Vietnamese street foods are a crucial part of building the diversity of this Southeast Asian country’s culinary culture. Having a beautiful shore and spectacular mountains, Vietnam will enchant you with the most delicate specialties.
This savory journey will help you discover the best Vietnamese street foods. Steamed, fried, or even slow-cooked dishes will charm you with a surprising flavor. You don’t have to wait any longer, let’s go!
1. Bánh Cuốn (Steamed Rice Roll)
Let me treat you to a delicious South-East Asian dish. This is a specialty from Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam; it is a lovely choice for breakfast for Vietnamese citizens.
The dish is traditionally made out of fermented rice batter with minced meat and mushroom filling. Minced shallots and fish sauce (called ‘nước mắm’) will boost the dish’s flavor with a sophisticated savory flavor. ‘Cà cuống’ (giant water bug) is sometimes added for extra flavor.
Vietnamese will serve the dish with pork sausage (or ‘chả lụa’ in Vietnamese), bean sprouts, or sliced cucumber to add textures. The method of making this dish will enchant your hunger. People steam the rice batter on a cloth over boiling water to create a crepe-like dish.
Some northern areas with a magnificent Banh Cuon are Tay Ho, Thanh Tri, or Kenh village. All of these variants will give you a slightly different change in flavor.
2. Bún Chả (Grilled Pork With Vermicelli)
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, you’ll know that the people in this country love eating vermicelli noodles. They can pair this kind of noodle with many things, from delectable Vietnamese-style chicken curry to beef stew and many more.
Bún Chả is another unique dish from Ha Noi that serves ‘Chả’ grilled pork and caramelized pork belly in a bowl of broth with vermicelli.
Herbs and vegetables are served as a side dish to boost the flavor of this dish. ‘Nem cua bể’ (fried crab spring roll) is often served along with Bún Chả.
Imagine dipping a soft and juicy grilled meat in fish sauce and enjoying the beauty of Hanoi street; what could be more exciting? The fish sauce to pair with Bún Chả is cooked and seasoned with sugar and vinegar or lemon.
Sliced papaya (sometimes kohlrabi) and carrot pickles are often added to form a dazzling sweetness for the fish sauce. For Vietnamese, the sauce is the dish’s spirit, so don’t mess with the sauce when you try this dish.
You can learn how to enjoy this Bun Cha with president Obama right here!
3. Bún Riêu Cua (Meat And Vermicelli Tomato Soup)
Bún Riêu Cua is truly a treat from the North of Vietnam. It harmonizes the sour taste of tomatoes with the impressive flavor of crab paste. Tofu and blood pudding are common toppings for this beautiful bowl.
Another version of Bún Riêu Cua, Bún Riêu Ốc, is often made from out of apple snail meat. This is the South variant with a sweeter taste and a more pungent flavor.
You can add shrimp paste for a robust scent for the dish. Be careful because the paste has a bit of a strong odor.
Bún Riêu Cua has a delicate sourness, so Vietnamese usually enjoy the dish in summer. You will find street food vendors selling the dish in a small cart in almost every region of Vietnam’s territory.
4. Bánh Giò (Vietnamese Rice And Pork Dumplings)
Banh gio is a tasty dumpling made from dough, ground meat, mushrooms, and more. It is a steamed dish wrapped in banana leaves. So the fragrance of banh gio is undeniable.
In Vietnam, especially in Hanoi, banh gio is one of the best-selling foods on the street because of its low price. Plus, Vietnamese can enjoy it at any time of the day.
It is a food masterpiece that requires several steps in preparation. But if you try to make it at home, you will feel how worthy it is.
(Fried Tofu, Vermicelli, And Fermented Shrimp Paste)
This special Vietnamese dish will be a challenge for you. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind specialty, Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm is a must-try dish in this country. It originates in the North of Vietnam and is often used as a snack or a light meal.
