22 Street Food Dishes in Saigon You Need to Try

The best food in Saigon isn’t in a fine dining restaurant or Michelin Guide spot. Instead, the best food you can try in Vietnam is on the streets. Yes, for less than $2 you can be sat in front of giant bowls of flavorful noodles, and large plates of sizzling banh xeo. There’s no shortage of street food in Saigon, but with so many options, figuring out which plastic stool is worth sitting on can feel overwhelming.

I’ve never been more excited for food on a trip than I was for Vietnam. I grew up on Vietnamese good, listening to 24 years of stories from my dad about just how awesome the food was when he was growing up there, from extra-crispy bánh mì to warm, rich bowls of phở, and juicy papaya, which he’ll argue is nothing like the papaya we have in the United States (he’s correct. It’s so much more fragrant and sweet in Vietnam!).

It would be a crime for me to let you travel to Vietnam uneducated about the best street food in Saigon, so I’ve rounded up the 21 dishes and drinks you absolutely need to try while visiting, verified by myself, and my Vietnamese friends and family.

Click below to find the best tours for street food in Saigon:

Before I divulge the best street food in HCMC, let’s get into what you should know about how food in Vietnamese is named. In general, Vietnamese is a highly descriptive and straightforward language.

The first word in a name typically describes what type of food it is. For example:

  • Bánh – the food is probably grain-based, like bread, cake, or uncooked noodles. Bánh is used really broadly in Vietnamese, ranging from cake-like desserts like bánh flan, to bánh tráng nướng, which is a grilled rice paper dish. Typically, bánh is only used to describe noodles on their own, like you’d buy from the store, not as the finished product. The exception to this is when a noodle soup has very thick noodles, made of tapioca flour or similar.
  • Bún – the dish is definitely rice noodle based, and is probably either a noodle salad or soup based on the words that follow. If you see bún in front of something like chả giò (spring rolls) or thịt nướng (grilled meat), it means you’re getting that dish over vermicelli noodles.
  • Canh – Soup. Unfortunately, Vietnamese is a little inconsistent in using “canh” in the name of dishes to describe soup, so many soups, such as bún rieu, bún bò Huế, and phở are not identified using “canh.” This is when it helps to know that bún can also be used to describe noodle soup!
  • Cơm – Rice.
  • Gỏi – describes salad-based dishes, but can be broad in definition. For example: gỏi đu đủ is papaya salad, and is a true salad, but gỏi cuốn, spring rolls, still have the idea of salad but are rolled into rice paper. If you’re eating gỏi, the vegetables are definitely fresh and not cooked.
  • – Egg or wheat noodles.
  • Nước – technically means “water,” but is also sometimes used as a descriptor for juice. For example: Nước ep táo means apple juice, and nước mía is sugarcane juice.
  • Xôi – The dish is rice, but it is sticky rice.

Following the type of food, is usually the protein (if applicable). Meat in Vietnamese is sometimes classified using thịt first, when the meat is the main focal point of the dish or standalone. For example: thịt is not used when describing phở (phở bò, phở gá), but is used when describing lemongrass grilled meat skewers (thịt bò nướng xả). Whether or not thịt is used in the name of a dish, can tell you a lot about it!

  • – beef
  • Bò viên – beef meatballs
  • – fish
  • Cua – crab
  • Đậu hũ – tofu
  • – chicken
  • Hải sản – seafood
  • Heo – pork
  • Ốc – snail
  • Tôm – shrimp
  • Trứng – eggs
  • Vịt – duck

If the protein is the focal point of your dish, and it is not soup, it will be followed by how the protein is cooked. You should know the following words to understand how something is cooked:

  • Chiên – fried
  • Dặc biệt – the beef special. If you order something that is “dặc biệt” such as phở dặc biệt or bánh mì dặc biệt, you’re essentially asking for “the works.” Rest assured that you’re getting the good stuff.
  • Hấp – steamed
  • Kho – braised
  • Luộc – boiled
  • Nướng – grilled
  • Quay – roasted
  • Xào – stir-fried

If you’re vegan or vegetarian (like me!), you should know the word “chay.” If something is “chay,” it is definitely vegetarian. Typically, Vietnamese food does not use milk, however it does use eggs on occasion. You can clarify if something is vegan by asking “Cái này có trứng hay sữa không?” If the answer is “không,” there is no egg or milk. Several of the dishes on this list are not vegetarian, but are very easy to order vegetarian by saying “không có thịt” after your order.

