Vietnam is the food capital of Southeast Asia. Period. The street food is king and the prices are unbeatable. Here are a few highlights of different places that’ll fill the belly without breaking the bank.
Ho Chi Minh City
Cô Giang Street Food
The road is lined with carts serving all the street food you could possibly desire at prices that might be the cheapest in the area. A personal favorite is bo la lot, the charcoal-grilled leaf-wrapped beef meatballs served with a tray of vegetables, rice paper, dips, and occasionally noodles.
Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa
Not a clue what went into this banh mi but I enjoyed every second of it. Makes perfect sense why there’s a line of locals out the door. Don’t think, just order one and dive in.
Quán cơm chay Âu Lạc 2
Inexpensive, enjoyable vegetarian food; the joys of going to a Vietnamese buffet-style restaurant without having to worry about what part of what animal you’re eating. Looks interesting? Throw it on there.
Madam Khanh – “Banh Mi Queen”
Oh Madam Khanh, how I wish you were my grandmother so you could cook for me all the time. Without trying to hype anything up, this was my favorite thing I’ve eaten in four months of traveling Southeast Asia. Only went twice, but had to actively stop myself from going more. Will leave it at that.
With overpriced coffee galore in the Ancient Town, Rosie’s was a nice change of pace on a side street away from the madness.
Dong Ba Market Street Food
As a rule of thumb when you see a street food setup with a crowd around it, you know it’s going to be good. This was no exception. One of the best meals I’ve had in Vietnam, for 50k vnd I was given lemongrass pork skewers, bbq pork, greens, and rice paper to make the best fresh spring rolls I’ve had in the country yet (and not because of my expert rolling skills). Still rocking around 7 PM, I can’t tell you exactly what hours they’re around.
Cà Phê Muối
Not entirely sure what salt coffee is, but what I can tell you is that it was the best cup of coffee I’ve had in Vietnam. Reminiscent of caramel, I had no choice but to order a second cup after. The spot has a local feel and the prices match, so it’s a great stop after you’ve checked out the Imperial City.
The self-proclaimed “Best Spit Roast Pork & Noodle Shop in the World (probably…)” might be able to lay claim to that title in Phong Nha at the very least. Though the pork is a bit fatty, the prices are fair.
Tuan Ngoc Restaurant
Without too many other options in town, the portion size was generous for the prices.
Trung Tuyết Restaurant
The portion size to cost ratio at this restaurant might be the craziest I’ve seen in Asia. A “small” plate of whatever you order could feed a family of four, pets included.
Binh Tay Restaurant
A few doors down from the above, the omelette was one of the best I ate in the region and at a similarly laughable price.
Cat Ba Island
Buddha Belly Restaurant
Though the variety plate they advertise ended up tasting like a giant plate of mushy vegetables, the price for the amount of food is good for the area. They don’t play around when it comes to vegetarian options though.
The prices are a bit higher now than they would’ve been thanks to all the attention the place has gotten, but the food is still good quality.
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. The baked goods are cheap and delicious, but the cup of coffee I had was stale. Normally that wouldn’t bother me too much, but in a country like Vietnam where the coffee is nothing but delicious, it hurt my soul a little.
Bún Bò Nam Bộ
A bit pricier than standard street food, but very enjoyable. Not entirely sure whether it’s a salad or a soup or a bowl of noodles so when you try it let me know.
Phở Gia Truyền
Arguably the best pho in Vietnam with a line out the door of locals who will confirm it. The meat is cooked in the broth and melts in your mouth, reminiscent of a delicious pastrami. If you enjoy noodle soup don’t miss this spot.
Bánh Mỳ Đức Long
Because sometimes in life you just want a kebab. For me, that’s always. This place does it right with chicken and pork options and a few different types of bread.
Bánh cuốn Gia truyền Thanh Vân
If you haven’t had banh cuon, or steamed rice rolls, this is a great place to start. Though a tiny bit pricier than what you’ll find on the street, they’re delicious.
Four options for dessert. Get one and you might end up getting all of them.
Cafe Giang 39 Nguyen Huu Huan
If you’re in Hanoi you need to try a cup of egg coffee. If you’re going to try a cup of egg coffee, you might as well try it at the spot that invented it. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the combination, but I enjoyed the experience.