Travelers should never have to ask the question of “what to eat in Saigon” because this is a true street food paradise! Ready for the second adventure to satisfy your taste buds with scrumptious Ho Chi Minh City street food? This time we’ll try out bun dishes.
No less popular than bánh in Vietnam cuisine spectrum, bun has its own attraction with varieties of shapes and each of them has unique flavor. Bun is rice vermicelli made from rice flour and shaped into tiny round strands. Let’s check out the list to find your favorite one!
1. Bun bo Hue
Served with chili and lemongrass to bring up the signature spicy flavours of the central regions, the broth is cooked with thick cuts of meat, with paprika and fermented shrimp paste to add flavor and color. It has origin from Hue – ancient capital of Vietnam. With rich history, this dish has got both locals and travelers priorities over other choices.
Though this is a specialty in the central, it creates no less a sensation in the South. The flavor is sweeter but people still keep its original taste. A signature thing about Vietnam cuisine is that though there are variations, people will always keep the essence. A combination of sweetness, sour, and that fragrance of beef and shrimp all blend in together. So there is no doubt when bun bo hue appeared on the list of top 50 most delicious dishes in the world.
2. Bun cha Hanoi
Grilled pork patties and pork belly are served with a bowl of flavorful sauce with slices of carrots and papaya. A platter full of herbs and a plate of rice noodles accompany this local and visitor favorite. Originated from the North of Vietnam, hence the name, this dish has become a fan-favourite for many Southerners. You can find bun cha Ha Noi on Thai Van Lung st. and Vo Tri Phuong st. in Distric 1, or Vo Van Tan st. in Distric 3. But Ho Chi Minh street food is nice that you can always try your luck and walk into any alleys to find authentic tastes in hiding.
One fun part about Vietnam cuisine is learning how to eat. You might feel overwhelmed when they bring out the entire platter: a bowl of pork and fish sauce, a smaller bowl of pickled carrots and white radishes, a dish of vermicelli noodles, and a big basket of veggies. You want to pick up a lettuce leaf, then take a little bit of everything else, wrap them all up and dip in the fish sauce. Finally, enjoy the crunchy-ness of the herbs, the soft texture of the meat, and that incredible fish sauce of sweet, sour, and salty flavours.
3. Bun Rieu Cua
This incredible rich crab and tomato soup has a lot of ingredients served in a bowl including tofu, blood cake, Vietnamese sausage, a garden of fresh herbs & vegetables. Back in the old days, you’ll find locals carrying baskets on their shoulders with a steaming hot pot on one side and the other filled with tasty side dishes. Now, it is less common, but you can still try out your luck in the local markets.
4. Bun Thit Nuong
A common favorite both for locals and visitors, this dish is made of cold noodles with grilled marinated pork, a bunch of fresh herbs, peanuts, bean sprouts, pickled cucumber and carrots, chili sauced with a special nước chấm. The taste of the dipping sauce is different for every restaurant, but the main flavors are still citric, salty, and sweet.
To enjoy, take off the meat from the skews, drizzle some of the fish sauce, but not too much because it can get very salty, then mix them up!
5. Hu tieu
Also served with a platter of raw vegetables, hu tieu is a Chinese-style flat noodle soup served with pork, sometimes prawns, quail eggs, or squid depending on the seller. There are many types of hu tieu. You can try dried hu tiu, which the bowl of noodles and other accessory elements are served in one bowl while the broth is poured into a separate one. The way to eat this is to put some lemon, or lime juice in the noodles bowl and stir them up, while occasionally sip on the soup from the other bowl. Then there is also stir-fried hu tiu, but it is much less common then the other types.
Hu tiu is the true king of Saigon street food. You’ll find the local wheeling the carts and stop at any parts of the city to sell it. So, it won’t be hard to find a place to enjoy.
Other Ho Chi Minh City street food dishes
1. Bo Kho (Beef stew)
Spicy beef stew uniquely cooked with lemongrass, star anise, cardamom served with noodles or banh mi (Vietnamese bread). This dish is suitable for people who prefer strong flavor.
2. Com tam (Broken Rice)
For rice lovers, you can try this big scoop of broken rice topped with pork marinated in lemongrass, spices, fried egg, pickles and other ingredients. Saigonese is big fan of Com tam. Several vendors sell Com tam from mini stores to luxury restaurants and people can find it regardless day or night.
3. Bap Xao (Stir-fired corns)
This cup full of fresh corn fried with butter and dried shrimp is a common afternoon snack that you can find from food stalls.
4. Ban Trang Tron (Rice papers mix)
A favorite for younger locals and even with adults who like the taste of a salad-style mixed ingredients including dried rice paper cut into strips, chili powder, fresh rau mam (Vietnamese coriander), hard boiled quail eggs, stripped green mango with a squeeze of Vietnamese calamansi to be eaten using skewers or chopsticks.
5. Hot Vit Lon (Balut)
You eat this soft-boiled fetal duck egg with essential condiments including lemons, salt and herbs. Eating hot vit lon makes foreigners feel creepy and struggled but in general it was still just an egg!
Where you can find these special snacks of Vietnam cuisine?
Check out the famous Turtle Lake, from dust to dawn, you’ll see people selling all sorts of Ho Chi Minh City street food. Plus, many locals usually gather around this area to hang out so it is also a good place to get to know the people of Vietnam. They’ll even guide you through what to eat in Saigon with great detail.
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Hi!!! My name is Khue. I've been living in Ho Chi Minh City for 5 years now. If you really would love to enjoy a lovely city, do not hesitate…Learn more