Best Street Food Vietnam – On a mission!
The Mission – Find the Best Street Food in Vietnam (or at least Ho Chi Minh City!)
Last time we lived in Vietnam, we stayed right smack bang in the middle of the backpacker area and therefore got quite used to eating in all the cheap but cheerful restaurants. Despite the fact that most of them are quite good, they are quite a bit more expensive than the street food you can buy, AND I just feel we missed out on an integral part of Vietnamese life. So this time, I’m on a mission to find the best street food Ho Chi Minh City has to offer. I’m eager to eat what the locals do for breakfast, lunch and dinner and presumably save lots of cash in the process. With what I’ve discovered in the last week, I’m positive it’s easy to eat well on less than $5 per day per person.
If you’re reluctant to go it alone for some reason, why not take one of the excellent street food tours first to equip you with the knowledge you need to eat like a local. A superb food tour first up might just save you heaps of money over the course of your visit. Check out my favourite food tours on my “Tours” page.
Step One – Find a good Street Food Breakfast.
Vietnamese people aren’t your average muesli and yoghurt kind of folks. While you can buy it in the supermarkets, it’s obviously not a big seller, and the price compared to local favourites is horrendous. $8 for a regular box of cereal is the same price as 16 of my chosen speciality and that’s without buying the milk or yoghurt. The usual breakfast fare here in Saigon is commonly a big bowl of broth. It usually has beef, chicken, pork, fish or tofu. Depending on the variety, it’s then flavoured with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, banana flowers, lemon, chilli, soy and fish sauceNoodles or bread provide the carbohydrates. Common variations include Phở bò, Phở Gà, Hủ Tiếu Mi, Bò Kho or Bún bò Huế. You’d expect to pay between 25 000 and 35 000 VND for a big bowl from a local street stall.
Another favourite is Bánh mì A fresh baguette stuffed with chicken or pork with pate, salad, mayonnaise and sometimes an egg. Garlic or Chilli laded fish sauce is spooned on and then a healthy dose of soy. Sound a bit much at 6.30am. Think again. It’s yum! And for 10 000 to 15 000 VND (50 to 75 cents), It goes down a treat. There are as many variations of Bánh mì as there are sandwich sellers so try a few different varieties.
Top either food off with a heavenly Vietnamese coffee (hot or iced) for 10 – 15 000 VND and you’ve just eaten breakfast for less than $2.
Step 2 – Find a good Street Food Lunch
At this point, you have a lot of options. Almost anything you can buy in a Vietnamese restaurant, you can buy from a street vendor for less than 2/3 rds of the price, usually less. Head on up to stall with plenty of locals chowing down and see what they’re cooking.
So I’ve found a little guy just down from us who sells the most sublime BBQ marinated pork, and chicken on rice or noodles for 28 000 VND. For and extra 7000 VND (35 cents) 35 000 ($1.60) you can add a couple of spring rolls to your meal. I can buy lunch for two including a diet coke and organge juice from the local store for $4. And it’s great food. I top it off with a big container of prepared fresh fruit for just under $1. Full to bursting and we get our vitamins too.
And then there’s Banh Xeo…a delicious vietnamese pancake with just herbs and vegies or added meat and shrimp. Wrap the pancake in fresh leaves and dip in a delicious fish sauce with garlic and chilli for a trully delightful meal. The total price will be around 20 to 30 000VND.
Mi Xao Bo (Stir fried beef and noodles), made right in front of you is around 20 000 VND.
Fresh juice from a local vendor shouldn’t cost you any more than 30 000 VND and thats for treats like strawberries. It’s around 15-20 000 VND for your common fruits.
No wonder I’m not losing any weight since we’ve been here. Too many choices and all of them are good.
Step 3 Find a good Street Food Dinner.
As I sometimes finish work late, Tim frequently buys take away from a local restaurant, and when I’m not working, we normally like to try a restaurant we haven’t sampled yet. So this part of the mission has yet to be accomplished, although everything I’ve mentioned above serves equally well for dinner as for lunch and breakfast.
I also have to sample the vast range of snacks on offer. We’ve taken a liking to boiled peanuts for 10 000 VND a large cup, and green mango dipped in chilli, prawn salt is so moorish you wouldn’t believe. Still, but there’s so much else out there it will be a good while before we get to it all.
Now I apoligize for not putting in all the vietnamese names for the food I’ve mentioned. I’m trying to get hold of a copy of Vietnamese Food.: Vietnamese Street Food Vietnamese to English Translations to carry with me as I work my way down the list. When I do, I’ll edit this post with all the local names as well as a full description of what you’re going to get.
Until then…I’m off on another scout around for the best street food in Vietnam. Ciao for now. Shazz
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