Travel Guide | Vietnam

10 Most Popular Vietnamese Street Food

10 Dirt Cheap Dishes you Have to Try When you Visit Vietnam.

Oh my, how much I love street food! My passion for street food of course originated from my own culture. In Vietnam, exploring street food is more than an eating habit. It is a social ritual. It’s part of our everyday life. My friends and I get a little too excited every time we found a new food stand. Vietnamese street food manifests the multicolor of our culture. From sweet to savory, there is countless variety of street food ranging from regions to regions. It would take years to fathom even a small corner of our street cuisine. Today, dare I introduce to you a little guide to our most famous street food.

1. Bánh Mì

This French-influenced baguette sandwich has attracted a cult following around the world. The golden crispy buns are made of rice and wheat flour. The filling is pack with a bunch of flavorful ingredients usually including juicy barbeque roasted pork meat or liver pate, crunchy shredded pickled carrots and daikon radish, fresh cilantro, crispy cucumber. These baguettes are mostly made to order to remain freshness.

2. Bún Riêu – Sour Crab Vermicelli Soup

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Everybody already knows about Pho. It’s probably the most famous Vietnamese noodle dish. However, I like bun rieu even more. It’s a tomato and crab based soup. It has the tanginess from tomatoes and the sweetness of crab meat There are a lot of recipes for bun rieu but it often includes seafood (crab, shrimp paste), fried tofu and herbs. It’s great for seafood lover or vegetarians.

3. Bánh Cuốn – Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolled Cakes

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My favorite breakfast! A very popular dish from northern Vietnam. It used to be sold by street food hawkers – people who walks around and sells their food by shouting. Banh cuon is a very light and delicate crepe made from steamed rice flour with ground pork, minced woodear mushroom, onion and sprinkled with fried scallions. It is served in a fish sauce based dipping sauce as well as Vietnamese ham, bean sprouts and fresh vegetable. This dish is similar to a Thai dish called khao phan.

4. Chè Tự Chọn – Sago Buffet

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The most popular snack for people of all ages. Sago pudding originally is a sweet pudding made from tapioca pearls in milk and sugar (you will know if you are familiar with bubble tea). The buffet, on the other hand include dozens of different varieties of sago pearls of all shapes, sizes and flavors! And guess what? You can eat as much as you can for only 1 dollar!

5. Nem Cuốn – Spring Rolls

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You probably have seen this dish at your favorite Asian restaurant. It is a fresh and healthy dish made of prawn, pork, vegetable and vermicelli noodle wrapped in rice paper and dipped in peanut sauce. It was voted one of the world’s best 50 dishes in 2011 along with Pho.

6. Cốm – Green Rice

This simple but refreshing dish is often overlooked and not paid much attention because of its simplicity. It is essentially roasted then flattened immatured rice kennels. It has a chewy texture and tastes as sweet as milk. Despite the simple presentation, the process of making com is rather complicated and has been a family secret to certain regions in Vietnam. It has a sentimental values for older generations since it has lost its popularity to new Westernized dishes. It has been mentioned in folklores to remind people of its cultural values.

7. Bánh Bèo Tôm Chấy – Hue style Steamed Rice Cake with Dried Shrimp

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A nationally loved savory treat from Hue city in central Vietnam. It is steamed rice cake filled with savory ingredients including fried minced shrimp and pork, scallions and crispy fried shallots. Each of these cakes is meant to be eaten by slurping the bite size portion from a tiny plate.

8. Nộm Bò Khô – Beef Jerky Salad

Have you had beef jerky in a salad? It’s delicious! Beef jerky is so popular in Vietnamese cuisine it is considered a street food but also served in special occasions such as weddings and funerals as an appetizer. It is a concoction of flavors and textures from the savor of beef jerky, the spiciness of red chili, the crispiness of pickled papaya, and the nuttiness of chopped peanuts. Enjoying beef jerky salad is a unique experience in your mouth.

9. Bò bía – Sweet Honeycomb Rolls

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These little rolls are everyone’s childhood treats. This made to order snack is a sheet of honeycomb wrapped in a very thin pancake and sprinkled with grated coconut and sesame seeds. It is a simple but exhilarating combination of textures and flavors. It is as cheap as 20 cents and I assure you won’t stop at one roll.

10. Thịt xiên nướng – Grilled Pork Skewers

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One bite of this skewered pork will bump you to heaven *gulp*. This is my favorite food to make when I’m away from home. The pork (or any meat or seafood) is marinated in a mixture of seasonings including oyster sauce, sugar, sage and sesame oil. This smokey juicy dish is the best street food to enjoy in chilly weather.

Now tell me all these exotic flavors aren’t worth a trip to Vietnam.

Jane Ha

Wittenberg University | 6 stories

Hey, it's Jane. I recently graduated from Wittenberg University. I'm from Hanoi, Vietnam. During the last 5 years of studying and working in the US, I traveled extensively to different parts of the country as well as several countries in Asia. I like green tea and street food.


One response to “10 Most Popular Vietnamese Street Food”

  1. […] the most fun way to have a bite at Vietnamese cuisine. Explore some of the most popular street food here. Restaurants that serve international food, especially Japanese and Korean food, are ubiquitous. […]

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