Best Places For Saigon Street Food

Best Places For Saigon Street Food

Street food scene in Saigon pervades districts, neighborhood, and alleys; the city boasts many shops selling street food that, at times, Saigon feel like a giant, open-air restaurant. Each day, tens of thousands of street side dish offers up tasty, cheap food in an informal environment on the pavement of the city. But street food is not only about the food: it’s also about the atmosphere and the air. As a friend of mine identified, if you take home with you street food, it does not taste anywhere near as good. Eating street food is the best thing to do in Saigon. Here are 7 streets for you to enjoy street food in Saigon.

Best Places For Saigon Street Food

1. VAN KIEP STREET:

Border of Phu Nhuan & Binh Thanh districts

Even in the light drizzle of a rainy season evening, Van Kiep Street is a thrilling exhibition of Vietnamese street food. Showcasing variety of dishes all in the space of a couple hundred metres, Vạn Kiếp Street is located in the border of two most vibrant districts of Saigon, Phu Nhuan and Binh Thanh. Neon signs cut the night, lighting the slanting rain as they signal the specialities of each food and drink outlet: ph, bánh canh cua, bánh mì, bánh xèo, bún mm, bún ch, nem nướng,  bún bò Huế, chè – there must be at least fifty different dishes available on this street, and over a hundred bistros to choose from. The street is packed with young Vietnamese – I rarely see any person over the age of 30 – all gathered around a small plastic tables, chatting, eating, gesticulating, laughing.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-2

Quán 104 (230 Van Kiep) is a small, trendy place specializing in roasted octopus (bch tuc nướng), which is favorite to Saigon youth at the moment. The spicy, marinated octopus is grilled over a open-air coal barbecue; the scented smoke wafts into the street, enticing all who pass have to stop and eat, like a vaporous Siren. Van Kiep has more than just its fair share of bánh canh cua outlets – a stodgy, slippery, fishy, noodley southern classic: taste it at 63 Van Kiep. Near the intersection with Phan Xich Long Street there are a couple of good bún mstalls. This is a wonderful seafood noodle soup which is crammed full of wholesome ingredients.

Best Places For Saigon Street Food

2. SU VAN HANH STREET:

District 10

Sư Vạn Hạnh is a long, festive street in general, but the section between Ngô Gia Tự and Nguyễn Chí Thanh streets is particularly furious and jam-packed with fantastic street food. This area is dominated by several run-down, apartment blocks built in Soviet-style. There are so many people living so closely together in this neighborhood (and because conditions are so narrowed inside that people would rather spend their timeoutside), the area’s street-life is vibrant. Food stalls, vendors, casual eateries, cafes and bars line the street, all in the shadow of the damaged apartment complex. Young and old, families and couples, everyone take their seats on plastic stools at metallic tables and make the various street treats. The contrast between the energy and color of the street food scene and the grim, concrete bleakness of the apartment buildings (some of which are now in a state of demolition) is extremely compelling.

Best Places For Saigon Street Food

Su Van Hanh Street specializes in mini crepe (bánh xèo), crispy rice flour pancakes

This street is famous for bánh xèo (savoury crepes filled with pork and bean sprouts). Plenty of places serve small bánh xèo cooked on small trays over flaming, coal-fired barbecues. One of the famous restaurant is at 004 Lô H (literally ‘Block H’), where the family have cooked bánh xèo on the same spot for 14 years. At the corner with Hòa Hảo Street there’s a Chinese-style noodle outlet called Tai Phát. Try the mì vt tim (egg noodles with duck in a deeply aromatic broth). They sell noodles a classic xe mì (noodle trolley) decorated with painted dragons which symbolize China. Right at the southern end of Block H (Lô H) there’s an outstanding Vietnamese dessert stall on the corner. This place is filled with young Vietnamese who gather around the tiny tables in groups to enjoy different kinds of dessert sold here. All of them are gooey, sweet, colorful and involve sticky rice, green bean or coconut milk in many forms. The textures and flavours might be unfamiliar to most foreign taste but the sheer variety and youthful energy of this stall help it become attractive to a lot of people.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-5

