VIETNAM

Street Food in Vietnam: Top 12 Best Vietnamese Street Foods

Jun 13, 2024

Vietnam is a country where the streets are alive with the sights, sounds, and tantalizing aromas of sizzling woks and bubbling broths. Street food in Vietnam is more than just a convenient meal – it’s a way of life. These mobile kitchens serve as communal gathering spaces where locals and tourists alike come together to indulge in the country’s culinary delights. With their simple yet delightful flavors, these top 12 best Vietnamese street foods will give you the best taste of Vietnamese street food culture.

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Vietnamese street food culture

In Vietnam, the streets are where you’ll find the heart and soul of the local cuisine. Vietnamese street food is more than just a collection of traditional dishes sold on the streets; it embodies the rich cultural tapestry, lifestyle, and sentiments of the Vietnamese people. It blends Vietnamese traditions with influences from other neighboring cultures, especially China.

The essence of Vietnamese cuisine lies in its harmonious blend of ingredients, creating refreshing flavors that preserve the natural taste and promote health. Each dish offers a balance of sour, spicy, salty, and sweet elements, making Vietnamese street food irresistibly appealing to visitors.

street food in vietnam com hanoi

Moreover, Vietnam boasts a diverse range of regional specialties, each province offering unique culinary delights. From Com, Bun Thang, Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi to Bun Bo (beef noodle soup) in Hue, Banh Trang Tron (mixed rice paper) in Ho Chi Minh City, and coconut candy in Soc Trang, every corner of Vietnam presents a distinctive taste for tourists to savor.

Top 12 best Vietnamese street foods

Pho – Noodle soup

No list of street foods in Vietnam would be complete without mentioning Pho. This beloved noodle soup is an iconic dish and is one of the best Vietnamese street foods that has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of people worldwide. This beloved Vietnamese staple consists of chewy rice noodles in a steaming, savory broth, accompanied by tender slices of beef or chicken, and topped with crunchy, spicy, and herby garnishes.

street food in vietnam noodle soup

Beef pho, the most popular version, uses various cuts of beef—such as shank, bones, and oxtail—to create a rich broth, with toppings like brisket, eye-round steak, flank, tripe, raw and cooked beef, and tendon. Chicken pho features different chicken parts, resulting in a lighter broth than its beef counterpart. It’s commonly garnished with lime, chili, mint, and basil.

Banh mi – Vietnamese Sandwich

Similar to Pho, Bánh mì, a Vietnamese-style French baguette sandwich, has garnered international acclaim. This crusty baguette is filled with pickled vegetables, herbs, fresh chili, and cuts of meat—typically pork—along with a spread of paté. Additional toppings can include eggs, chicken, meatballs, and more.

A staple in Vietnamese street foods, bánh mì has been featured at global events and received numerous accolades. In 2017, it was ranked among the top 10 most attractive sandwiches in the world by Traveler and hailed as one of the best street foods by Rough Guides. Bánh mì is a popular street food in Vietnam, enjoyed for every meal of the day, representing a fusion of French and Vietnamese culinary traditions.

street food in vietnam banh mi

Bun cha – Grilled meats with vermicelli

Bún chả hails from Hanoi, the epicenter of Vietnamese street food culture. A beloved local dish, it is often the go-to choice for a flavorful and refreshing lunch. Bún chả combines rice vermicelli with grilled pork belly, meatballs, fresh herbs, and a bowl of sweet and savory fish sauce with pickled vegetables.

To eat, diners dip the rice noodles into the broth, enriched with the natural sweetness of pork bones. The grilled pork imparts a fragrant, smoky flavor, while the herbs add a burst of freshness. Even President Barack Obama made time in his packed schedule to savor bún chả during his visit to Hanoi.

street food in vietnam bun cha

Com tam – Broken rice

Com tam, or broken rice, is a popular street food in Vietnam dish that originated in the Mekong Delta region. It consists of broken rice grains that are cooked and served with various toppings, such as grilled pork chops, shredded pork skin, a fried egg, and a tangy-sweet fish sauce for drizzling. Com tam stalls are easily recognizable by the coal-fired grills on the street, which emit a fragrant aroma of charred meat, drawing diners in with the promise of a delicious meal.

Banh xeo – Crispy Vietnamese pancakes

Banh xeo, or Vietnamese sizzling crepes, are delightful street foods in Vietnam that originated in the south of Vietnam. The word “xèo” refers to the sizzling sound made when the rice batter hits the hot oil.

Banh xeo is a delightful crispy crepe filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, complemented by fresh herbs. The authentic way to enjoy it is by wrapping a piece in a lettuce leaf with some herbs, and then dipping it into a bowl of sweet-savory fish sauce made with the restaurant’s unique recipe. It’s the perfect snack for a warm summer afternoon.

street food in vietnam banh xeo

Goi cuon – Spring rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls, or goi cuon, are fresh, unfried rolls filled with a variety of ingredients like vermicelli noodles, shredded lettuce, carrots, and sometimes pork or shrimp. They’re wrapped in translucent rice paper and served with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce, making for a refreshing and healthy snack or appetizer.

