Have I seriously gone 5 and a half months without talking much about the fun food and drink you can get on the side of the road?! Let’s rectify that!

Here you see a coconut – yes, a whole coconut. It’s been fashioned into a cup, and then when you drive up, the salesperson whacks the top off with a machete sticks a straw in it, throws it in a little bag, and you’re on your way!

Fresh Coconut
Average Cost: $.25-.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Totally Mandatory
Best Attributes: Quenches your thirst in a way no other liquid can.

Drive on for a cornucopia of food I bought on the street!

Steamed Banana Cake with Peanuts and Coconut Cream

Average Cost: $.25 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Encouraged
Best Attributes:

     -Traditional desserts: lots of beans, corn, bananas, and banana products. Some are stranger than others.

     -Pretty yummy! Life is good.

Fresh Fruit (papaya shown, pineapple preferred) with Chili Salt

Average Cost: $.25-.75 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Totally Mandatory
Best Attributes:

     -Pineapple with this salt on it is everything I’ve ever wanted a fruit to be.

     -Plus, fresh fruit! Watermelon, pineapple, pomello, papaya, avocado… these fruits and a whole bunch more I don’t know the names of can be found throughout the city, to be eaten fresh or made into shakes (sinh to). 

     -Protip: Avocado smoothies are the BEST.

Fry Bread

Average Cost: $.25-.35 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Nothing Special
Best Attributes:

     -Just your standard Saunders-and-Ben-cook-native-american-food stuff here, nothing to see. A very typical fry bread.

     -It was bread. I found it wanting soy sauce or something.

Small Banh Xeo (Rice Pancake)

Average Cost: $.75-1.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Eat in a Restaurant
Best Attributes:

     -Don’t get it for takeaway, like I did. Eat there. These are supposed to be crispy. When they are… whew! Quite good.

     -Wrapped in lettuce and dunked in fish sauce, almost nothing beats a fresh banh xeo. This was a pale imitation.

Whole Shrimp Fried Spring Rolls

Average Cost: $.75-1.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Great for Cravings
Best Attributes:

     -These particular ones are fried, but don’t be afraid of the raw ones!

     -Raw spring rolls come with a sweet sauce that resembles chocolate in flavor, texture, and color. In fact, it’s fermented black beans, and it’s delicious!

     -Don’t forget to remove the shrimp tails!

Fried Rice Balls with Custardy Substance, Maybe

Average Cost: $.25 USD / Each
Mandatoryness Level: Fun Donut Alternative
Best Attributes:

     -These are sugary on the outside, and you think they’re going to be like big donut holes – surprise! These have a glutinous outer shell, which leads me to believe it’s some kind of rice product (heh… surprise).

     -There was something vaguely sweet in the center of these. I liked it. They’re like the perfect thing to get yourself on your way to your fourth lesson of the day!

     -Who am I kidding, the stuff in the middle is probably rice-based, too.

Fried Balls of Various Substances

Average Cost: $.25-1.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Yes Yes Yes
Best Attributes:

     -These are just so fun to eat!

     -These ranged from fish to peppercorn beef (the big ones) to tofu (I think). They were all fantastic. I took only a small sample of the many, many different ones in the cart, I want to try more!

     -Two different types of sauces! Fried at the stall in front of you! So fun!

Banh Trong Tron 

Average Cost: $.25-.75 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Dinner on the Go
Best Attributes:

     -Served in a bag? Sold. This one comes with two little hardboiled quail eggs!

     -The transparent strips are long pieces of cut up rice paper. They’re really tough at first – let your bag chill out for 10 minutes as you motorbike to your destination, letting the sauces and liquids soak in. Soon the strands  become pliable and delicious.

     -Since the name really only means “mixture,” stands frequently try new combinations of noodles, rice paper, jerkies, crackers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and more to find a unique mixture that will sell well. I love the ones with papaya and beef jerky!

Banh Cuon

Average Cost: $1.00-1.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: A Great Change of Pace
Best Attributes:

     -This dish revolves around little steamed rice pockets full of pork, shrimp, or both.

     -Served with sprouts, herbs, and fish sauce.

     -These are a good way to change it up. It’s a good breakfast or lunch dish.

     -The little steamed things are pretty slippery, but very pliable. They go down like eating a whole jello jiggler.

     -Here you can see one up close. They’re savory without being overwhelming, and the sprouts are nice and crunchy.

Banh Mi, Of Course

Average Cost: $.50-1.50 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Absolutely Essential
Best Attributes:

     -This has to be the best sandwich on the planet. Not even a joke.

     -They’re pretty much all good. It’s a hard sandwich to mess up. However… you know who’s got that special insight, and you patronize their cart often…

     -It’s divine.

And if you’ve got 15 minutes to sit…

Curbside Restaurants

Average Cost: 1.00-2.00 USD
Mandatoryness Level: Healthy Fast Food
Best Attributes:

     -Sit down a spell!

     -Get a more substantial portion!

     -Spend so little for almost home-cooked food!

     –Get a bowl of hot cabbage water!