Vietnam is known as a culinary destination. Foodies from around the world descend on the country to gorge themselves on Vietnamese street food.
Expect to sit on plastic chairs next to the locals as you eat fresh food bursting with flavor in a communal style. And the low cost of living means it's a fraction of the price of the Vietnamese food you could eat at home. It's also likely to taste much better due to the usage of fresh ingredients.
Once you've tried Vietnamese street food, you'll wonder how you'll ever go back to eating Vietnamese anywhere else. The food is unforgettable and distinct. It also manages to achieve a perfect balance of hot, sour, sweet, and salty flavors that will have you craving for more.
If you're planning a visit to Vietnam, here are the Vietnamese street food options you simply must try:
Talk about Vietnamese food and you likely think of Pho. Walk through any city in Vietnam, and you're likely to hear the slurp of hungry patrons as they eat the fresh rice noodles, savory broth, herbs, and topped either beef or chicken.
Pho is an excellent choice for people who are new to Vietnamese food, as it has a mild taste.
This is another famous dish in Vietnam. These translucent spring rolls are packed with coriander, greens, and combinations of vermicelli, shrimp, or minced pork. In southern Vietnam, you'll find Goi Cuon made with barbecued pork wrapped up with star fruit and green banana and dunked in a delicious peanut sauce.
If you find yourself overindulging in fried food in Vietnam, Goi Cuon is a healthy and tasty choice.
Bun Cha is a Hanoi specialty, so be sure to try it if you're in the city. It's barbecued pork patties served on top of cold rice noodles. You can also ask for a side order of deep-fried shrimp in sweet potato fritter.
Look out for clouds of smoke around 11 am, when street stalls begin marinating and grilling up the seasoned pork patties over a charcoal fire. The noodles are served with a broth (heavy on the fish sauce), and a basket of varietal herbs.
This delicious dish can be compared to a crepe. The name translates to "sizzling pancake," and it will usually be bursting with bean sprouts, egg, pork, shrimp, and fresh herbs. The dish is usually crispy. If you're hoping to eat like the locals, cut the Banh xeo into pieces, wrap it in rice paper or lettuce, and dunk it into the spicy fish sauce in a hand wrap. You can try out this dish on our motorbike food tour in Saigon.
Cao Lau is from Hoi An, and it's a mishmash of many different cultures-representing the people who used to visit the trading port.
This mouthwatering dish is made from thick rice-flour noodles, thinly-sliced pork, and pork-rind croutons. It also includes bean sprouts, a light soup, and crispy rice paper or rice flour crackers.
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A light breakfast full of nutrition is nothing compared to a Banh Mi.
Banh Mi is one of the most well-known Vietnamese street food specialties that is internationally called the Vietnamese “sandwich.” A small baguette includes a variety of components such as butter or mayonnaise, sliced chili pepper, cilantro leaves, cucumber, a tangy-sweet daikon and carrot pickle, a drizzle of soy sauce, and a wide range of protein options, which are either roasted chicken, grilled pork, crunchy julienned pork skin or Chinese char siu pork.
Usually, Banh mi is a typical food used in the morning to prepare for the beginning of an active working day. With a reasonable price of around VND 20,000 or USD 1, it is very affordable for the majority of people. For such reason, the Vietnamese sandwich is a common choice for the locals.
If you are wandering on the street to look for Vietnamese street food at a relatively small price, Banh Trang Nuong is an ideal option.
This specialty is also called Vietnamese Pizza because of its presentation and representation. A circular piece of rice paper filled with dried small shrimps, quail eggs, spring onion, fried ground pork, and cheese is grilled under a coal cooker. After a few minutes, you will have a steaming crispy hot snack.
You can easily buy a Banh Trang Nuong sold by street vendors in most Vietnamese cities, but no place is more made famous than Da Lat, which is the home of Vietnamese Pizza. It is an excellent experience to enjoy a hot and delicious snack in a cold atmosphere while walking in a romantic city.
Another popular Vietnamese street food not to be missed when coming to Vietnam is Banh Trang Tron or rice paper mixed.
Like its name, the rice paper is cut off into many pieces and then mixed up with core ingredients including dried small shrimps, thinly sliced raw mango, hard-boiled quail eggs and added with chili powder and oil. Together they make up an attractive mouth-watering combination for the foodies.
In Vietnam, Banh Trang Tron is very popular among young locals, especially the students. As usual, you can quickly spot a rolling metal cart selling this kind of snack on the street and at some of the local restaurants.
If you would like to enjoy a light meal for lunch or dinner, Banh Cuon is highly recommended. This traditional dish is very appropriate to experience local food when traveling to Vietnam.
A Banh Cuon dish is special because of its rice rolls texture. They are thin sheets of steamed rice batter filled with pork, shrimps, and mushrooms with additional ingredients depending on the recipe of the vendors. Besides, the dish is served together with the gaze of fried shallots, sliced cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, bean sprouts, and Cha Lua (Vietnamese sausage). All together are poured over with Vietnamese fish sauce.
Another morning Vietnamese street food dish is savory sticky rice. A small package of Sticky Rice with hard-boiled quail eggs, small shrimps, chicken, and sliced Chinese sausage is a reasonable choice. It is easily made-to-go for locals in a rush to work and an economical dish for a high-energy breakfast to start a hard-working day ahead.
In Vietnam, papaya is not only eaten as an ordinary fruit but also as a tasty dish of salad.
Goi Du Du or the Green Papaya salad is one of the specialties of the locals. Specifically, there are two types of Green Papaya salad. In the north of Vietnam, the salad involves beef jerky and Thai basil. In the South, the version is mixed with shrimp, pork, and herbs. And they are served with prawn crackers and homemade dipping fish sauce.
Besides the well-known Pho, this is another type of Vietnamese noodle. The shape of it is similar to the Japanese Udon but sticky, soft, and slightly chewy with a creamy soup.
As a foodie, you would fall in love with a bowl of Banh Canh Cua including de-shelled crab meat, thin slices of pork, quail egg, shrimp, and crab meatball. Its pleasant taste deeply marks your tongue the moment you enjoy the first spoon of the soup.
If you would like to eat like a local, Banh Canh Cua is an excellent choice for dinner after a long day of walking.
Another famous dish of Vietnamese cuisine - Nem Cua Be, which is made with fresh crab meat, is particularly good. Unlike regular spring rolls, they are wrapped with rice paper into a square shape before being fried. Nem Cua Be is a specialty of Hai Phong, a seaside town not far away from Hanoi.
A common and inexpensive Vietnamese street food that can be found in any wet market; they are fertilized duck and quail eggs with a nearly-developed embryo inside, which is boiled and eaten. It is typically served with fresh herbs: Vietnamese coriander, salt, and black pepper, and lime or kumquat juice is another popular additive. Some bottles of Vietnamese beer, some friends, and a dozen of these eggs are sufficed for a party gathering.
With each dumpling wrapped in banana leaves, there is a piece of shrimp and ground pork. This Vietnamese street food makes a great pre-meal snack and is served on a small plate and dipped in spicy fish sauce.
Is your mouth watering yet? These are just a few of the most popular Vietnamese street food options. If you'd like to try these (and many others) for yourself, consider taking a motorbike food tour when you’re in Vietnam. It’s a fun way to see the city on the back of the bikes and try the local foods!
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Vietnamese food is amazing. Get ready to gain a few pounds when in Vietnam
My partner and I did the food tour and had banh xeo, it was sooo much fun
Looking forward to a street food tour!