Your Guide to Vietnamese Street Food: 20 Local Foods Worth Trying

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Vietnamese street food is tasting the real Vietnam with unique differences across regions and cities. 

The north and south of the country are home to some of the most iconic Vietnamese street foods.

While the central region brings a melting pot of flavors in beautifully presented dishes.

Regardless of where you are in the country, street food in Vietnam is enjoyed on the sidewalks, sitting on low plastic stools. 

In this guide, we take you on a journey to discover some of the best Vietnamese street foods we enjoyed. 

Along the way, we share local food, cultural insights, and tips for eating Vietnamese street food safely.

Vietnam has one of the best street food scenes in the world. Sip, slurp, eat and enjoy!

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Table of Contents

What is Vietnamese Street Food?

Vietnamese street food vendor making fried spring rolls by Authentic Food Quest
Making spring rolls a popular street food in Vietnam

Street food in Vietnam is everywhere. Some of the most delicious places to try Vietnamese cuisine is eating on the sidewalks on plastic stools. 

From dawn to dusk and into the night, sidewalks are bustling with mouthwatering and tasty dishes in all directions. 

Piping hot noodles greet you at sunrise while tantalizing aromas from grilled seafood or hotpots fill the evening air.

Street food vendors tend to specialize in only one or two dishes, guaranteeing you perfection in each bite.

Read on for tips to help you dive into the local Vietnamese street food culture. 

Is it Safe to Eat Street Food in Vietnam?

Vietnamese street food Hanoi Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Typical Vietnamese street food scene in Hanoi

Oftentimes, eating street food in Vietnam requires making some adjustments. The standards do not always match what many, especially from western countries expect.

Popular street stalls are crowded and the small plastic stools can be uncomfortable for some.

Garbage on the floor is striking and quite common. It is customary for people to throw napkins or inedible ends of fresh herbs directly on the floor. This comes from an old custom of showing wealth and abundance of the meal. 

At some stalls, it is also a system for the staff to count all the food that has been consumed. Nonetheless, trash on the floor is not necessarily an indication of a dirty restaurant.

The kitchen is on the streets allowing you to see the preparation and choose the stalls that look and smell good.  

Choose stalls that are crowded with locals. A busy stall is an indication of high turnover of food, which is a good sign.

If you are unsure about what to order, choose hot noodle soups and dishes to minimize germs. 

Throughout our travels in Vietnam, we rarely fell ill. We always looked for a good crowd of locals as an indication of fresh and tasty street food. For more tips check our article below.

READ MORE: 10 Tips – How to Eat Local and Safely on The Streets

Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine

Traditional Vietnamese cuisine by Authentic Food Quest
Typical Vietnamese cuisine with herbs, sauces and condiments

Regional Differences

Broadly speaking, Vietnamese cuisine is divided into three categories. Vietnamese food from the north, the central region and the south.

Northern Vietnamese food is shaped by the climate, geography and cultural influences. The flavors tend to be sour and salty and stews like pho are popular.

Cuisine in the south leans towards abundance and diversity and emphasizes a feeling of fullness and satisfaction while eating. The flavors tend to be spicier and sweeter.

The food in central Vietnam is diverse and incorporates seafood and a variety of sauces made from shrimp, fish and seafood due to the coastline.

Many iconic dishes are interpreted differently from region to region. For example, banh xeo or Vietnamese pancakes, a popular Vietnamese street food differs in the south and central regions. 

In the south, the portions are huge, while in the central region, we could easily eat two or three.

As we did, you’ll enjoy discovering the nuances of your favorite street food dishes while traveling through the country.

Fully Eating With the Senses

Visually appealing and incredibly tasty grilled scallops

Generally, Vietnamese cuisine is beautiful to look at with a striking coherence in the dishes used and the colors on the plate and sauces.

Food is prepared on a principle known as “fully eating”, that engages all five senses. Visually, the food and the way it is set up on the table must be appealing. 

There is eating “with the nose”, which means sensing the delicious smells from the broth and the sauces used.

Further, the use of the teeth to “touch” food and perceive the textures from chewy, to soft, crunchy. 

And finally, Vietnamese “eat with their ears” which are sounds made from crunching peanuts, crackers and more.

Eating grilled scallops in Vietnam brought this concept to life for us. Tantalizing aromas of grilled scallops, beautifully presented, with crunchy peanuts increased our love for scallops even further.

