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Vietnamese Street Food: Top 9 Iconic Dishes & Advice

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Vietnam is a country with rich food culture. From corners of bustling city streets to quiet rural areas, you’ll find street food stalls with authentic flavors of Vietnam. This article will take you through the 9 most iconic Vietnamese street foods that you must try during your Vietnam tour.

1. Goi Cuon – Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Goi cuon, commonly known as Vietnamese spring rolls, is one of the best Vietnamese street foods for its freshness. You’ve probably heard of this Vietnam food. They are rice paper rolls filled with a mix of shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, and fresh herbs like mint and cilantro.

Unlike fried spring rolls, goi cuons are light and refreshing with a dipping sauce made from hoisin sauce, peanut butter, chili. The sauce adds savory taste and hints of sweetness that complement the fresh ingredients well.

Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Spring Rolls

2. Banh Mi – Vietnamese Baguette

Banh mi is probably the most famous Vietnamese street food that you’ll find in every food market in Vietnam. It’s a sandwich that fuses together French and Vietnamese culinary traditions. It’s a crispy baguette filled with a variety of ingredients, pate, pork, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chili. There are variations include chicken, beef, or even tofu for vegetarians.

At Vietnamese street food stalls, vendors customize the sandwich according to your own preference. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or a snack.

Banh Mi - Vietnamese Baguette
Banh Mi - Vietnamese Baguette (food)

3. Bun Cha – Vietnamese Barbecued Pork with Vermicelli Noodles

Bun cha is a traditional Vietnamese food from Hanoi. They are grilled pork patties and slices over vermicelli noodles together with herbs like mint, basil, lettuce. And the dipping sauce is made from fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili. The smoky smell of grilled pork comes together nicely with fresh herbs. The locals like to have bun chas with crispy spring rolls.

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4. Banh Beo – Bite-Sized Rice Cakes

Banh beo, or water fern cake, is a rice cake from central region of Vietnam, particularly Hue. These small, steamed rice cakes are topped with minced shrimp, scallions, and crispy pork rinds. It comes with a sweet and tangy fish sauce for dipping.

Banh beo is a common Vietnamese street food for snack or appetizer. The soft, slightly chewy texture of the rice cakes comes together nicely with flavors of the savory toppings.

Banh Beo Vietnam Food
Banh Beo – Bite-Sized Rice Cakes

5. Hu Qua Dam – Bitter Melon Soup

Hu qua dam, or bitter melon soup, is a traditional Vietnamese food that might seem off-putting at first glance but is in fact both tasty and healthy. It’s an important part of life and culture of Vietnamese people.

The soup is made from stuffed bitter melons, usually with a mix of ground pork and glass noodles, simmered in a clear, savory broth. Though bitter, the melon is known for its health benefits. It brings a slightly bitter flavor, which is balanced by sweetness of the pork filling and the broth.

Hu qua dam is often a comfort food, especially during colder months or family gatherings for Vietnamese people. Don’t miss this Vietnamese street food when you travel to Vietnam.

6. Bo La Lot – Ground Beef Wrap

Bo la lot is a savory Vietnamese street food. It is beef wrapped in betel leaves. It usually comes with rice noodles, herbs, and a dipping sauce. Ground beef is seasoned with garlic, lemongrass, spices, wrapped in betel leaves, and grilled. Betel leaves bring a peppery flavor to the juicy beef. Bo la lot is a common food of Vietnam barbecues.

Vietnam Food Bo La Lot
Bo La Lot – Ground Beef Wrap

7. Bot Chien – Pan-Fried Rice Flour Cakes

Bot chien is a savory snack particularly popular in southern Vietnam. They are rice flour cakes pan-fried until they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They are then topped with egg, green onions, and sometimes shredded papaya. They are eaten together with a soy sauce-based dipping, or with a squeeze of lime and a dash of chili sauce.

The rice cakes are crispy and soft at the same time. Combined with the creamy egg and crunchy vegetables, bot chien is an absolute favorite among locals, especially as a late-night snack. When you stroll around Ho Chi Minh City, remember to try this Vietnamese street food for an authentic taste of southern Vietnam.

Bot Chien Vietnam Food
Bot Chien – Pan-Fried Rice Flour Cakes

8. Chao – Vietnamese Rice Porridge

Chao, or rice porridge, is a comforting home food for many Vietnamese people. People make it by simmering rice in a lot of water until it breaks down into a creamy consistency. People have chao plain or with many toppings such as shredded chicken, century eggs, or ground pork. The porridge is also often garnished with fresh herbs, green onions, and a drizzle of fish sauce for flavor.

Chao Vietnam Food
Chao – Vietnamese Rice Porridge

9. Hu Tieu Nam Vang – Pork Bone Noodle Soup

Hu tieu nam vang is a flavorful noodle soup from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, but has become widely popular in Vietnam. It is a staple at many Vietnamese street food stalls.

It has a clear and savory broth made from pork bones. The broth has to be simmered for hours for a rich base. In it, is chewy rice noodles usually topped with many ingredients such as shrimp, squid, ground pork, and quail eggs. Fresh herbs and lime wedges are often added too to for a more complex flavor.

Hu Tieu Nam Vang Vietnam
Hu Tieu Nam Vang – Pork Bone Noodle Soup

Advice for Enjoying Vietnamese Street Food

If you’re not familiar with Vietnamese street food culture or Vietnamese food, don’t be overwhelmed when you walk down the bustling food markets. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind for your street food experience in Vietnam.

  • Follow the crowds if you don’t know which stall to choose. If a stall is busy, it’s likely to be good and have fresh ingredients.
  • Observe hygiene practices of the stalls. See how the vendor handles their food.
  • Check for fresh ingredients. They are key to Vietnamese cuisine. See if the vegetables are fresh, meats are properly cooked, and seafood is iced.
  • Start with popular dishes like the ones recommended in this article if you’re new to Vietnamese street food.
  • Stay hydrated because Vietnamese food can be spicy.
  • Embrace the culture even though you might not be familiar with many ingredients in Vietnamese food culture. Keep an open mind and you’ll see the charm behind it.

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