Best street dishes you have to try

Vietnamese cuisine is rich, complex and diverse, varying from region to region, town to town. When visiting Vietnam one of the first specialties that comes to mind is probably Vietnamese Spring Rolls, but you’ll find so much more to sample as you travel from north to south, from baguette sandwiches and fried snacks to soups and noodle dishes.

Vietnamese cuisine changes from being Chinese-influenced in the north to featuring more of Cambodian cuisine in the south – and at the same time giving a little nod to the French whose influence can be found not just in the use of the much-loved baguette, but in cooking techniques as well.

While you will find many of these street food dishes all over Vietnam, some are very regional – like the Pho – the noodle soup that it’s best to try it in Hanoi, its birthplace. As well as tasting the foods cooked by the roving vendors carrying baskets over their shoulders or pushing carts, and cooks who set up small stalls with tiny plastic stools on the footpaths and in alleyways, you’ll also find street food dishes in simple eateries and casual restaurants.

Here are just few of our favourites:

Pho

This simple staple, consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, features predominately in the local diet – and understandably so. It’s cheap, tasty and widely available at all hours.

Bun cha

Bun cha is the top choice when it comes to lunchtime in Vietnam when the street-vendors start grilling up small patties of seasoned pork and slices of marinated pork belly over a charcoal fire. Once they’re charred and crispy, the meats are served with a bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of herbs and a helping of rice noodles.

Banh xeo

Banh xeo is a crispy crepe filled with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Goi cuon

The translucent fresh spring rolls are first packed with salad greens, a sliver of meat or seafood and a layer of coriander, before being neatly rolled and dunked in Vietnam’s favorite condiment – fish sauce.

Bun bo nam bo

This bowl of vermicelli noodles from Hanoi – it comes without broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden and the various textures intact. The tender slices of beef are mixed with crunchy peanuts and bean sprouts and are flavoured with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots and a splash of fish sauce and chilli pepper.

Cao lau

This pork noodle dish from Hoi An is cooked with the thicker noodles similar to Japanese udon, the crispy Chinese style won-ton crackers and pork, while the broth and herbs are clearly Vietnamese.

Banh mi

The French may have brought with them the baguette, but the Vietnamese take it to a different level and your Banh mi may contain a combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chilli sauce.

Bot chien

Bot chien is Ho Chi Minh City’s favourite street snack. Chunks of rice flour dough are fried in a large wok until crispy, and then an egg is broken into the mix. Once cooked, it’s served with slices of papaya, shallots and green onions, before more flavour is added with pickled chilli sauce and rice vinegar.

Ca phe trung

Vietnamese “egg coffee” has the creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam poured on the dense Vietnamese coffee.