17 Street-Food Snacks You Have to Try in Vietnam

17 Street-Food Snacks You Have to Try in Vietnam

the south’s frenetic Ho Chi Minh City to the urban maze of
Hanoi in the north, the streets of
are paved with snacks. Ordered from vendors across
Vietnam, this street food odyssey reveals the breadth of the
country’s culinary ingenuity.

Bún rieu

Vietnam’s most famous dish is probably pho, but that is merely a
drop in the country’s noodle-soup ocean. For a bowl crammed with
colours look out for bún rieu. Bún means noodles, while rieu refers
to a crab-based broth blended with tomatoes. The noodles are always
fine and round. This particular bowl is made room for chewy chunks
of pork, deep-fried tofu cakes, a spoon of chilli paste and slices
of pickled garlic.

Banh cang gio heo

Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown area is a winding jungle of traffic
and trade, but dishes like banh cang gio heo make it worth
tackling. The sweet, pig-trotter soup swims with tofu pillows, fat
udon noodles and blood curd – just add a splash of fish sauce and

Banh trang nuong

Demonstrating the myriad of culinary ideas that have been
applied to the humble rice grain, banh trang nuong is the result of
grilling rice paper, creating something akin to an incredibly crisp
pancake. A convenient snack for a street market stroll, expect to
find a fried filling of spring onions, minced pork, dried shrimps
and shallots, liberally squirted with sweet soy sauce and

Bánh can

Miniature pancakes each encasing a soft-boiled quail’s egg means
delectable mouthfuls of crispiness layered with silky yolk. Bánh
can are usually served with strips of pickled carrots and turnips,
while these are sitting in a puddle of the country’s omnipresent
dipping sauce of choice, nuoc cham. A watery combination of fish
sauce marinated in lime, sugar, garlic and chilli, nuoc cham is the
grease to Vietnam’s street-food engine.

Bánh cam thit heo

The traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is intractable: the moped
torrent weaves around pedestrians and often floods onto pavements,
but it never, ever stops. In this city of perpetual movement, a
roadside bánh cam thit heo is a good spectator snack. These pork
and quail’s-egg dumplings are deep fried, sprinkled with sesame and
mainly found in Ho Chi Minh City.

Sweet bánh dau phung

Sweet bánh dau phung are popular with the kids who flit around
the technicolour street markets of Hội An. Imagine a pillow made of
batter, filled with a moist mixture of shredded coconut, sugar and
crunchy crushed peanuts.

Banh khot

You may have clocked that the Vietnamese are big fans of
miniature food. Little pancakes, known as banh khot, are crowned
with daubs of coconut cream and pork mince, and eaten wrapped in
rice paper and green leaves. Ask for plenty of nuoc cham for
dipping. While the aforementioned quails’-egg-stuffed banh are
specific to central Vietnam, banh khot is more typical in the
southern Mekong region.

Trung vit lon

Not for the faint-hearted, trung vit lon is a steamed duck egg
containing a semi-formed foetus. You can order them across Vietnam,
sold from trays attached to bicycles or mopeds. Adventurous eaters
will find trung vit lon in other parts of Southeast Asia too – the
Vietnamese prefer to serve theirs with mint leaves, salt, pepper
and lime.

Banh vac

Pretty and poetic, these tapioca dumplings are called banh vac
(white rose.) You’ll find a chunk of steamed pork inside and
they’re typically served with nuoc cham and the crunch of dried
shallot: softness, succulence and crunch in one bite. A signature
of the central Hue region, you might find yourself perched near the
banks of the Perfume River (Song Huong) with some banh vac and a
cold beer, watching the city’s worker bees wind down for the

Cao lau

Another Hue speciality is cao lau, a curious but winning
combination of prawn crackers, soft-boiled quail eggs and a tangle
of yellow and white rice noodles. This texture bundle is drizzled
with sweet soy sauce, but the kicker is a small proportion of soup
at the bottom of the bowl – just enough to pull all the elements

Hao nuong

A city of gleaming beach resorts and hotels, Da Nang’s coastline
is sprinkled with no-frills, open-air restaurants with a mere strip
of sand between the sea and your plate. These grilled oysters (hao
nuong) are topped with spring onions and ground peanuts, lending
the oysters uncommon texture and smoke.

Banh beo

Called banh beo, these canapé-style morsels are particularly
popular in central and southern Vietnam. Blobs of steamed tapioca
are topped with pork crackling, mung beans and shredded crab meat.
Take a spoon, pour a dash of nuoc cham onto the miniature dish,
then swallow in one. Ba Hanh restaurant in Hue spins out these
brilliant examples.

Mi quang

A signature of the Quang Ninh region east of Hanoi, you’re most
likely to find this dish in central or northern Vietnam. Called mi
quang, the bowl is half-filled with a relatively sweet broth, then
topped with roast pork, squares of pork crackling, bean sprouts and

Nem chua

Vietnam’s street food errs on the side of comfort, but for a
flash of sourness seek out the country’s cured sour pork, called
nem chua. In Hanoi, you’ll find vendors and hatches dedicated to
grilled nem chua – Au Trieu road and its alleys are a good place to
start – but this dish, called banh loc nem chua, uses it fresh and
served with shrimp-stuffed steamed tapioca parcels, nuoc cham and a
blob or two of chilli jam.

Goi ga la bap chuoi

The Vietnamese know how to make a mighty salad that actually
satiates hunger – goi ga la bap chuoi is a great example. The main
elements here are banana blossoms and chicken, tossed with peanuts,
mint and dried shallots, ringed with prawn crackers: crunchy,
moist, fresh and full of bite.

Mien loung

A Hanoi speciality, mien loung is a glass-noodle soup combining
bean sprouts, a very light broth and fried eels. Light, chewy and
simply flavoured, this will appeal if you’re suffering from chilli
overload. For a more delicate preparation of eel, pull up a stool
and order marinated strips in a salad or stir-fry instead.

Nem lui

Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas: these grilled pork skewers
have been cooked around sticks of lemon grass, rather than wood,
imbuing the flesh with a layer of complimentary tang. Called nem
lui, it’s served DIY-style with mint and green salad, rice paper
for wrapping a mild dipping sauce of preserved fish and beans.