Top 10 Vietnam's Most Delicious Street Foods

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Vietnam can be considered a paradise of street foods that have an appreciation for the delicious tastes and convenience. Toplist is pleased to introduce to ... read more...

  1. Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Phở) is a traditional dish in Vietnam. It is considered a "national specialty" and one of the typical dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. It seems to be one of the typical features of Thang Long - Hanoi culinary culture. The main ingredients of pho are soft rice noodles which are dipped in a fragrant beef or chicken broth flavored with oriental herbs. The broth is simmered for hours with cinnamon, star anise, and other warm spices to create a wonderfully aromatic base for this rice noodle soup. Also accompanied by spices such as soy sauce, pepper, lemon, fish sauce, and chili.

    By 1930, the soup was served with slices of raw beef cooked gently in the broth and today it remains the most beloved version in Vietnam, with options that include the original raw beef, a mix of raw and cooked beef, brisket, and tendon. Chicken is also used as a main ingredient of the cuisine nowadays, but not as popular as beef.

    The ingredients for making "Phở" seem simple and can be found in popular markets throughout Vietnam, but the way to make a unique flavor, passionate, lingering in the hearts of Vietnamese cuisine, is not easy at all. The ingredients combine to create a unique flavor in a delicious and well-balanced dish.

    "Phở" with beef as main ingredient
    "Phở" with chicken as main ingredient

  2. Vietnamese summer rolls are one of the most refreshing foods in the world. They are convenient for any diet you’re on, from low carb and gluten-free, to vegan and Weight Watchers! The food is famous for its freshness and purity, with very little gluten, dairy, oil, or sugar. It is a perfect dish for health-conscious eaters. These refreshing rolls are typically made with a piece of pork, a single shrimp, and bun noodles, although it’s easy to find delicious vegetarian versions made with tofu and mushrooms as well. The focus on fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices with nice decoration makes this cuisine a preferred choice by any foreign guest.

    Summer rolls are like a cool breeze on a hot day when you don’t even feel like eating, much less cooking…The idea comes from Vietnam where they know a little bit about hot humid weather. This snack’s ingredients are wrapped in rice paper which is served at room temperature. Its "meat light," with the flavors of refreshing herbs is ideal for those who want to be on diet. These homemade summer rolls make the perfect light appetizer, lunch, healthy snack, or light dinner, especially when dipped in a slightly sweet Vietnamese sauce laced with ground peanuts, which will certainly make you feel unforgettable.

    Summer rolls with special sauce
    Summer rolls with special sauce
    Ingredients to make summer rolls
    Ingredients to make summer rolls
  3. Vietnam’s spring rolls are known and loved worldwide due to their Freshness and full of the texture of "meat light," with the flavors of refreshing herbs erupting in your mouth. Originated from the Southern part of Vietnam, Spring Roll is the fried version with minced pork, shrimp, herbs, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper which is served at room temperature. The cuisine has different names as “chả giò” (southern Vietnam), “nem cuốn”, “chả cuốn” or “Nem rán” (northern Vietnam). Central Vietnam has its own version of a fried roll called “ram”. "Ram" is always made from whole shell-on shrimp or chopped de-shelled shrimp with some green onions, wrapped in rice paper and deep fried. "Ram", like most specialty food items from central Vietnam, is not widely available in Vietnamese restaurants overseas.

    It is true that spring roll is one of the most complicated food in Vietnamese cuisine with many shapes, many versions, sizes, and ingredients. To make this dish completely, the ingredients you need to prepare to include many things and you must prepare enough to make a truly Vietnamese spring roll:

    • Rice paper: is the main ingredient that is traditionally used in wrappers.
    • Rice vermicelli.
    • Cooked seafood (such as shrimp, or crab), pork, beef, and chicken, depends on your taste.
    • Dipped in a slightly sweet Vietnamese sauce which is composed of fish sauce, lime, garlic, sugar, and chilies, or simply fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar, it's wholesome, easy, and the very definition of "moreish".
    Spring rolls with Southern style
    Spring rolls with Southern style
    Spring rolls with Northern style
    Spring rolls with Northern style
  4. “Cơm tấm” (broken rice) is a traditional Vietnamese dish that's typically sold as street food. It has its origin in southern Vietnam and is considered one of the most popular breakfast dishes of the southerners. Nowadays, “cơm tấm” is also present in the middle and the north of Vietnam, or even abroad.

    The main ingredient consists of broken and imperfect rice grains that were traditionally chucked away after the milling process. That’s the reason why “cơm tấm” used to be considered a dish for poor people but today it’s not only become a popular dish of people from all walks of life but also a signature dish in Vietnam.

