by Steven Doyle
Vietnamese street food is a delicious way to not only explore the country’s cuisine, but also to take a look in the culture and explore its people up close and very personal. The open air markets feature great dishes offered mainly by woman with recipes handed forth from generations, mother to daughte,r taking years to perfect and enjoy.
Vietnam is a long and narrow country. In the North it borders China and Laos and further down south, Cambodia. The geography and differences in climate throughout the country influence the types of dishes available regionally and most of the time, the differences are rather noticeable, even to an untrained tongue.
Today we take you through popular street dishes that you may find in Dallas today, and share with family and friends. We desperately suggest your own group take a day where you might create a tour and discuss nothing but flavors and high concepts of technique.
Central Vietnamese cuisine is bold while retaining some of the French flavor and techniques you find in the south. The spices produced by the mountains in the region makes central Vietnamese cuisine the most spicy, flavorful and complex in the country – distinct from the subtle Chinese & Lao-influenced north and the light tropical flavors of the south.
The central Vietnamese city of Hue, once the capital of Vietnam and still known as the Imperial City, has a cuisine full of rolls, savory pancakes, dumplings, skewers and other bites. In contrast is the mighty Bun Bo Hue, a soup that starts with beef and pork bones, kicked up with lemongrass and shrimp paste, and finished with herbs, lime and a perhaps sliced brisket, crab balls and, in many cases, cubes of congealed pig’s blood.
Find this dish in numerous places such as Richardson’s Pho Tay Do located at 1403 Campbell Road.
Mi Quang is a noodle dish i with complex mixture of flavors and texture. The vibrant wide yellow tumeric noodles, sesame rice crackers, roasted peanuts, fresh herbs, and flavorful but light broth sets it apart from other Vietnamese noodle soups like pho and bun bo hue. Unlike other noodle soups, Mi Quang is served with very little broth and almost like a dry noodle dish or noodle salad with the broth serving to bring all the flavors together.
La Me located at 9780 Walnut Street and has this marvelous display of things like vermicelli bowls, rice dishes, egg noodle soups, Vietnamese porridge and of course Mi Quang.
The literal translation of Banh Canh is “cake soup,” which refers to the thick, chewy noodles made from tapioca starch or rice flour that are the star ingredient of this otherwise simple soup. Many variations of the soup exist, including one made with river crab, but the noodles are a constant in all of them.
Find a bowl at Saigon Noodle locate at 1718 East Belt Line Road in Richardson.
Cafe den tay nguyen, or black highland coffee was brought to Vitenam in the 1870’s and has matured to cult status worldwide for the rich blends produced. Anyone when coming to highlands of Vietnam wants to try the authentic coffee here at least once, then fall in love with it. To be honest, it can not be defined by any clear definition but you’ll never forget it if you’ve taken a sip of highland coffee. Explaining about this special thing, coffee lovers all over the world say it might because of the soil (bazan) and the altitude of the region has created the unique flavor for it.
Find this special brew at Phi Coffee & Tea located at 3212 Jupiter Road.
Northern Vietnam is the oldest and most geographically diverse region of the nation, with a history of occupation by China, France and Japan. The region’s cuisine is shaped by both long-standing traditions and heavy foreign influences.
In the Red River Delta, farm animals and freshwater species are commonly used. The flavor and texture of food is lighter than elsewhere in Vietnam, with a preference for sour and salty rather than spicy and sweet. The capital Hanoi is where many Northern Vietnamese dishes are made popular.
The coastal areas, including the world famous Halong, add a supply of seafood and especially fish sauce to the Northern cuisine.
Traditionally, pho noodle soup was eaten by Vietnamese people for breakfast and sometimes lunch. Today, both locals and foreigners alike can be found hunched over steaming bowls of pho at street carts throughout the night.
The best pho outfits focus on creating a clear but flavorful broth. It’s harder than it looks: pho cooks rely on a well-made soup stock and a cleverly formulated spice mix that primarily uses anise and cinnamon, with touches of cardamom, fennel, and cloves. Roasted onions and sliced ginger add a final, herbal topnote to the soup.
