Vietnam is known to be a culinary haven. Every alley is filled with local vendors selling the country’s best dishes. Saigon’s street food is delicious, cheap and authentic – a must try on your visit!
Here are 9 of my best food and beverage finds. 🙂
1. Gỏi cuốn tôm tươi (shrimp roll with peanut Hoisin sauce)
Some people call this summer roll or salad roll and it is usually served as an appetizer. Gỏi cuốn is made with moistened rice paper filled with prawn, noodle, leafy greens and herbs. The spicy Hoisin-based sauce with crushed peanuts complements the shrimp roll. I found the herbs (like coriander) too strong for me so I took it out before eating the dish. 😛
Where to find it: Street Food Market (Ben Thanh)
2. Nước mía (sugarcane juice)
Where to find it: Look out for metal carts along the streets and alleys that sell fruit beverages. I got mine in a stall at Street Food Market (across Ben Thanh market).
3. Phở (noodle soup)
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about pho, it’s the most common dish in Vietnam. Pho is a combination of flat rice noodles in a salty broth, topped with either bo (beef) or ga (chicken) and often finished with a sprinkle of green onions. Most restaurants serve pho with a side plate of fresh herbs (hello leafy greens!).
Where to find it: Anywhere it Vietnam! I got my noodle soup at Pho24 in Ben Thanh Market.
4. Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee with milk)
Vietnam is known for its coffee. You’ll see people drinking coffee anytime of the day whether in sidewalks or posh cafés. The Vietnamese coffee is on the bitter side, much like the taste of espresso with condensed milk. It is mainly served with ice, a drink perfect for the hot weather in Vietnam.
Where to find it: Coffee shops and carts can be found all over the city. There are numerous cafés to choose from but I highly recommend you get your iced coffee fix from those sold by local vendors.
5. Bún thịt nướng (rice noodles with grilled pork)
Bún thịt nướng is also a crowd favorite at Vietnamese restaurants. Grilled pork, vegetables and roasted peanuts are served on top of vermicelli noodles dressed with a sweet and spicy sauce. I ate this by mixing everything in the bowl so all the flavors come together.
Where to find it: Any Vietnamese restaurant usually serves bún thịt nướng. I ordered mine from a resto near the end of Ben Thanh market.
6-7. Gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls) and Chả giò (fried spring rolls)
One of my favorite food finds in Saigon is their chả giò. The egg rolls contain mung bean noodles, carrots and crab meat. The spring rolls are deep fried and taste best when dipped in nuoc cham (Vietnamese sauce).
Where to find these: Like pho, gỏi cuốn and chả giò can be found in most restaurants but I suggest you try those prepared by local food vendors in the street corners.
8. Bánh mì (Vietnamese baguette)
There are many version of bánh mì but the classic one has a crusty baguette sliced in half, stuffed with meat, fried egg, white radish, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and chili sauce. The one I tried had a drizzle of soy sauce and mayonnaise.
Where to find it: Take a walk around Saigon and you’ll see lots of food carts selling bánh mì – it’s that popular!
9. Bánh tráng nướng (Vietnamese pizza)
This is the best street food I tasted in Ho Chi Minh city! The Vietnamese style thin crust pizza is composed of grilled rice paper with toppings such as quail eggs, green onions, pork floss, dried shrimp, and grinded pork. A hint of sriracha is added to spice it up a bit. Bánh tráng nướng was so good I ate about three of these during our 5 day trip!
Where to find it: I found the pizza vendor just outside Saigon Square 1 (Hoang Thanh center).
What’s your favorite Vietnamese dish? Let me know! 🙂 More of our Ho Chi Minh getaway on the next post.