As you eat and savor Vietnamese food, pause and appreciate the sensorial engagement.

Vietnamese Cuisine Ingredients

Vietnamese herbs in Hanoi Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Bountiful fresh herbs found on every Vietnamese table

Vietnamese cooking combines a number of ingredients and contrasting flavors and textures. The following are at the core of Vietnamese street food.

Rice is the basis of Vietnamese cuisine. There are several varieties of rice that are used and they vary in taste, texture, color, and aroma. 

Rice is also the basis for products like rice paper, rice noodles, rice wine, rice vinegar and more.

Besides rice, sauces are one of the most important symbols of Vietnamese cuisine. The popular nuoc mam or fish sauce is the most distinctive. In Vietnamese street food, it is used in a similar fashion as soy sauce in Chinese food or salt on western tables.

Herbs also play an important role in bringing out the flavors in dishes. Almost every meal is accompanied by bountiful herbs which are torn, tossed or rolled into soups, noodle dishes, sandwiches or more.

As you enjoy street food in Vietnam, be sure to appreciate the flavors like locals. Soak up the fish sauce and dipping sauces and enjoy the textures and tastes of the fresh herbs.

READ MORE: 5 Authentic Vietnamese Sauces That Will Amaze You

Best Vietnamese Street Food From North To South

The best street food in Vietnam is found all over the country. And depending on where you are you’ll find regional street food dishes as well as interpretations of iconic foods.

From the north to the south of Vietnam, here are some of the most popular street foods including our favorites.

Northern Vietnamese Street Food

1- Pho or Phở – Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Beef pho Soup Hanoi by Authentic Food Quest
Mouthwatering beef pho noodle soup in Hanoi

Pho, considered the national dish of Vietnam, originated in the North. It is the most iconic Vietnam dish and is rich in history and culture.

Pronounced fuhr, pho is traditionally eaten at breakfast, though can be found at any time of the day.  Pho is a heart-warming rice noodle soup in a flavorful broth served with green onions, herbs and vegetables. 

It is most commonly served with tender slices of beef known or pho bo. And, you can also have it with chicken or pho ga.

The flavors of pho vary between depending on where you are in the country. Generally, the flavors from the north are spicier as compared to the sweeter flavors from the south.

As Vietnam’s national dish, savoring pho is not to be missed. Enjoy pho at a street corner. Sit with the locals on a little chair and savor this celebrated Vietnamese soup.

READ MORE: The Best Pho You Want To Slurp On in Vietnam

2- Bun Cha or Bún Chả – Barbecue Pork with Rice Vermicelli

Bun Cha Meal in Hanoi Authentic Food Quest
Bún chả meal with noodles, herbs and nem

Bun Cha, one of our favorite Vietnamese dishes is a local specialty from Hanoi. Already a popular Vietnamese street food, it was propelled to international fame when Anthony Bourdain and Obama ate bún chả in Hanoi.

Bun or bún are rice vermicelli noodles. And, cha or chả, is the meat which is grilled pork patties and slices of caramelized pork belly served in a bowl of broth. 

The rice noodles are usually served in a separate bowl and everything is accompanied with fresh vegetables and herbs. Alongside is a dipping sauce made with vinegar, lime, sugar, garlic, chili and the famous Vietnamese fish sauce.

While similar varieties to bún chả can be found throughout Vietnam, the original bun cha Hanoi is the most famous. 

Sizzling pork cooking on a charcoal grill and the sounds of chomping mouths is an indication of a good bun cha eatery.

3 – Banh Cuon or Bánh Cuốn – Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls

Banh cuon Vietnamese steamed rice rolls by Authentic Food Quest
Light and flavorful banh cuon or Vietnamese steamed rice rolls

Banh cuon is a traditional and popular street food in Vietnam. It is a northern Vietnamese street food specialty typically eaten for breakfast.

A light dish, it is made from a thin sheet of rice paper, stuffed with ground pork and stir-fried chopped mushrooms. It is typically topped with dried onions, pork floss or pork sausage slices.

The most important part of the dish is the dipping sauce. Fish sauce along with a drop of cà cuống  (giant water bug) bring the flavors to life.

Bánh cuốn is widely available at street food stalls. The rolls are typically made to order and the preparation process is quite fascinating. 

Choose a table where you can watch your bánh cuốn rolls being made and enjoy this visually attractive and tasty Vietnamese street food.

