Insects, bugs, and mealworms are not the everyday meals of the Vietnamese and might even be scary for some locals. However, for those brave enough to try, you can also find quite an amount of restaurants or farms raising these insects to turn them into foods. It is said that the protein from insects is better than that from traditional meats, but there hasn’t been any scientific proof of this statement. Meanwhile, the dishes from these creepy creatures are still delicious to some and a popular type of food challenge.
As a tropical country with a diverse climate and wildlife, Vietnam has many kinds of edible insects and mealworms. And you will find reptiles are also on the menu of the insect restaurants.
Insects: Duong Dua (Coconut Worm), De (Cricket), Bo Cap (Scorpion), Ong (bees), Ret (Centipedes), Nhen (Spider), Ruoi (a kind of clam worm), Tam To (silkworm), Nhong Ve Sau (Cicada Larvae), Ca Cuong (a type of water bug) - put dip in fish sauce for taste, and Chau Chau (Grasshoppers)
Reptiles: Ran Moi (Lizard), Dong Cat (Sand Lizard), Ky Tom (a kind of monitor lizard), and Tac Ke (Gecko).
Spiders, cicada, and crickets
Scorpions and lizards
A scorpion on a skewer
These are only a few to name, there may be more when you get deeper into the rural areas of Vietnam. The most popular and easy to find of this kind of protein in Ho Chi Minh City are crickets, coconut worms, scorpions, spiders, lizards, and grasshoppers.
The most popular approach to these insects is deep-fried after seasoning them with salt, pepper, scallion oil, herbs, and such strong seasonings. The insects will be more crunchy and easy to eat that way. Some insects with a hard shell-like scorpion and water bug may be a bit hard to chew and swallow down. Some people eat live coconut worm after dipping them in the fish sauce or eat the stir-fried version with butter and onion. Some could argue that the insects taste good and can be good for your health, while others are only in for taste challenges or dares.
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Most insects restaurants or restaurants that serve insect dishes are quite rare in the city center and usually sell beer to go along with these dishes. Crickets are among the cheapest while reptiles, spiders, and scorpion are the most expensive.
47 Duong So 7, An Phu-An Khanh Residential Area, An Phu Ward, District 2
552 Pham Van Dong, Ward 13, Binh Thanh District
366B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Ward 10, District 3
Opening hours: 10 AM - 11 PM
Average price: VND 30,000 - VND 40,000/insects, VND 60,000 - VND 120,000/dish, depends on the kinds
In the restaurant chain of De Sua Rec Rec, you can find many kinds of insects like crickets, bee larvae, scorpions, spiders, and many kinds of lizards. The restaurants are most famous for their insect dishes, but they also have other exotic meats like frog and pig kidney.
Address: 17B Duong 11, Ward 11, Go Vap District
Opening hours: 7 AM - 8 PM
Average price: VND 60,000/dish
Bo Cap Lua is another insect specialized restaurant. They have coconut worms, crickets, scorpions, bee larvae, many kinds of reptiles, and even centipedes. The insects are not only seasoned or prepared to make simple dishes but also cooked with other ingredients like noodles, fried dough, braised in clay pots and decorated nicely.
Address: 371A Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 10 AM - 10:30 PM
Average price: VND 20,000 - VND 60,000/worm
Huong Rung is famous for their seafood and traditional Vietnamese specialty buffet but there is also a single-item menu with other exotic meats like eel, frog, and vole - a relative of the mouse. The special insect dishes on their menu are the fried buttered worms and live worms in fish sauce. These worms are either from the palm tree or coconut tree.
Address: 31 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 10 AM - 10 PM
Average price: VND 120,000/dish of crickets, VND 30,000/scorpion
Luong Son Quan’s menu lists many Vietnamese dishes like a roasted pig, their specialty - the grilled beef “bo tung xeo”, as well as exotic meats like eels, frogs, and goats. Besides the regular meals, they also serve crickets and scorpions for any customers who want to try something off the norm.
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For some people, it is not an easy job to try eating insects. However, you will find some of these insects are not bad and could be a good snack to replace the normal chips. To eat insects in Ho Chi Minh City, some Vietnamese may buy fresh insects and cook it for themselves, but you can also find many restaurants that specialize in serving this special kind of protein here and there throughout the city. Just make sure you really want to eat them because some of them could be a little expensive and you may find them not your normal standard of good foods.
You may also want to learn more Vietnamese foods and adventures in Ho Chi Minh City with our tours or our Vietnam travel information guides.
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I tried the fried crickets and it wasn't bad at all, actually, it was crunchy and addicting haha but not sure about trying scorpions
i am going to vietnam soon and will be eating some of these, if not all!
great guide and lots of useful info!