How is it like to have dinner on the side of the street?

Street food initially sounds not absurd at all. For thousands of years since mankind came up with the term “society establishment”, markets and culinary business accordingly have rooted and developed. Vietnam is no different. Born along with local wet markets thousands of years ago, eating food at the side of the street with no tables at all and sometimes just resting on tiny stools placed next to a wooden carrying pole have lived along with generations of Vietnamese citizens until the present time. Why are Vietnam food tours getting so special and why cannot they just get some proper tables inside a covered space? Well, the myth takes it way further than that.


Vietnam street food

If you ever tossed this question “culinary tours in Vietnam” on Google, the search engine will surely toss you back with countless number of recommendations for the best Vietnam street food tours. People will persuade you to at least have it once across the country or you will surely be left regretful. I must admit that is true. Even as a local Vietnamese, I cannot live with street food. Street food in Vietnam does not have to be something forcing you to sit on the ground of a tiny pavement packed with full of motorbikes but it can occur in a spacious eatery with proper tables and chairs as well. However, Vietnamese like us may never live without street food vendors, whether we are Hanoians, Saigonese or anyone, this is a must!


Street vendors in Hanoi

When you sign up for a culinary tour in Vietnam, most of the packages offer you a night food tour. Morning choice is sometimes found but night packages are always there. Why is that? Local Vietnamese can have street food at any time during the day, especially around rush hours like morning around 7 a.m, noon time when white collars and workers are allowed a noon break for lunch or after school and after work, it’s around 5 p.m. However, evening or dinner time is always most favored by all of us. At this time, the weather is chilling down, everyone is getting their free time back after a long hard-working day, which means hanging out with their groups of friends may get a little easier than the previous hours of the day.


Bò Lá Lốt Vietnam

Other dinning business can be found open and available to serve all day long, yet most of the street food vendors choose to show up in the late afternoon and open till late at night depending. Attending a Vietnam culinary tour at this time, you will have a chance to live like truly locals, have meals with them, get a full insight on how the dishes are processed and displayed, hear an interesting story behind the origin of what you are about to eat and have a local companion walk you through each step to enjoy your dish in a right way.

Sometimes it can be right on the sidewalk where everyone passes by, sometimes it is operated right in front of another store, sometimes you may sit on a small plastic chair while the table is nothing else but another plastic chair right behind you, sometimes it is not a carrying pole or a sometimes vendor but a big high stall surrounded by tables and chairs in acceptable size. Your dishes are always served hot and boiled, ingredients and side veggies are always fresh whilst the soup and sauce are more than just savory. A bonus is that most of the chefs always smile and you can feel free to take a photo hugging them or even have a small chit-chat.


Anthony at the side of the street

Vietnam culinary tour is like that. Taking part in one does not allow you to have a fully satisfying dinner but also to sneak through the insane municipal traffic at the back of a scooter. Street food is one of many colorful prisms shaping Vietnam’s reputation, and a wish to be able to count totally how many dishes Vietnamese have is an impossible mission.