4 – Xôi Xéo or Xoi Xeo – Sticky Rice with Mung Beans

Xoi Xeo stick rice Vietnamese street food by Authentic Food Quest
Simple and delicious Xoi Xeo with glutinous rice

Xoi Xeo is a classic Hanoi dish typically eaten for breakfast. It is made with glutinous rice, mung beans and the yellow color comes from the use of turmeric powder.

This street food in Vietnam is found at every market or street corner in the early morning. Typically, a vendor carries xoi xeo in a bamboo basket either on their shoulders or on a motorcycle. 

Our first experience with Vietnamese sticky rice was coming from an early morning run. Intrigued by a continuous queue of locals stopping at a vendor, we took our place in line to try it too. 

Served on a banana leaf, we enjoyed a warm portion of sticky rice served with fried shallots.  Xoi xeo can also be found with additional toppings such as chicken, pork or fermented eggs. 

Loved by all, xoi xeo is a must-try and a unique part of Hanoi’s local food culture worth savoring.

5- Bún Riêu or Bun Rieu – Crab Noodle Soup

Bun rieu crab noodle soup Vietnamese street food by Authentic Food Quest
Bún riêu crab noodle soup, one of the most popular Vietnamese street foods

Bun Rieu is a Hanoi top noodle dish not to be missed. While it’s origins are from northern Vietnam, you can find it across the country with several variations.

The most common version is bún riêu cua which is with crab. The crabs are harvested from the rice paddy fields and used as the hero of this Vietnamese food. The broth, a tomato based sauce adds tart and natural sweetness to the flavors.

Everything is paired together with rice vermicelli noodles, pieces of meat, tofu puff, and crab paste along with a heaping pile of fresh raw vegetables and herbs.

This hearty crab noodle soup is one of Vietnam’s top noodle soups and popular street food. The sweet and sour flavors are distinctive and to be missed. 

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Authentic Food in Hanoi You Must Eat

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Taking a cooking class is a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of Vietnamese street food. From the comfort of your home kitchen, learn to make pho, bun cha, or create the best banh mi sandwich with a Vietnamese chef.  Online via Skype get personalized step by step instructions as you create delicious Vietnamese street food from scratch. Over a 2.5 hour period, you will master the dish and can recreate the dish again with your personalized recipe. Transport yourself to Vietnam with an online Vietnamese cooking class.

Central Vietnamese Street Food

6- Bún Bò Huế or Bun Bo Hue – Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue Spicy Beef Noodle Soup Hue Cuisine by Authentic Food Quest
A hearty and pretty amazing bowl of Bun Bo with the accompaniments

Bún Bò Huế, from the city of Hue in central Vietnam is a bold and spicy dish. This soup rivals pho in Vietnam and it is described as the “soul of Hue cuisine.”

This noodle soup layered with flavor has beef, pork, and congealed pig’s blood swimming in a beef and lemongrass broth. 

An array of fresh Vietnamese herbs like bean sprouts, scallions, banana flower and lime wedges and chilis complete the meal. 

This spicy beef and noodle soup is one of our favorites. It is flavorful both in taste and aromas. Incredibly popular in Vietnam, Bun Bo Hue was also described as the “greatest soup in the world”, by Anthony Bourdain.

In Hue, this noodle soup is usually served in the morning for breakfast. You’ll find it easily at local eateries and at street vendors. 

One thing to note is this noodle soup is called Bun Bo in the city of Hue and Bun Bo Hue everywhere else.

A tasty experience, this is one of the best Vietnamese street foods to savor.

7- Banh Trang Nuong or Bánh Tráng Nướng  Vietnamese Pizza

Banh Trang Nuong Vietnamese Pizza by Authentic Food Quest
Folded crispy rice paper Vietnamese pizza

Banh trang nuong also known as Vietnamese pizza is one of the most popular street food sensations.

Particularly popular amongst Vietnamese students, this simple pizza combines an array of savory toppings on crispy rice paper.

While originally from Dalat this Vietnamese pizza can be found all over the country. Depending on the region, the toppings used vary. 

Most commonly, banh trang nuong is topped with pate, quail eggs, dried pork or beef, shallots and more.  

To finish, the Vietnamese pizza is drizzled with mayonnaise and sriracha sauce for wonderful sweet and spicy flavors.

The key to an exceptional Vietnamese pizza is the grilled rice paper which adds a crispy finish.

