Vietnam – my street food diaries

Street Food, Vietnam

Probably the thing I liked best about visiting Vietnam was the food, and in particular the street food.

I basically made it my mission to only eat from the street vendors and not to go to restaurants. This was in an attempt to find the real food of the country and not the glorified ‘made for westerners’ fayre. I also thought it might be a neat way to get chatting to locals and experience how life is for your average Joe. Oh, and dare I mention, if you are travelling on a budget this is also the answer to your dreams, as most meals coming in at around £1.


Street food, Vietnam

Fresh shrimp rolls with a sweet and sticky soy, peanut and chilli dipping sauce


So, after reading this excellent post by Jodi Ettenburg at Legal Nomads, I set off to try my first street food Pho, excited and intrigued to meet ‘Prison Granny’

I should probably also point out here that I did not stick to a plant based, vegetarian diet for this trip, opting to go local style.

I’m sure there are a plethora of good vegetarian, even vegan options in the country but it is not traditional Vietnamese and I wanted to try authentic dishes as previously highlighted.

My search for Prison Granny ended in vain – I was definitely on the right alleyway (or ‘Bis’ in Vietnamese) but I could not spot any Pho joints. So I employed my own tactic, which I like to call ‘follow the local/office workers’  – in Ho Chi Minh this worked a treat as I stalked young office folk on their lunch breaks and basically just ate wherever they did!


Com, street food, Vietnam

My first point and smile meal was braised beef and carrots, morning glory, rice (the ‘com’ part of the dish) and a morning glory watery soup.


Street food, Vietnam

Second office lunch ‘Com’ with cabbage, pork, boiled egg – and a bonus banana!


I also found two very good food courts, a little more on the tourist trail but full of enough locals to keep me happy, these I felt more comfortable visiting at nighttime as a single female traveller rather than ducking down dimly lit alleys.


Pho, Street food, Vietnam

My first Pho was pretty good, and light on the beef. I love that you add your own herbs and spices to taste



Canh Bun, Street food, Vietnam

Crab Canh Bun (I think!) This was a perfect mix of sweet and sour – delicious and one of my favourite dishes of the trip



The best part about my follow the local trick was I had pretty much no idea what the things I ate were called – it was a case of point and smile, the places I have learnt since are called ‘Com Ta’ which is basically a buffet of plates you choose what you like and get given a humongous portion of rice to accompany as well as a watery soup and sometimes fruit and cold tea.

I also tried my fair share of Pho, and other noodle dishes, and of course the obligatory fresh rolls (which varied in flavour and freshness from place to place)



Street food, Vietnam

This lady was very popular so although I had no idea what this was I ordered one anyway,  it was a sweet puffed rice pancake with treacle and coconut lathered inside. Too sweet for me but I like to take a chance from time to time!



In Hoi An I discovered the wonderful dish ‘Cao Lau’ the melt in your mouth White Roses, Shrimp pancake rolls, and of course plenty of lovely tea and coffee cafes.


White Roses, Banh Vac, Street Food, Vietnam

The delectable White Roses, my favourite dish of the trip….
‘banh vac’ is a dumpling stuffed with shrimp and spices and then steamed in a shrimp broth. The resulting taste is delicate and just a little bit sweet, the dumplings are topped with fried onions giving it a little crunch and saltiness


Banh Xeo, Pancake, Street Food, Vietnam

Banh Xeo, is a shrimp pancake, like ‘Crispy Peking Duck’ you lay a flat noodle sheet out, place the pancake on, add cucumber and herbs, sweet hoi sin sauce and roll. Wonderful.


Banh Xeo, Street Food, Vietnam

All rolled up and ready to eat!


Street food, Vietnam

Choices in the Indoor Food Market at Hoi An


Drinking Tea and Coffee (mainly iced) were some of my favourite things to do. Just sitting in a cafe, reading, cooling off and watching the world go by: this is what ‘travelling’ is all about for me, which, ironically, is the most static of activities!


Ice Tea, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam

A break from the heat with a Passion Fruit Ice Tea


Cold Brew coffee, Street food, Vietnam

Cold Brew Coffee, Hoi An Roastery


Reaching Out Tea Rooms, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam

Stopping for a cuppa – the beautifully presented Oolong Tea at the wonderful Reaching Out Tea Rooms in Hoi An.


I hope this has inspired you to travel to this wonderful country. I would love to hear back from you on your food travels, in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world. Please leave me a comment with your favourite places to eat and drink.