If there’s one country with a reputation for some of the most vibrant and flavorful street food in the world, it’s Vietnam. From sizzling hot noodles to crispy and savory sandwiches, the streets of Vietnam are lined with an endless array of delicious food options. Whether you’re in the bustling metropolis down South or the historic city in the central region, the aroma of freshly cooked street food will follow you everywhere you go.
Vietnamese street food is not only delicious but also deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history. With influences from Chinese, French, and neighboring countries, Vietnamese street food is a unique blend of flavors and techniques that has been perfected over centuries. In this article, we will explore 11 of the most popular and mouth-watering Vietnamese street foods you cannot miss.
If you’re a food enthusiast seeking your next culinary adventure or eager to try something new (besides the iconic pho and banh mi), Vietnam’s vibrant street food scene offers a plethora of delicious options to satisfy your cravings.
This Hanoi-style dish combines grilled pork, rice noodles, fresh herbs, and dipping sauce. The pork is marinated in fish sauce, sugar, and spices, then grilled over hot charcoal until it’s charred and caramelized. The rice noodles are served cold and topped with a variety of fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, and basil. The dipping sauce is made with fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili, creating a sweet and savory flavor that complements the grilled pork perfectly.
Banh xeo is a well-liked dish across Central and Southern Vietnam, with each region having its unique preparation style. In Central Vietnam, the Vietnamese pancake is smaller in size and cooked in cast-iron skillets using pre-made molds measuring between 10 to 15 centimeters in diameter. Made with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric powder, giving it its signature yellow color, banh xeo is then filled with savory fillings, including shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and mung beans. The pancake is then folded in half and served with fresh herbs, lettuce leaves, and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
These fresh spring rolls are a healthy and delicious street food option. The rolls are made with rice paper wrappers with fresh vegetables, herbs, and either shrimp, pork, or tofu inside. The rolls are served cold and accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce that is both sweet and savory.
Com tam is Vietnam’s take on fried rice. The rice is cooked with minced garlic and scallions, then topped with various savory ingredients like grilled pork chops, shredded pork skin, fried eggs, and pickled vegetables. The dish is typically served with a side of fish sauce and a small bowl of soup.
This specialty noodle dish from the central region of Vietnam is a must-try. The noodles are made from rice flour and are yellow in color. They are served in a bowl with a small amount of broth, then topped with a variety of ingredients, including shrimp, pork, peanuts, and fresh herbs. To add the finishing touch, crispy fried shallots are sprinkled over the dish.
Cha ca is a Hanoi-style dish made with grilled fish marinated in turmeric and other spices. The fish is then served on a sizzling hot plate with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a spicy dipping sauce. The dish is full of flavor and texture, and the sizzling hot plate adds an element of excitement to the dining experience.
Sticky rice is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine, and xoi is a standout dish that makes use of this beloved ingredient. This dish features glutinous rice that has been cooked until soft and sticky and usually served with toppings that add depth and complexity to its flavor. The toppings can vary greatly and include ingredients like shredded chicken, pork floss, grilled pork, and savory elements like scallions and fried shallots. Often served as a hearty breakfast dish or a satisfying snack, xoi is a versatile and filling dish that’s sure to satisfy.
Bun Bo Hue
For those who love spicy and flavorful soups, bun bo Hue is a must-try dish. Originating from the central Vietnamese city of Hue, this soup is known for its spicy and aromatic broth that’s infused with lemongrass and chili peppers. The broth is often simmered with beef shank and pork knuckle, which provide a hearty and meaty flavor. The dish is then finished with thick rice noodles, which absorb the rich broth and add a satisfying texture. Garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro and scallions, bun bo Hue is a flavorful and satisfying dish perfect for a cold day or whenever you’re in the mood for something spicy.
If you’re looking for a sweet and refreshing treat, look no further than che. This popular Vietnamese dessert is made by cooking ingredients in sweetened syrup, which is then served cold. The ingredients used in che can vary widely but often include beans, fruits, and jellies that provide both texture and flavor. Some variations of che also incorporate coconut milk, which adds a creamy and decadent element to the dessert. Whether you’re enjoying it as a post-meal indulgence or as a refreshing treat on a hot day, che is a delicious and unique dessert that’s sure to delight.