1) Co Giang StreetLocation: District 1
Co Giang Street marks the end of the backpacks district of Ho Chi Minh City. The area is relatively quiet and the food stalls are placed at comfortable distances from each other. The street is one of the popular locales for street food in Ho Chi Minh City, known for its somewhat authentic and Vietnamese style of food as compared to other areas in the city. As the sun sets, the streets are illuminated with fluorescent lights and you can hear the sizzling of the barbecue, whooshing of the woks and bubbling of the cauldrons as the scent of freshly cooking food hangs in the air.
Best Food: The best street food here is the Bo La Lot, or beef wrapped in betel leaf. Some other delicious food you get in the area include Banh Tham Bi or Silkworm Noodles, which are merely tapioca noodles coated with thick coconut sauce, sautéed vegetables and pork and Bun Bo Hue, a soup made from lemongrass and Chilli, Laden with thick cuts of meat and spiced with paprika.
2) Nguyen Thuong Hien StreetLocation: District 3
Nguyen Thuong Hien Street may be a narrow and dimly lit street but there's a lot to eat and drink on the street and a lot of fun to be had! The street paints a somewhat odd picture - hundreds of diners sitting in the sidewalk, munching shellfish and washing it down with some local beer. There are also locals and musicians who bring their guitars and you will numerous groups of people singing along to the acoustic guitar.
Best Food: Nguyen Thuong Hien Street is famous in the street food scene of Ho Chi Minh City for its seafood. Oysters, Clams, Crab Claws and Sea Snails are common cuisine here. It is also quite popular for fresh fruit juices and tropical fruits are freshly squeezed to make juice. Hu Thieu Nam Vang Noodles are a no-miss here. These noodles are made of slices of pork, whole shrimp and quail eggs in a clear sweet broth seasoned with shallots, spring onions and kale, and are absolutely mouthwatering.
3) Su Vanh Han StreetLocation: District 10
Long, winding lively Su Vanh Han Street is often referred to as 'The Ghetto' owing to a large number of Soviet-Style buildings present. The street is jam-packed with grey, old dilapidated buildings which stand in stark contrast to the surrounding nightlife. This is one of the most coveted spots for street food in Ho Chi Minh City, filled to the brim with all kinds of people - young, old, Vietnamese, foreigners, all of them rushing to one of the numerous stalls that line the street side or seated on one of the plastic stools, munching on their delicacies.
Best Food: This street is renowned for its Banh Xeo, savory crepes filled with pork and bean sprouts and cooked over a flaming barbecue. Another popular dish is the Mi Viet Tiem, egg noodles with duck served in a deeply aromatic broth. At the end of the street is located a unique dessert stand which serves 16 different Vietnamese desserts on a platter. The desserts are made of rice and coconut milk and are gooey and colourful.
4) Phan Van Han StreetLocation: District 1
Phan van Han street is lined with cheap food stalls frequented by students from the nearby universities and locals. Space is sparse and the streets are packed with food vendors and buyers alike. Between 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM, this area is overflowing with people, clamouring around for some of the cheapest and tastiest street food in Ho Chi Minh City. The naked fluorescent lamps cast shadows over the various shellfish and snail stands, banh xeo stalls and soup vendors net to the stuffed houses, painting a stark contrast against the glitz and glamour of the nearby Saigon City Center.
Best Food: Some of the best foods here include - Bot Chien, Fried Rice Flour Cubes, Mi Vit Tiem, fresh yellow noodles with aromatic duck and Banh Da Xuc Hen, a large rice paper crisp with hints of sesame and coconut, with a tiny pile of clams fried in lemongrass underneath it.
5) Van Kiep StreetLocation: District 1
Van Kiep Street is a thrilling exhibition of the street food of Ho Chi Minh City. Located at the intersection of two prime districts, this street has the unique feature of being the street that showcases almost 90% of Vietnamese street food, all within hundreds of meters. Each street stall has huge neon boards displaying a list of foods they serve. This area is filled with the young crowd, huddled along plastic tables and gesticulating and laughing wildly. The atmosphere and vibe of the place is lively and I is a great location to spend an evening observing Vietnam's culture.
Best Food: The street has some of the best Vietnamese street food. Among those, the must-try foods include - the spicy marinated octopus, which is grilled over an open barbecue and whose smell wafts around, tempting all those who pass; bun mam or seafood noodle crammed with wholesome ingredients and Banh Canh Cua, a fishy slippery noodle special to the southern part of Vietnam.