Xoi – Sticky rice

As one of the best Vietnamese street foods, sticky rice is a ubiquitous and versatile dish, enjoyed in both sweet and savory forms. It’s a popular breakfast choice that provides a significant energy boost. Traditionally, the dish consisted of steamed sticky rice colored by turmeric, with mung bean paste and fried shallots. Today, Xoi is often served with a variety of meats, sausages, eggs, and other additions like mung beans, black beans, peanuts, melon seeds, and lotus seeds, making it a richly diverse meal.

street food in vietnam sticky rice

Bun bo Hue – Hue beef noodles

Hue-style beef noodle soup stands out as one of the beloved street foods in Vietnam originating from Hue, the former capital during the Nguyen dynasty. Featuring beef, trotters, frozen blood, minced pork with pepper (Mọc), and assorted herbs like bean sprouts, lemon, and coriander, this dish is renowned for its flavorful broth. The noodles used are distinctively larger than others, ensuring a hearty dining experience with every bowl. It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a mainstay for any meal throughout the day, highlighting its popularity among locals and tourists alike.

Oc – Sea snails

Vietnamese snails are a beloved street food in Vietnam, perfect for sharing with friends and family. Integral to the communal dining culture, people gather at street stalls, vendors, and fine restaurants to enjoy these savory treats. Snails can be prepared in numerous ways, from fried to steamed, sautéed, or grilled. These chewy delights pair wonderfully with icy cold beer, making them ideal for a casual outing with friends. Be sure to use your hands to crack the shells open, as the hot broth or sauce can easily spill and stain your clothes.

street food in vietnam vietnamese snails

Cao lau – Pork Rice Noodle

Cao Lau, also known as Hoi An noodles, is a celebrated traditional dish hailing from the charming ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam. This distinctive noodle dish features rice noodles accompanied by a medley of ingredients including meat, greens, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs, often served with a light broth. The pork used is typically prepared in char siu style, either shredded or thinly sliced, though shrimp can also be a delectable alternative. Unlike the white noodles found in Pho, Cao Lau noodles are characterized by their yellow or gray hue. Known for its sweeter flavor profile compared to northern Vietnamese noodles, Cao Lau showcases the regional preference for a hint of sweetness in its culinary offerings.

Banh Trang Nuong – Grilled Rice Paper

Banh Trang Nuong, also known as Grilled Girdle Cake or Vietnamese Pizza, is a popular street food in Vietnam originating from Da Lat, Vietnam. Made from rice paper and topped with onions, shrimp, sausage, quail eggs, and chili sauce, it resembles a crispy and fragrant pizza. The dish is enjoyed by breaking into smaller pieces, offering a delightful blend of textures and flavors that appeal to all who try it.

street food in vietnam banh trang nuong

Che – Vietnamese sweet soup

Vietnamese chè, a beloved sweet soup, embodies Vietnamese street food culture. This traditional dessert varies across regions, with Hanoi presenting an understated elegance and Hue showcasing royal sophistication. Chè encompasses a wide array of sweet soups, beverages, puddings, and custards crafted with either water or creamy coconut milk. These desserts feature an assortment of ingredients such as jellies, fruits, beans, pulses, rice, grains, and tubers, each adding unique textures and flavors. Widely available in local markets, Vietnamese chè is especially cherished for its refreshing qualities, making it a perfect treat to enjoy during sweltering afternoons.

street food in vietnam vietnamese sweet soup

Tips to enjoy street food in Vietnam

  • Don’t be afraid to interact with vendors and observe the food preparation process – it’s all part of the experience.
  • Bring cash in small denominations, as street food in Vietnam may not accept cards or large bills.
  • Try to eat like a local by sitting on the small plastic stools and embracing the bustling street atmosphere.
  • Start your Vietnamese street foods journey early, as many stalls open in the morning and may sell out of popular dishes later in the day.
  • Ask locals for recommendations on the best Vietnamese street foods or must-try specialties in the area.
  • Carry hand wipes or tissues, as street food can get messy (but that’s part of the fun!).
  • Don’t be afraid to use the sauces and condiments provided – they are essential for enhancing the flavors of each dish.

Enjoy street foods in Vietnam with a 14-day north to south exploration:

Street food in Vietnam is an integral part of Vietnamese culture, offering a delicious and authentic way to experience the country’s diverse flavors. From steaming bowls of pho to crispy banh xeo crepes and indulgent egg coffee, the streets of Vietnam are a culinary playground waiting to be explored.

If you’re eager to dive into the world of Vietnamese street foods, consider booking a customized food tour with Asia Encounter. With Asia Encounter, you can create a personalized itinerary that takes you on a delectable journey through the country’s vibrant street food scene, allowing you to savor the best bites while immersing yourself in the local culture. Let’s start your best Vietnamese street foods journey today!

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