On every Table: The indispensable condiment is nuoc cham, a spiced and sweetened fish sauce. It might have a pronounced salty flavor, depending on how "fishy" the restaurant makes it.
Dive in: Pho is a steaming beef-broth-and-noodle soup to which you add your own seasonings, like fresh lime, jalapeños, bean sprouts, and red chilies. Eat the floating ingredients with chopsticks and use a spoon for the broth. Don't worry if you can't finish every drop—all that liquid is there to keep everything else warm.
Best bites: Fried spring rolls called cha gio, stuffed with a pork mixture, and summer rolls called goi cuon, a steamed version, stuffed with shrimp and rice vermicelli.
Game plan: Nem nuong are grilled spiced pork meatballs that come with moist, thin rice-paper wrappers. Place one delicate paper round on your palm, positioning a small piece of meat and a bit of salad in the center. Fold the edges over the filling and roll up the wrapper, then dip it in peanut or red chili sauce.