So, to put it all together, if we take the dish “bánh canh cua,” we know now that canh means soup, and because bánh is before it, it’s probably a soup with very thick noodles. Then, we’re able to figure out that it’s a crab noodle soup, by “cua” at the end.

the best street food in saigon banh canh cua che bap banh flan pho bo vien chuoi nep nuong

22 dishes is no short list, so to make things easy for you, I’ve divided this guide into three categories: savory street food in Saigon such as soups, noodles, and plates; desserts; and street drinks.

The Best Street Food in Saigon

Street food in Saigon is flavorful, vibrant, and above all, comforting. You won’t be shorted on quality or quantity here. If you’re short on time, check out Chợ Hồ Thị Kỷ or the area around local markets such as Chợ Tân Dịnh. You’re sure to find tons of local street food vendors in HCMC there.


If you see “ốc” anywhere on a menu in Ho Chi Minh City, it means that it’s a snail dish. Snails are a popular delicacy in Vietnam, and due to Saigon’s proximity to the ocean, it has some of the best snail and seafood street food dishes in the country.

Toss the pictures of escargot from your head—Vietnamese snail dishes are unlike any snail you’ve seen before. Ốc is popular in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, however in HCMC, dishes tend to be more flavorful and adventurous in flavor than they are in Hanoi.

If you’re feeling adventurous, stop by a quán ốc (snail restaurant). While some quán ốc are snail-only, others are more robust seafood stalls, offered clams, mussels, squid, shrimp, crab, and octopus.

While there’s a concentration of quán ốc on Vĩnh Khánh street, you’ll see ốc stalls all over the city. Popular dishes to try include oc luoc (boiled snails in lemongrass, ginger, and chili), and oc len zoo due (stir-fried snails in coconut).

Where to find it:

If you’re looking for the best seafood street food in Saigon District 1, try Bếp Ốc Sài Gòn. Although I didn’t visit myself, it has a reputation for being one of the best seafood restaurants within the center of the city.

banh canh cua crab soup saigon vietnam

Bánh Canh Cua

Bánh canh cua might be one of Vietnam’s best kept food secrets from the west. I don’t know a single Vietnamese person who doesn’t go crazy for this (and bún riêu, which I’ll get to later). Although this seafood soup has yet to gain popularity in the west, it’s not to be skipped in Saigon.

Bánh canh cua is a crab tapioca noodle soup. This is a seafood-heavy soup for seafood-lovers. It often includes shrimp, prawns, and/or squid. The thick tapioca noodles and rich broth make is oh-so-satisfying to slurp.

I’d expect to pay no more than 50,000 VND ($2.12 USD) for bánh canh cua. You’ll likely be able to find it for 30,000-40,000 VND ($1.27-$1.70 USD).

Where to find it:

You can find bánh canh cua easily in Saigon. We stopped for it outside of Tan Dinh Market at Cô Bông – Bún Mắm. Chợ Tân Dịnh is definitely one of the best places to go for street food in Saigon District 1 if you’re low on time—it’s a little pricier than other areas of the city, but there’s tons of vendors around it.

vegan bun rieu giac duc quan an chay best vegan restaurant district 3 saigon street food

Bún Riêu

It feels wrong to describe bún riêu as a “simple soup,” but compared to other traditional Vietnamese noodle soups, this one is!