Vietnamese dessert (chè) in all its gooey glory and endless variety

3. VINH KHANH STREET:

District 4

It appears that one of the favorite haunts of the notorious Vietnamese gangster Năm Cam (executed in 2004), nowaday Vĩnh Khánh Street is one of the most famous places for street food in Saigon, especially seafood. Every night young people throng the pavements sporting trendy hairdos, tattoos, and the latest fashions from South Korea – you hardly see anyone over the age of 25 here. The atmosphere here is electric: hundreds of small and large groups of friends hunker down at tiny plastic tables, splitting shells, cracking crab legs, clinking beer glasses and sharing a really good time. As if the thundering cacophony of laughter, traffic, and orders being shouted wasn’t enough, some teenagers pull up on the curbside with giant amplifiers strapped to the backs of their motorbikes and perform live karaoke for the ‘entertainment’ street food customers. There are fire eaters and street dancers too. To exactly describe the food scene here: it is chaotic, noisy, busy, oppressive, unrelenting and a glorious celebration of food, fun and youth.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-6

You can come to Screws Oanh (534 Vinh Khanh Street) for seafood and shellfish. In the well-known Vietnam often leads to apathy and a decline in quality, but this is not the case at Screws Oanh, where the part is large, fresh seafoods, and the fast and efficient service too. Try the fried the c hương ràn mui t  (sea snails with salt and pepper fried) and the sò đip nướng m hành  (grilled scallops with green onion and peanuts). Prices slightly higher here than elsewhere but it’s worthy. Be ready to wait a few minutes for a table, and not afraid to shout above the din when it comes to ordering. Near the intersection at Hoang Dieu street, there is Quan BBQ Rice (33 Vinh Khanh Street). The specialty here is the grill-it-yourself meat barbecue. A small coal stove is placed on your table on which you place marinated beef, pork, goat and fish. The sườn heo ngũ v  (pork ribs marinated in five different spices) is delicious.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-7

Sometimes referred to as ‘Seafood Street’, Vinh Khanh is a great place to sample some shells

4. PHAN VAN HAN STREET:

Bình Thnh District

A narrow street connecting the two largest artery of Saigon, Phan Van Han Street is lined with cheap food stalls frequented by locals and students from the nearby university. Just over Thi Nghe Channel from flashy and glamorous center of Saigon District 1, Phan Van Han Street has a very local, unassuming atmosphere. The streets are densely packed with food vendors, shops, homes, businesses and motorcycles, creating a cozy environment, where space (which is in short supply) is usually shared. Snail and oyster shops – lit by naked fluorescent light bulbs – set up on the sidewalk beside the peeling plaster of the classic house; crepe (bánh xèo) stalls occupy the doorstep of the people; soup vendor served customers at small tables on the pavement no more than a few feet wide. The scented smoke from all the food stores went into the street, where their scent mixed with the exhaust from passing traffic.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-8

A snail and oyster shop on Phan Van Han

This is a very lively small town where all the classic street food Vietnam are represented. Get here between 6.00-8.30pm to experience it at its busiest. Bột chiên (dough fried rice that can be called ‘ Vietnamese fries’) is a street food staple: find it at the corner of Phan Van Han and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street. The bistos here have been serving bột chiên for 20 years and received pretty darn good at it. One of the most famous noodle joints in areas Luong Ky My Gia (1 Huynh Man Dat Street) is right at the eastern of Phan Van Han Street. They sell all kinds of noodles, but the dishes that made them famous duck noodles (bright yellow noodles with duck is aromatic marinated) – get here early because they sell out very quickly.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-9

5. CO GIANG STREET:

District 1

Co Giang is a long street, in District 1. Co Giang is a lot quieter than Pham Ngu Lao, Bui Vien and De Tham which have bars, restaurants and mini -marts West make up the heart of the backpacker district. Generally, travelers choose to stay or spend more time on in Co Giang because they want to get something more ‘real’, more ‘Vietnam’ from their time in Saigon. While Co Giang did not like dense with food stalls as other roads in this guide, it still offers a lot of street-life local and bustling outdoor cafes, especially around the investment of Co Giang and De Tham streets. In the evenings fluorescent light bulbs illuminated street barbecue, whooshing woks, and bubbling cauldrons. Fragrant of cooking smoke fills the air and wraps, like a Dickensian fog, diners sit at tables on the sidewalk.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-10

