Article and photos by Jane Smith of

Enjoy Street Food When Visiting Saigon

Saigon, currently named as Ho Chi Minh City, is the largest city of Vietnam and a must-see tourist destination in the country. Most tourists flock to the city thanks to its diverse culture and its wide, delectable, and exotic food selection. A trip to Saigon is never complete without tasting the interesting flavors of Vietnam’s cuisine.

In the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City, there are always people eating and preparing a variety of food on every corner. In every street and alleyway, something that is food related can be seen even in the deep hours of the night. Many tourists who are first time visitors in Saigon are often hesitant to try the exotic-looking street foods because they are not familiar with the culture and unusual food preparation.

Street food in Saigon

Most food stalls in the streets of Saigon display raw and fresh ingredients that are ready for cooking as you order. Some dishes are easy and fast to make, while others may take a few good minutes before they are served. Some of the most popular cuisines in Saigon are:

Pho – the classic Vietnamese noodle soup, it is considered as Vietnam’s unofficial national dish. It is a dish made of wide rice noodles in beef broth and flavored with a lemon, shallots, black pepper, and ginger. It is a favorite dish by foreigners and locals alike. If you’re looking for the best pho in HCMC, you can join a food tour group where you will be toured to a pho food trail. Here are some places that you can go there by yourself to enjoy Pho such as Pho Hoa Pasteur (260C Pasteur, ward 8, district 3, Ho Chi Minh city), you will pay from 45.000VND to 55.000VND to enjoy a wonderful bowl of Pho. Pho Hoa serves from 6:00AM – 12 AM. Pho Le (303-305, Vo Van Tan, ward 5, district 3, HCMC) is also a wonderful place to enjoy Pho.

pho hoa pasture

Cha gio – Vietnam’s classic fried spring roll. It is a combination of fish or ground meat, mushrooms, shrimp paste, greens, and spices and wrapped in rice wrapper, fried, and dipped in sweet and sour sauce. Cha gio is specially served during Tet holiday.

BanhMi – the popular Vietnamese sandwich and is a fusion of French and Vietnamese taste. It is classic cold cut sandwich with mayo, pate, pickled veggies, and cucumber spears as a spread. Foreigners and locals seem to flock around stalls with the Laughing Cow logo, so next time you’re craving for some vegetarian sandwich, look for a Laughing Cow logo in food carts. You can easily find a place to buy BanhMi (bread). However to enjoy fresh and wonderful bread, you can stop by BanhMi 110 (110 Hoang Van Thu, ward 9, PhuNhuan district). You just need to pay 15.000VND for a loaf of bread full of “xucxich” (sausage), “cha bong” (made of lean pork), “thitluoc” (boiled pork), pâ-té, cucumber, etc. You can also visit Banh mi thitnuong 60 (60 Truong Quoc Dung street, ward 10, PhuNhuan district) to enjoy bread with barbecue.

Seafood delight – it’s almost impossible to walk the streets of Saigon and not find raw and fresh seafood ready for cooking. Some of the most popular seafood in Saigon is snails, grilled mussels, prawns on sticks, caramelized fish, and blood cockles. Visit the VinhKhanhstreet in District 4 to spot the best seafood stalls in the city. Here are some places that serve the best snail in Saigon: Oc Dao (212B Nguyen Trai Street, district 1 or 132 Nguyen Thai Hoc, district 1); Oc Quang Anh (189 To HienThanh street, ward 13, district 10); Oc Oanh (534 VinhKhanh street, ward 4, district 4), Oc Oanh servers all dishes such as ghenuongmuoiot (grilled crab with salt and chilly), so diep (Scallop), etc. The price is from 40.000VND.

Oc Oanh

Most Vietnamese and Saigonese eat in local eateries, also known in the local dialect as “quan.” They are very loyal to their own local cuisine and are not always tuned for upscale dining. When you’re in doubt about eating in a quan, observe its customers and see if the eatery is being flocked by locals. An eatery with loyal customers indicates that it serves good food.

If you would like to try out some local eateries that have been reviewed by local residents, visit this online city guide.