HO CHI MINH CITY: 6 MUST-EATS

Crazy traffic and awesome local food scene.

Two weeks in Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon) from 27th June to 11th July ’15 and those are my two strongest impressions of this city. Saigon’s food scene has pleasantly surprised me ’cause I never expected Vietnam to offer such delectable food.

I was totally clueless of what to eat but MAJOR thanks to http://migrationology.com/2015/02/vietnamese-food-guide-saigon/ – where I shortlisted the food I wanna try based on what I read and saw. Highly comprehensive, very detailed and lovely pictures right there at that website do check it out! 🙂

Here I recommend you 6 food you gotta try when in Saigon! You can eat ALL of them w/o burning a hole in your pocket. CHEAP and GOOD – your stomachs will be happy I assure you.

1. Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio

 (grilled pork and spring rolls with rice vermicelli)

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The spring rolls had a crispy exterior while its interior was fully stuffed with really tasty meat. Equally basking in the limelight was the tender grilled pork that had an ideal meat to fat ratio. The rolls and pork were delicious – both texture and flavor were ON POINT.

This bowl of goodness was garnished with chives, pickles, chopped peanuts and given a finishing touch with a drizzle of fish sauce. Dig further into the bowl and you’ll be led to a bed of herbs and lettuce.

It is hard for anyone to not love this dish. 

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Look at the well-grilled meat that’s slightly charred but it was so gooooood.

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Address: 195 Co Giang, District 1

Opening Hours: 7 am – 10 pm daily

Prices: 40,000 VND (SGD 2.50) 

 

2. Banh Canh Cua

(crab noodles)

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De-shelled crab meat, crab meatball, shrimp, thin pork slices, congealed blood, quail egg and thick noodles – so many ingredients all in a bowl of hot, crab flavored soup!

The soup was neither rich nor thick but flavorful enough for you to want to finish it till the last spoonful. The texture of the soup is similar to those of shark fin’s soup – moderately thick and slightly starchy. The noodles were so smooth they were perfect for slurping. The crab meat was fresh, to my delight!

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You can add a plate of fried dough fritters for only 3,000 VND (SGD 0.20). It is cold and not crispy but great for dipping it into the soup where it’ll soak up the crab’s fragrance.

Add dollops of chili to give your noodles and soup more kick! Warning: The chili is super spicy and overdosing will set your mouth on fire.

Despite getting lost for an hour while hunting down this stall alone, I still thought that it was all worth it. I would surely eat this again if I’m back.

EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY THIS when in Saigon.

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Just look at the shelf of crab shells and bowls filled with the different ingredients!

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Address: 712 Nguyen Kiem, District 3

Opening Hours: 2 pm – 9:30 pm daily

Prices: 35,000 VND (SGD 2.20)

 

3. Com Tam Suon Nuong

 (broken rice with grilled pork chop)

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Broken rice with grilled pork slapped atop, cucumber pickles and green onions as sidekicks, accompanied with a bowl of fish sauce. You can choose other dishes such as meat loaf and fried egg. They serve awesome soup too.

I could smell the aroma of the huge amounts of pork that were grilled away on charcoal even before I reached the stall. As I sunk my teeth into the massive-looking meat, I could happily conclude that it tasted as good as it smelt. The pork was not stiff at all and very, very well-marinated. Oily but so tasty, so hearty!

This was SO GOOD I wiped the whole plate clean. Another dish I would definitely eat again if I return.

My stomach was totally bursting yet absolutely contented.

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Address: 84 Dang Van Ngu, P. 10, Quan Phu Nhuan

Opening Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily

Prices: Depends (SGD 2+ for the above)

 

4. Bot Chien

(fried rice flour cake with eggs)

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This reminded me of carrot cake (chai tau kueh) back in Singapore but sadly, this was a little too bland and lacked crispiness. It came with some brown sauce which you can pour it over to make it tastier.

The softness of the rice cake and the eggs with chives were good though. Try it and you might just like this version of carrot cake better! But for me, Singapore’s chai tau kueh beats this hands down, anytime.

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The lady started the fire from scratch using charcoals to cook this.

Address: Around Hem 174 Nguyen Thien Thuat, just off Ban Co street

Opening Hours: –

Prices: VND 25,000 (SGD 1.60)

 

5. Banh Mi

(baguette)

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THIS IS PROBABLY MY FAVORITE FOOD IN VIETNAM. 

One has every reason to fall in love with this.

The baguette is usually toasted on charcoal which makes it extremely crusty (just check out the “cracks” on the bread above) on the outside, as contrasted with the soft fluffy inside.

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Commonly stuffed with layers of pork, luncheon meats, shredded cured pork skin, pate (cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste), mayonnaise, radish, carrot pickles, cucumbers, coriander and chilies, every ingredient packed into the baguette comes together so well.

Beware of the pounded chilies though, for they have caused volcanic eruptions in my mouth.

Take a bite and feel the orchestra of flavors exploding in your mouth.

You can’t leave Vietnam w/o trying banh mi. But banh mi stalls are almost everywhere, so which to eat? My next post will feature the five most popular and top-rated baguettes in Vietnam and I’ll tell you which are the ones that are truly worth trying! 🙂

 

6. Suckling Roasted Pig

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The skin was incredibly crispy.

Dipping the roasted pig into the various sauces provided just elevates the taste profile though the skin and meat by itself is already yummy enough.

I actually think I could devour this whole plate by myself. Calories really don’t matter anymore when we talk about roasted suckling pig.

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Just look at how C R I S P Y the skin is.

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At the entrance, you’ll see these men roasting the pigs directly over charcoal.

Be there early as the pigs were all sold out the first time we went. This place’s packed with locals and tourists alike. Also, it serves other fried and grilled stuff like seafood and different kinds of meat. We tried the beer crab, fried squid, grilled squid, rabbit meat etc – I personally felt that these were mediocre, certainly not extraordinarily nice nor rave-worthy.

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Address: 283 – 285/C145 Cach Mang Thang 8, Phuong 12, Quan 10

Opening Hours: Evening onwards

I hope you enjoyed this list but know that there is so much more to eat in Saigon! So put on your stretchable pants and start gorging yourselves happy when you’re in this city! 🙂 I’m sure there would be at least one particular local food you’ll love – and this I guarantee.

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