6) Vinh Khan StreetLocation: District 4
Vinh khan Street is loud and noisy - ostentatiously so. It is a vibrant and glorious celebration of food. Every night, young crowds flock to this street dressed in glitzy and fashionable clothes, tattoos and wearing elaborate hairdos. To add to the thundering cacophony produced by the crowd, a gang of raucous youngsters ride in every night in their motorcycles, with large amplifiers strapped to them and belt out the karaoke music for the crowd. To add to this, there are fire eaters and street dancers. This is the place to be if you are young of heart and enjoy a good party coupled with great food.
Best Food: This street is known for its seafood and shellfish. Oc Huong Ran Moui Ot (fried sea snails with salt and chilli), So Diep Muong No Hanh (grilled scallops with spring onions and peanuts) and Suon Heo Ngu Vi (pork ribs in five spice marinade) are the most popular kinds of food. Another speciality of this area is grill-it-yourself meat. A coal stove is placed on your table on which you can grill your own chunks of marinated beef, pork, goat and fish.
7) Tran Khac Chan StreetLocation: District 1
Often described as an open wardrobe of food, this street is filled with such a wide option of food that it is better to let your nose and your foodie instincts guide you. The local people know exactly where all the good food is here and it is advisable to take along someone who is familiar with the street. Explorers can find a whole array of the best of the street food that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer, nestled amidst a chaotic jumble of motorbikes, cars, pedestrians, food vendors, and diners on the sidewalks devouring their dinners.
Best Food: Some of the best food to have here is Banh Canh Hua, a slippery slimy concoction with thick doughy noodles and fresh crabs and Banh Xeo, savory rice pancakes. A speciality of this street is the moving grilled meat trolleys which are extremely difficult to pass up. This street is also famous for its pomelo juice.
There are way too many delicious options for street food in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of the dishes that can not be missed out on have been mentioned below.
Banh Mi - Better known as Vietnamese sandwich, this food is a reminder of the French period in Vietnam. It consists of French-style baguette filled with strips of roast pork and seasoned with pickled, fresh chillies, coriander and a touch of soy sauce. Feast on Banh Mi in District 1.
Bun mam: This mouthwatering dish consists of chunks of crispy pork belly, slices of squid, a juicy prawn, raw vegetables, thick noodles and herbs are covered in a light fermented fish broth. This dish is made the best in the Binh Thanh District.
Banh Xeo: Banh Xeo is probably Vietnam's favourite street food. A thick slice of pork is deep fried with rice-turmeric batter. A prawn is also added and the resulting savory crepe is served with fish chilli sauce.
Goi Cuon: Vietnamese spring rolls or Goi Cuon is made from soft rice paper stuffed with pork, prawns, vegetables and noodles and rolled and served with peanut sauce. The best spring rolls are available in District 10.
Cang Cua: Due to its proximity to the Mekong Delta, the street food is highly populated with seafood. One of the most authentic ways to eat street food in Vietnam is to grill it over a barbecue and dip it in garlic sauce.
Banh trang Nuong: This is Vietnam's version of pizza. A thin rice paper is sprinkled with shredded pork or egg and cooked over a barbecue. It is then seasoned with spring onions. Head over to District 1 for some of this delicious pizza
Com Tam: To satiate your hunger, the Vietnamese came up with Com Tam, which is sticky rice with a generous serving of pork, egg and vegetables on top of it. Binh Thanh makes the best Com Tam.
Bo La Lot: Beef Chops are rolled and packed in a betel leaf and served in a plate with vermicelli and a dish filled with spicy fish chilli sauce. Head to District 1 for some Bo La Lot.
Pho: A famous Vietnamese dish, Pho is a flavoured and textured soup made of beef and brisket chops and raw and cooked vegetables in a clear soup. It is available throughout the city.
Banh Tet: This sweet dish is made of banana and red beans cooked over a grill and cut into pieces. It is served with coconut custard and sesame seeds. Head to District 1 for some Vietnamese sweet treats.
Despite a glamourous nightlife and rich heritage, the street food of Ho Chi Minh City hold the charm of the city. The streets are where you can find some of the best food, intermingled with the people and the rich culture seeping through every pore of the city. Go on, take a bite out of Ho Chi Minh City and I promise you will not be disappointed. Hit the streets and fill your bellies with the Taste of Vietnam!