Saigon’s Street Food Scene

Within hours of getting off the plane in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, [or as it’s also called, Saigon], we hopped onto the backs of scooters for a street food tour of the city with Saigon on Bikes. Even the light rain couldn’t hold back our excitement for the tour. After living in Asia for a year and a half, we’ve come to love and embrace street food. But of course, newly arriving in a new city in a new country, we’d never be able to find all the best spots ourselves. Which is exactly why we signed up for a tour with Saigon on Bikes. We were chauffeured around the massive and electric city of Saigon, weaving through traffic and back alleys to little corners restaurants with diverse menus. I’m glad we arrived hungry, because we were about to eat a ton of food.

img_2562

At our first stop we tried Bánh Tráng Nướng, which was a grilled flat rice paper with veggies, meats and sauces. It reminded me of a crepe topped with lots of goodies. This was probably my favorite stop of the night, I could have eaten here every day that we were in Saigon. I absolutely loved the Bánh Dẻo, which was a grilled rolled rice paper, and stuffed full of meats and vegetables and covered in sauce. It was warm and chewy, and reminded me of a Vietnamese burrito. As we enjoyed these delicious dishes, we also learned about the cuisine from our tour guides. We learned that the flavors of Saigon in the south of Vietnam were sweet, while the flavors of central Vietnam, like DaNang were spicy, while flavors in northern Hanoi would be salty & spicy. The Vietnamese cuisine is a beautiful balance of all these flavors.

After our first stop, I quickly realized the key to success on a street food tour would be pacing. Don’t fill up on stop one! We had to leave room for more. At our next stop, we tried some fresh vegetable & pork rolls called Bánh Hỏi Thịt Nướng. We sampled different fresh herbs used regularly in Vietnamese cuisine. Which could be why Vietnamese food is considered some of the healthiest in the world. We tried so many fresh leafy greens when making these porks rolls. And they were simply delightful.

On to stop number three! Could I actually fit more food in my stomach? This was our seafood stop. And our most wild stop. I am not “really” an adventurous eater, but my husband is. So I sampled a few things here, but it was not my favorite. We tried chili lemongrass clams, tamarind marinated crab claws, steamed prawns and balut. If you’ve never heard of or tried balut, consider yourself lucky. It’s a duck fetus. This is where I stopped eating. Which was ok with me, because we had more food to try later!

Next stop was in “Chinatown”. We ate delicious pork & shrimp dumplings called Sủi Cảo and I didn’t want to leave. They were so good!

Our final stop of the night was for dessert. We started with a coconut jelly, right out of a fresh coconut! We followed it up with a pomelo sweet soup and a fresh yogurt, which became our favorite dessert in all of Vietnam. It was so rich and flavorful.

We returned to our hotel full and happy, and with a much better understanding of the food & culture of Vietnam. It was a fantastic way to begin our 8 days in the country. We loved experiencing street food with Saigon on Bikes. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable and fun to hang out with. It felt like a dinner with friends, not like a tour service. I’m so glad the tour was on scooters, as we got to see so much more of the vast city. If this first night would be an indicator of our time to come in Vietnam, I knew it was going to be a fantastic trip!

p1040041

This post was sponsored in part by Saigon on Bikes, but as always, the opinions are entirely my own.

3 thoughts on “Saigon’s Street Food Scene

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s