Since my Vietnamese escapades in Hanoi, Saigon, Da Nang, Hue, and Hoi An, I have learned to appreciate what this mysterious and often-French-inspired cuisine has to offer – and there’s no better way of sampling said cuisine than with its street food!
In London, even when I am not travelling, I often visit certain Vietnamese casual dining outlets to get a taste of some of my favourite dishes. Of course, none of these can compare to the authenticity I experienced on the road in Vietnam, but it once again proves that with experience comes confidence in different cultures (and seemingly a fondness of its food)! There is a somewhat darker side to Vietnamese cuisine, though, in particular with the regular consumption of snake, including its blood and heart!
Yet what are the most common street foods to be found in Vietnam? In a continuation of my Snack Attack series, I have listed below 12 of the very best!
Chả Lụa is the “Vietnamese pork roll”, is the most common type of sausage in Vietnamese cuisine, made of pork and traditionally wrapped in banana leaves. The sausage is normally sliced and eaten with bánh mì or xôi, or braised in fish sauce and black pepper with other meat dishes.
Banh Mi is a traditional baguette sandwich, made famous in France and exported over to Vietnam during colonial times. Since then, the Banh Mi has taken on an image of its own and is frequently eaten at lunchtimes or as an afternoon snack.
Oc is the simple Vietnamese word for sea snails, and they are eaten plentifully on the streets of Vietnam, but especially in the Mekong Delta and the south. Oc can be eaten on their own (grilled, fried, or salted), or added to a soup.
Bột Chiên is a dish of fried rice flour cakes that have been chopped and mixed together, featuring a special tangy soy sauce on the side, as well as fried eggs (either duck or chicken) and some vegetables. This is a popular street snack in southern Vietnam.
Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa, are waffles that are flavoured with pandan and include coconut milk in the batter. They are also characterised by their spring green colour and browning when cooked. Throughout Vietnam, they are a popular street food, and made in either cast iron molds heated with charcoal, or in electric waffle irons. Also eaten as a dessert.
Cơm Tấm is a street food made from rice with fractured rice grains. Tấm refers to the broken rice grains, while cơm refers to cooked rice. It is usually served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) over broken rice. The rice and meat are served with various greens and pickled vegetables, along with a prawn paste cake, trứng hấp (steamed egg), and grilled prawns.
Bánh Khọt are miniature savoury pancakes sold prominently on the streets of Saigon and some central towns. These bite-sized treats are a perfect form of street food as they can be eaten with almost anything!
Bun Cha originated in Hanoi and is a delightful dish of pork and noodles. As street food, it is often served in separate dishes on the, rather than just in a bowl of broth. Any flavour of dipping sauce can usually accompany Bun Cha.
Chè is made with mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, tapioca, jelly (clear or grass), fruit (longan, mango, durian, lychee or jackfruit), and coconut cream – and is perfect for a steamy summer’s day! Chè is commonly sold in plastic cups as Vietnamese street food.
Bánh Xèo is a savoury rice pancake filled with either seafood or meats – whatever takes your fancy! The name “banh xeo” literally means “sizzling pancake”, as this is the sound it makes when you add the rice batter to the mixture during the cooking. Nowadays, the Bánh Xèo is probably my favourite Vietnamese snack!
Pho is Vietnam’s national dish. It is basically noodles in a sweet broth, with meats and vegetables all thrown in. Chicken Pho (Pho Ga) is the most popular variant, although beef and prawn are also common on the streets of Hanoi.
Gỏi Cuốn are the famous Vietnamese spring rolls and are often used as a snack either during or before a main course. These rolls can be filled with any kind of meat, fish, or tofu, and can be found all over Vietnam. The meatless versions of Gỏi cuốn are perfect for veggies!
Have you been to Vietnam? What was your biggest memory of its street food? Good or bad?