The tofu is fried until golden with a crispy cover, while the vermicelli gives a soft texture. The hit of this dish, fermented shrimp paste, will knock you out with its special flavor and robust scent. You can season the paste with kumquats and sugar to adjust its flavor.
Vermicelli, fried tofu, herbs, and sausages are traditionally displayed on banana leaves. You can ask the seller to leave out any ingredient that you don’t like. Or, if you are a fan of any ingredient, you can order more.
Some people can handle the odor of the shrimp paste, so they usually pair the topping with fish sauce or sometimes soy sauce. Local citizens usually have the dish for lunch, but you can enjoy it any time during the day.
6. Cà Phê Trứng (Egg Coffee)
Cà phê trứng is an authentic Vietnamese sweet course that complements the bold coffee with a creamy touch of eggs. This is a common breakfast drink in Vietnam that you must try when visiting the country.
Traditionally, Eggs and milk are whipped until fluffy, and then the bold coffee is added to make Cà phê trứng. Other ingredients are sometimes added for extra flavors like chocolate, vanilla extract, or cocoa powder.
The drink was first introduced in Vietnam in the 1940s when Vietnam was still a French colony. Because milk was so rare at that time, a man called ‘Nguyen Van Giang’ created this yummy egg coffee.
Nowadays, his coffee shop, lying in the middle of Hanoi, is one of the most famous shops that sell the best egg coffee. The coffee is thick and hot, so you should enjoy it slowly. Hot or cold depends on your choice.
7. Bánh Bột Lọc (Clear-Looking Steamed Dumplings)
In the middle area of Vietnam, there are beautiful tiny dumplings called ‘Bánh Bột Lọc’. The dish is a beautiful treat from Hue – a beautiful antique city. The city was the capital of the Nguyen dynasty. At that time, lots of sophisticated dishes in Vietnam were born.
The dish uses tapioca as a cover, so its appearance is so clear that you can see the interior (shrimp or pork belly). Chewy, buttery, and a bit savory from diluted fish sauce, this treat will amaze you. Vietnamese often have Bánh Bột Lọc as a snack or an appetizer.
Traditionally, you can steam or boil the dish with banana leaf wrapping around the flour. However, the ‘Bánh Bột Lọc Trần’ version doesn’t require a banana leaf. Besides pork belly, ground pork, onions, and mushrooms are other choices to pair with shrimp.
Rice flour and cornstarch can be added to create an authentic, clear look of this specialty.
8. Bún Bò Huế (Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)
The name says it all, Bún Bò Huế is a beef noodle soup in Hue with a unique spicy flavor. ‘Bún’ in Central Vietnam has a cylindrical and thicker shape compared to the Northern or Southern region. The enchanting fragrance from lemongrass will make your mouth water for sure.
Besides beef, ‘chả lụa’ and pork knuckles are often added to create more toppings for the dish. The name Bún Bò Huế is usually used outside of Hue city, in the city, people just use ‘Bún Bò’.
Spicy is the signature flavor of this dish, so a thin layer of chili oil is added to boost the spiciness and mesmerizing red color. You can find Bún Bò Huế anywhere in Vietnam, from a street food vendor to a fancy restaurant.
Bún Bò Huế is often served as a breakfast dish, and you can easily find it in local street food vendors or restaurants.
9. Mì Quảng (Quảng-Style Noodle)
Mì Quảng is a magnificent Vietnamese noodle type originating from Quảng Nam (a province in the center of Vietnam). This is the most famous cuisine in this region that is recognized all over the country and worldwide. Local people usually have it as a breakfast or lunch dish.
The dish is often made at family parties, lunar new year festivals, death anniversaries, or other gatherings. The special feature of the dish is the yellow or brown broth from turmeric.
Almost any kind of meat can be used to make this noodle dish. Chicken, pork, beef, or even shrimp are some tasty choices to use for Mì Quảng. Fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, or Vietnamese coriander can be added for some aroma.