Made of tomato, shrimp paste, meat broth, and fish sauce, bún riêu is filled with “bún” vermicelli noodles, and “riêu” pounded shrimp, pork, and crab cakes. The soup is finished with fried tofu, and of course, a heaping pile of vegetables and herbs including perilla, bean sprouts, and water spinach. 

Bun riêu is relatively light on meat compared to other Vietnamese soups, so it’s perfect when you’re looking for something light.

Where to find it:

Traditional bún riêu can be found just about anywhere in the city. Although it’s rare to see a vegan bún riêu, you can find one in Saigon at Giác Đức – Quán Ăn Chay in District 3. Details here.

Mì Vịt Tiềm

Mì vịt tiềm is a quintessential noodle soup in Saigon. Loved by locals and highly recommended by my dad, this duck noodle soup is one best enjoyed at a street stall or restaurant rather than at home, due to how many ingredients are involved in making it.

I won’t give you the nitty-gritty breakdown, but what you need to know is that mì vịt tiềm consists of a rich, herbaceous broth, egg noodles, and marinated, shreddable, broiled duck legs.

Luckily, it’s not difficult to find mì vịt tiềm in Saigon. A bowl will run you 75,000-120,000 VND ($3.15-$5.04 USD). It’s definitely one of the most expensive soups on this list, but still much less than you’d pay in Western countries, where duck dishes are available less frequently, and are expensive.

goi du du papaya salad quan chay sala best vegetarian restaurant saigon vietnam

Gỏi Đu Đủ

Gỏi đu đủ is a fresh, papaya salad topped with peanuts and served with crispy, puffy rice cakes and nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce with lime, chili, and garlic) for dipping. This salad isn’t made with yellow papaya, rather young, green papaya instead.

This is one of my dad’s all-time favorite Vietnamese dishes, and I can see why! Gỏi đu đủ is light, bright, and easy to snack on. It’s honestly relatively healthy compared to many of the dishes on this list. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to dip something in nuoc mam (it’s truly the lifeblood of Vietnamese people).

Where to find it:

Gỏi đu đủ is not hard to find in Saigon, but if you’re on the hunt for it, try stopping by Quan Chay Sala, a popular vegetarian restaurant in District 1 with some of the best vegan bánh mì in Saigon. Click here to read my full review!

Discover the best street food tours in Saigon by clicking below:

Cơm Tấm

Cơm tấm translates into “broken rice,” which is exactly what it is. This dish is like everyday comfort food for Vietnamese people from Saigon—it’s inexpensive, with tons of variations, and can be consumed anytime of the day.

Cơm tấm really just speaks to the mound of broken rice on the plate. What makes the dish are the side dishes or toppings that it’s served with. Although there’s some classic cơm tấm variations, many vendors in Saigon add their own flair to the dish.

The most popular cơm tấm variation you’ll see in Saigon is cơm tấm sườn bì chả. This dish consists of a mound of broken rice, marinated and chargrilled pork chops, shredded pork skin, and a steamed egg meatloaf, consisting of eggs, mushrooms, and crab meat. The plate is finished with vegetables such as cucumber and pickled carrot and daikon. Of course, nước mắm, the iconic Vietnamese sweet and savory fish sauce, is a must.

Expect to pay 25,000-75,000 VND ($1.05-$3.15 USD) for cơm tấm in Saigon, depending on your location in the city, variation, and if you’re adding in extra side dishes.

Where to find it:

Speaking from experience, even though it’s very easy to find cơm tấm in Saigon, however Com Tam 44 comes highly recommended by the Vietnamese community.

it’s difficult to find vegetarian cơm tấm at street stalls in the city. If you’re looking for vegetarian cơm tấm in Saigon, head to Quán Chay 103 in District 1.

best pho bo vien tra da saigon vietnam


Globally, phở seems to have become the face of Vietnamese cuisine. I understand why—phở is rich and aromatic but still light, never heavy. It’s peak comfort food without any heavy cream or cheese. 

