Vietnam Street Food
Vietnam street food sounds like a bit of a frightening culinary concept to some, but be not afraid, for you may well miss out on quite an amazing food experience! If you happen to really enjoy dishes containing meat, then Vietnamese vendor goods are going to become your BFFs very quickly. A quick little note: remember that Vietnamese street food vendors are not hard to find—in fact, they will come up to you and ask you to buy some food. Trust us on this one – you will not starve. Below, you may read about a handful of the innumerable street snacks you can find in Vietnam.
Start off your day right with some bahn cuon. In order to make these little breakfast treats, quite a process must be undertaken. You’d never think pancakes could be made out of boiled, ground rice, but Asia is just awesome like that. Bahn cuon isn’t dished up alone either—it will be served dressed with various sauces, seasonings, vegetables, and meats. This street food is quite popular among the Vietnamese, so if you have the opportunity to try some, by all means do so.
Once you get past breakfast, you need to start thinking about lunch and dinner … which is a great time to try one of Vietnam’s many rice-based dishes. Bahn chung is, in fact, one such food. Definitely sounds like an Asian meal, and like most great Asian meals, this one is made with rice. Translated to ‘sticky rice square cake’, bahn chung is cooked rice, pork and a paste made from green beans stuffed into bamboo leaves, formed into a square, and tied with bamboo strings.
How’s about some soup?Pho bo is a type of soup made with beef, noodles, bean sprouts, and sometimes mint leaves. Odd combination it is, but it’s said to be very appetizing, and the heat of the broth actually cooks the other ingredients a little bit too. A lot of other things may go into this dish, and for the equivalent of one American dollar, you will get a very delicious and satisfying meal. There is also pho ga, which is the same meal, but with chicken rather than beef. If you have only one street food in Vietnam, make it this one.
Need another side dish? If you’ve ever had a spring roll from an Asian restaurant, imagine that spring roll being about three times better, and you will have a fairly accurate idea of what Vietnamese cha gio is like. These are sheets of rice paper stuffed with an assortment of goodies … you may get a spring roll in Vietnam filled with veggies, pork, crabs (and we mean the seafood), shrimp, duck eggs, and various seasonings.
Pie, anyone?Try a little gio lua.Although this is called lean pork pie, it’s not the kind of pie we think of in the US. This fairly straightforward street food is pretty much pork bundled into banana leaves and then boiled. It sounds quite eccentric, but the banana leaves actually give the pork quite a unique and tasty flavor.
If possible, try and sample some of Vietnam’s sea-based fare. A highly delectable shrimp-topped pastry called bahn tom is a food found quite widespread over the entire country. What this street food consists of is a fried pastry covered with shrimp and accompanied by side dishes of vegetables. Often times, the shrimp is incredibly fresh—as in it was just dragged out of the water.
Dessert is not nearly as common in Vietnam as it is in other countries, so you probably won’t find too much street food to sate your sugar cravings here. The most you can usually expect is fresh fruit and small, simple dishes made from it, but this is not to say these sweet treats aren’t any less wonderful. A highly common Vietnamese dessert is ché, which is a sweet pudding made from beans, yogurt, sugar, and a couple tropical fruits. Or try bahn cam, which is a rice ball in a ginger syrup.