Best Street Food Streets in Ho Chi Minh city

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Vietnam Travel News

Best Street Food Streets in Ho Chi Minh city

Post: 21-07-2015 02:08:23 PM - Views: 971

Street food in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is arguably the best in Vietnam. The street food scene in Saigon permeates every district, neighbourhood and alleyway. Visite Ho Chi Minh city and get Vietnam visa on arrival at site

(visavietnam.net.vn) - Street food in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is arguably the best in Vietnam. The street food scene in Saigon permeates every district, neighbourhood and alleyway. The city boasts so many street food outlets that Saigon feels like one gigantic open-air restaurant.

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Food + atmosphere = street food

Every day tens of thousands of street-side eateries offer up delicious, cheap food in an informal environment on the city’s sidewalks. Street food is about more than food; it’s about atmosphere and ambience. As a friend of mine pointed out, if you took street food home with you it wouldn’t taste anywhere near as good as it does on the street. Eating street food is without doubt one of the best things to do in Saigon.

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Night Hawk: street food stalls illuminate saigon’s street

On this page I’ve put together a list and guide to my five favourite streets for street food in Saigon. There are photos and a description of each street, including my recommendations of particular places to eat, and all the streets are plotted on my map. While some people have strict definitions of what is and isn’t ‘street food’, I define it as anything that’s eaten outside, on the street, at affordable prices.

 

LIST OF STREETS:

Click a street name to go to description:

      1. Vạn Kiếp Street: border of Phú Nhuận & Bình Thạnh districts

      2. Sư Vạn Hạnh Street: District 10

      3. Vĩnh Khánh Street: District 4

      4. Phan Văn Hân Street: Bình Thạnh District

      5. Cô Giang Street: District 1

 

GUIDE TO STREETS:

In oder of my own personal preference:

1. Vạn Kiếp Street: border of Phú Nhuận & Bình Thạnh districts

Even in the light drizzle of a cool rainy season evening Vạn Kiếp Street is a thrilling exhibition of Vietnamese street food. Showcasing dozens of different dishes all in the space of a couple hundred metres, Vạn Kiếp Street straddles the border of two of Saigon’s most vibrant districts, Phú Nhuận and Bình Thạnh. Neon signs prick the night, illuminating the slanting rain as they announce the specialities of each food and drink outlet: phở, bánh canh cua, bánh mì, bánh xèo, bún mắm, bún bò Huế, bún chả, nem nướng, chè - there must be at least fifty different dishes available on this street and over a hundred eateries to choose from. The street is packed with young Vietnamese – I rarely see any customers over the age of 30 – all clustered around small plastic tables, hunched over on small plastic stools, talking, eating, gesticulating, laughing.

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Skewers for grilling at Quán Út Lang 

 

Don’t miss Quán Út Lang, an intoxicating barbeque joint with mounds of fresh meat, seafood and vegetables on skewers, cooked to order over a huge coal-fired grill, on the corner of Vạn Kiếp and Phan Xích Long streets: the grilled octopus (bạch tuộc nướng) is incredible. There’s good bún chả (northern-style rice noodles and grilled pork patties) available at Quán Ăn 3 Miền, 157A Vạn Kiếp. The pork is grilled on the sidewalk (a common scene in Hanoi) and the scented smoke wafts into the street, enticing all who pass to stop and eat, like a vaporous Siren.

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 Grilling on the sidewalk for bún chả

2. Sư Vạn Hạnh Street: District 10

Sư Vạn Hạnh is a long, lively street in general, but the section between Ngô Gia Tự and Nguyễn Chí Thanh streets is partiuclarly frenetic and jam-packed with excellent street food. When I lived just up the road from here my housemates and I would call it ‘The Ghetto’ because the area is dominated by several run-down, Soviet-style apartment blocks. Because there are so many people living so closely together in this neighbourrhood (and because conditions are so cramped inside that people would rather spend their time outside) the area’s street-life is exceptionally vibrant. Food stalls, vendors, casual eateries, cafes and bars line the street, all in the shadow of the delapidated apartment complex. Young and old, families and couples take their seats on plastic stools at metallic tables and tuck into the various street treats on offer. The contrast between the energy and colour of the street food scene here and the grey, grim, concrete bleakness of the apartment buildings (some of which are now in a state of demolition) is extreme and compelling.

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Bánh xèo cooking on the street side

This street’s speciality is bánh xèo (savoury crepes filled with pork and bean sprouts). Dozens of places serve small bánh xèo cooked on circular trays over flaming, coal-fired barbecues. My favourite is at 004 Lô H (literally ‘Block H’), where the family have been in the bánh xèo business on the same spot for 14 years. At the corner with Hòa Hảo Street there’s a good Chinese-style noodle outlet called Tai Phát. Try the mì vịt tiềm (egg noodles with duck in a deeply aromatic broth). The noodles are sold from a classic xe mì (noodle trolley) decorated with painted dragons and scenes from Chinese mythology. Right at the southern end of Block H (Lô H) there’s an outstanding Vietnamese dessert stall on the corner. This place is rammed with young Vietnamese who gather around the tiny tables in groups to enjoy any of the sixteen defferent kinds of dessert sold here. All of them are gooey, sweet, colourful and involve sticky rice, green bean or coconut milk in some form or another. The textures and flavours might be unfamiliar to most foreign palates but the sheer variety and youthful energy of this stall make it one of my favourite street food finds in recent months.