Phở has always been my go-to comfort food when I’m sick, feeling homesick, or just need a pick me up. A good bowl always reminds me of my aunts simmering broth in the kitchen and my family coming together. With the amount of work that goes into making the broth, phở might just be its own love language.

In Vietnam, phở is a must-have breakfast food, but you’ll still see locals eating it morning to night.

Whether you’re in north or south Vietnam, a bowl of phở will consist of an herbal meat broth, wide rice noodles, and will be topped with meat, onions, and scallions. There’s actually multiple types of phở broth. Depending on the variation you order, you’ll likely either receive a chicken or beef-based broth. Personally, I think the beef is much better than the chicken!

There’s a longstanding argument over whether northern or southern phở is superior. The difference between the two is in the accoutrement, flavor, and width of noodle. 

In the South, phở has a bold, sweet flavor, and is served with a thinner noodle. After being served, you’ll be expected to pile on bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, chilis, and lime. You might season your bowl further with chili or hoisin sauce.

A bowl of phở in Saigon will run you 35,000-65,000 VND ($1.47-$2.73 USD).

Where to find it:

If you’re looking for the best phở in District 1, I recommend skipping the Lunch Lady (Anthony Bourdain’s pick), in favor of Pho Phuong 25, just down the street.

Like many of the must try street food in Saigon, phở has several variations. Below are a couple that you should definitely try:

Phở Bò Viên

Bò viên is a Vietnamese meatball. It’s much smoother and bouncier than meatballs in western cuisine. Phở bò viên is simply a beef broth-based phở topped with bò viên. This variation is simple, but still brings all the comforting feels.

Phở Dặc Biệt

If you’re ordering phở dặc biệt, you’re ordering the special. Phở dặc biệt is comprised of different types of beef cuts, rather than phở bò viên, which is just meatballs. Like phở bò viên, phở dặc biệt is made using a beef broth. It’s topped with brisket, tripe, tendons, and bò viên.

Don’t be alarmed if your meat looks raw or undercooked when served—the idea here is that the simmering phở broth will finish cooking the meat as you eat.

vegan banh xeo saigon vietnam

Bánh Xèo

Bánh xèo is frequently called a “Vietnamese pancake,” which I really don’t think is an accurate description at all. In my opinion, “Vietnamese crêpe” is a much more accurate description of this dish.

Bánh xèo is a crispy Vietnamese crêpe made of rice flour, wheat flour, turmeric, and coconut cream. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this dish has egg—the turmeric gives the batter an egg-like color.

Typically, bánh xèo is filled with shrimp, pork belly, scallions, bean sprouts, and mung bean. This is an easy dish to make vegan or vegetarian by simply just asking for no shrimp and pork belly. 

After the crêpe is finished cooking, break off a piece and wrap it in your choice of greens to enjoy! Common greens to see bánh xèo served with are leaf lettuce, mustard greens, and Vietnamese perilla (this is my favorite).

Xèo literally describes the sizzling sound the crêpe makes in the pan—if there’s a lot of “xèo,” you’re getting a crispy crêpe.

Where to find it:

If you’re looking for where to find the best bánh xèo in Saigon, click here.

cho ho thi ky banh trang nuong vietnamese pizza street food saigon vietnam

Bánh Tráng Nướng

Often referred to as “Vietnamese pizza,” bánh tráng nướng is an essential street food in Saigon. A sheet of dry rice paper is topped with an egg, scallions, chili sauce, fried onion, and small pieces of fried pork, while being grilled over charcoal. If you’re thinking that bánh tráng nướng is sounding like amazing late-night food, you’d be correct.

Bánh tráng nướng is one of my favorite street eats on this list, and is also very easy to make vegetarian by simply asking for no meat when ordering.

