Street food is at the heart and soul of many Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. Local markets, rustic food joints, and rickety food carts with plastic tables and stools line the streets. These Vietnamese street foods, simple and uncomplicated, will entice your tastebuds and sneak their way into your heart.
1. Phở (Rice noodle soup)
The most obvious choice for street food in Vietnam has to be Vietnamese noodle soup, phở. This local daily favourite consists of chewy rice noodles in a piping hot savoury broth with tender slices of beef or chicken and crunchy, spicy, herby garnishes.
2. Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich)
The bánh mì, a Vietnamese-style French baguette sandwich that has made a name for itself globally, is an equally popular street food as the phở.
The crusty baguette is stuffed with pickled vegetables, coriander, fresh chilli, meat cuts (usually pork), and pâté. Other options for toppings include egg, chicken, meatballs, and others.
3. Bánh tráng trộn (Rice paper salad)
This dish is best described as a flavour explosion in a bite. It’s made with rice paper strips, dried protein (beef jerky, squid, shrimp), tart green mango, fresh mint, sweet basil, and its signature spicy, sweet, sour dressing.
4. Ốc (Sea snails)
Sea snails are a popular snack found in street food carts in Ho Chi Minh City. You can have them cooked in a variety of ways, including fried, steamed, sautéed, or grilled. These chewy, savoury snails are ideal for sharing with a few friends over a cold beer.
5. Chè (Vietnamese sweet dessert)
Chè, a Vietnamese word for a sweet dessert beverage, comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavours, and colours. They are commonly found in the form of pudding, drinks, or soup. The usual suspects in chè include, but are not limited to, coconut milk, sweetened beans, glutinous rice, colourful jellies, fruits, and other ingredients. These desserts, which are easily found in local markets, are ideal for cooling down on hot afternoons. .
6. Cao lầu (Hoi An Noodles)
Cao lầu is a noodle dish that is unique to Hoi An and has a fascinating backstory. This Hoi An signature dish consists of udon-like noodles, char siu-style barbecued pork, fresh and crisp greens, and crunchy croutons.
7. Gỏi cuốn / Chả giò (Spring rolls)
Spring rolls are a traditional Vietnamese crowd pleaser. A variety of fillings such as meat, vegetables, and shrimp are wrapped in rice paper and deep fried or served fresh. These are suitable for everyone and are best eaten with a dipping sauce. The fresh ones are called gỏi cuốn and are also known as ‘summer rolls,’ while the fried ones are called chả giò.
8. Bánh tráng nướng (Vietnamese pizza)
This Vietnamese pizza is a popular snack in Ho Chi Minh City and is made of grilled rice paper topped with minced pork, prawns, eggs, or other toppings. This pizza, garnished with fresh herbs and served with mayo, tamarind, or chilli sauce, is one you’ll want in the middle of the night.
9. Gỏi khô bò / Gỏi đu đủ (Spicy green papaya salad)
The base of gỏi khô bò is a bed of julienned unripe papaya, similar to Thailand’s som tam. This salad is also known as gỏi đu đủ because it is layered with roasted peanuts, beef jerky shreds, basil leaves, coriander, and crispy dough crackers.
10. Cà Phê Trứng (Egg coffee)
The Vietnamese drip coffee is the most common method of making coffee, but egg coffee is also delicious. This creamy and smooth cup of coffee is made with black coffee and egg yolks whipped into condensed milk. It tastes more like a dessert than coffee and provides the perfect kick to get you through the day.