‘Bánh tráng mè’ or ‘Bánh đa’, Vietnamese toasted sesame rice crackers, are added for extra texture for the dish. Toss some peanuts into this noodle, and you will have a wonderful Vietnamese noodle.
10. Cao Lầu (Hoi An Noodles)
Quảng Nam province will treat you to another tasty dish, Cao Lầu. The dish is a special noodle from Hoi An (a breathtaking ancient town) that will charm you with its scrumptious flavor.
Cao Lầu is a unique rice noodle soaked in lye water. This makes the noodles chewy and slightly bouncy with gorgeous brown color. Cao Lầu is rarely found outside Hoi An territory due to the one-of-a-kind production of noodles.
The water used for making Cao Lầu must be taken from an ancient well in Hoi An named ‘Bá Lễ’ to achieve its authentic flavor. You can pair the dish with plenty of fresh herbs. Bean sprouts, lettuce, and mints are common vegetables used to enhance the dish’s flavor.
The taste of Cao Lầu is much sweeter than Phở and other noodles in the northern region. This is because people in South and Central Vietnam love the sweet flavor.
The noodle is not submerged in broth. The chef just uses a ladle to wet all the ingredients with broth. So, Cao Lầu is not a dry noodle or a soup-based dish.
In The South Region of Vietnam!
More special treats from the Southern region come to light up your day! Let’s unfold their taste right now!
11. Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls)
Want to try a tasty appetizer from Asia? Gỏi Cuốn from Vietnam will be a treat for those who are seeking a healthy dish full of fresh herbs. Spring rolls or summer rolls are some common names for this treat.
The dish has prawn, pork, rice vermicelli, and fresh vegetables wrapped in a thin layer of rice paper. The cover is so clear that you can see all the ingredients inside. You can have it as a side dish and served cooled or at room temperature.
People usually dip rice paper into the water to make other ingredients stick to the outer layer while wrapping.
The dipping sauce of Gỏi Cuốn is Tương xào (hoisin sauce), which includes Tương đen or Tương xay (ground Tương) and broth or coconut water mixed with other ingredients. Peanut sauce or fish sauce are other choices for Gỏi Cuốn’s dipping sauce.
Vietnamese make this dish anytime; you can also see it in many family meetings or death anniversaries (in the Southern region).
12. Bún Thịt Nướng (Grilled Pork With Noodles And Salad)
Welcome to the South region; let me treat you to a grilled dish with a refreshing touch from vegetables. Bún Thịt Nướng combines many other Vietnamese dishes in one dish. Grilled meat, Chả Giò, and fresh herbs are some famous specialties constructing this dish.
Traditionally served with diluted fish sauce, the fish sauce in Bún Thịt Nướng varies in every part of Vietnam. Bún Chả is said to be a Hanoi version of the dish because they are quite similar. However, they are two distinct dishes with different ways of serving.
You will find this dish from vendors on the streets or even a fancy restaurant. Mix all ingredients and add a bit of fish sauce; the dish will enchant your hunger.
13. Cơm Tấm (Vietnamese Broken Rice)
The best friend of Bún Thịt Nướng that dominant almost every corner in the South of Vietnam, Cơm Tấm, will surprise you with its taste. Cơm Tấm is a special type of rice that is broken during the production of this rice. This right is much cheaper than ordinary rice.
The dish was commonly used in the Mekong Delta region among the poor class (rice farmers). Cơm Tấm was like a way of saving money when the harvest season was not going well. The dish started gaining its reputation when it arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city).
The dish is so famous on Saigon’s streets that people call it ‘ Cơm tấm Sài Gòn’. Sườn (grilled pork), fish sauce, scallion, and oil garnishing make this dish so memorable.
Besides Vietnamese-style pork chops, the locals also enjoy Cơm Tấm with Bì Heo (shredded pork skin) and sunny-side-up eggs. Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickles are some nice side dishes for the dish.
