You’re coming to Vietnam – you’ve read about the street food, you’ve heard about the street food, but will you try it? You may be on your way here, telling yourself “Of course I’ll try it!”. But to be honest, upon first arrival, you may become wary of what you’ll actually try. There’s not likely to be a menu in English and it is more unlikely that the staff will speak great English. We’ve come up with 7 reasons to eat street food in Vietnam to help ease your worries!
1. It’s great value.
Street food exemplifies the phrase “bang for your buck”. Most street food ranges from $1-$3 (USD) per dish, and usually the dishes are decent portion sizes. If it’s not up to your standards for a filling meal, why not just get 2 bowls of that scrumptious Bún thịt nướng? Vietnamese street food is a good way to spend (or save) your money. Banh Bao, as seen below, ranges from 5,000-10,000 VND each. They’re a great afternoon snack.
One thing you may find odd is that these street food vendors very rarely accept tips, even if you try to tell them that they’re doing you a favor (that small change gets rather annoying). Make sure to check out our Tips on Tipping to assure you know the best practices.
2. It’s absolutely delicious.
Street food stalls have mastered the art of balancing flavors. Most stalls cook one dish, and so have come to perfect their dish of choice. If you spark up a conversation with a local street food stall owner, you’ll often hear that they learned their cuisine skills from their parents, and their parents learned from their parents (and so on!). Generations of tweaking & perfecting classic recipes have led to many street food stalls being some of the best places to eat in whatever town you may visit. (Example A: Amazing bowl of Mi Quang Noodles.)
3. It’s adventurous.
It may seem intimidating, walking up to a street food stall not knowing any Vietnamese and understanding that they won’t have any sort of menu. However, it’s pretty exciting to order something even if you may not know what it is. Now, you may be wondering – what are these little golden cups? These, my friend, are an amazing snack called Banh Can. A must-try! (Join our Hoi An food tour for the best ones in town.)
4. It’s atmospheric.
Grab a tiny red chair and join in on the fast-paced atmosphere of street food. If you’re looking down a street of stalls and don’t know how to choose one, decide on the stall that has the most people. Since these are the “fast-food restaurants” of Vietnam, there’s a quick turnover time so you won’t be waiting long for your delicious meal.
5. It’s authentic.
This is as authentic as it gets. The people who run these street food stalls put hard work into their food, and spend hours creating the different components of the dishes, from sauces to toppings. They’re proud of their food, as you can see from Madam Khanh- the famous Banh Mi Queen of Hoi An- showing off two of her delicious loaded Banh Mi Sandwiches.
6. It’s fresh.
In most countries, when you think of fast food, the word ‘fresh’ isn’t exactly the first word to come to mind. Vietnam’s version of fast food is super fresh and healthy, apart from the occasional fried treats. There’s no lack of fresh herbs, and the meat is bought fresh that morning at the local market. Portions aren’t overwhelming and it’s common to buy plates that are family-style where you share with your friends, which means you won’t overeat. (Well maybe…)
7. It’s the local way.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. As travel-lovers, we agree that exploring when exploring Vietnam, you should enjoy the local ways! People here are friendly and love to share their culture, and street food is a great place to experience it.
*Travel Tip* Make sure to ask first before taking photos while you’re enjoying street food. Most people will be excited that someone is so intrigued by their food! You may even get a new Facebook friend in the process.