5 Best streets for Saigon street food

Saigon's street food scene pervades every district, neighborhood, and alleyway; in fact, the city has so many street food businesses that it can feel like one giant open-air restaurant at times.


1. Van Kiep Street (border of Binh Thanh & Phu Nhuan district), HCMC

Van Kiep Street connects Phu Nhuan and Binh Thanh, two of Saigon's most bustling areas. pho (noodle soup), banh canh cua (crab noodle soup), banh mi (sandwich), banh xeo (pancake), bun mam (rice noodle with fish sauce), bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodle), bun cha (rice noodle with grilled pork), nem nuong (grilled fermented spring roll), che (sweet soup), etc - there must be at least 50 different dishes available and over a 100 outlets to choose from Van Kiep Street.

Quan 104 (230 Van Kiep) is a small, fashionable restaurant that specializes in grilled octopus (bach tuoc nuong), which is currently quite popular among Saigon's youth. Like a vaporous Siren, the spicy, marinated octopus is grilled on the sidewalk over a coal barbecue; the perfumed smoke wafts into the street, beckoning everyone who passes to stop and eat. Van Kiep is home to a stodgy, slippery, fishy, noodley southern classic called Bánh Canh Cua (crab noodle soup), which can be found at 63 Van Kiep. There are a handful of good Bun Mam (rice noodle with fish sauce) booths near the intersection with Phan Xich Long Street.


2. Su Van Hanh Street: District 10, HCMC

Su Van Hanh is a long, bustling street in general, but the portion between Ngo Gia Tu and Nguyen Chi Thanh streets is very busy and packed with delicious street food. Banh Xeo (Pancake) is the specialty of this street (savoury crepes filled with pork and bean sprouts). Hundreds of restaurants provide miniature Banh Xeo cooked on circular trays above flaming coal grills. The legendary 004 Lo H (literally "Block H"), where the family has been serving Banh Xeo for 14 years on the same site.

There's a fantastic Chinese-style noodle shop called "Tai Phát" at the intersection with Ha Ho Street. Take a look at the Mi Vit Tiem (egg noodles with duck in a deeply aromatic broth). The noodles are served from a traditional Xe Mi (noodle cart) that is painted with dragons and motifs from Chinese mythology. At the corner of Block H's southern end, there's an excellent Vietnamese dessert stall.


3. Vinh Khanh Street: District 4, HCMC

Vinh Khanh Street, once a popular hangout for renowned mobster Nam Cam, is now a pedestrian paradise. Hundreds of groups of people are chowing down on fish. Curbside artists provide a soundtrack, which includes not just motorcycle karaoke singers, but also fire-eaters and Michael Jackson impersonators (I'd like to see MJ do the moonwalk through motorcycle traffic).

Oc Oanh (534 Vinh Khanh Street) is the most well-known restaurant on the strip, known for its Oc Huong Rang Muoi Ot (fried sea snails with salt and chilli) and So Diep Nuong Mo Hanh (fried sea snails with salt and chilli) (grilled scallops with spring onions and peanuts).

If seafood isn't your thing, Quan BBQ Lua (33 Vinh Khanh Street) offers self-serve barbecue with beef, hog, goat, and fish.


4. Phan Van Han Street: Binh Thanh District, HCMC

An unassuming little lane right across from District 1's sparkling skyline is favored by university students looking for a cheap dinner.

Try the bt chiên at the intersection of Phan Van Han and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh streets, where the vendor has been selling it for 20 years.

At the eastern end of Phan Van Han Street, there's a superb noodle shop called Luong Ky Mi Gia (1 Huynh Man Dat Street), which provides a variety of Vietnamese noodle meals, the greatest of which might be the Mi Vit Tiem (fresh yellow noodles with marinated duck). However, get there early since it sells out rapidly.


5. Co Giang Street: District 1, HCMC

Co Giang has the best collection of street food near the backpacker area, and it's far enough away to maintain its authentic vibe. A concentration of restaurants specializing in Hu Tieu Xao, a sort of Chinese-style fried noodles, can be found on the corner of Co Giang and De Tham streets.

At 1$ per person, the Bo La Lop at Hoang Yen (121 Co Giang Street) is not only good, but also inexpensive.

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