🔕 🔔

My Basket ()

All questions

Street food in Southeast Asia

I typically avoid street food in third world countries, even though a lot of it looks delicious. If I do eat it, avoid the raw vegetables. The internet is full of contradictory advice. What do you do?

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

asked about 4 years ago
7 answers 1542 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 4 years ago

Avoid raw fruit and veggies... It is the water they use to wash these foods our systems cannot handle, not the fact that the food is rotten or infested with bacteria or some other pathogen.

As long as it is cooked, you should be fine. Remember, tourists are a small percentage of their business and they would not have many repeat local customers if they were making people sick.

B0e51b35 a002 4fdd adc2 f06fa947184e  baci1

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added about 4 years ago

I often look for the locals. Like Tony S wrote, you don't stay in business if you make your local clientele sick.

Fbc31129 dd77 4f50 92da 5ddc4a29c892  summer 2010 1048
added about 4 years ago

I wrote a story on this years ago and one piece of advice --from an infectious disease expert -- that stuck in my head was that you can eat pretty much anything that's above 140 F, so that steaming
cauldron of pho is likely OK. Naomi Duguid (Hot Sour Salty Sweet, etc.) also pointed out that eating on the street actually makes more sense than in a hotel or restaurant because the vendors are cooking right in front of you.

609271d6 306e 4b3e 8479 9d404fb84e73  moi 1

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added about 4 years ago

Like Midge, I also follow the 140F rule and buy only bottled drinks (tea excluded)

Cd4936f2 2555 42a6 bab6 b78ae625f4ec  img 3538
added about 4 years ago

My spouse went to Thailand, Lao and Cambodia and ate from many carts and only got sick once from fried chicken. My friend just got back from thailand and she only ate from carts, she did not get sick but stuck as much as possible to a vegetarian/pescatarian menu.

671b6c39 4898 435f 92c5 89cd9b925088  img 3788
added about 4 years ago

It depends on the country. For what it is worth, in Northern Vietnam the only time I got sick was when I ate at a very fancy tourist-only restaurant. Absolute misery with a high fever...I figure the problem was that the restaurant did not have a high turn-over rate. (It was the crab spring roll, I am pretty sure) The pho stands on the street used only fresh ingredients and sold everything in a few hours. I never had trouble at any of the places frequented by Vietnamese people.
Obviously, don't eat raw veggies in India or Nepal, but you should make a case by case decision for other countries.

516f887e 3787 460a bf21 d20ef4195109  bigpan
added about 4 years ago

I just returned a month ago from spending 6 weeks between Beijing and Singapore with many great meals from street carts.
As mentioned, stand back and watch - which carts are busy and which carts are clean. In a way you actually see the kitchen. (I recall walking out one restaurant in China ... we walked past the kitchen, I looked inside and left immediately.)
The only problem we had was eating items with more "heat" than my tender tummy is used to .
We travel with sani-wipes and use them regularly

Let's Keep in Touch!

Get the recipes and features that have us talking, plus first dibs on events and limited-batch products.

(Oh, and $10 off your order of $50 or more in the Food52 Shop, too.)

Please enter a valid email address.