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Vietnam Street Food Guide - 15 Must-Try Dishes

CEO Tinh Phung
Are you a foodie looking for a culinary adventure? Look no further than the vibrant and delicious street food scene in Vietnam. Vietnamese street food is not just about the food itself, but it's a...

Are you a foodie looking for a culinary adventure? Look no further than the vibrant and delicious street food scene in Vietnam. Vietnamese street food is not just about the food itself, but it's a cultural experience that will leave you craving for more. From savory soups and noodles to sweet desserts and refreshing drinks, Vietnam offers a wide variety of dishes bursting with flavors and aromas.

About Street Food in Vietnam

Where does the Vietnamese street food culture come from?

Vietnamese street food culture has its roots in the local lifestyle and culinary traditions passed down through generations. It's a practical response that offers affordable and quick meals for everyone to enjoy.

Is it safe to eat street food?

Safety is always a concern when it comes to street food, but in Vietnam, street food is generally considered safe to eat. Many vendors prioritize cleanliness and hygiene. To ensure a safer street food experience, choose stalls with a high turnover of customers, observe the cooking process, and practice common-sense food safety measures.

How much does street food cost?

One of the best things about street food in Vietnam is its affordability. Prices can range from a few cents for simple snacks or beverages to around $1 to $2 for more substantial dishes like banh mi sandwiches or a bowl of pho.

Where to find street food in Vietnam?

You can find street food literally everywhere in Vietnam. Whether you're in big cities, small towns, hidden alleys, busy streets, or even along highways, there's always something delicious waiting for you. Markets are a common place to find street food, and there are even dedicated street food markets. In the Mekong Delta, you can even enjoy street food on floating markets.

Is there vegetarian street food in Vietnam?

Absolutely! Vietnam offers a wide variety of vegetarian street food options. Street food vendors are accustomed to catering to vegetarian diets, and you'll find plenty of delicious plant-based dishes to satisfy your cravings.

Tips on How to Explore Street Food in Vietnam

1. Follow the locals

When it comes to finding the best street food, follow the locals. If you see a street food stall crowded with locals, it's a good indication that the food is delicious and trustworthy. Additionally, a bustling street food stall with a large number of locals is often a reliable indicator of food safety and freshness.

2. Check hygiene

While street food in Vietnam is generally safe and delicious, it's important to observe the hygiene practices of the food vendors. Look for stalls where the food is cooked fresh and served immediately. Avoid eating raw or undercooked food, and opt for bottled water instead of tap water to stay hydrated.

3. Eat small portions

Embrace the style of eating small portions and try different foods along the way. It's a great way to explore the local culinary scene and discover new flavors.

4. Eat local dishes

Each region in Vietnam has its own specialties and flavors. Don't miss the opportunity to try regional dishes unique to the area you're visiting. Ask locals or do some research to find out what the best local dishes are and indulge in the culinary diversity of Vietnam.

5. Learn a bit of Vietnamese

Learning some basic Vietnamese phrases can enhance your street food experience. Street stalls often have signs or menus in Vietnamese, so understanding simple words like "pho" (noodle soup), "ca" (fish), or "ga" (chicken) can help you navigate the options and communicate your preferences to the vendors.

6. Enjoy and be adventurous

Exploring street food in Vietnam is not just about the food itself but also immersing yourself in the local atmosphere. Embrace the bustling streets, the aromas wafting through the air, and the vibrant energy of the food vendors. Be adventurous and open-minded to try new flavors and culinary experiences that you may not find elsewhere.

Vietnam Street Food Tour

If navigating the bustling streets and crowded food stalls seems daunting, consider joining a Vietnam street food tour. A knowledgeable guide can show you the best places to eat, the safest and most hygienic places, and can communicate with street food vendors. They can also provide insight into the history and cultural significance of each dish, making for a more immersive and educational experience. Some tours even include stops at popular landmarks and hidden gems, allowing you to explore the city beyond just the food.

Helpful Vietnamese Street Food Words

To help you navigate menus and signs, here are some useful Vietnamese street food words and phrases:

  • Rice: Cơm (pronounced "come")
  • Noodles: Mì
  • Meat: Thịt
  • Chicken: Gà
  • Pork: Heo
  • Beef: Bò
  • Seafood: Hải sản
  • Vegetarian: Chay
  • Tofu: Đậu hũ
  • Egg: Trứng
  • Soup: Phở (pronounced "fuh")
  • Grilled: Nướng
  • Fried: Chiên
  • Steamed: Hấp
  • Spicy: Cay
  • Sweet: Ngọt
  • Sour: Chua
  • Salty: Mặn
  • Delicious: Ngon
  • Thank you: Cảm ơn (pronounced "kahm uhn")

15 Must-Try Vietnamese Street Food Dishes

  1. Pho

This iconic dish is a hearty soup made with beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, and various herbs and spices. It's a staple of Vietnamese cuisine.

  1. Banh mi

This popular Vietnamese sandwich features a baguette filled with a variety of meats, pate, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. It's a delicious and filling option for a quick and tasty lunch.

  1. Bun cha

Grilled pork served on a bed of cold rice noodles, herbs, and a dipping sauce made with fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili.

  1. Cao lau

This specialty dish from Hoi An is made with thick rice noodles, pork, herbs, and a savory broth. It's topped with fried pork rinds and served with a side of crispy rice crackers.

  1. Goi cuon

Fresh spring rolls made with rice paper, shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, and a variety of herbs and vegetables. They're often served with a peanut dipping sauce.

  1. Cha ca

This Hanoi specialty features grilled fish marinated in turmeric and served with rice noodles, herbs, and a variety of condiments, including peanuts and shrimp paste.

  1. Xoi

Savory sticky rice often served with chicken or pork floss, fried shallots, and a variety of herbs and spices.

  1. Banh xeo

This savory Vietnamese pancake is made with rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk and filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and herbs. It's often served with a dipping sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, and chili.

  1. Mi quang

This specialty noodle dish from the central region of Vietnam features turmeric noodles, pork, shrimp, peanuts, and fresh herbs. It's often served with a small bowl of broth on the side.

  1. Com tam

Broken rice served with grilled pork chops, a fried egg, and pickled vegetables. It's a filling and delicious meal perfect for a quick lunch.

  1. Bun bo Hue

Spicy noodle soup specialty from the city of Hue. It features beef, pork, and rice noodles in a spicy broth flavored with lemongrass and chili.

  1. Che

Sweet dessert soup made with a variety of ingredients, including beans, jelly, fruits, and coconut milk. It's a refreshing treat, ideal for a hot day.

  1. Kem

Vietnamese ice cream that comes in a variety of flavors, including coconut, durian, and green tea. It's a popular dessert often served in a cone or a cup.

  1. Ca phe sua da

Not exactly street food but a popular street drink - Vietnamese coffee. This iconic drink is made with strong coffee, condensed milk, and ice. It's a delicious and refreshing way to start the day.

  1. Tra da

This iced tea is a refreshing beverage made with black tea and sugar. It's often served with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint.

So, whether you're wandering the bustling streets of Hanoi or exploring the charming alleys of Hoi An, make sure to indulge in the authentic and mouth-watering street food of Vietnam. It's an experience that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you with unforgettable memories.