HCMC: Foodie Tour

17 Mar

Later in the evening of the HCMC sights tour, I joined XO tours again for their night time foodie tour.

I had already had Pho, pronounced (Fah), arguably the national dish of Vietnam, in Ha Noi but it was at the mini-chain, Pho 24.  It was nice but not great.  Fortunately, my colleague Jason had kindly given me some tips of what he considered to be the best Pho places in HCMC, Pho Anh and Pho Hoa, where the Pho was truly delicious.

Pho Anh from Phi Hua on Pasteur Street

Pho from Pho Hua on Pasteur Street

 

District 1 –  Bún bò Huế

However, the guys at XO insisted that Bún bò Huế, which we tried in District 1, would be better.  The name derives from Bun (rice vermicelli), Bo (beef) and Hue, where this style of soup originated.  The soup has different noodles to Pho (cylindrical rather than flat) and is made with beef and pork.  It is similar in style to Thai food, with a balance of sweet, salt, sour and hot.  The broth is prepared by simmering beef bones and beef shank with lemongrass and then seasoned with fermented shrimp or fish sauce and sugar for taste. Spicy chilli oil is added later during the cooking process and at the end, along with herbs and other condiments.

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue

 

District 5 – Chinatown

Our second stop was Chinatown, at the Binh Tay market, a short bike ride through traffic, from District 1.

View from the bike

View from the bike on the way to Chinatown

This is a huge market in District 5, which sells wholesale goods and therefore is not focused on foreign tourists.  There are several sections to the market, each selling a different type of goods, such as household items, dried goods etc.

Binh Tay Market, Chinatown

Binh Tay Market, Chinatown

 

District 8 – Lau De 3Q – Do it yourself BBQ

Lau de 3Q

Lau de 3Q

 

We then moved on to an outdoor barbecue in District 8, where we tried, among other dishes, barbecued goat breast.  (Note that the number 3 is pronounced “Ba”, so 3Q is pronounced Ba-Cue – i.e. BBQ.)  The goat is softened by marinating in fermented tofu and then barbecued directly at the table.  Marinated Ochro is grilled alongside this and it is served with a dip of more fermented tofu and chilli oil.

Barbecue in action

Barbecue in action

 

Ochro, fermented tofu and chilli oil, green kumquat with chilli salt

Ochro, fermented tofu and chilli oil, green kumquat with chilli salt

 

We also had barbecued squid and prawns and of course, frog legs

Frogs Legs

Frogs Legs

 

District 7

We next passed through District 7, with its wide tree-lined streets, where a large expat community lives.

As there are hardly any police in the area, I was able to jump on the bike.

Crazed bike rider

Crazed bike rider

 

District 4 – Seafood (and duck embryos)

Finally we ended up at District 4, where we stop for seafood among other things.  We had barbecued quail, crayfish cooked in chilli salt,

Crayfish with Chilli Salt

Crayfish with Chilli Salt

scallops with lemongrass and chilli,

Scallops

Scallops

Very revolting duck embryos, which I refused to eat,

Duck Embryos

Duck Embryos

 

and Clams in spicy broth.

Clams

Clams

 

We also had the nicest desserts that I had in Vietnam – coconut jelly, served in a whole coconut.

Dessert

Dessert

First, the coconut water is set with agar-agar – it was sweet so may have had sugar added.  This is then topped with coconut cream, also set with agar-agar.  The result is an attractive, light dessert, with clean flavours.

Coconut Jelly

Coconut Jelly

I went back to the hotel, having enjoyed the food in Saigon. Well except for the embryos…

2 Responses to “HCMC: Foodie Tour”

  1. John March 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    You look a little wide-eyed ; exactly how fast were you going on that Vespa? 😉
    Food looks good.

    • ncma69 March 18, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Would you believe me if I said it wasn’t moving and I was simply posing?

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