Saigon Street Food

A journey to remember

Mobile food vendors are a ubiquitous presence on the Saigon street side, offering up a dizzying array of colorful treats emanating all sorts of disarming aromas. In fact, according to government-collected data, some 11% of Ho Chi Minh City’s workforce is made up of street vendors.  This is great news for foodies.

Be sure to sample Saigon sidewalk specialty Banh xeo, a crispy crepe folded over strips of pork, shelled shrimp, mushrooms and bean sprouts. Break off a piece. Wrap it in mustard or lettuce leaves, or even banh trang rice paper, and be sure to add some mint leaves, Asian basil or other greens from a generous side plate of fresh herbs. Dip your creation in a diluted sweet and sour fish sauce.

When it comes to Banh xeo, or indulging Vietnamese cuisine generally, a lot happens at the table. Wrapping, rolling, dipping – they are all part and parcel of eating Vietnamese-style.

Another favorite in Vietnam’s southern reaches is Hu Tieu Nam Vang, which translates to Phnom Penh noodle soup (although there is also a dry version of Hu Tieu).  When many Cambodians fled to Vietnam under the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the locals adopted and adapted the dish, making it their own.  

Given there are many versions of Hu Tieu, locking down a classical approach is almost impossible. Noodles used range from chewy clear tapioca noodles, opaque white rice noodles or thin Chinese egg noodles. Other ingredients cover a wide territory; anything from boneless pork, pork ribs and pork offal to shrimp, squid and wonton dumplings to fried garlic, shallot and scallion.

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