Ask around about Vietnamese street foods and you’ll be told about phở bò (beef noodle soup), bánh mì (French baguettes) filled with slices of ham, liver pate and salad, and gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls) usually filled with pork and prawns. I love street food, but as a vegetarian I always end up heaving a big sigh when I’m excitedly told about only meaty foods.
After hearing about these foods again and again, and after only a quick glance around the streets, I didn’t have much hope for veggie-friendly Vietnamese street food. However, as I started exploring the small side streets, heading out earlier in the morning and later at night, and looking at what all the street vendors had in their carts and baskets, I found that there is plenty of vegetarian street food in Vietnam!
Cơm Chay (Sticky Rice)
In Saigon, we stumbled upon this lovely lady selling various kinds of sticky rice. Vietnamese locals would pull up on their motorbikes and grab a take-away box of rice for breakfast. We realised that she was only around early in the morning, and packed up by 9am because she was sold out of rice. Our favourite was white rice with chickpeas, sugar and dessicated coconut. A box of rice cost 10,000 VND (29p).
Bánh mì Chay
Bánh mì is usually meaty, however most vendors will give you a discount if you refuse meat and ask only for salad, Laughing Cow cheese or fried eggs. There is a bánh mì vendor on every street corner and every vendor has different fillings to choose from, so browse a few stalls and you’ll definitely be able to find one with a veggie option.
In Nha Trang, we found a specifically vegetarian bánh mì seller who has tomato chutney, heaps of salad and 2 kinds of vegetarian soy ham. Just look out for a sign saying, “bánh mì chay” (vegetarian baguette). A bread roll costs from VND 10,000-20,000 (29-57p).
The sign says it all. Sweet potatoes, green beans and coconut all mashed and molded into cakes, sold on the streets in Hoi An. There was also a white version of the potato cakes in Dalat, however they didn’t have as much of a flavour as the yellow ones in Hoi An. Potato cakes cost VND 5000 (14p) each.
As well as these three street foods, you can find fresh fruits and fruit smoothies everywhere, and I also came across stalls selling yoghurt and beans, and roasted chestnuts.
Are you keen on street food? Do you know of any other vegetarian street foods in Vietnam?