    “Cơm tấm” is usually served with grilled pork, thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin, steamed egg or fried egg, fresh cucumber, tomato, and some pickled vegetables. Besides, an important ingredient to make it perfect is seasoned fish sauce, which mainly affects the taste of “cơm tấm”. In big cities like Ho Chi Minh City, “cơm tấm” has become a characteristic of its culture, you can find them at any time and anywhere, from roadside stalls to luxurious restaurants.

    "Cơm Tấm" with full traditional ingredients
    "Cơm Tấm" with grilled pork
  5. “Bánh cuốn” is a popular Vietnamese street food item consisting of paper-thin steamed rice flour pancake rolls. “Bánh cuốn” is usually consumed for breakfast in Vietnam and is usually served with a fried shallot dip, sweet and sour fish sauce, a variety of fresh herbs, and lime-based sauce on the side.

    It takes a special kind of skill to prepare these steamed rolls which should always be extremely thin and translucent and immediately rolled with other ingredients including a combination of meat, vegetables, and spices while it is still hot. Traditionally, to make these flat rice noodles, you secure a piece of cloth to a pot. The batter is then added to the cloth and steamed until it’s fully cooked, which takes just around one or two minutes. A special flat wooden spatula is used to lift the noodle, then it’s then stuffed with the savory filling and rolled into a little log. This cuisine is recommended to add any meat or vegetables for better tasting.

    "Bánh cuốn" dish
    Colorful sweet
    Colorful sweet "Bánh cuốn"
  6. If rice is Vietnam’s staple crop, “xôi” (sticky rice) is the nation's choice dish, which is typical in every Vietnamese family's daily life. “Xôi” which is made with a base of steamed sticky rice with many versions, can be made in savory – “xôi mặn”, or sweet versions – “xôi ngọt” and is a favorite breakfast, or can be eaten as popularly as night or early dawn snack or meal. It can be easily found anywhere from numerous roadside vendors in early morning and evening markets to traditional and upscale restaurants.

    The cuisine is traditionally served in a banana leaf. Nowadays, it is served in many types in bowls, dishes, or even take-away convenient packages. There are any number of specialty “Xôi” restaurants, as well as push carts that stand on street corners or bicycles that go around the streets well past midnight, long after restaurants and other eateries have closed.

    On special cases like full moon days, New Year holidays, weddings, death anniversaries, and other occasions, “Xôi” is a must-have dish on the feast’s platters. The ways to make sticky rice depend on the variety, family recipes, or individual creativity that housewives bring into play.

    It will be a big miss if you come to Vietnam without trying “xôi”. The price of the dish is cheap and very convenient to enjoy. That’s why it is unreplaceable food for such above mentioned occasions.

    Some popular “xôi” versions:

    • Sticky rice colored yellow, topped with fried onion and ground mung beans.
    • White sticky rice with steamed pieces of chicken.
    • Sticky rice mixed with corn.
    • Sticky rice steamed with peanut.
    • Sticky rice with black beans.
    • Sticky rice with mung beans.
    • Sticky rice mixed with lotus seeds.
    • Sticky rice with sliced coconut is sometimes added with sugar and sesame seeds.
    • Sticky Rice with Bright Red Color from Gac fruit.
    "Xôi" with traditional sweet taste
    "Xôi" with meat as main ingredients
  7. Vietnamese “Bánh mì” which was recognized by the Oxford dictionary has topped the Top 20 Must-Try Street Foods Around the World list by the US’s Fodor's Travel with the word “Bánh mì”. It ranks second in a recent story run in Guardian about the World's Best Street Food and written by foodie Richard Johnson. Let’s find out why this popular street food in Vietnam has become so famous to many international guests.

    Originating from a dish in the Western area, the quintessence and unceasing creativity in popular Vietnamese bread have made it identified and strongly marked on the world culinary map. It shares the same core ingredient as a baguette which was brought over to Vietnam during the colonial period with a combination of different culinary cultures. The preparation starts with a light baguette grilled over coals. There are many fillings for this cuisine, but a standard “Bánh mì” consists of a baguette stuffed with meat (perhaps grilled pork, meatballs, or ham), cucumber slices, chili, cilantro, sour pickled carrots and daikon, liver pâté, and a swipe of mayonnaise. The crusty bread, condiments, and meats are all a legacy of French and Chinese colonialism, while cilantro, chili, and pickles reflect the Vietnamese taste with fresh vegetables and bright flavors.

