We were on a mission in Vietnam, to eat as much street food as was humanly possible. I was armed with a little slip of paper that said Tôi không ăn thịt. Tôi ăn chay nhưng tôi ăn hải sản (I don’t eat meet, I’m vegetarian but I eat seafood). Thanks to Aaron for the translation, I felt safe that I wouldn’t end up eating something not suitable for pescetarians.
They nearly didn’t let us in at Ho Chi Minh City airport. We stupidly mistook ‘visas available on arrival’ to mean visas available on arrival. What it actually means is you need a written letter from the government in advance, otherwise they will send you home. Schoolboy error! Lots of sweating and fraught conversations with a local travel agent meant we did indeed get in, for the mere price of $220 each, bargain!
Anyway, back to the mission! Having such limited time, and with Vietnam being such a long country, we decided to focus on Ho Chi Minh, head up to Hoi Ann, and back down via the Mekong Delta, across to the wonderful island of Phú Quốc.
Aaron had tipped us off to look out for these things (below), so we hit the streets, in search of an adventure for the tastebuds.
Pho – noodle soup,the most popular dish in Vietnam eaten any time of the day.
Bun – dry noodles
Banh Mi – Vietnamese sandwiches. You can get a variety of fillings but most of them will be meat, with meat based pate but you can ask them for it without.
Banh Xeo – Vietnamese savoury crepes filled with bean sprouts and carrots. Served with lettuce and a mixture of fresh herbs/greens, you wrap some crepe in the lettuce with some fresh herbs and dip into fish sauce.
Che Bap – corn desert, with coconut cream .
There was produce everywhere you looked in the big cities and small towns alike. From fresh fruit and vegetables, to dried goods, to fish, meat and spices, it was all for sale if you know where to go, and what to ask for.
And a lot of places specialised in dried fish of various shapes and sizes. We bought back a selection of small dried shrimp and other fish coated in sesame seeds, which we went through in no time (sadly).
The street food stalls seemed to be the hub of the community with locals and tourists alike, stopping off for a quick pit-stop.
Unfortunately our Vietnamese was limited and without a local friend, we often didn’t know exactly what we were eating. It was all so tasty, fragrant and fresh, that that didn’t matter much.
What an amazing trip. The people were what made Vietnam for me, so happy and friendly, whilst being laid back (not always the case in South East Asia). Closely followed by the fabulous food on offer. If you are over that side of the world, you must check out their amazing cuisine.