As you seek out this street food in Vietnam, look for the versions with more local ingredients. 

Skip the Vietnamese pizza versions with cheese or chicken which are designed to cater to foreign tastes.

READ MORE: How to Make Vietnamese Pizza – Best Street Food Recipe

8- Mi Quang Mì Quảng or Mi Quang – Quang Style Noodles

Mi Quang noodles Danang by Authentic Food Quest
Highly recommended part soup, part salad mi quang noodle dish

Mi Quang or Mì Quảng is a Vietnamese noodle dish from Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam.

It is the most celebrated dish in Danang and a popular choice at local eateries or from street food vendors.

Part soup and part salad, the mi quang consists of flat rice noodles, pork, chicken or shrimp in a flavorful broth. And, everything tossed together with Vietnamese herbs and topped with roasted peanuts, rice crackers and chili.

A classic Vietnamese food, mi quang is traditionally eaten at breakfast but can be found at any time of the day. 

Every street food vendor, home chef and restaurant makes this popular Vietnamese food a little differently.  

You’ll find several places to enjoy mi quang and we highly recommend this must eat dish in central Vietnam.

9 – Bò Né or Bo Ne – Vietnamese Steak and Eggs

Bo Ne Vietnam Authentic Food Quest Food Travel experiences
Bo Ne in Da Nang, Vietnam

Bo ne, a popular Vietnamese street food can be described as Vietnam’s version of steak and eggs. 

A common dish for breakfast especially in the central region, this hearty street food in Vietnam  was one of our favorites.

Bo ne engages all your senses. It looks good, tastes amazing and the sounds from the sizzling hot plate it is served on are captivating.

On a hot iron plate, you are served a combination of beef steak, meatball, pate, an egg topped with fresh herbs. A Vietnamese baguette and a bowl of broth are served alongside.

To enjoy this hearty breakfast break the bread apart and eat it together with the meats and egg. Let the pâté goodness and runny yolk moisten the bread as you fill your stomach up to start the day right.

As one of our best Vietnamese street foods for breakfast, we recommend joining locals at a street vendor.

Watch the morning unfold as you savor this multi-sensory experience.

READ MORE: Top 17 Authentic Food in Danang You Want To Have

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10 – Nem Lụi Huế or Nem Lui Hue – Hue Lemongrass Skewers

Nem Lui Hue Lemongrass Pork Skewers by Authentic Food Quest for Hue Food
Savory and tasty lemongrass pork skewers

One of the best traditional Hue foods, Nem Lui or lemongrass flavored pork skewers are not to be missed. 

What makes nem lui pork skewers so popular is their distinctive taste and preparation style.  Minced pork marinated in shallots, fish sauce, pepper, and other herbs are wrapped around fresh lemongrass skewers and grilled over coals.

Once they are slightly charred they are served with a special Hue sauce. This sauce has fish sauce, crushed pork and peanuts with each vendor adding their own special touch.

The combination of the lemongrass skewers and the special sauce is what makes new lui a sought after street food in Vietnam. 

In addition to nem lui skewers, the dish also comes with fresh Vietnamese herbs and rice paper.

Wrap the skewers into the rice paper and make spring rolls and savor the flavors with the exceptional Hue sauce.

11 – Banh Beo or Bánh Bèo – Vietnamese Steamed Water Fern Rice Cakes

Bahn Beo Vietnamese Steamed Water Fern Rice Cakes by Authentic Food Quest
Sophisticated and incredibly flavorful Banh Beo with Vietnamese fish sauce

Banh Beo is a signature dish from Hue, in Central Vietnam. They are steamed rice cakes also known as “water fern cakes.”

A popular street food, they are eaten as a snack and one of our personal favorites in Vietnam’s central region.

Traditionally, banh beo is made by combining rice and tapioca flour in small ceramic sauces and then steaming them. These delicate rice cakes are then topped with dried shrimps, crispy pork belly strips, scallion oil and a dipping sauce. 

To go along with these delicate cakes, Vietnamese fish sauce is served alongside.

While Hue is the birthplace of banh beo, you’ll find variations in Danang, which are slightly thicker and use a different sauce. Ho Chi Minh City also has a variation of this popular Vietnamese snack food.

In Central Vietnam, banh beo is sold by many street vendors. However, the most popular ones are the ones that specialize in making only banh beo.

Once a plastic stool becomes available at a banh beo food stall, grab a seat and enjoy this street food delicacy from Hue.