Where to find it:

If you’re looking for the best bánh tráng nướng in HCMC, stop by this vendor in Chợ Hồ Thị Kỷ. They’re located just a little off the main road, an a hem (alley), which means you’ll be able to look out to the market, but won’t be trying to eat in the hectic-ness of it all.

Bánh Mì

Unknown to many in the west, bánh mì is believed to have originated in Saigon. The city still has amazing bánh mį, and even if you’re not visiting Saigon, you really do need to have it while in Vietnam.

In Vietnamese, bánh mì just translates into “bread.” If you’re at a bakery or market in Vietnam and see the words bánh mì alone, know that you’re ordering a loaf of bread—not a sandwich. When bánh mì is followed by a protein such as gà or bó, or a descriptor like chay or dặc biệt, you’re ordering a sandwich.

Before you say anything, I know, you might have already had this at home, and really, how different could bánh mì in Vietnam be?

While there’s certainly fantastic bánh mì outside of the country, there’s nothing like the bánh mì from street food stalls in Vietnam. The bread is perfectly crispy and soft on the inside, the ingredients so fresh and flavorful.

There’s tons of bánh mì variations you can order, and to be honest, it’s difficult to go wrong with any one of them. Regardless of which protein you choose, you can typically expect your sandwich to be topped with some type of pâté, aioli, a heaping pile of pickled carrot and daikon, and cilantro.

Bánh mì is one of the cheapest street foods in Saigon. Prices typically range from 10,000 VND to 25,000 VND ($0.42 USD to $1.05 USD).

Where to find it:

While I can’t recommend one vendor as the best bánh mì in Saigon overall, I can recommend that if you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan bánh mì, Quan Chay Sala is worth your attention.

Best Dessert Street Food in Saigon

Traditional Vietnamese desserts are like nothing else. As you order a warm bowl of chè bắp (a corn and coconut milk dessert soup), you might ask yourself, “does corn really belong in dessert?” and, “can soup be a dessert?” As you take your first sip, you’ll realize that the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.

Discover the best Vietnamese dessert below:

Che Mam Khanh Vy Sweets Che Bap Flan Saigon Vietnam dessert


Chè is how any sweet pudding or soup is described in Vietnamese. There’s tons of different types of chè, and they vary a LOT. 

Some chè is cool and refreshing, the perfect compliment to a hot day. Warm chè is comforting and like receiving a tight hug from someone you love.

Chè can be as smooth as a purée, or can have ingredients that are totally separate, similar to a parfait, like chè ba màu.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a descriptor in chè names that distinguishes if you’re ordering warm chè or cold chè, more of a soup, or more of a parfait. The only really way to know is by being familiar with each individual type itself, or observing the street food stall you’re ordering from.

Regardless, chè is a must-try, staple street food in Saigon. You’ll find locals flocked around the neighborhood chè vendor at any time of the day. Admittedly, I’m chè-addicted myself.

Where to find it:

Chè Mâm KHÁNH VY is a popular spot for all sorts of chè and popular dessert street food in Saigon, like bánh flan. You won’t find cold, layered chè here, but it’s still my top pick for chè in the city.

If you’re looking for a chè stall in Saigon convenient to popular tourist attractions, try Bé Chè in Ben Thanh Market.

Below are a few types of chè you should know while in Saigon:

Chè Bắp

Chè bắp is a glutinous rice-based corn pudding (“bắp” means “corn” in Vietnamese). You can serve it warm or cold but personally, I prefer it warm. 

The base is made of glutinous rice, pandan, corn, coconut cream, and a little sugar, vanilla, and tapioca or cornstarch. Coconut cream tops the whole pudding, enhancing chè bắp’s sweet flavor.

I’ve doubt you’ve ever had yellow corn like this before, which is why chè bắp is a street food in Saigon worth trying.

Chè Đậu Đen

Chè đậu đen is a black bean pudding dessert. It can be served warm as a pudding, or can be served poured over ice and cold, as a drink combined with coconut milk and topped with jelly.

