Eating sea snails (oc) may sound bizarre to some people, especially visitors from Western cultures, but in Vietnam, sea snail is the top street food. With a wide variety of selections and an even wider variety of preparations, these dishes are must-haves before claiming that you’ve tried Vietnamese street food.
Sea snails on a plate (oc) is a national favorite and an indispensable part of the drinking culture in Vietnam. These dishes are meant to be eaten on their own or sometimes with some Banh Mi, and you’re expected to get down and dirty while eating. Most dishes require you to use bare hands to crack shells, toothpicks to pick out the flesh. Many sea snail vendors can be found along the river banks and canals or in Ho Chi Minh City’s hidden alleyways.
Sea snails are often eaten with sweet fish sauce, pepper and salt, and Vietnamese coriander.
Read tips on How Not to Get Food Poisoning.
There are literally thousands of eateries in Ho Chi Minh selling these mouth-watering dishes. But don’t worry, we’ll show you below our 3 favorite candidates for eating sea snails.
Address: 212B/D28, Nguyen Trai Street, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1.
Opening hours: 10 AM - 10 PM.
Average price: VND 60,000 - VND 110,000/dish
The restaurant’s not in a favorable location, but it’s one of the most famous sea snail eateries in Ho Chi Minh City, therefore, visit this place in the evening for a quieter atmosphere. Its dishes can be a bit pricey, but the fast service, friendly staff, and flavorful plates make up for that.
Oc Dao in District 1.
Oc len xao dua - Mud creeper sea snails stir-fried in coconut sauce.
Oc ca na hap xa - Canarium snails steamed with lemongrass.
Address: 25/5, Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1.
Opening hours: Noon - 10 PM.
Average price: VND 25,000 - VND 72,000/dish
The restaurant has a favorable location, but it’s quite small so you might have to wait a bit during nighttime. There are many types of sea snail to choose from, and all of them are fresh, which provides tasty plates.
Oc Khanh in District 1.
Oc giay xao toi - Indian volute stir-fried with garlic.
Oc mat trang xao me - Moon snails stir-fried in tamarind sauce.
Address: 12, Block C, Nguyen Thien Thuat apartment complex, Ward 1, District 3.
Opening hours: 4 PM - 10 PM.
Average price: VND 30,000 - VND 100,000/dish
The restaurant’s located in the food haven of Nguyen Thien Thuat apartment complex so it’s very easy to find. Service can be quite slow since this place is always jam-packed and the “restaurant” is at the back of an alley, which is inconvenient during the rainy season. However, their sea snail variations are other-worldly with quite a comfortable price.
Oc Loan in District 3.
Oc bong xao bo - Cotton snail stir-fried in butter.
Most sea snail vendors are in alleyways, which can be hard to find, even for Vietnamese, so we recommend using ride-hailing apps or book a Motorbike Food Tour to explore this local cuisine with professional local guides!
Address: 190, Le Quoc Hung Street, Ward 12, District 4.
Opening hours: 4 PM - 9 PM.
Average price: VND 30,000 - 50,000/dish
Address: 34, Mac Dinh Chi Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1.
Opening hours: 5 PM - midnight.
Average price: VND 50,000 - VND 80,000/dish
Address: 282/4A, Bui Huu Nghia Street, Ward 2, Binh Thanh District.
Opening hours: 3 PM - 7 PM.
Average price: VND 30,000 - VND 44,000/dish
There’s something unreserved and inviting about picking sea snails and drinking beer that Vietnamese, young and old alike, adore. If you don’t know where to spend the night away in Ho Chi Minh City yet, try eating sea snails and you may make some unexpected friendships.
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© Written by Ngan Mai for itourvn.com