Local young people squatting down for a night on Co Giang Street

Right on the corner between Co Giang and De Tham there is a cluster of outdoor restaurant which is extremely popular, specializing in Chinese-style fried noodles thick noodles called h tiếu xào. Quan 79 is particularly good shop for this dish and many other items on the menu here – most of which have been translated into English. Do not miss the the stalls selling bò lá lt (grilled beef rolled in aromtic betel leaf); they are easy to find because of barbecue smoke inside out and attractive smell The bò lá lt at Hoàng Yến (121 Cô Giang Street) is excellent and very cheap too (only 20,000 each dish).

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-11

6.TRAN KHAC CHAN STREET:

District 1 

A chaotic jumble of motorcycles, cars, pedestrians, food outlets, and sidewalk diners devouring their dinners, Tran Khat Chan Street is a throbbing street food mecca. In the spot of a few hundred meters, nearly 50 food outlets, all gathering in space and attention on busy small streets. Cramped in the end by the Thi Nghe Channel and at the other by Tran Quang Khai tree-lined, this is a place to really let ‘gourmet instincts ” guide you: follow the smell, the smoke, the sea neon and, most importantly, local people towards anything edible that take your favorite. I think the streets as a open food ‘wardrobe’, which I was free to try anything on.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-12

A bowl of ‘slippery’ bánh canh cua  on Tran Khac Chan Street

Most of the action is at the end of the Thi Nghe Channel. A ideal place to start is at the popular Banh Canh Cua 87, serves bánh canh cua at number 87 Tran Khac Chan. Slimy, sticky concoction of crab-based, use thick and doughy noodles that is famously slippery: that is is a challenge to get them stay on your chopsticks from bowl to mouth. There are several attractive ‘trolley barbecue’ plying on this road: the smell of roast chicken is hard to pass up. Saigon night may be hot and humid; cool down with a glass of freshly squeezed pomelo juice (nước ép bưởi) at 114 Tran Khat Chan. Tran Khac Chan corner and Tran Khanh Du is Banh Xeo 79  where the chef, who make the best crepe.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-13

7. NGUYEN THUONG HIEN STREET:

District 3 

Lined with huge concrete electricity pylons, Nguyen Thuong Hien is a straight and cramped street leading northeast from District 1.  Yellow street lamps poke up above the boxy houses , broad, and tangled electricity cables hang in front of neon signage as jungle vines. At night, there’s an impression of Dionysian abandon on this street: hundreds of visitors take their seats at restaurants on the side walks, munching on shellfish, throwing empty beer cans under their tables, chatting loudly, and singing with the sound of acoustic guitars. There’s a lot to eat and drink on Nguyen Thuong Hien, and a lot of fun to be experienced.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-14

Nguyen Thuong Hien is a narrow, busy, dimly lit street that’s full of food

The most living past of Nguyen Thuong Hien is between the coner of Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Vo Van Tan street. Sit down for some snails and shellfish – a classic Saigon night out – at A Soi (237-239 Nguyen Thuong Hien). Oysters, clams, crab claws, sea snails and local beer are all served in the menu here. Although Nguyen Thuong Hien is well-known for its seafood, it’s also become the fruit juice street of Saigon unofficial. Near the intersection of Nguyen Dinh Chieu and with Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street there are several ‘juiceries’ where all number of tropical fruits are freshly squeezed into plastic bottles to take away (try Phat Dat at 125 Nguyen Thuong Hien). Finally, come to Nhân Quán (72-74 Nguyen Thuong Hien) for a bowl of its popular h tiếu Nam Vang noodles: slices of pork, whole shrimp and quail eggs in a clear sweet broth seasoned with shallots, spring onions and kale.

best-places-for-saigon-street-food-15

Shellfish and beer is a classic Saigon night out: you’ll find plenty on Nguyen Thuong Hien Street

 

 

Leave a Reply