There may be different definitions of what is and isn’t street food but in general, we can think of it as anything that’s eaten outside, on the street, at affordable prices. If you are planning a trip to Ho Chi Minh City, here is a list of the best streets for street food in Saigon.
1. Van Kiep Street
Even in a cool rainy season evening, Van Kiep Street is a thrilling exhibition of Vietnamese street food. It straddles the border of two of HCM City’s most vibrant districts, Phu Nhuan and Binh Thanh, and showcases dozens of different dishes all in the space of a couple of hundred metres. Neon signs prick the night and illuminate the slanting rain as they announce the specialties of each food and drink outlet: bánh mì, bánh xèo, phở, bánh canh cua, bún mắm, bún chả, nem nướng bún bò Huế, chè, and much more. There must be at least 50 different dishes available on this street, and more than one hundred eateries to choose from. The street is packed with young Vietnamese – all clustered around small plastic tables, hunched over on plastic stools, eating, talking, laughing, and gesticulating.
Quán 104 (230 Van Kiep) is a trendy place specializing in grilled octopus (bạch tuộc nướng), very popular with Saigon youth at the moment. The marinated, spicy octopus is grilled over a coal barbecue on the sidewalk, enticing all who pass to stop and eat, like a vaporous Siren.
The street has more to offer than its fair share of bánh canh cua outlets – a stodgy, fishy, slippery, noodles southern classic. You can try it at 63 Van Kiep. Near the intersection with Phan Xich Long Street there are also a couple of good bún mắm stalls. This is a potent seafood noodle soup crammed full of wholesome ingredients.