Beans are cooked until tender, then cooked again with sugar and salt to give them their sweet flavor. When served hot, the the beans are thickened with tapioca flour and drizzled with coconut milk.

Chè Ba Màu

Chè ba màu can only be described as spanning the concepts of bubble tea and a parfait, but with more ingredients. You’re kind of picking up the concept, right?

“Ba màu” means “three color,” which describes the layers of mung beans, pandan jelly, and red beans.

Cooked, sugary mung beans act as the base, which are then layered with green pandan jelly, and boiled red beans. The dessert drink is then topped with generous scoop of shaved ice, and coconut cream is poured over the whole thing.

The trick to amazing chè is having that fresh coconut flavor. It makes chè ba màu so addictive—I can never say no to it!

Chuoi nep nuong Chè Chuối Nướng Võ Văn Tần grilled banana street food Saigon Vietnam

Chuối Nếp Nướng

Chuối nếp nướng is a must-try dessert while in Saigon. It’s the perfect mid-day snack and difficult to find anywhere else. Bananas are wrapped with sticky rice in banana leaves, then are grilled over charcoal. After being grilled, they’re unwrapped and drizzled with coconut cream. The result is a dessert that’s warm, sweet, and gooey.

Where to find it:

 Iff you’re looking for chuối nếp nướng in Saigon, look no further than Chè Chuối Nướng Võ Văn Tần. It’s popular with tourists and locals alike, for good reason! They grill hundreds of bananas a day, making the best chuối nếp nướng and bánh chuối in the city.

Click below to find the best street food tours in Saigon:

Bánh Flan

If you’re familiar with the French dessert, flan, it may not sound like the obvious street food to try in Vietnam.

However, Vietnamese flan is different than French flan. You see, when the French occupied Vietnam, they introduced flan to Vietnamese cuisine, but didn’t account for the complete and total lack of oven in Vietnamese kitchens (to this day, it’s still rare to see in the country).

Instead of being baked, Vietnamese flan is steamed. It’s not reserved for high end patisseries and restaurants, either. Instead, you can find it on the streets of Saigon, for less than a dollar.


Xôi, or Vietnamese sticky rice, can be made savory or sweet. When sweet, it’s an essential snack in Vietnamese cuisine. There’s a few different xôi variations around, but xôi bắp and xôi gấc are the ones you should keep your eye out for while visiting Vietnam.

Where to find it:

To find xôi bắp in Saigon, look no further than the Saigon Xôi Bắp Lady in District 1. Here, xôi bắp will run you 20,000 VND ($0.84 USD).

Xôi Bắp

Xôi bắp is more mild rather than being savory or sweet. Glutinous rice is cooked with hominy (dried corn tossed in lye), and topped with mung bean,  fried onion, and sugar.

Xôi Gấc

You’ve probably never heard of gấc, an orange-red melon native to Vietnam. Due to it’s red color, which is symbolic of good fortune in Vietnamese culture, xôi gấc is commonly served at special events such as Tết (Lunar New Year), and weddings.

Xôi gấc is made by cooking glutinous rice with gấc paste, combining it with coconut milk and sugar for a semi-sweet dish.

When exploring street food in Saigon, you might find xôi gấc served on its own, or wrapped in rice paper, filled with mung bean, peanuts, and coconut.

Drinks to Try on the Streets of Saigon

Trà Đá

This might as well be the official drink of the South. Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk) is Vietnam’s most well known drink in the west, but trà đá is everywhere in Sài Gòn at street stalls. It makes perfect sense—Saigon is hot, and trà đá is iced green jasmine tea perfect for cooling down.

