Let’s face it. The Vietnamese are not shy about eating weird food. An old Vietnamese saying goes, if it moves eat it, and that’s actually very true. So trying to find a list of just 5 disgusting foods here is a bit of a challenge, but let’s narrow it down based on what is absolutely repulsive and also what many foreigners wouldn’t eat. Honestly you could probably make this a top 20 list easily, but 5 gross things to eat is probably enough for now. So when eating street food in Vietnam you should look out for the following foods, unless you’re an adventurous eater.
Thit cho (Dog meat)
This is the one that usually tops any of these types of lists. Most foreigners when they think of crazy foods that people in places like Vietnam and Thailand like to eat, dog meat is always the one that comes to mind first. There is a very strong taboo against eating dogs in Western countries. People in these countries consider their dogs to be family and so the idea of eating a dog to many Westerners is the same as eating a member of their family, it’s literally that upsetting. Dog meat has been described as greasy and odd tasting. Not like chicken or pork, more tangy, maybe. Anyway it sounds very unappetizing and yet it’s quite popular here in Vietnam. Many Men here like to eat dog meat and drink beer with their friends.
Tiet Canh vit (Duck Blood)
This is also known as Duck Pizza. This dish is most popular in the North of Vietnam and is made from raw duck blood and duck meat. This dish is prepared by mixing fish sauce and cooked Duck entrails with raw duck blood, and diced peanuts and chilies are sometimes added to the top. When the blood congeals it resembles a red, gooey pizza. Anything that has as its main ingredient raw blood is not going anywhere near this mouth. This might be a dish that people from the UK would be okay eating as they do like things like blood pudding, which is basically a giant blood clot, but most people would be happy to give this a miss.
Hot vit lon (Duck Foetus)
Who doesn’t love the sight of those cute little ducklings waddling along behind their mother as she crosses the street, it’s an iconic image that always makes us all gooey inside. So the idea of popping a duck foetus, feathers, bill, cute little padded feet and all, into your mouth and munching away is particularly repulsive. It could be the most delicious thing in the world, but just thinking about eating any kind of a foetus gets the old gag reflex going. This is actually a very popular dish in not only Vietnam, but also Cambodia and the Philippines as well, but the Vietnamese prepare it a bit differently than in the Philippines or Cambodia. The duck embryo is often served with a pinch of salt, lemon juice, plus ground pepper and mint leaves. Also Duck foetuses are believed to be healthy for pregnant Woman, and so often pregnant woman like to eat this meal. This is a pretty common street food in Vietnam.
Duong Dua (Living Grubs)
This is by far the worst thing that people here like to eat, even though the duck foetus is quite offensive, it’s really nothing compared to this is a cringe inducing meal. Duong Dua are also called coconut worms and they look like fat, wiggly grubs. They are quite possibly the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen anyone eat. It would be bad enough eating one of these things cooked or grilled, but the Vietnamese like to take it one step further and eat them while they are still alive. You can look on your plate and see these hideous things squirming, and moving around and then you pick them up and pop them in your mouth. No thanks! The worms are eaten raw, of course, with just a bit of fish sauce. There is a contest in D12 where you can win 1 million VND for eating a plate full of these live coconut worms, the contest also involves eating fried scorpions, it sounds like the type of contest you would pay 1 million VND not to participate in, thank you very much.
Thit Chuot (Rat meat)
Last, but not least, is deep fried Rat. The very same filthy animals you see running all over the streets every day, and who live in garbage for their whole lives. Not something you would knowingly choose to eat. Just seeing their deep fried hairless carcasses sitting on the plate is enough to kill even the biggest of appetites. It is popular mostly in Hanoi, but can also be found in Saigon as well. Rat meat might very well be delicious and some of the dishes prepared from rat meat are nearly indistinguishable from dishes made from pheasant or pigeon or some other more acceptable animal, but the fact that Rats are associated with filth and disease makes them a poor choice for consumption, and that alone puts them into this category.
The runner’s up in this category include fried Scorpions, crickets and tarantulas. And also Durian, which is seemingly every Vietnamese’s favourite fruit, but whose smell is so utterly foul as to be almost universally hated by any foreigners, especially those from the Western countries, Australia and New Zealand included. The truth is that the food here is a mix of good and bad and at the end of the day it becomes more a personal preference than anything else. Some foreigners love Durian, and have eaten dog meat and rat meat, but most foreigners would hesitate to eat most of the things on this list. It just isn’t our cup of tea, as we like to say. So when buying Vietnam street food please be careful what you eat, it might not be what you think.