Usually one family starts the business with an innovative idea and the neighbors follow their examples. As time goes by, these shops achieve an almost equal status and gain recognition among street food-lovers.
Caramel pudding (Hang Than Street): There are about three or four shops selling homemade caramel pudding and yogurt close to the corner of Hang Than and Hoe Nhai. It’s easier for takeout but if you don’t mind a bit squeezing, you are welcome to sit down. They are master at mixing yogurt and caramel pudding with fruits, nep cam (violet glutinous rice) and all kinds of yummy jelly.
Photo: A caramel pudding shop on Hang Than Street
Fruit salads (To Tich Street): Specific types of fruits vary according to the season, but since you are in a tropical country, the beauty of diversity is a wonder. The general idea is medium sized pieces of different taste topped with condensed milk and served with a separate bowl of ice.
Fried pork roll (Tam Thuong Alley): The whole alley is devoted to this food. Pork roll wrapped in banana leaves are either fried or BBQ at your request. A small portion of hot sauce is served together with a plate of either cu dau (pachyrrhizus) or mango. You can always ask for soya sauce if the sauce is too hot to bear! French fries and sometimes chicken wings are available as well.
Hang Chieu Alley: Unlike the other three addresses, Hang Chieu valley is a well-known destination for those who want to try different dishes at once. Little shops here are like heaven for those who want to access local food in an authentic way. It is a bit crowded, especially around lunch time. You will see most of the common noodle soup, banh xeo (Vietnamese pan cake with shrimp and bean sprout inside), che (sweet beans and jelly) and many others.
BBQ – Ly Van Phuc Street: tucked away in the middle of the lengthy Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ly Van Phuc easily stands out for its rising smoke from the many BBQs standing next to each other. Local specialty of the BBQ here is chicken feet, though if the idea of trying one is too intimidating, you can always get chicken drumsticks or ribs, which are equally delicious. These are often served with a plate of fresh vegetables and chilly-based dipping sauce.
All shops mentioned are open all day, 7 days a week, but don’t try your luck after 10pm.