Trà đá is also typically the cheapest drink on the menu. It’s rare that you’ll pay more than 5,000 VND ($0.21 USD) for a glass. This is not a drink for tea snobs— trà đá is literally supposed to be watered down, inexpensive tea. It’s less sugary than American iced tea, but that’s why I love it. Plus, it pairs perfectly with a hot bowl of phở.

nuoc mia vietnamese sugarcane juice

Nước Mía

My very (very) hot take is that nước mía is the best street drink you can get in Saigon (tied only with Dừa Tắc). I joke with my friends that it runs through my veins because well, I’m addicted. Luckily, sugarcane juice actually has tons of health benefits, such as promoting kidney health and reducing inflammation.

Nước mía is simply sugarcane juice. You’ll see vendors all over the city advertising it, and yes, they will press it right in front of you, on the street (sugarcane goes bad quickly. I wouldn’t purchase from anyone who has it pre-made, unless the stall is obviously popular). Some vendors will mix in other fruit, such as kumquat, or watermelon, but I typically go for the classic.

Prices for sugarcane juice in Vietnam range a lot based on what neighborhood you’re in, and if you’re adding fruit. Expect to pay between 10,000 and 25,000 VND ($0.42 to $1.06 USD).

Dừa Tắc

Giving nước mía a run for its money as best street drink in Saigon is dừa tắc. Dừa tắc is lesser known to foreigners than some of the drinks on this list, but should absolutely not be missed. It’s a Saigonese staple, and popular amongst locals.

Dừa tắc is a coconut water drink mixed with fruit jam (usually kumquat, sometimes pineapple). Personally, I think the kumquat variation, the most traditional approach, is the best one. The citrus of the kumquat is the perfect balance to sweet, fresh coconut. Dừa tắc is so refreshing and perfect for a hot day.

Where to find it:

If you’re looking to try dừa tắc in Saigon, look no further than Dừa tắc 250 Pasteur. Click here to find out more on this staple street food stall in Saigon.

Sinh Tố

Sinh tố is best described as a Vietnamese fruit milkshake, or creamy smoothie. Unlike the milkshakes we have in the US, sinh tố is typically made with condensed milk, and sometimes coconut milk. It’s typically much creamier, and less icy than western milkshakes.

Sinh tố bơ (avocado smoothie), has become very popular in the South in recent years, but I’d also try sinh tố mít (jackfruit smoothie), sinh tố đu đủ (papaya smoothie), and sinh tố sầu riêng (durian smoothie). I’ll admit that durian is an acquired taste and not for the faint of heart, but trust me, it’s better than it smells!

ca phe sua da vietnamese iced coffee saigon vietnam trung nguyen legend phin

Cà Phê Sữa Đá

Cà phê sữa đá is by far the most well-known drink of Southern Vietnam. My childhood is filled with memories of my dad, and eventually my sisters, brewing Cafe du Monde and mixing in sweet condensed milk—I can hardly remember a time that an orange Cafe du Monde tin wasn’t around our house.

Cà phê sữa đá is dark roast coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Coffee is brewed using a phin, a metal filter than drips the coffee for 15-20 minutes. The coffee is then poured over a tall glass of ice. By default, all Vietnamese coffee is dark roast, and the condensed milk helps keep the coffee strong, but balance out the flavor. 

Although Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world, the bulk majority of the coffee is Robusta rather than Arabica. Part of the theory around why cà phê sữa đá came to be is that the condensed milk helped make inexpensive coffee taste a lot more interesting and palatable.

Where to find it:

You can find cà phê sữa đá just about anywhere in Saigon, on the street or in coffee shops. Trung Nguyen Legend is the country’s most well-known coffee chain, featuring shops all across the country (kind of like the Starbucks of Vietnam).

Visiting Vietnam and looking for more of the best things to eat, drink, and do in Saigon? Click here or the links below for more Ho Chi Minh City travel guides.

Where to Shop in Saigon, Vietnam: The Best Stores and Things to Buy

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If you try any of this street food in Saigon during your trip to Vietnam, tag me on Instagram @eva_phan and let me know! I’d love to see your adventures in this foodie paradise.


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must try street food in saigon banh trang nuong banh banh cua

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