Vietnam street food – a delicacy in national culture

Vietnam street food
Vietnam street food

Vietnam street food, curb food, or sidewalk food is the foods and drinks which were prepared or willing to be processed and served according to customers’ requirements. Street food is sold on the pavement, curb, on the street, in the crowds, or other public places, such as supermarkets, parks, resorts, entertaining centers, outdoor dining food streets… Commonly, street food is sold on the mobile or temporary restaurants, or on a mobile trolley. According to the concept of the World Health Organization (WHO), street food is the food and drink which are made or processed, cooked on the spot, ready to eat and are sold on the street or public places.

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Street food as a part of culture

Vietnam street food and peddled wares is Vietnamese people’s own cultural characteristic. It reflects the lifestyle and the social development of the country. Eating serveral kinds of Vietnam street food is a common habit of many Vietnamese people. The development of the Vietnam street food services is an essential need of life because street food is very convenient, inexpensive, and it also helps to solve the job concern of many people, especially for ones in the countries which are in the process of industrialization and modernization.

Especially, in densely populated urban areas, the rise of living cost forced many people to accept using street food in their daily life. According to a survey data of the Nutrition Center of Ho Chi Minh City, 95.5% people living here use street food: 51% use street food for daily meals, 82% use for breakfast.

In Vietnam, there are many delicious dishes such as fried sour meat pie in Hanoi. Besides, the street cuisine is extremely diverse and plentiful, including many dishes, such as rice noodles, vermicelli, porridge, Quang noodles, soup cake, Vietnamese sandwiches…

However, besides the benefits that Vietnam street food brings about, there are also many health risks for consumers in the country. Especially, in small spontaneous, retail diners, the risk of unsafe food is increasing, meaning that the threat to the customers’ health, or even to the health of the whole community, is also bigger and bigger. In large urban areas, sidewalk diners are increasingly opening up day by day. Although these diners are unsanitary, they are always crowded. The provisions on penalties for violations related to street food are not feasible.

Vietnam street food
Bia hoi (fresh beer)

Even in Vietnam, from rural to urban, from the plains to the remote areas, from islands to mountains, street food is ubiquitous in various forms. They have been well developed and diverse, sold on the sidewalk, in front of a number of agencies and units of streets, markets, pier, bus stations, in front of the school gates, hospitals…

They are always ready to meet the needs of customers at every time, everywhere … and customers are still eating at these sidewalk diners without caring or paying attention to the environmental sanitation, the contaminated dust and fumes from vehicles crossing caused out. Actually, in Vietnam today, unsanitary mobile food outlets, street stalls, carts … are still roaming around every street of the cities, approaching the gates of the schools, markets, hospitals… The risk of food poisoning from Vietnam street food is very high. However, Vietnam street food is still a very important cultural feature, creating a very own beauty of the country with tasty, fragrant dishes which are just presented in Vietnam and nowhere else. What people need to remember is just choosing right place to enjoy street food for safety and suitable price.

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Street food characteristics

Although the food prices in the restaurants are not much different to the food sold on the streets, plus come in nicer and cleaner space, for many people, sitting and eating street food on the sidewalk and enjoying the outdoor atmostphere make them feel free and comfortable.

Vietnam street food
Grilled fish in Hanoi style

The characteristic of Vietnam street food is that the food is prepared quickly without fussy decorations and customers can enjoy immediately while the dishes are still hot. The street food sellers are extremely comfortable and warm, so you will be treated fairly like everyone no matter who you are. Popular dishes you can easily see on the sidewalks are: sticky rice, vermicelli served with tofu and shrimp paste, vermicelli served with grilled meat, vermicelli served with meat balls, grilled sweet potatoes and grilled corn, and many other delicious Vietnam street food dishes.

Stepping onto Vietnam’s streets is like entering a large, bustling kitchen, where you can easily see something is being fried, steamed, boiled, or rolled; pots of fragrant and hot Vietnamese noodle soup on the coal burners and peanut-studded sticky rice balls are steamed and wrapped in newspapers. The food is fresh, fast, fragrant, and second-to-none in terms of the availability and diversity it brings about.

Let’s roll into hustling and bustling streets to enjoy the delicacy of Vietnam culture.