District 1 is the commercial center of Ho Chi Minh City and a temporary home for many tourists. However, neighboring pockets exist where tourists and locals alike can get their share of street food. One street in particular is just outside of District 1. It’s known for a wide range of street food, with stalls specializing in a single dish for more than two decades.
Phan Van Han Street lies at the edge of District 1 in Binh Thạnh District. Characterized by its open-air restaurants and crowded streets, many students head to Phan Van Han Street after class for a quick meal. When visiting this street, be mindful of busy hours, as this street is prone to traffic jams.
While Phan Van Han Street has a wide variety of Vietnamese food, certain popular dishes found on this foodie dream street are bot chien (fried rice cakes and eggs), banh trang tron (mixed rice paper), goi cuon (spring rolls), mi vit tiem (noodles with duck), and banh xeo (fried pancake with different batter fillings). Join Vietcetera as we explore Phan Van Han Street.
Best described as late night comfort food, these rice cakes are fried with eggs and vegetables. The dish typically comes with soy sauce that has a slight sour taste to complement the rice cakes. Bột chiên has become a popular dish not only for students looking to grab a quick meal after school, but also older generations looking for a nighttime snack.
We decided to try bot chien at the corner of Phan Van Han Street from a small cart. The cart’s sign advertised that the vendor specialized in bot chien and ha cao. After placing our order, we stood by the outdoor seating and waited as the vendor began frying the rice cakes and cracking eggs into the pan. One order of bot chien costs 20,000 VND and was more than enough for one person. Topped with scallion, vegetables, and soy sauce mixed with chili, the bot chien was well worth navigating through the packed street.
Banh Trang Tron
Made of shredded rice paper, banh trang tron is a popular snack for all ages. Banh trang tron is made from mixing shredded rice paper with a variety of simple ingredients — quail eggs, dried beef, shrimp, salt, mango, and peanuts. Seasoned with chili spices and laksa leaves, banh trang tron has a unique, tangy taste.
Fortunately, there was another vendor next to the Bot Chien 60-62 cart that specialized in the popular snack for only 15,000 VND per order. It was served in a small bag with a pair of chopsticks.
Goi cuon is a popular appetizer or snack throughout Vietnam. While different regions use different ingredients and sauces, a typical goi cuon is wrapped in rice paper and has meat or seafood, herbs, vegetables, and vermicelli. Examples of possible fillings include shrimp, fish, beef, pork, cucumbers, or lettuce.
There were several stalls on Phan Van Han Street that sold these rolls. Many of the carts on the street don’t have set locations. To find this cart, look for it next to Circle K. One order of 24,000 VND served three rolls made of vermicelli, lettuce, pork, and shrimp wrapped in rice paper. We were given tuong dau (peanut sauce).
Bun Bo Hue
Despite originating in Hue, or Central Vietnam, this beef noodle soup has been popularized throughout Vietnam. Bun bo Hue is known for its strong lemongrass and spices. The main ingredients in this dish are beef, oxtail, pork knuckles, spicy chili oil, and noodles that are thicker than pho noodles. Depending on the region, Ben bo Hue might also include cubed congealed pig blood.
Phan Van Han Street has a small, outdoor restaurant that serves Bun bo Hue for 40,000 VND per bowl and other noodle-based dishes, such as mi vit tiem. Despite being located in the middle of the busy clamor of the street and traffic, outdoor seating is provided. Nearby stalls offered different drinks, such as nuoc mia (sugarcane juice) and smoothies.
Written by Agnes Tran