I know there are places to get street food all over the world, but street food here in Vietnam quite literally means “eat your food sat on plastic chairs on the street.” It’s all cooked and eaten literally a meter from busy traffic, on tiny pavements and backstreets in makeshift cafes that are set up each night.
Cycling through the old town of Hội An, myself and Claudia watched as dusk rolled in and numerous Vietnamese people pushed their eatery’s onto the pavements for the evening shift. Serving traditional food like Phở, Bánh xèo, Cao lầu, Gỏi cuốn and Bánh mì, these tiny plastic tables and chairs are packed with locals every night, the delicious smells of the steaming food floating down each street.
The night markets are a particular draw for tourists as there are plenty of options to choose from. Stall after stall of traditional Vietnamese food (with some western thrown into the mix) and a busy buzzing atmosphere makes up most nights in the places we have visited so far. The Vietnamese certainly know how to use the flavours and smells in food to attract a crowd.
Unfortunately a lot of this street food is meat orientated, but we did manage to try some stir fried veggies, noodles and tofu.
You can also buy fried potato chips on skewers and steamed fresh corn on the cob which is actually delicious! Fresh fruit doesn’t go amiss either and seems to be in abundance everywhere here in Vietnam.
Banana pancakes and crepes also seem to be popular, especially here in Hội An – however I’m not convinced these are traditionally Vietnamese at all…maybe a little extra something Westernised to entice the tourists.
The flavours and smells of all these foods are amazing. Fragrant herbs and spices are used in just about everything, and there’s no shortage of fresh chillis and soy sauce!
Gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls) with peanut soya dipping sauce has to be my favourite dish so far, along with veggie Phở – the flavours are incredible (and have pretty much made up every meal I’ve eaten for the last few weeks).
The Vietnamese street food culture is intriguing as families seem to gather every evening on every corner of every street! Vietnamese cuisine has to be some of the most underrated in the world and I will definitely be taking a few culinary tips away with me.
Isn’t it fascinating how meal times mean different things completely depending on where you are in the world?!
Something to think about…