street food vietnam, banh mi

What the Pho?! Flavors of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

You can have your food on a silver plate, in a fancy restaurant, and maybe even have it served by a dapper waiter. Or you can have it handed to you by a sweaty,  grumpy vendor (depending on what time of the day it is) who won’t need words to satisfy your gastronomic needs. Some of the best foods liven up streets no matter where you go. I used to tell our foreign guests in jest that in Southeast Asia, the dirtier the street food is, the yummier it is. Are you tasting the half-truth of this yet? There is something about food cooked in makeshift kitchens and pushcarts that make them more authentic and exciting.

I recently visited Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and the place is a mecca of street food and all kinds of local cuisine. The colors, the smell and the entire experience left me surrendering to all the good stuff on my plate–and at other times, my friend’s plate.

Here’s a taste of Ho Chi Minh…

street food vietnam, colored rice
Pick your color. Here, it’s rice galore.
street food vietnam, local pizza
Bánh tráng nướng, the local pizza of Vietnam.
street food vietnam, Vietnamese pizza
Right in every bite, Vietnamese pizza.
street food saigon, different fruits
Fruits? They have it all. Seriously.
street food vietnam, banana crisps
Crispy banana sheets
street food vietnam, muffins
Muffins…because everybody loves them.
street food vietnam, pizza toppings
Not your usual pizza toppings, but these make Vietnamese pizzas scrumptious.
street food vietnam, duck soup
Duck in egg noodle soup, my first dinner in Saigon.
street food vietnam, mushroom in soup
The innocent mushroom in my duck soup.
street food saigon, beef
Beef for the hot pot.
street food vietnam, hot pot
The very hot pot.
street food vietnam, seafood rice
Seafood fried rice from one of the food stalls at Ben Thanh Market.
street food vietnam, seafood dumpling
The shrimp dumpling that left me smiling.
street food vietnam, spring rolls
Spring rolls, another winner from the Ben Thanh Market.
street food vietnam, beef soup
Beef soup with fresh leeks. It was Pho good!
street food vietnam, fern cake
Banh beo or rice water fern cake. This is honestly my least favorite local food in Saigon. You should still give it a try even if I don’t have any good reason to give you.
street food vietnam, beef taco
Beef taco from the Heart of Darkness Brewery.


street food vietnam, cassava
Cassava served at the Cu Chi Tunnels tour.
street food vietnam, cold drink
You tell me what this is because I really can’t remember the name of this yummy, non-alcoholic, coconut-laced drink from Runam Bistro.


street food vietnam, honey tea
Organic honey tea with lemon from the Unicorn Island.
street food vietnam, local fruits
Dragon fruit, pineapple, papaya, makopa and guava…everything you’d ever want on a table of fruits.
street food vietnam, tea
A shot of local tea at the Mekong Delta.
street food vietnam, water spinach
Stir-fried water spinach at the Mekong Delta.
street food vietnam, banh mi
Banh mi!
street food vietnam, cake from phuc long
Whatever mini cake you’ll find at Phuc Long, go ahead and try it! They’re all cheap and won’t disappoint.
street food vietnam, tilapia
Tilapia, yes? It later evolved into a fish roll, a Unicorn Island specialty.
street food vietnam, fish stew
Fish stew that was absolutely yummy!
street food vietnam, aussie steak
Sometimes you also need to step away from local food and check their take on your can’t-do-without steak.



street food vietnam, chicken
No fowl left behind. Or is there?

If you have traveled to this part of Vietnam, share with us your favorite local dish and shoot us an e-mail at or leave a comment below. Would love to share gastronomic experiences with you!

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