Forks and spoons are the common tools used to enjoy Cơm tấm. Sometimes, chopsticks are used too, but because the rice is broken, it is quite difficult to use this tool.
14. Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang
(Vietnamese Pork and Prawn Clear Noodle Soup)
Hủ Tiếu is a sophisticated rice noodle soup in Vietnam originating from Cambodia and arrived in Southern Vietnam in the 1960s. The name Hủ Tiếu is a cognation of Kuy Teav – a popular street delicacy of Cambodia.
The dish is a popular breakfast or dinner dish in Vietnam that you can order and enjoy right in the middle of exciting Vietnamese streets.
The savory broth is made from pork bones, and there are plenty of noodle types for the dish. From the chewy one to the soft one, they will surely satisfy your taste buds.
Two popular styles of Hủ tiếu are ‘Hủ tiếu nước’ (wet hủ tiếu) and ‘Hủ tiếu khô’ (dry hủ tiếu). The ‘Hủ tiếu nước’ is served with both the broth and ingredients while ‘Hủ tiếu khô’ has its broth served separately.
‘Hủ tiếu gõ’ (or Chinning noodle) is a prominent street food dish in Saigon where the seller knocks a bamboo tocsin to create sound and draw the guests’ attention. The word ‘gõ’ means ‘knock’ in English. The dish is often served from a small food cart.
When your stomach rumbles, just stop by a ‘Hủ tiếu gõ’ cart and enjoy your meal.
Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang or Hủ Tiếu Mỹ Tho are some common variants of this dish with an exploding flavor. You have to try every variant when visiting Vietnam. You can find Hủ tiếu almost everywhere on Vietnam street or even a street corner.
15. Bánh Tráng Trộn (Rice Paper Salad)
Bánh Tráng Trộn is a mesmerizing creation from Vietnamese cuisine that will hypnotize you with its complex flavor. The best Bánh Tráng Trộn can only be found in the streets of Vietnam from street food vendors.
You will find these vendors carry all ingredients of this treat in special baskets with a pole on their shoulders. Metal carts are sometimes used to display and make this specialty. The dish originates in Tay Ninh, a province famous for rice paper.
Rice paper is cut into small pieces and then mixed with chili, sliced mangoes, and boiled quail eggs. Vietnamese coriander and Kalamansi juice are added to boost the entire flavor for this beautiful mixture.
16. Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Pancakes)
Are you ready to try a spectacular pancake from Vietnam? Bánh Xèo is a crispy stuffed pancake recipe paired with a wonderful diluted fish sauce. The name ‘Xèo’ describes the sound when the rice batter touches the hot pan.
In the Southern region, Bánh xèo pancakes have a large size with thin edges. The treat has crispy edges that soften toward the center. Pork, prawns, and bean sprouts are the typical stuffing choices inside this folded treat.
Bánh xèo pancakes in Northern Vietnam have a thicker structure and are often served unfolded. You can add fillings or enjoy the dish with pancakes with chili sauce.
In central Vietnam, Bánh xèo is also called ‘Bánh xèo Huế’ or ‘Bánh khoái Huế’. These pancakes are smaller and thicker than the South’s version. This version uses a special sauce made from ‘Tương’ with a more buttery flavor.
Some foreigners call the dish ‘Vietnamese crêpe’ as the appearance is quite similar. In Vietnam, each region has a different size. It is smaller and thicker in Ninh Thuan’s region (central area of Vietnam), while it is larger and thinner in the South.
17. Chả Giò (Vietnamese Egg Rolls)
Chả Giò is a delectable side dish from Asia that will blow your mind with its crispiness. Chả Giò is the name of the Southern area, while in the North, people call it ‘Nem’ or ‘Nem Rán’.
These crispy rolls are the best if you want some snacks during the day. Vietnamese usually use Chả Giò to create extra textures and flavors for Bún Thịt Nướng. The dish is also called ‘imperial rolls’ due to the history of serving royalty families.
