unfortunately, you can't have. So, if I say, 'how much?'. Đúng-- How do you say, 'how much?'

Hà:  08:58

You say, 'how much?' like 'bao nhiêu'.

Kerry Newsome:  09:02

Bao nhiêu.

Hà:  09:05


Kerry Newsome:  09:07


Hà:  09:08


Kerry Newsome:  09:09

Bao nhiêu tiền?

Hà:  09:11


Kerry Newsome:  09:13

And then do you put the word Đong on the end?

Hà:  09:16

No, we don't usually say- we just say-

Kerry Newsome:  09:19

Just how much? Bao nhiêu tiền? Okay.

Hà:  09:20

Bao nhiêu tiền? Yes, you got it right.

Kerry Newsome:  09:25

Okay. And then one last one, for the restaurant, is, 

"Can I pay with credit card?"

Hà:  09:33

"Can I pay with credit card?" You can say, 'tôi'.

Kerry Newsome:  09:40


Hà:  09:40

Which means 'I'. Tôi. And then you say, 'can use' which is, 'Tôi có thể'.

Kerry Newsome:  09:49

Tôi có thể.

Hà:  09:54

Mm hmm. Trả.

Kerry Newsome:  09:59


Hà:  09:59

Yes. Trả.

Kerry Newsome:  10:01

You're in France.

Hà:  10:02

Yes, sorry. Yeah, 'bẳng'. 

Kerry Newsome:  10:09


Hà:  10:09

Which is 'by'. 

Kerry Newsome:  10:11

Right. So, credit card-

Hà:  10:13

Credit card, you can say credit card, they would understand, or you can say 'thẻ'. 

Kerry Newsome:  10:19

Thẻ. So, you say it all together and I'll see if I can say it.

Hà:  10:24

Mm hmm. You can say, 

"Tôi có thể trả bẳng thẻ không?"

Kerry Newsome:  10:29

[laughter] Oh! my god. Yeah. So how can I make that simple?

Hà:  10:37

Yeah. You just say- like showing the card and say, ’có thể?' Or you can say- có thể means-

Kerry Newsome:  10:45

Or 'dạ?' Like, 'Yes?'.

Hà:  10:48

Yeah. Or you say- you just show them the credit card, because this is the hard one. 

Kerry Newsome:  10:56

Làm ơn?

Hà:  10:57

Làm ơn. Làm ơn, card, yes.

Kerry Newsome:  11:01

Yeah, so that's: 

"Please, can I use?" 

They will see the card and put everything together.

Hà:  11:06

Yes, 'Please'. You can say 'làm ơn', which is very polite. That's helpful. All of us [inaudible 11:11] long sentence. Yeah, I [crosstalk].




Please                                                                         Làm ơn                      Lam urn

No                                                                                 Không                       Khung

Yes (1)                                                                         Đá.                               Ya

Yes (2)                                                                         Đúng                          Du’n

My dear                                                                     em ơi                          Em-oy

Not spicy                                                                  Không cay                Khung kay

Peanuts [for northern regions]                        Đậu phộng              Dao phung

Peanuts [for southern/central regions]       Lạc                              Lac

No peanuts                                          Không đậu phộng     Khung dao phung

Spicy                                                                         Cay                              Kay

Gluten-free/ No gluten                                      Không tinh bột  Khung tin bot

How much?                                        Bao nhiêu tiền?                  Bao new ti-en

Can I pay with credit card   Tôi có thể trả bẳng thẻ không?   Toi co thay tha bang thay khung?

I                                                                                    Tôi                                Toi

Can use                                                                    Có thể                         Co thay

By                                                                                Bẳng                           Bang

Credit card                                                              Thẻ                              Thay

Kerry Newsome:  11:16

Yeah. Okay

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