The first thing that will catch your eye as your taxi from the airport weaves through the Vietnamese traffic, is the abundance of street food stalls lining the streets. These colourful outfits fight for space on the cities pavements and people are happy to squeeze themselves onto childlike seats under florescent lights to sample the country’s most authentic dishes.
Holidays to Vietnam are not complete without shunning the posh restaurants and sampling what the locals eat. The street food stalls use only the freshest ingredients which means that you are more likely to catch a tummy bug from some of the international restaurants who reheat food than from these street side cafes.
If you only try one traditional food whilst on your trip to Vietnam, make sure that it is a steaming hot bowl of Pho. This brothy noodle soup is eaten for breakfast lunch and dinner and is essentially the fuel of the whole country, plus – it’s delicious! Pho beef is the classic but you can also try pho ga (chicken), pho heo (pork) or some stalls even serve it with seafood. Each pho will differ slightly depending on the stall that you eat from and will depend on what you are given to accompany it. It is up to you how you season it. The vendors all produce a variety of their own chilli sauces so you can be as reserved or as brave as you dare. You will also be presented with a plate of vegetables, herbs and leaves to tear up and add.
Bun cha are strips of marinated pork seasoned with chilli and garlic and then barbequed in racks as you stand watching with your mouth watering. The smell of the pork will entice you to the stall from streets away and will have you mesmerised until you find the stall in question. Bahn Khoai or ‘happy crepes’ as they are sometimes known, are pancakes stuffed with pork, prawns or mushrooms and create a mouth-watering combination of different textures which make a perfect snack when you are in need of a bit of energy to continue your sightseeing.
There are so many street stalls around that it makes perfect sense to eat little and often to make sure you get to sample as much as possible. Vietnam has 2000 miles of coastline and huge deltas so expect to find the freshest seafood. The majority of ingredients used are chosen for their medicinal as well as their culinary properties. It is free of dairy and wheat and has very little sugar or fat making it all very healthy, which gives you the perfect excuse to eat as much as you want!
To guarantee that you get the best on offer, we recommend going to the stalls that are the busiest because the food will be the freshest. It is not uncommon for families to visit the markets before every meal of the day to guarantee they have the freshest produce available.
Vietnamese street food is delicious, chock full of goodness and allows you to taste the dishes which have become so popular that outlets are popping up all across the world.