With just $2 (~42,000 VND), what specialties can you enjoy in Vietnam? A LOT! Vietnam’s food is cheap, if not very cheap. $2 can buy you scores of amazing local food. Here is a list of under-two-dollar food you can find in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh city – 3 in the 5 biggest cities of Vietnam.
There’re many dishes in Hanoi are under $2 or even under $1, which I have the joy eating everyday.
1. Phở Hà Nội. If you’re leaning about Vietnam, you may have heard about “Pho”. This’s a famous specialties of Hanoi that has earned global reputation. Most of Pho in Hanoi are under $2/bowl, except in a few very famous restaurants.
2. Bún Chả (rice noodle with grilled pork) – a comparable competitor to Phở Hà Nội. I eat Bun Cha regularly, few times / month, and most of them are under $1.5/plate.
3. Bún đậu (rice noodle with deep fried tofu) is a also a highlight of Hanoi’s daily cuisine. Bun dau used to be a casual food for worker class who formed the norm of eating freshly fried tofu right out of the pan on the side of the street. Now Bun dau has been upgraded into restaurant version and added with several side dishes, which supplement a nice touch but consequently will charge you about $2/serve.
4. Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette). There’re many types of filling for Banh Mi in Hanoi such as: Pate, roasted pork, coldcut, an assortment of many flavourful bit, etc. And it won’t cost you any higher than $1.5, most can be below $1.
5. Rice (cơm) is most popular dish in Vietnam. Vietnamese people have rice on a meal basis. You can try eating rice anywhere in Hanoi with popular price from $1 – $2/plate.
6. Sticky rice (xôi) is also a less-consumed kind of rice normally for morning quick breakfast or on special occasions. Sticky rice is skillfully cooked with so many different versions: xôi ngô (with corn and coconut), xôi xéo (with mung bean), savoury mix. Xôi is sold everywhere in Hanoi at around 0.5 per small serve.
7. Trang Tien ice cream (on Trang Tien street) has been a famous brand from half a century ago. The store is open everyday and always crowed (even in winter), and price is 0.6/one. You can also enjoy Thuy Ta ice cream (also a famous brand) nearby, on Hoan Kiem lakeshore, with prices from $0.4.
In Da Nang
Da Nang is really a culinary paradise, delicious and special food for even cheaper than Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh even within city center. I visited this place twice and definitely will return.
8. Mì Quảng (Quang noodle) to Da Nang is like Pho to Hanoi. A bowl of Mi Quang has noodles (look like Pho), eggs, pork, vegetable and a bit of broth. There’re many Mi Quang restaurants in Da Nang with prices under $1.5.
9. Bánh xèo (Pan cake or Vietnamese crepe) is famous specialty of Da Nang. Many other places also have Banh Xeo but I think Da Nang’s banh xeo is the best. One piece of Banh Xeo is from $0.4 – $0.7 and normally, one can make 2 to 3 pieces disappear.
10. Bún chả cá is a noodle with fish cake topping in fish-based broth (sweet and sour). Normally, a bowl of Bun Cha Ca is from $0.8 – $1.5.
11. Bánh cuốn (steamed rice paper roll) is a unique dish with rolls of steamed rice paper typically eaten with Vietnamese sausage, some herbs and fish sauce dipping. Average price of this dish is from $1 – $1.5 / plate.
12. Bún mắm (Sauce noodle) is a very typical dish of Central Vietnam, whose flavour is typically strong and intensive. Don’t miss out this food for only $0.8 – $1.5 / bowl.
13. Bánh bèo (Mini topped pancake) is apopular snack in Danang. In addition Banh Beo, there’re also Banh Nam (bánh Nậm) and Banh Loc (bánh Lọc), 2 traditional cakes of Da Nang. With under $2, you can enjoy all of these dishes for 2 people.
In Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh city)
14. Cơm tấm (Broken rice with grilled pork chop) is a daily food of Sai Gon people, sold from sidewalks to fancy restaurants. Average price for a Com tam plate is from $0.8 to $1.5 and rarely over $2.
15. Pha Lau (Phá Lấu) is a very popular dish in Sai Gon and seems only in Sai Gon. Pha Lau is cooked from pig or cow organs. Don’t be afraid by the sound of it. There’re many kinds of Pha Lau for under $1/bowl.
16. Bột Chiên (Fried flour) is an adoption of Saigon people from Chinese cuisine. Teenagers fall for this $1 snack.
17. Sủi cảo is a Chinese dim sum. There’re 2 kinds of Sui Cao: dried (served with sauce) and wet )served in broth). It will cost you about $1.5 – $2.
18. Bánh tráng trộn (rice paper mix) is the most favorite snack of Sai Gon youth. Banh trang tron has rice paper, egg, dried beef, peanut mix together. A nice try for only less than$0.5/bag.
19. Hủ Tiếu is very popular boodle dish in Southern Vietnam. It has Hu Tieu noodle, minced pork, few pieces of pork (or fish), shrimp, vegetable, special broth and so on. One bowl is priced at around $1.
20. Bún thịt nướng is like a variation of Bun Cha in Hanoi. Main ingredients are similar but the favour comes out so typical of each region. A bowl of Bun Thit Nuong is about $0.8 – $1.5
You can find most of these food everywhere but of course, always better in where they were born.