I’m not sure I quite have the same poetic writing skills about food as my darling husband, but since he had to work, while I got to go play in Ho Chi Minh city (or Saigon City as everyone there calls it), I guess I better have a go at it myself. I have to say, overall I think the food in Vietnam was pretty good. I can’t say it was spectacular though. I think I ate a larger variety of food this time around, and I only had one meal I would say wasn’t very good. The rest of the food was all pretty good. I just re-read Kevin’s post from Hanoi, and I still agree, the food is good, but slightly bland sometimes. So let’s see, what did we EAT?!
Our first stop after we arrived was, of course, for Pho at the Ben Thanh Market. I have to say this was the worst Pho I had here. Maybe it was the stall we were at, but it was overpriced and super bland. Luckily the food got better from here 🙂 We also had spring rolls, fried and fresh here, and they were pretty good.
That evening we stumbled across a craft style local market with tons of food. We had a Bahn Mi and I believe it’s called Banh Xeo, the crispy pancake filled with onion, sprouts, meat, and in this case corn. We also had some pork on a stick that was somewhat similar to satay. Of course I forgot to take pictures. On the way back we also stopped for our first proper Bahn Mi, which I would say was quite good.
The next day we headed out to the Cu Chi tunnels with some locals, and stopped for lunch at a small local stall. I had beef noodles while the other ladies had chicken and rice. I have to say the noodles were much better than Ben Thanh, but still just alright. From all reports the chicken was decent, but the rice was dry. The woman also cut up the chicken to eat after cooking with some very rusty and questionable scissors. But we had our first taste of proper Vietnamese coffee, and it was spectacular!
On our tour of the Cu Chi tunnels we tried some Cassava or tapioca. It was served with something I found common here, a homemade seasoned salt. They have all different types, and we had different salts served with all manner of dishes; fruit, beef, and veggies. Since I love salt, anything with special seasoned salt is great in my book! 🙂 On our bus ride back we bought a little snack from a woman on the bus and our local friends Xiu and Loc showed us how to prepare and eat it. It was tough rice paper with salt and spicy seasonings. I would compare the taste to hot fries in the U.S., but the consistency to jerky or an extra tough fruit roll up. Actually, I really liked it.
That night we headed out for what is ranked as the best Banh Mi in Saigon, from Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, just a few blocks from our hotel. Of course there was a queue, but it wasn’t too long. They only have take away so we headed to the rooftop bar of the hotel to chow down. I have to say, besides the chilies that burned my lips for about 15 minutes, the sandwich did not disappoint. You can’t find bread like that in Malaysia for sure! It made me miss those toasted subs from Mary Angela’s back home!
I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo before I started eating! The next morning we headed out for the Mekong Delta with our awesome tour guide Lee from Tour Guide Saigon (you can find him on Facebook), and he was great! We stopped and tried some of the local candies; banana candy, banana chips, candied ginger, and peanut candy. I have to say the candied ginger stood out as very soft and chewy with a nice flavor. We all grabbed a few bags to take home.
Next we headed over to see popped rice and coconut candy. The popped rice was fascinating to watch. They heat up this sand (it’s black) in a huge wok and then they throw in the rice and it pops like popcorn. It was so cool to watch. Then they essentially make rice crispy treats, but the popped rice is better, and it’s not so gooey. We also tried some coconut candy. We stayed away from the snake wine though.
Okay, that’s all for now, I better go finish unpacking and get ready for our next adventure, more on Vietnam later!