Vietnamese also have Chả Giò with rice or salad in daily meals or special events like the lunar new year. Chả giò is usually added in Bún Chả, but you can have it as an appetizer before a meal.
The meat and vegetable interior is perfect to pair with fish sauce. However, in modern Vietnamese cuisine, the dish is usually paired with chili sauce (Tương ớt) or mayonnaise for a touch of spicy and creamy flavor.
18. Bánh Mì Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich)
Hey! It would be a big mistake not to mention Bánh Mì in this list. The dish is inspired by the French baguette with a crispier crust and incredibly soft interior. Bánh Mì can be served alone or stuffed with meat and veggies for more flavor (this version is called ‘Bánh Mì Thịt’). You can also come across “Bánh Mì Gà“, a popular version that includes chicken.
Bánh Mì became famous in the 1950s in Saigon and became one of the most famous street foods here. This iconic sandwich type is an excellent choice for breakfast in Vietnam, but you can enjoy it anytime.
Usually, the stuffing is a fusion of different kinds of meat like Chả lụa and Xíu mại. The sweet variant ice cream stuffing with a cool flavor for the dish. Pâté and buttery mayonnaise are some French features kept until the present day.
19. Xôi Đậu Phộng (Vietnamese Peanut Sticky Rice)
If you want a delicious on-the-go dish for breakfast, Xôi is a perfect choice for you. The dish is a staple food in Vietnam with tons of variants. You can have the sweet varies with a nutty flavor and beautiful color or the meat version with boiled quail eggs and Chả lụa.
In the North, there are some common meat toppings like shredded chicken or broiled caramelized pork with outstanding flavor.
Some variants also have Pâté and buttery mayonnaise to enhance the dish’s flavor. The sticky rice is called ‘Nếp’ in Vietnam with an enchanting chewy, and soft texture. This ingredient is found by the ancestors of Tay – Thai and Mon-Khmer in Vietnam.
Ceremonies and special occasions in Vietnam usually have this dish on the meal menu. Besides breakfast, the dish is sometimes served as a dessert too.
20. Phở (Vietnamese Pho)
I have to say that Pho is my favorite dish that you would like to have every morning before work. It seems to be one of the most popular Vietnamese traditional foods with a history of hundreds of years. The dish first appeared in the early 20th century and gained worldwide popularity after the Vietnam War.
If you want to gain more information about Pho, you can ask the waiters in the Pho store to know more about different types of toppings, from beef to chicken. And better, ask them for a side dish of poached egg and meatballs inside the beef soup. Believe me; you’ll love it.
The popularity of beef Pho is higher than Pho made with chicken and beef. But they are both worth a try. As a highlight from other noodle soups, Pho has its special rice noodles in a delightful broth with a gentle sweetness from baked bones.
There are also plenty of noticeable differences between Northern and Southern Pho, namely in the choices of noodles, herbs, and the stock’s sweetness.
In general, Saigon Pho will have a clearer broth, and people will enjoy it with an array of herbs, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce. On the other hand, Northerners prefer a more fatty broth and simpler garnishes that often includes cilantro, pickled garlic, and green onions.
21. Chè (Vietnamese Sweet Dessert)
In Vietnam, I don’t think that there are any native people who don’t like Che. This sweetened dessert originated from Guangdong people who spread their cuisine to some Asia countries like Cambodia and Thailand.
This sweet dessert has become a most-liked dish in almost every region of Vietnam with so many recipes. It includes ‘Che troi nuoc‘ with floating dough inside caramel water or a couple of ‘Che dau’ made of different kinds of peas inside coconut juice.
Besides, there will also come with seasonal fruits inside the dish as well, like durian, jackfruit, or mango. All these elements contribute to the delightful sweetness of the dish.
