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Ha Noi: Street food has something extra ... CHOLERA

Posted by CatBa on 12/3/2008 at 21:53

Street food stands often offer good food for a bargain price.

Unfortunately, CHOLERA is being increasingly served up with street food in Ha Noi and the Health Department warns incidents are on the increase!

In HCMC the city government has food inspectors who actually sample food stuffs (they don't actually eat the samples but chemically analyse them).

You can tell when a food inspector has visited recently as cooks (in restaurants) wear hats and hair nets and street vendors use gloves.

If a stand is crowded and busy, the chances are the food is OK. The night food market restaurants are very well supervised and rarely does anyone become sick.

#1 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

Posted by alljokingaside on 29/12/2011 at 00:45

huh. Interesting....is this still the case in northern Vietnam/Hanoi (or anywhere else in Vietnam for that matter?

I'm a street food addict so this is troubling news indeed.

#2 alljokingaside has been a member since 20/12/2011. Posts: 18

Posted by MADMAC on 29/12/2011 at 02:30

"a street food addict"??

I get eating it because it's cheap, but remove that element from the equation and there is MUCH better food to be had at a quality restaraunt.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 29/12/2011 at 05:42

When I lived in Malaysia most of my local friends were fairly well-off Chinese but they always insisted on eating street food at the night markets.I asked why and they said at least you can see the food being prepared and examine its freshness.
How do you define a quality restaurant? Nice wallpaper, chandeliers?
Madmac, you should go back and look at some of the preparation rooms and kitchens of some of these Asian 'quality restaurant.'
I think you'd have a big surprise. Plenty of super-sized cockroaches etc since hygiene comes a lowly second to the decor and the grovelling staff .Only those who don't know S,E. Asia eat where they can't see the food and examine it for freshness; as you should know, nothing ever gets thrown out they just spice it up to kill the taste of rotting meat.

#4 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by busylizzy on 29/12/2011 at 13:14

Sayadian - that is so true! The number of times that I have caught glimpses of the kitchen at a restaurant that I was eating at... well, let's just say what you don't know COULD kill you! Some are pretty disgusting.

When eating street food, look for places where they keep any meat on ice - and better yet, covered in glad wrap. If the meat is sitting out in the hot sun with flies over it, you might opt for vegetarian. What is the state of the cooking area like? Covered it food and splatters, or wiped down reasonably cleanly?

I hadn't heard about cholera in street food in Hanoi. Google it and see what you come up with. Just check that the sites that mention it (if any) are reputable.

#5 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by MADMAC on 30/12/2011 at 02:26

I can't speak for your Malay Chinese friends, but I use three criteria:

1. Does the food taste good?
2. Do I get sick afterwards?
3. Is the service / ambience good?

If the kitchen is funky, but I don't get sick, then it's good to go. I eat street food, because it's cheap. But there is zero doubt in my mind that in general it's not as clean, it's not as good, and ambience doesn't exist. It ain't fine dining. This is true in Asia, it's true in Germany, it's true in Africa... it's true everywhere.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 30/12/2011 at 06:21

Try some of the street food in Georgetown or Kualar Lumpar or even Bangkok.
Mmm, the smell of barbequed frog and chicken or fish with the wafting smells of the Klongs as a backdrop makes my mouth water.
I admit if you live in the backwoods your cuisine is kind of limited to Nam Tok Lab etc with a fiery somtam and sticky rice but the cities offer a lot more.
The food markets in Thailand are brilliant and offer a much more interesting and varied menu than any restaurant plus you can take your own beer from the 7-11.
But you really think Asian kitchens are cleaner? You should take a look.

#7 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 31/12/2011 at 00:05

And wouldn't you know it. Ate at the night market last night, and got sick as a dog. This thread must have cursed me.

Our choices here are pretty good. I ike what I call the "Thai Tacco", which I get at the night market. I like the "Moo Bin" (sweet pork), which is what did me in last night. I don't like Vietnamese food but their egg rolls are good. I am getting sick of SEA food in general and praying a McDonalds opens here sooner rather than latter.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 31/12/2011 at 22:03

Talking of the 'shits' I just drunk some Chinese concoction last night on New year's Eve.
Talk about firewater I think it was distilled from chillies.No hangover but its given me the trots.How in hell I got my motorcycle home I'll never know.Thank God they don't have breathalysers here.All I remember is other motorists giving me a wide berth

#9 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by exacto on 31/12/2011 at 23:47


I'd like to hear about the street food in Africa. You've mentioned that you liked Somalia, which I've always thought was interesting. What was the street food like there?

In Turkey, there isn't a lot of variety like there is in SEA. Nine out of ten carts were selling these pretzel-like things. We used to call them hepatitis rings. Tasted great and cheap, but...

Sorry to hear about the street food getting you. I love that moo bin you mentioned, particularly in the Isan. Still no western food restaurants in Muk? Bummer. It sounds like Savannakhet will get a McDonalds first. I know what you mean about getting bored with local food. When you are just passing through for a month or two, the local food is new and unique and exciting. But after a few years.... It is the same where I live. No ethnic places other than Mexican. I'd kill for a good Turkish or Greek place. Cheers.

#10 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,809

Posted by mic59 on 1/1/2012 at 00:59

Never been sick eating from a street vendor even when I bought custard at a wharf or egg on a steamng hot day in Bali. I hear some stories, and there sounds to be a bit of truth in them, that it can be possible to talk yourself into illness after eating at a street vendor. I heard of one girl who exhibited all the signs of severe gastro-enteritis in SE Asis but after she was home the doctors could find nothing wrong with her. Of course, a bit of sense is required, such as don't drink the water unless it's boiled or purchased in a sealed container, but other than that eating from street vendors always has seemed safe to me.

#11 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107

Posted by MADMAC on 1/1/2012 at 03:41

The security situation in Somalia precluded large, crowded markets when I was there. Even markets like Bakkara were not the same as in Asia. As for food, Somali food is an interesting mix of Arab and Italian, and is easily my favorite cuisine.

In Ethiopia there were lots of street stalls, although these universally offered places to sit and eat. Like the night market in Muk which also has this feature, but it's not universal. The hygenic standards were consistently low however.

As for the safety of the food, I think it's generally OK. But it is never going to compare to the standards for a western restaraunt, and it would be naive to think it does or could. The oversight is far less stringent (where it exists at all), the attitudes toward safety of food preparation are also more poorly understood... It ain't Africa, but it ain't western Europe or the US either.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

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