READ MORE: A Guide To The Best Hue Food & Authentic Restaurants

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you’re traveling to Vietnam, get to intimately know the street food in Hanoi with a local guide. On an early morning Hanoi food tour, leave the touristy trail and watch the city come to life with a local Hanoi chef. Visit four food markets, as you learn the history, culture, and ingredients. Book your Hanoi food tour.

Southern Street Food in Vietnam

12- Banh Mi or Bánh Mì – Vietnamese Sandwich

Banh Mi from Banh Mi Queen by Authentic Food Quest
Juicy banh mi Vietnamese sandwich from Banh Mi Queen, Hoi An

The banh mi sandwich is Vietnam’s most iconic sandwich that has consistently ranked among the top sandwiches in the world.

This banh mi Vietnamese sandwich with French influences can be found throughout the country.  

Ho Chi Minh City is said to be the birthplace of the bánh mì sandwich. Though our personal favorite banh mi sandwiches are from central Vietnam.

Banh mi which means bread in Vietnamese is an easy to eat street food sensation. To make banh mi, the Vietnamese baguette is stuffed with pork, pâté and a variety of cold cuts. 

Fresh Vietnamese herbs and vegetables are added. And, all the delightful flavors come together with a delicious sweet, spicy and sour flavored sauce.

Throughout Vietnam, street food vendors and local restaurants make their own unique interpretation of this beloved sandwich.

As one of our best Vietnamese street foods, join locals waiting at a bánh mì vendor and discover the nuances of this famous sandwich.

READ MORE: Banh Mi – The Best Vietnamese Sandwich To Fall in Love With

13- Com Tam or Cơm Tấm – Broken Rice

Broken rice with egg com tam trung Authentic Food Quest
Classic plate of com tam or broken rice street food with egg in Vietnam

In the capital city of Ho Chi Minh City, com tam is considered the city’s dish. Com tam or broken rice is also referred to as “Cơm Tấm Sài Gòn”.

A popular street food in Vietnam, com tam is a much loved dish with humble beginnings. The name, com tam, means broken rice in reference to damaged grains during harvesting transportation or milling. 

The history of broken rice is said to have begun with poor rice farmers in the Mekong Delta. The farmers started eating the broken rice grains because they could not sell them.

They developed a taste for it and later opened com tam stalls all over Saigon. Today, broken rice is often preferred for its texture and com tam stalls can be found all over Vietnam.

Broken rice is usually served with grilled pork chop or “sườn nướng”, shredded pork skin, or egg. The most popular is pork slowly cooked over a charcoal grill.

Alongside, sliced tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers and a dipping fish sauce complete the dish.

A much loved Vietnamese street food, the richness of this simple dish comes from the preparation and tenderness of the grilled pork. 

Caramelized pork flavors eaten together with tender rice and the accompanying sauce, is absolutely divine. 

Street food vendors all over Saigon, reflect the popularity of this dish. No matter the time of day, com tam is always available. 

As the best Vietnamese street food in the capital, it should be experienced, multiple times over.

RECIPE: Best Authentic Vietnamese Broken Rice Com Tam Recipe with Grilled Pork

14 – Hu Tieu or Hủ Tiếu – Rice Noodle Dish With Chinese, Cambodia and Vietnamese Influences

Hu Tieu food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Wet version of Hu Tieu, a typical street food for breakfast in Saigon

Hu tieu is hugely popular in the southern part of Vietnam. Typically eaten at breakfast, it consists of thin white noodles made out of rice flour in a pork based broth, sweetened with cane sugar.

The toppings are varied and include minced pork, pieces of pork, shrimp, quail eggs, and greens.

This specialty dish originated in Cambodia with influences from Chinese traders. It was later introduced by Cambodian immigrants to Vietnam in the 1960s.

In Cambodia, the dish is known as kuy teav and is the pride of Phnom Penh. In the Vietnamese, language, it is known as hu tieu, and Nam Vang, which is Vietnamese for Phnom Penh, is added to the name.

Hu tieu Nam Vang in a pork based broth topped with ground pork and pork slices is the classic version. Though you can also have hu tieu served with shrimp and crab or fish.

However, there are two main styles for serving hu tieu. You can have it “wet” or a soup version which is known as hủ tiếu nuoc

The dry hu tieu known as hủ tiếu kho, broth and ingredients separately, allowing for the full intensity of flavors.

