Noodlepie has the street stand food scene in Ho Chi Minh City well covered in his blog archives, although he no longer blogs from Saigon. Think of a particular Vietnamese street food you might be craving, look it up in his handy archive catalogue, and read and see the places he recommends.
There are tens of thousands of street food stands in HCMC, and he has found some of the best. But almost all of his picks are accessible to main streets and can be found fairly easy by others following up on his recommendations. Beyond the main streets, however, there are many more stands set up every day to serve the local neighbors far from the main streets. Some of these stands offer very good food, but it would be so difficult for others to find them that it is no use to catalogue them.
As shown on this aerial photo, there are thousands of houses in the large blocks in between the main streets.
These houses are accessed by narrow lanes (hẻm) snaking through the block, with many dead ends. Even on a dead end, though, there is significant traffic of local people due to the high density of population in each house. Neighbors set up food stands (or other commercial stands) to cater to the local neighbors. My neighbor five doors down the hẻm provides cà phê drinks and delivers them door-to-door.
My breakfast every morning is obtained at a small soup stand operated by a family in the front yard of their home.
It is rare to have such a front yard in HCMC, so this family uses the space to good advantage -- they operate the soup stand every morning from 0600 to 0900, and park motorbikes for staff of the nearby hospital during the day.
Their courtyard is a relaxing place in the morning, and I enjoy seeing and greeting the soup sisters and the regular customers every morning.
I can make Vietnamese greetings, but can't go beyond there yet with the language, which makes me and my neighbors frustrated. The soup, however, is very good and makes up for it.
The soup sisters make a different kind of noodle soup every day, rotating among seven kinds of soup during the week. One day it is the national soup, phở, the next a beef stew, and on other days it is a variation of hủ tiếu , a pork noodle soup. My favorite is hủ tiếu nam vang, a Cambodian variation on the basic hủ tiếu with the addition of a shrimp, quail egg and some pieces of liver. The soup below is bún bò Huế, another favorite of mine, because it has a large variety of different vegetables among pieces of beef.
These soups have the added benefit of being very well-balanced meals, since there isn't too much meat, and what there is is usually pretty lean. There are lots of vegetables and just enough rice noodles to fill you up. And the cost is certainly reasonable -- 10,000 VN đồng (US$.62) includes a hot Vietnamese coffee.
The soup sisters take very good care of me and make sure I get a little extra portion of everything since I always drain the bowl.
This is a family operation. These two sisters are the primary servers, and there are two others in the house making cà phê and tea drinks. I can't say that they are actually sisters -- it may be that some of them are wives of sons in the family, which would be the normal family situation here in Việt Nam. As should be expected, there are also many children in this family house.