Vietnam Street Food Rules

posted on: Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Em oi! Come back! Hanoi's bustling Old Quarter


Hanoi's bustling, amazing Old Quarter may look grimy and chaotic to the naked eye, but don't be fooled: it offers street food options that have been honed over centuries. Much of it is delicious, healthy and fresh. There's very little dairy, gluten or processed foods and I love that meat punctuates a good meal, but it definitely isn't the meal.

Before you start eating there are three street food rules you really need to know.


1. Sing for your supper: Or rather shout for you supper and call out em oi! It is custom to call the wait staff over to take your order in Vietnam. Ignore this fact and you will spend hours waiting and getting frustrated. Some people hold back calling this out because they feel like they are being rude, but it is absolutely standard. The literal meaning is Hey you!

2. Don't be greedy: This is a non-throw away society where many people have only the bare minimum to eat. Try to be conservative with your ordering. You can always order more, but leaving plates of barely touched food on your table is a sin here, and a huge waste regardless of where you live.

3. Shout your mates: No one shares the bill here and vendors are stunned when foreigners get up to pay just for their own meal. It is custom for one person to pay for the whole group with friends taking it in turns. Luckily prices are so cheap that you can generally shout everyone's meal for a tenner.

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