Next come the noodles: freshly-made flat rice-flour strands that constitute the real bulk of the dish. The noodles play off the small amounts of meat – thin slices of beef, or springy meatballs – which are cooked separately from the broth and included at the last minute.
Finally, the fresh vegetable garnishes complete the ensemble, usually composed of Thai basil, green onions, cilantro, and bean sprouts. (Pro tip: bean sprouts are for tourists.)
Bun cha is a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle, which is thought to have originated from Hanoi, Vietnam. Bún chả is served with grilled fatty pork over a plate of white rice noodle and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce.
We like Pho Que Huong not only for their fancy website, but for the Bun cha.
Banh Cuon are teamed rice rolls stuffed with pork and mushrooms, served with a fried shallot-based version of nước chấm, the sweet fish sauce and lime-based sauce that tends to be much thinner and milder in Vietnam than the cloyingly syrupy version that comes with your spring rolls stateside. If you find yourself in Hanoi and see a cook manning a metal steamer with a long bamboo stick in his hand, sit yourself down.
You can even order these via Doordash at Banh Cuon Thang Long located at 3347 Belt Line in Garland.
Bo Bia is a fresh type of spring roll, packed with vegetables. Despite containing Chinese sausages, these rolls are fairly light, so you can eat a ton of them Or ya know for easy snacking. They aren’t typically served as full meals, but a small handful will do the trick.
Find Bo Bia and other treats at Kim Ninh Bakery, 10560 Walnut.
Not everyone will want Cafe Trung because they are afraid they’re gonna be poisoned by raw egg. Trust me, it tastes like cappuccino and anyone hardly got a stomach ache just because of a raw but delicious egg. In the past, due to the lack of condensed milk, Vietnamese people blended the egg yolk strongly to mix it with coffee, and now it becomes a popular drink for people, especially Hanoian in the winter.
We kindly direct you to late night Bistro B found at 9780 Walnut for a primo example,
The first thing that you’ll notice is the fresh textures and vibrant colors that dominate the food scene in the South. With close proximity to the Mekong Delta, there is a nearly year round abundance of fruit, herbs and vegetables. Alongside any plate or bowl or food at a restaurant or street food vendor, there will be present, a sizeable mound of cilantro, basil and/or bean sprouts along with a side of fiery chillies.
Hun Teiu Go is a true dish of the people made of pork broth and vegetables. Hu tieu originally comes from kuy teav, and in its simplest and purest form, is a soup, normally made with pork bones, and served with a variety of different types of noodles. Nam Vang is the Vietnamese word for Phnom Penh, the largest and capital city of Cambodia. Together Hu Tieu Nam Vang translates to Phnom Penh Chinese noodle soup, a dish that has roots in both Cambodian and Chinese flavors, yet it’s incredibly popular in southern Vietnam.
Find a tasty bowl at Hu Tieu Mi in Dallas located at 3347 West Walnut.
Banh Xeo is also known as crispy Vietnamese pancake, crepe or sizzling cake – is a famous street food which is widely believed to originate from France during its occupation of Vietnam. The word ‘xeo’ depicts the sizzling sound when pouring the rice batter into the hot skillet. This is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. It is stuffed with individual preferences, and served vegetarian or with meat. Some common stuffings include: pork, shrimp, diced green onion, mung bean, and bean sprouts.
Vietnam located at 4302 Bryan has our favorite Banh Xeo.
Originating on the streets of Saigon, the Banh Mi sandwich is a French-Vietnamese hybrid consisting of an airy baguette, sour pickled daikon and carrot, crisp cilantro, spicy chiles, and a cool sliver of cucumber surrounding any number of protein options, from sweet minced pork to fatty pate to sardines.
Check in at the Sandwich Hag for an authentic and other worldly experience were everything is made scratch. Credit only! Located at 1902 South Lamar.
Street vendors would pre-fry Cut Cien Bo (crispy fried quail) and stack them on the small window of their push carts for display. The vendor would fry the quails again to order until golden brown and serve them with a side of pickled or fresh vegetables, and a peppery lemon dipping sauce. They are cheap, quick and delicious.
We suggest again Bistro B for this delightful dish, and they are found at 9780 Walnut.