Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Street food in Saigon, Vietnam

The traffic in Saigon is quite terrifying. Pedestrians do not get the right of way as motorbikes whiz by you in herds. I was advised to just look ahead and walk in a natural pace across the street, and the bikes will somehow avoid you. It's the best advice I've ever gotten.

The traffic is not something that I'll miss, but the food on the other hand is memorable. Even though our cyclo (kind of like a tuk tuk) "tour" guide ripped us off by overcharging us, he did take us to an authentic pho place. We knew it was authentic because everyone were locals, no one spoke English and the prices were cheap. Once you stepped in, you could smell the aroma of the pho broth.

The table is set up with a variety of items including rice cakes, deep fried crullers and meat pies. At the end of the meal, the server will tally up what you ate and charge you accordingly. I sampled the crullers which were room temperature (they couldn’t compare to the ones freshly fried up from the hawker centers in Singapore).

I ordered my usual favorite type of pho - tripe and tendon. Loved the broth. It tasted and smelt rich but wasn't overwhelming.

My friend opted for the popular selection which included ground meat, flank steak and meatballs. Love the vibrant colors of the herbs.

Apart from pho, the next most popular Vietnamese item is the banh mi sandwich. A friend/tourguide suggested Nhu Lan, located in District 1. I was a bit concerned because firstly, it was located near our hotel so I assumed that he just picked the closest joint regardless of quality. Secondly, the banh mi sandwiches were already pre-made and wrapped up in plastic. Thirdly, there didn’t seem to be that many selections left by the time we got there.

However, the banh mi turned out to be rather delicious. We shared the classic banh mi which was stuffed with a selection of cold cuts including headcheese and ham. I really enjoyed the large serving of really spicy pickled vegetables, daikon and jalapeno. The French bread was really fresh and airy, and was slathered with a good amount of creamy pate and mayo. Not only was it delicious and very filling, but the sandwich also cost about a buck. You really can’t beat it.

Pho Hoa
260C Pasteur St.,
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
84 8 829 7943

Nhu Lan
66-68 Ham Nghi,
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
84 8 829 2970


Gastronomer said...

I also enjoyed a bowl of pho at Pho Hoa on my trip! It's the most famous pho shop in all of Saigon.

I thought it tasted just like the pho we get in SoCal.

Jullian Ricci said...

I admitted that Streetfood is not only fancy but also cheap. However..., I dont think it's clean and safe enough for us to eat. I'm kinda worried about the flies around when they appeare on my food. Sorry..