Top 8 Saigon street foods you should not miss
Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) is so famous that it has entered the Oxford English Dictionary. It defines bánh mì as 'a Vietnamese snack consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice and wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables, and chili peppers.'
The best bánh mì should be grilled over coals, with the crispy shell filled with meat, crunchy pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs, smeared with mayonnaise and pâté, and seasoned with a few drops of soy sauce and a spicy chili condiment.
Saigonese have many choices of filling for bánh mì -- like thịt nướng (grilled pork),xíu mại (Chinese meatballs known as shu mai in Chinese), and chả cá (deep-fried fish paste).
Papaya salad (Goi du du)
Gỏi đu đủ (papaya salad) is made of shredded papaya, rice crackers, sliced jerky, roasted peanuts, and herbs seasoned with chili sauce.
It is usually sold on carts pulled by street vendors. The most famous spot to buy this dish is in front of Le Van Tam Park on Hai Ba Trung Street.
Cơm tấm, or broken rice, used to be called 'poor people's rice” since it was made from grains that broke during harvest or cleaning and were sold cheap.
Over the years it has become a popular dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It is usually served with grilled pork ribs, bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) or chả (a mix of steamed eggs, crab meat, ground pork meat, Jew's ear mushroom, and vermicelli) or both.
It can be found almost everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern provinces, from street stalls with plastic stools and tables to fancy air-conditioned restaurants.
Mixed rice paper
Bánh tráng trộn (mixed rice paper) is the favorite snack of teenagers in Saigon. It is like a salad made of shredded rice paper mixed with jerky, dried shrimps, roasted peanuts, boiled quail eggs, shredded mangoes, fried onions, and herbs.
It is seasoned with chili sauce, salt, cashew oil, and onion oil until it is sour, spicy, salty, and sweet at the same time.
The dish can be found anywhere in Saigon but the most famous street for bánh tráng trộn is Nguyen Thuong Hien in District 3.
Pork and shrimp rolls
Gỏi cuốn (pork and shrimp rolls) is one of the healthiest snacks in Saigon. It is made of tightly wrapped rice paper bundles filled with sliced pork, shrimp, vermicelli noodles, herbs, and vegetables. A Hoisin sauce topped with crushed peanuts and chili is often served on the side for dipping.
Phá lấu is pig/cow intestines boiled down to a soft texture in a salty broth. It can be served with bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) or noodles.
Chè (sweet soup) is the perfect dessert in always-hot Saigon. There are a myriad of sweet soups differentiated by origin, taste or ingredients.
If one comes to Saigon for the first time, chances are they will be invited first to a coffee shop and then to an ốc (snail) eatery. Saigon is famous for many kinds of snails and diverse styles of cooking.