Ultimate South East Asia Street Food Guide: Must Eats I Tried and Loved in Vietnam!
During my 2 months trip to Vietnam, I had the chance to taste many interesting, delicious and somewhat weird combination dishes. Here is a list of the must eats I tried and loved in Vietnam!
Let’s start off with the dish that Vietnam is known for: Pho (pronounced Fa). Pho, for those few who have no idea, is a rice noodle soup dish in Vietnam. Pho comprises of a clear limey broth, your choice of meat and is accompanied with a platter of green herbs, limes and chilies. Pho originates from northern Vietnam and became popular during the Vietnam War. Hot, citrusy and herby, this soup will definitely satisfy your noodle craving at anytime of the day!
price : USD 1.70
Another very popular dish in Vietnam: the Bahn Mi! I could write a whole blog post about Bahn Mi (and I probably will). Who would have thought that I would taste the best baguette in South East Asia?? I certainly didn’t! During my time in Vietnam, I have tried different variations of Bahn Mi: The Breakfast Bahn Mi (with eggs), the Cold Cuts Bahn Mi (a classic), the Chicken Bahn Mi, the Pork Bahn Mi, the Pate only Bahn Mi, the Fusion Bahn Mi ( a more European Style one I tried in Hoi An). No matter which variation you get, some things will always be present: the fresh crunchy baguette, the pickled vegetables, the fresh cucumber, the cilantro, chili paste and the famous Vietnamese pate!
price: USD 0.90
This is probably my favourite dish from Vietnam!! Although, Pho has gained world recognition, it tastes bland and one dimensional compared to its cousin the Mi Quang! Originating from Central Vietnam, Mi Quang is a popular street noodle dish among the locals. So much is happening in a Mi Quang dish: the soft bouncy rice noodles, the delicious spicy broth, the tender slices of meat or seafood, the crunch of the sesame rice crackers, the freshly added herbs and greens and the smoky chili flakes will create fireworks in your mouth! Turmeric is added to the broth to give it a yellow tint and you are encouraged to dump greens, lime juice and fresh herbs in your bowl to make it even more exciting. This is, by far, the dish that I have eaten the most during my time in Vietnam!
price: USD 1
This was one of my latest discoveries in Vietnam and I regret not trying it sooner! The looks of this dish is not the most appealing: at best it looks like the baby food your grandma would feed you when she would come over to help your mother with her newborn (you). But there are good reasons why people line up at any hour of the day to have this dish. The rice congee cooked in rich chicken broth is piping hot, served with shredded chicken breast and garnished with fresh crunchy spring onions and fried onions. If you are lucky, you might even get a side of ginger chili sauce to make this bowl even more delicious!
price: USD 1.30
I did not have big expectations from this dish as I had already given my heart to the chicken rice place in Penang during my trip in Malaysia. See it here. Sure, most South East Asian countries have their variation of Chicken Rice. In Vietnam, you are given broken yellow rice, a juicy piece of fried chicken leg, a small bowl of clear vegetable soup (mostly greens) and some sauces, chilies, herbs and pickled vegetables to jazz it all up! The chicken is succulent and the turmeric yellow rice adds a special touch to this dish!
price: USD 1.50
Com Tam is a very popular breakfast in Vietnam. A classic dish includes broken rice, salad, pork chop and, sometimes, a fried egg. This is accompanied with a nice sweet and spicy fish sauce that will be absorbed by the rice and give it a nice hot tangy flavour. This is a great filling breakfast when starting a day of exploring the city!
price: USD 1.30
Com + Anything!
In Vietnam, it is very common to eat broken rice (Com) with a variety of other curries, sauces, meats and vegetables. When walking around in the morning, you will find these food stalls all around the city. The common breakfast is, as I mentioned above, the Com Tam. However, you can also pick different combinations of side dishes such as sauteed vegetables, greens (morning glory is the most famous one), fried fish or chicken, baby squid, prawns and fried spring rolls (ah those spring rolls!!).
price: USD 1.30
There are many things going on in a platter of Ban Xeo: a huge omelette stuffed with beansprouts, prawns and meat, leafy greens and herbs, a variety of dips and rice papers. You will be given a huge pair of scissors to chop the large omelette into bite sizes and then shown how to wrap it in rice paper. Ban Xeo is more than just a tasty dish, it is a fun experience enjoyed by children and adults alike. Get in touch with your creative side and explore different combinations of meats, vegetables, eggs and sauces, wrapped in thin rice paper and dipped in Vietnam’s popular fish sauce.
price: USD 2
Seafood, Seafood, Seafood!
Walk around the coast in Da Nang city and you will find a number of packed seafood places. Seafood definitely delights the Vietnamese. At the entrance of the restaurant you will find aquariums or, in less fancy places, buckets of live seafood including prawns, crabs, lobsters, squids and all kinds of shellfish. It can get overwhelming so make sure to have a rough idea of what you want in advance. After making your choice you will be offered to have them grilled, sauteed in your favourite sauce or enjoyed as part of a delicious spicy tom yum hot pot. Whichever you choose, the freshness of this seafood will not let you down!
price: USD 2-5 pp
Bahn Mi Hoa Mah
I was wandering around at 11 p.m. when I found this dish, one might call it a midnight treat (11 p.m treat?). First of all, the presentation of this dish itself is awfully cute: eggs, pate, sausage, some meat and delicious sweet and spicy sauce is served hot in a tiny skillet with a side of fresh greens and a warm crunchy baguette. The different tastes and textures are sure to bring a lot of satisfaction to your taste buds!
price: USD 1
Ca Phe Kem Flan
The only sweet dish that made it on this list, but could not be ignored: Ca Phe Kem Flan (Coffee Creme Flan). For those who are familiar with the French creme brulee, this is similar dessert with a Vietnamese twist: the coffee! Most popular in South Vietnam (I had mine in Ho Chi Minh City), Ca Phe Kem Flan is made by steaming the creme caramel to make it light and creamy. The coffee is added generously on top and mixes well with the sweetness of the flan. It is served in a sack or bowl of ice that makes it even more delightful.
price: USD 0.90
I hope you enjoyed these drool-worthy food pics! If you want to read more about the unique things I have experienced during my time in Vietnam, click here!