    “Bánh mì” is a term for all types of bread in Vietnamese, but it’s become synonymous with a mouthwatering sandwich that might best be described as a Vietnamese hoagie. A little-known secret is that the world's best sandwich isn't found in Rome, Copenhagen, New York City, or even Paris, but on the streets of Viet Nam.

    It is sold almost exclusively from stalls and vendors. The sandwiches are generally served to go, wrapped in recycled paper with ingredients that can be chosen by customers to suit their favorite. That’s why it can be said that “Bánh mì” is the epitome of street food.

    "Bánh mì" with ham
    Special huge
    Special huge "Bánh mì"
  8. “Bánh xèo” – also known as crispy Vietnamese pancake, crepe, or sizzling cake. It is famous street food in Vietnam. The word “xèo” depicts the sizzling sound of rice batter poured into the hot skillet.

    The distinctive Vietnamese element in these nourishing pancakes is rice flour, which is a combination of water, turmeric, and coconut milk or coconut cream in order to create the thick yellow batter. Additional ingredients, most commonly bean sprouts, shrimps, scallions, and cubed pork or beef, are sautéed before scattering onto the surface of the flour surface. The pancake is pan-fried at a low temperature and gently folded in half, keeping the ingredients safely tucked inside the pancake. The cuisine has a yellow outer layer and is filled with other ingredients inside. Though some people might prefer to use chopsticks to directly eat “bánh xèo”, the best way to enjoy it is eating with your hands. First, take a piece of “bánh xèo” and roll it on the rice paper or in a big piece of green mustard leaf or salad with adding other fresh vegetables. With each bite, don’t forget to dip the roll into the sour-sweet fish sauce which makes an important part of the cuisine consisting of a perfect blend of spices (including fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chili).

    Just take a bite, you will feel its crunchiness, and a little sweetness with the cool taste of vegetables and herbs. The impressive taste of crunchy crust, savory fillings, and sweet and sour dipping sauce will definitely make you fall in love with this cuisine while the herbs help eliminate the greasy taste.

    Cooking "Bánh xèo" with traditional coal cooker
    "Bánh xèo" dish is served with fresh vegetable and sweet sour fish sauce
  9. “Bánh khọt” is a crispy Vietnamese mini pancake among the list of endless delicious Vietnamese snacks and light meals, often eaten as a snack or light meal, and consumed with stacks of green mustard leaf and herbs. Like so many other Vietnamese street food dishes, it’s great social food, something that not only tastes great but is also fun to assemble and eat.

    “Bánh khọt” is made from rice flour, fried with shrimp inside, spreading with shrimp paste sauce. It’s then served with herbs and vegetables and spicy sour sweet fish sauce mixed with sliced green papaya.

    In the preparation of this food, the dough is the most important step. There is a need to choose delicious rice flour while the ingredient must be fresh shrimp, medium size, peeled. The batter is made of a combination of mostly rice flour, and even leftover grains of rice, with a hint of turmeric to give them a beautiful yellow tinge, and mixed together with coconut milk to make it extra creamy and rich. The little mini pancakes are cooked in a special type of griddle. While the Vietnamese “Bánh xèo” is a mega-sized crepe, “bánh khọt” are much smaller in size. And just like “Bánh xèo”, it seems to be a Vietnamese dish that many locals are passionate about and absolutely love to eat.

    The way to eat
    The way to eat "Bánh khọt"
    "Bánh khọt" is cooked on special griddle
  10. This cuisine originated in Huế city, the former capital of Vietnam. The name "bún bò Huế" is to denote its origin. Within Huế and surrounding cities, it is simply called "bún bò". The broth of this soup is prepared by simmering beef bones with lemongrass and then seasoned with fermented shrimp sauce and sugar for taste.

    As its name, beef is the main ingredient of this cuisine. It is also served with thin slices of marinated and boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail, cubes of congealed pig blood, and pig's knuckles as a special type.

    "Bún bò" is commonly served with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, diced green onions, raw sliced onions, thinly sliced banana blossom, red cabbage, mint, basil, perilla, Vietnamese coriander, sawtooth herb, and sometimes mung bean sprouts. Spicy dried chili sauce is added later before eating will make the cuisine tastier. Fish sauce and shrimp sauce are added to the soup according to taste. Ingredients might be varied by region due to their availability.

    It’s not exaggerating to describe "bún bò Huế" as a timeless delicacy that connects the past and the present. Till now, "bún bò Huế" has been among the preferred choices for breakfast in Vietnam.

    "Bún bò Huế" with traditional vegetables
    a special type of
    a special type of "Bún bò Huế"

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