While we enjoyed both versions, we preferred the intermingling of flavors in the wet version. 

Regardless of how you choose to have it, don’t miss out on one of the best breakfast foods in Vietnam.

READ MORE: A Guide to The Best Food in Saigon – 15 Local Foods Not To Miss

15 – Bánh Xèo or Banh Xeo – Vietnamese Sizzling Cake

Banh Xeo Food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Extra large Saigon-style banh xeo

Banh Xeo, a fascinatingly simple yet appetizing dish is one of the most famous street foods in Vietnam.

Irresistible, banh xeo is a thin savory crepe made from rice flour stuffed with pork, shrimps, hulled mung beans and bean sprouts. It is also known as a crispy Vietnamese pancake, crepe or sizzling cake.

The word xèo describes the sizzling sound made when the batter is poured onto the hot skillet.

These savory crepes can be found at street corners all the way to upscale restaurants with regional differences.

In Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnam, the banh xeo pancakes are large and flamboyant. The turmeric infused rice flour, liberal use of coconut milk, grilled shrimp, pork, bean sprouts stuffing make it so famous. 

Alongside, is a heap of fresh Vietnamese greens and the signature “nuoc mam”, fish based dipping sauce. 

In fact, Anthony Bourdain described banh xeo from Banh Xeo 46A food vendor as “a wonderful mutation of the classics”, referring to the French crepe.

In Central Vietnam, the banh xeo crepes are much smaller and the filling differs by region. Fresh herbs and vegetables accompany the crepes, along with a sweet sour fish sauce with anchovy paste.

While the origins are unclear, these banh xeo sizzling pancakes are a popular street food in Vietnam to have.

16 – Chả Giò or Cha Gio – Fried Vietnamese Egg Rolls

Vietnamese dipping sauce for spring rolls by Authentic Food Quest
Lightly fried Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce

Fried spring rolls are called cha gio in Vietnam while they go by nem ran in the north.

They can be found all over the country and can be eaten as a full serving or an accompaniment to a main dish.

The egg rolls filling typically includes ground pork or shrimp, chopped carrots, taro, mushroom and thin rice vermicelli noodles.

Holding the filling together is the use of rice paper, which is different from wheat paper used in a Chinese spring roll.

When fried, the rice paper Vietnamese spring rolls bubbles up and they don’t look perfectly golden brown. What they lack for visual appeal is made up in crispy and delicious goodness.

Chả giò are best enjoyed when dipped into a nuoc mam cham, a Vietnamese fish dipping sauce.

Rice paper wrappers are also used in fresh Vietnamese spring rolls also called summer rolls.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Learn to make authentic Vietnamese street food at home with the Lemongrass, Ginger and Mint Vietnamese Cookbook by Linh Nguyen. The easy to follow recipes along with personal stories will transport you to Vietnam with every bite. 

Vietnamese Street Food Desserts and Drinks

Desserts in Vietnam are generally eaten separately from meals and enjoyed at any time of the day. It could be in the middle of the afternoon, late at night, usually at a popular street food vendor. 

There are numerous types of desserts. From fresh or candied fruits, sweet bean soups eaten hot or cold, and a myriad of sweet cakes.

Traditional Vietnamese drinks can be bought and enjoyed on the streets of Vietnam. Of the many available, here are classic local drinks worth trying.

On your Vietnamese travels, savor the range of unique flavors and textures in the drinks and desserts.

17 – Che or Chè – Vietnamese Sweet Soups

Che Vietnamese dessert in the street of Hanoi by Authentic Food Quest
Refreshing chè on the streets of Hanoi

Che or Chè in Vietnamese means desserts. It is the word for traditional Vietnamese desserts and also Vietnamese sweet soups. 

Like Vietnamese street food, desserts in Vietnam are also enjoyed on the sidewalks at street side stalls. 

Che desserts are typically made with several ingredients ranging from beans, bananas, ginger, coconut milk, corn, pandan jelly and more. 

Depending on the season, you have che served over crushed ice or as a warm sweet soup.  

One of our favorite che desserts is known as che ba mau or three color dessert. It is simple to make and the recipe calls for  mung beans, red bean paste, pandan jelly and coconut milk over crushed ice. 

Dessert food stalls are popular and are worth trying on your trip to Vietnam.