22. Bánh Tráng Nướng (Vietnamese Rice Paper Pizza)
When you visit Vietnam, it is not hard to run into a vendor on the street selling Bánh Tráng Nướng. The sellers will set small chairs and tables on the pavement; then, they will start grilling the rice papers. The dish is adored by most young generations in Vietnam.
This is a must-have dish in this country. Bánh Tráng Nướng was created in Da Lat city with a delightful smokey flavor. Bánh Tráng Nướng is a cuisine influenced by the French culinary culture while Vietnam is still a colonial territory of France.
The rice paper is grilled in a hot oven with burning charcoal. Toppings like sausages, minced meat, and quail eggs will charm your soul. The grilled rice paper is so crispy that it complements the toppings placed on the treat.
23. Ốc (Sea Snails)
It sounds pretty weird for some people when they first hear the dish’s name. In fact, in Vietnam, this is one of the favorite street foods that takes a big place in many Vietnamese hearts.
You can effortlessly run into a street vendor selling plenty of types of snail dishes on the street. In Vietnam, the term snail usually includes multiple kinds of seafood with shells like sweet snails, clams, and oysters. If that sounds tempting, give these dishes a try as soon as you can!
In addition, a unique feature of this street food is that you use it with sweet and sour fish sauce. Honestly, you can not fully indulge it without this secret sauce at all.
I’m sure you and your friends would love to try this tasty Vietnamese Ốc.
24. Bánh Gối (Deep-Fried Pillow Cake)
I would like to introduce you to a perfect snack that you can make for any occasion. The dish is inspired by Chinese fried wonton but with a big shape. In Vietnam, this delightful cake is very popular in every local market and especially in Chinatown.
Pillow cake is believed to have traveled to Vietnam since 1954 when Chinese traders visited the capital of this country.
The first bite of this beautiful Bánh goi is very exciting. Its crust is so flaky and crispy that it melts easily in your mouth. Then it leads you to the stuffing with savory meat and veggie. Plus, if you’re a vegetarian, there will be a version of coconut filling for you to enjoy.
Are You Ready To Fly To Vietnam?
Vietnam will welcome you not only with its cuisines but also with its wonderful people. Believe me, street vendors in Vietnam are well-known for their heartwarming hospitality. What are you waiting for? Book a trip to this beautiful tropical country and enjoy these street delicacies today!
Give these treats from Vietnam a try, and you will fall in love with this country. Subscribe and share this post with your friends if you find the post helpful. Goodbye and see you!
Table of Contents
- 1. Bánh Cuốn (Steamed Rice Roll)
- 2. Bún Chả (Grilled Pork With Vermicelli)
- 3. Bún Riêu Cua (Meat And Vermicelli Tomato Soup)
- 4. Bánh Giò (Vietnamese Rice And Pork Dumplings)
- 5. Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm
- 6. Cà Phê Trứng (Egg Coffee)
- 7. Bánh Bột Lọc (Clear-Looking Steamed Dumplings)
- 8. Bún Bò Huế (Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)
- 9. Mì Quảng (Quảng-Style Noodle)
- 10. Cao Lầu (Hoi An Noodles)
- In The South Region of Vietnam!
- 11. Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls)
- 12. Bún Thịt Nướng (Grilled Pork With Noodles And Salad)
- 13. Cơm Tấm (Vietnamese Broken Rice)
- 14. Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang
- 15. Bánh Tráng Trộn (Rice Paper Salad)
- 16. Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Pancakes)
- 17. Chả Giò (Vietnamese Egg Rolls)
- 18. Bánh Mì Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich)
- 19. Xôi Đậu Phộng (Vietnamese Peanut Sticky Rice)
- 20. Phở (Vietnamese Pho)
- 21. Chè (Vietnamese Sweet Dessert)
- 22. Bánh Tráng Nướng (Vietnamese Rice Paper Pizza)
- 23. Ốc (Sea Snails)
- 24. Bánh Gối (Deep-Fried Pillow Cake)