Short Guide to Vietnamese Street Food

A few years ago, I spent several weeks travelling across beautiful Vietnam and I still vividly remember years later the tastes and smells of the incredible Vietnamese street food. Vietnamese cuisine is very diverse, healthy and it is in my opinion truly delicious. I love street food – it’s a real experience. You get to see it get cooked, it’s fresh, it’s made from local ingredients and it’s authentic. It is also very affordable, which is great as it means you can try many different foods without overspending. Let me tell you about some of my favourite dishes.

Pho or Vietnamese Soup

Pho is an aromatic beef, or sometimes chicken, broth served with rice noodles, meat, herbs, bean sprouts, chilli and lime. The broth is fragrant with a complex taste, the herbs are fresh, and the meat is tender. It’s a very filling dish and it is usually served in generous portions. Although Pho is a breakfast food, you’ll find it available throughout the day. A bowl of Pho costs between 30,000 and 70,000 VND ($1.30 – $3.10).

Gỏi Cuốn or Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Gỏi cuốn, also known as nem cuốn, is a traditional Vietnamese spring roll made of shrimps, pork, vermicelli rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs wrapped in rice paper. These spring rolls are served at room temperature with a side of peanut, fish or chilli sauce. Some places will offer you an option of serving you the individual ingredients and let you roll your own gỏi cuốn, which I highly recommend as it’s a lot of fun.

A deep-fried variant of the spring roll, called the Chả giò or Nem rán, is equally delicious and also worth a taste.

Bánh Mì or Vietnamese Subs

Bánh mì are a type of Vietnamese sandwich, made from a small baguette stuffed with many different ingredients. Classic fillings include cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, chilli, coriander, mayonnaise and pâté, but these days you’ll just as easily find bánh mì filled with French fries, hot dogs, eggs, doner kebab meat or pork meatballs. To see just how varied the bánh mì fillings are seen in this article.

Cá Kho Tộ or Caramelised and Braised Fish

Cá Kho Tộ is a Vietnamese street food dish consisting of a caramelised and braised catfish cooked in a clay pot. The dish is very aromatic, and you will likely be able to smell it much sooner than you find the street vendor selling it. The clay pot in which the fish is served will keep your food hot and allow you to savour the flavour.

Chè Ba Mau or the Three Colour Dessert

Chè Ba Mau is a layered dessert served in a glass. It is made from yellow mung bean paste, green pandan jelly and red kidney beans topped with sweetened coconut milk and ice. This colourful dessert looks fantastic and it is very refreshing, especially on a hot sunny day in Vietnam. A glass will cost you less than a dollar (20,000 VND).

Have you ever tried any Vietnamese street food? What is your favourite dish? Please share with us in the comments.

About the Author

Aleks Kaye completed a blended CELTA course while working full-time in Student Support at a university in the UK. She is currently spending a year in Canada with her husband David. You can read about their adventures at