READ MORE: The 14 Most Delightful Vietnamese Desserts To Indulge In

18- Nuoc Mia or Nước Mía – Sugar Cane Juice

Nuoc Mia Sugar Cane Juice in Saigon Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Freshly made sugar cane juice on the streets of Saigon

Fresh sugar cane juice or nước mía is a must try in Vietnam. With the hot temperatures, sugar cane juice is a popular refreshing drink.

Vietnam is a top producer of sugarcane and that is why the juice is so popular. On the hot and sweltering days, sugar cane vendors are hard to miss.

Small brightly colored street carts with a “Nuoc Mia” sign can be found all over.  The juice is made by crushing sugar cane stalks in a machine and squeezing all the juice out. 

It is served over ice in a plastic bag or cup and is surprisingly not very sweet. Besides being an invigorating drink, sugar cane juice has several health benefits including, boosting energy, improving digestion, and more.

While technically not a Vietnam street food, sipping on freshly made sugar cane juice is an experience you must try.

19 – Cafe da or Cà Phê Dá  – Vietnamese Coffee

Rosemary and Claire at a Saigon coffee shop in Vietnam by Authentic Food Quest
Rosemary and Claire working and sipping on Vietnamese coffee at a Saigon coffee shop

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by the French in the mid 1880s. And today, the country is the second largest coffee producer in the world.

The coffee culture is deeply ingrained and coffee shops are abundant throughout the country. Most of Vietnam’s coffee is robusta, which is strong and dark. There are many different kinds of coffee consumed, from very strong to ones with concentrated milk 

In northern Vietnam, Vietnamese egg coffee, which is a dark coffee with egg yolk is very popular. 

The most traditional coffee is cafe da or cà phê đá which is Vietnamese black coffee made in a metal drip filter known as “phin.”  

Since Vietnamese coffee is very strong, it is traditionally mixed with condensed milk and consumed as cà phê sữa đá.

What makes it so unique is the bold roasted coffee, dripped through a Vietnamese coffee filter and then mixed with condensed milk.

Ca phe sua da is usually served over ice for a Vietnamese iced coffee. For an authentic Vietnamese coffee experience, look for a street food vendor selling coffee. 

Alternatively, you can also enjoy traditional Vietnamese coffee at local chains like Trung Nguyên Coffee or Highlands Coffee.

Trung Nguyen coffee is also available on Amazon, if you would like to try it at home. 

20- Vietnamese Beer

BiaHoi_FoodinVietnam_Authenticfoodquest
Enjoy roasted peanuts and a fresh beer Bia Hoi

Vietnam has a strong beer culture with most of the consumption taking place after work, before meals or at cafes and bars.

Bia Hoi, in the north of the country is known as Vietamese street beer.  The name roughly translates to “fresh beer” and it is best consumed within 24 hours before it spoils.

If your travels take you to northern Vietnam, enjoy Bia Hoi at a cafe with locals over peanuts. It is a light lager and the unique street beer culture is not to be missed.

Across the country, Vietnamese beers are generally light low in alcohol content and easy to drink on hot days. 

There are several regional beers. In Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon beers like Saigon Export, Bia Saigon and Saigon Special dominate. In central Vietnam, light beers like La Rue and Huda beer are popular.

In recent years, the craft beer market has been booming. There are growing craft beer breweries all over the country with Saigon being the most progressive. Find unusual flavors made with passion fruit, jasmine, kumquat and more.

Drinking local beers goes with the experience of street food in Vietnam. Indulge and explore the unusual flavors.

READ MORE: How to Delight in Southeast Asian Beers

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20 comments

  1. I’ve not tried much Vietnamese food but what I tried was yummy. The grilled scallops sound great I do love scallops.

    Reply
  2. I have tried eating Pho in a Vietnamese restaurant here and I really enjoyed it. The broth is so flavorful, I had two bowls of them! I would want to try the Bun Cha next time. Barbequed pork is always a winner!

    Reply
  3. Reading this post is making me hungry :). Everything looks and sound incredible. I hope to visit someday to taste this amazing food.

    Reply
  4. I must admit until now the only Vietnamese food I have heard of was pho and now I know how to pronounce it. When I am in a new place I like to meet the people and eat the native food if it is safe

    Reply
    • The great news with Vietnamese cuisine is that it is available in many countries and cities around the world. Look for a restaurant in your area and try more options. So much good food and unique flavors. Thanks, Melissa, for stopping by.

      Reply

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