Traveling the globe can be very daunting if you’re not prepared to experience new cultures and ways of living. Different countries have very unique eating cultures which may lead travelers to try new and unfamiliar foods. Vietnam is no exception with its unique cuisine.
There are quite a number of travelers who have, on occasion of their visit, wondered how to enjoy the best street food in Saigon, Vietnam. Strolling along the streets of Saigon, one is likely to smell wondrous things of all sorts as many kitchens and local dishes are prepared in the streets and alleys. Nonetheless, first timers in Vietnam may not be familiar with some of the foods. To help these visitors here is a guide on how to enjoy the best street food in Saigon, Vietnam.
One of the main reasons many people fear street foods is the fear of getting sick or consuming unhealthy food past its expiration date. Therefore, when travelling in Vietnam, it is important to ensure that the food you are eating is clean and safe for human consumption.
Here are some tips:
– Look at the environment in which the meal is being prepared
For example to enjoy fresh “Banh Mi”, you can pay attention to the ingredients such as cucumber, sausage, “thit luoc” (boiled pork), etc. Are the ingredients fresh or not? Are they in clean bowl or not? Is there anything to protect them from “being visited” by dust or flies or not?
– Ask the local people you meet which are the best places around
You can ask locals – especially students – about the places for street food. If you don’t speak Vietnamese and can’t find English speakers, simply walk around and look at vendors. Whenever you see a line in front of a “Banh Mi” shop or any street food “quan”, you’re in the right place.
– How do the cooks present themselves? Are they neat? Qualified for the task?
This can correlate with cleanliness.
2. Eat with the locals
One secret everybody should embrace in Vietnam is that nothing is more enjoyable than eating with the locals.
There are also great areas to meet locals and make friends. You can take a walk at some parks such as Tao Dan park (55C, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ben Thanh ward, district 1), Le Thi Rieng park (875 Cach Mang Thang 8 street, ward 15, district 10), etc.
Students are also extremely friendly, plus you can take advantage of student pricing on street food for delicacies such as “bo bia” (bo bia looks like spring roll but not fried) and “che ba Ba” (a sweet soup). This way, you experience not only local food but also local culture!
3. Watch your food being cooked
This too will address health concerns.
Everyone agrees that starting with fresh food is essential and you never know how food is being prepared behind closed doors. Most street food in Saigon is prepared when you order and you can watch. Street food vendors just prepare the ingredients and you watch. In only minutes, you have delicious food!
For example when making “Bot chien”, the street vendor prepares in advance some ingredients such as “Bot gao” (rice flour), egg, scallion, etc. When you order “bot chien”, the vendor will fry scallion, “bot gao”, egg, etc. With a little bit of an adventurous spirit you can enjoy this delicious food.
Some of you might prefer to go to the local markets and prepare your own food in the comfort of your own vacation “home”. By finding a vacation rental you can take advantage of these markets and learn to cook like the locals.
In conclusion, traveling to Vietnam for leisure is an amazing trip with wonderful food. However, to be safe when eating street food simply follow a few guidelines regarding hygiene and crowds.