Eat Like A Local Best Street Food Places In Saigon, Vietnam

With every delectable bite, you'll savour the essence of Saigon's profound culinary legacy, a testament to its vibrant gastronomic heritage
Food stalls and vendors inside Ben Thanh market
Food stalls and vendors inside Ben Thanh market

Saigon, Vietnam, is a street food lover's paradise. The city is teeming with enticing culinary gems tucked away in its bustling streets. From fragrant banh mi sandwiches to steaming bowls of pho, Saigon's street food scene offers a diverse and tantalizing array of flavours. Whether wandering through local markets or exploring hidden alleyways, you'll stumble upon mouthwatering delicacies like banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) and hu tieu (noodle soup). With each bite, you'll be transported into a world of vibrant spices and bold combinations that showcase the rich culinary heritage of Saigon.

Banh Beo

Banh beo (literally "water fern cake") is part of the cuisine from central Vietnam, which are small round discs of rice flour formed to look like lily flower pads found in the estates surrounding the old imperial city of Hue. Topped with crunchy pork rinds and toasted shrimp powder and served with fish sauce, they are a very rewarding dish to share as they usually come in multiples of 8 or 10.

Banh Da Xuc Hen 

Banh da xuc hen is a satisfying snack. A large rice paper crisp with hints of sesame and coconut arrives on a plate. It looks bare, but then you lift the rice cracker and peek underneath, finding a pile of tiny clams fried in lemongrass, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), chilli, onion and garlic. It is a simple dish in terms of ingredients with a great taste. If you want a heavier version of this plate, opt for the com hen, rice topped with the same type of clams and served with a small bowl of clam broth on the side.

Banh Canh Cua

Banh canh noodles are Vietnam's version of udon, a thicker noodle made with either tapioca flour, rice flour, or a combination. The cua in this soup is crab, and the result is a dense crab soup with thick noodles&mdashnot for those who shrink from goopy foods. Thickened with tapioca flour (and thus gluten-free), it's a satisfying meal for those who like their food consistency to be adventurous and a delicious bowl with chillies, green onions, and fresh lime on top.

Banh Cuon

Steamed rice crepes filled with wood ear mushrooms and ground pork, often seasoned with white pepper, banh cuon are an excellent breakfast meal that covers all bases. It's filling but not heavy, peppery, but not too spicy. The dish translates to "rolled cake" and originated up North but is prevalent throughout Saigon. Each bite can be dipped into a sweet fish sauce with as much chilli as possible.

Bot Chien

A greasy favourite, bot chien involves rice flour cakes that are chopped into chunky squares and then fried in a large flat pan with whipped eggs and green onions. For those familiar with Singapore food, it's reminiscent of chai tow kueh but with rice instead of radish. It's served when crispy, with sweet rice vinegar, soy sauce concoction, and some shredded pickled young papaya to cool down the dish. 

Bun Bo Hue

Bun bo Hue is made with lemongrass and chilli, its broth both citrusy and strong, laden with thick cuts of meat. Paprika or anatto oil render the broth its fiery orange colour, and fermented shrimp paste lends a complicated layer of taste, one my Western palate needed to be acquainted with before trying the soup. 

Bun Mam

Bun Mam is a delightful Vietnamese dish that combines the flavours of fermented fish broth, rice vermicelli noodles, tender pork, shrimp, and an array of fresh herbs and vegetables. Its complex and rich taste is both savoury and slightly sweet, making it a must-try for lovers of Vietnamese cuisine.

Bun Moc

Broth aside, the soup's fun lies in its accoutrements&mdashslices of cha lua (a pork meatloaf coated in a cinnamon outer layer), slices of thin pork meat, and meatballs made of pork. Despite being a pork festival, it's quite light, and the thin rice noodles complement the meat well. The soup is topped with fried shallots and fresh cilantro. 

Cover photo credit Shutterstock

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