This is a very attractive book, with great photographs for every recipe, printed on good quality matt paper. The instructions are excellent, the food types varied, and the chat about the different street food stalls entertaining. But if you do not have access to a specialist (usually Chinese) supermarket you may find yourself unable to source many of the ingredients.
The recipes are divided into Roll, Grill/Roast, Boil/Steam. Fry, Baguettes/Salads, Sweets and Sauces/Condiments. Additional chapters are an introduction to street food culture in Vietnam, two pages about the recipes, a glossary and an index.
All of the recipes look marvelous in the photographs and the instructions are easy to follow. An English title is followed by the Vietnamese name and a brief paragraph of description. then, on the left, there is a complete list of ingredients (never ridiculously long) and on the right the blow by blow instructions for how to assemble the dish. A serving estimate is also provided (usually six, sometimes more).
Although some of the recipes can be made from ingredients sourced from major supermarkets, an awful lot must be sourced from specialist stores, if you are lucky enough to have one in the vicinity, or online suppliers. Difficulties included the all important rice-paper wrappers, rice noodle sheets, the occasionally used wonton wrappers, rice flour, various types of noodles of which I've never heard, Asian shallots, annatto oil, daikon, jicama, perilla leaves, dried squid, eel, fresh lemongrass stems, lotus leaves and seeds, galangal and cheong sausages. One recipe requires pig's ear, tongue and cheek. There is NO guidance as to what yo might substitute if you cannot find a particular ingredient.
Once you've overcome the problem of sourcing ingredients there is a great variety of different flavours and styles of cooking. Here are a few examples: Beef rice paper rolls, pork skewers in rice paper, seafood spring rolls, barbecue pork two ways on rice vermicelli, roast duck, caramel fish with galangal, clay pot pork with quail eggs and daikon, wonton soup, rice noodles in pork broth with chicken prawns and omlette, braised beef with lemongrass and star anise, west lake prawn cakes, salt-and-pepper squid, five-spice eel, salt-steamed chicken in baguette, fish patties with coriander and chill in baguette, and a set of sauces.
If I could have acquired the ingredients I would have given this four stars - but the difficulties mean that I can't use the book as I would like, so I have given it three. Others might live nearer to good stockists, and for them this will be a much more useful book, which should give great pleasure.