Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam




The setback of eating at street stalls and holes-in-the-wall eateries in any town or city in Vietnam is the unsure level of hygiene. Street vendors are not only cooks but are also cashiers - they touch the food as well as the money. A vendor may cough or sneeze while preparing food, cover his or her mouth with bare hands then resume. Foods may have unwanted items like hair particles and on occasions crawling insects.
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Furthermore, utensils may be washed from the same portable container or wash basin many times and without using detergent. Vegetables and meat parts may be cut on the cutting board placed on the floor and if they fall off, they are picked up and used. Drinking glasses may just be dunked two or three times and when still wet ready for use for the next customer. Therefore, use your common sense and observe the level of cleanliness before deciding to eat at these eateries.

If the hygiene is acceptable, food from the street stalls and holes-in-the-wall eateries are absolutely flavourful, fascinating, exotic, ingeniously contrived and cheap. Furthermore, they have all the elements of the nutrition pyramid and taste well represented including sweet, sour, salty and hot. It is useful to remember that the local Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City does not necessarily spend more than 50,000 dong a person for a good meal.

Street food dining by William Cho

Food stalls offering cheap eats are scattered all over Ho Chi Minh City and there's a fair collection in Ben Thanh Market. Along main street in Pham Ngu Lao there are many budget options for Western dishes. Venture a bit further into the side alleys, you can uncover better choices, with much lesser noise and escape from the traffic pollution. For local fast food, try the ubiquitous Pho 24' chain but it can be more than twice the price at a local fare. Additionally, foreign fast food franchises like Lotteria and KFC have established their presence in the city. Interestingly, there isn't a single McDonald's in Ho Chi Minh City.

KFC in Ho Chi Minh City by Roderick Divilbiss

Guide to
Ho Chi Minh City
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