Anywhere you go in Vietnam, there will be the strange but delicious smell of street food that will instantly make you feel hungry, especially in odd hours of the night. This country, besides being known as the land of motorcycles, is also full of gastronomical street eats, which are all worth a try.
Each bowl of Pho that can help nurse those raging hangovers that every backpacker can relate to is something that I fondly remember. At night, their streets are littered with vendors selling different kinds of street eats. Food carts and make shift dining areas pop up out of nowhere. Vietnam for me was such a feast for the senses. Streets are busy; people everywhere, non-existent sidewalks get lined up with tables and chairs, the aroma of food everywhere. Here are my top picks of what to eat in Vietnam
Coming from Philippines, BBQ is something that’s pretty common. Vietnam however, tops our street BBQ as they have every imaginable thing on the menu. Prawns, chicken feet, frog legs, snails, octopus, intestines, and innards, you name it, they probably have it. Although I do have to say, the street food in the Philippines is a lot funkier.
I am sure Tom can attest to that when he and our friend Will took on a Filipino Street Food Challenge. In Vietnam, choose from their wide selection, sit down on a makeshift table, order a Saigon Bia and wait for your food. Best part is, food is CHEAP.
Better known as spring rolls, is a delicacy here in Vietnam, sold in almost all restaurants and street alleys. This is actually one of my favorite dishes from their cuisine. It always tastes so fresh and clean. I literally had it everyday while I was there. Their fresh spring rolls are made from rice paper, lettuce, cooked pork, shrimp, noodles, and fresh herbs. They normally serve this with a sweet soy sauce topped with roasted peanuts and chili. Delicious!
Read: What to do in Vietnam
This is another favorite of mine, which are more or less savory Vietnamese pancakes. The pancake is stuffed with all sorts of goodness like pork, shrimp, green onions, and bean sprouts. It is then served with a plate of mixed greens like mustard leaves, basil, mint, and lettuce, which you then use to wrap around the pancake. They serve this with a sweet and sour fish sauce that goes perfectly well with all the flavors. The crispness of the pancake also adds a nice touch.
Editor’s Note: Make the most out of your time in Vietnam and learn how to make these incredible dishes by attending a cooking classes in Vietnam. Check out the website for a complete listing of cooking classes located all over Vietnam.
Littered in every corner and sidewalk, this Vietnamese food staple is so delicious and cheap. A hot steaming bowl of Pho would put you back $0.70-$1 from any street food vendor. The highlight of my quest to search for the best Pho in Ho Chi Minh was found after a visit to the infamous lunch lady. For those of you who aren’t obsessed with food like me, Anthony Bordain, a popular chef/travel food host has featured this small food stall, which has since gained tremendous popularity. Everyday, she serves a different kind of soup and is visited by both locals and foreigners.
I visited her twice in a row and have eaten the most delicious food there! Some say she’s overrated, but the flavors in her soup were what good dreams are made of. On our first visit, she was serving Bánh Canh, a crab based broth served with large udon like noodles with fish cakes, shallots, shrimps, and a quail egg. The flavor in the broth was stunning.
Just looking at the photo again makes me want to head back there…like right now! As soon as you sit down, a platter of fried and fresh spring rolls are brought to your table (if you want to pay for just the soup, politely return the served dishes.) But of course, we weren’t going to say no to spring rolls!
Again, like Pho, Bahn Mi sandwiches can be found everywhere in Vietnam. I have vivid memories of Tom and I scarfing down Bahn Mi sandwiches at 3 in the morning while sprawled out on the street with our other friends.
The BEST Bahn Mi sandwich though, can be found in Hoi An, and believe me, we’ve had our fair share of them! Again, we discovered this place by the recommendation of Anthony Bordain and we loved it so much that we went back, quite a few times. She is very popular so just ask around and someone is bound to point you to her direction.
2B Phan Chau Trinh, Hoi An, Vietnam
Bun Cha Hanoi
Okay, now not that I was beating around the bush earlier, but this baby right here, is my absolute favorite (by this time, I think you’ve figured that I have a lot of favorites-I like food, okay!). Bun Cha Hanoi, grilled meat served over noodles with a sweet but tangy broth that you put over the noodles. Eaten with loads of herbs and other greens. A party in your mouth, I swear. I constantly moan to one of my best friends who lives in Vietnam about how I dream about this dish.
For this dish, head to Bún chả Hương Liên in Hanoi. If ex-president, Obama himself dined here- you know it’s something you gotta try!
Trust me, looking for it while you are in Vietnam is worth it. Whatever you do, eat local, try everything and enjoy the experience. Eating local street food is my absolute favorite thing to do in every country. Happy eating!
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