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Choose from 16 different desserts

 

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She’s been serving bánh xèo for 14 years

3. Vĩnh Khánh Street: District 4

Apparently one of the favourite haunts of the notorious Vietnamese gangster Năm Cam (executed in 2004), today Vĩnh Khánh Street is one of the most popular places for street food in Saigon, especially seafood. Every night young people throng the sidewalks sporting trendy hairdos, tattoos, and the latest fashions from South Korea – you rarely see anyone over the age of 25 here. The atmosphere is electric: hundreds of small and large groups of friends hunker down at tiny red and blue plastic tables, splitting shells, cracking crab legs, clinking beer glasses and having a really good time. As if the thundering cacophony of laughter, traffic, and orders being shouted wasn’t enough, some enterprising teenagers pull up on the curbside with giant amplifiers strapped to the backs of their motorbikes and proceed to blast out karaoke for the ‘entertainment’ of all street food customers. There are fire eaters and street dancers too. To say that the food scene here is vibrant is an understatement: it’s choatic, loud, busy, oppressive, unrelenting and a glorious celebration of food, fun and youth.

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Vinh Khanh street is the famous for seafood

Head to Ốc Oanh (534 Vĩnh Khánh Street) for seafood and shellfish. This is the most famous of all the seafood joints on the street. In Vietnam fame often leads to apathy and a decline in quality, but this is not the case at Ốc Oanh where the portions are big, the seafood fresh, and the service brisk and efficient. Try the ốc hương ràn muối ớt (fried sea snails with salt and chilli) and the sò điệp nướng mỡ hành (grilled scallops with spring onions and peanuts). Prices are a little higher here than elsewhere but it’s worth it. Be prepared to wait a few minutes for a table, and don’t be shy to shout over the din when it comes to ordering. Near the intersection with Hoàng Diệu Street is Quán BBQ Lúa (33 Vĩnh Khánh Street). The speciality here is grill-it-yourself barbecued meat. A small coal-fired stove is placed on your table onto which you lay chunks of marinated beef, pork, goat and fish. The sườn heo ngũ vị (pork ribs in five spice marinade) is delicious.

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Street side barbecue at BBQ Lúa

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4. Phan Văn Hân Street: Bình Thạnh District

A long, narrow street connecting two of Saigon’s biggest arteries, Phan Văn Hân Street is lined with cheap food stalls frequented by locals and students from nearby universities. Just across the Thị Nghè Channel from the glitz and glamour of Saigon’s central District 1, Phan Văn Hân Street has a very local, unpretentious atmosphere. The street is densely packed with food vendors, shops, homes, businesses and motorbikes, creating an intimate environment where space (which is in short supply) is often shared. Snail and shellfish eateries – lit by naked fluorescent light bulbs – set up on the pavement next to the peeling plaster of old homes; bánh xèo stalls occupy local people’s doorsteps; soup vendors serve customers at tiny tables on a slither of sidewalk no more than a few feet wide. The scented smoke from all these food vendors drifts into the street, where their wonderful aromas mingle with the exhaust fumes from passing traffic.

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Shellfish eatery on the street

This is a very lively little neighbourhood where all the classic Vietnamese street food dishes are well-represented. Come between 6.00-8.30pm to experience it at its busiest. Try the delicious bánh xèo at 101/2 Phan Văn Hân; they’re crispy on the outside but moist on the inside: perfect. A fried street food classic bột chiên (rice flour cubes that I often refer to as ‘Vietnamese French fries’) can be found right on the corner of Phan Văn Hân and Xô Viết Nghẹ Tĩnh streets. The vendor here has been serving bột chiện for 20 years and has gotten pretty darn good at it. One of the most famous noodle joints in the area Lương Ký Mì Gia (1 Huỳnh Mẫn Đạt Street) is right at the eastern extreme of Phan Văn Hân Street. They sell all sorts of noodles but the dish that brought them fame is mì vịt tiềm (fresh yellow noodles with marintated duck) – get here early because they run out of this popular dish fast.

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Bánh xèo at 101/2 Phan Văn Hân street

 

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She’s been serving bột chiên for 20 years

5. Cô Giang Street: District 1

Cô Giang is a long, straight street that unofficially marks the southern perimeter of Saigon’s burgeoning backpacker area in District 1. However, Cô Giang Street is a lot quieter than Phạm Ngũ Lão, Bùi Viện and Đề Thám streets whose bars, western restaurants and mini-marts make up the centre of the backpacker district. In general, travellers who choose to stay or spend time on Cô Giang Street are looking to get something more ‘authentic’, more ‘Vietnamese’ from their time in Saigon. While Cô Giang is not as densely packed with food stalls as other streets in this list, it still offers plenty of local street-life and bustling open-air eateries, especially around the intersection of Cô Giang and Đề Thám streets. In the evenings bright fluorescent light bulbs illuminate streetside barbeques, whooshing woks, and bubbling cauldrons. Scented cooking smoke fills the air and hangs, like a Dickensian fog, over the diners sitting at tables on the sidewalk.

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Smoke fills the night on Cô Giang Street 

Right on the corner of Cô Giang and Đề Thám streets there’s a cluster of hugely popular outdoor restaurants, specializing in thick Chinese-style fried noodles called hủ tiếu xào. Quán 17 is particularly good for this dish and there are plenty of other items on the menu here – most of which have been translated into inadvertently hilarious English, thanks, I suspect, to Google Translate: ‘vegetable of transcendent garlic’ was one of my favourites. Don’t miss the stalls selling bò lá lốt (grilled beef rolled in aromtic betel leaf); they’re easy to find because of the smoking barbecues out front and the enticing smell. The bò lá lốt at Hoàng Yến (121 Cô Giang Street) is superb and very cheap too (20,000VNĐ per portion).

From: Vietnamcoracle

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