Category / Outside Malaysia
One of the reasons I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times prior to this trip was due to work. Back then, we were developing a pretty complicated web based program with a team of programmers based in Ho Chi Minh City, and the team lead for that project was none of ther than Trinh, a friendly local chap whom I’ve developed a friendship over the years.
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện is the name of the restaurant
So on this trip, I took the opportunity to catch up with Trinh again after not seeing each other on flesh for the past 9 years or so.
Haze and I was on a rented scooter, following Trinh on his bike heading to District 3 towards Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2 restaurant for dinner involving fish. A place I have visited in my previous trip, courtesy of another Vietnamese colleague’s introduction. I actually consulted the same person for address, too bad she was not able to join us over the holiday season.
fish is as fresh as they come, they’re alive!
What we came here for was Keo fish, a type of freshwater goby/mudskipper measuring some half a feet or so (scientific name – pseudapocryptes elongatus). According to Trinh, this delicacy is only available in South Vietnam.
The fish is usually served in two different ways – grilled, or in soup.
The grilled version is served on a stick not entirely different from shishamo in Japanese cuisine, but of course with plenty of vege on the side, and some fish sauce based condiment on the side.
grilled keo fish vs steamboat version, Trinh & me
The soupy version though, came in a hotpot with even more vegetable and a side of vermicelli noodle as well. The texture is smooth and it also has a naturally sweet seafood flavor.
We didn’t know how fresh the fish were until Trinh ordered additional fishes when we ran out. They came to the table ALIVE! The waiter then carefully dump the live fish into the hotpot and close the lid real quick to spare us the death scene. A few minutes later, we were enjoying some of the sweetest and freshest seafood, the taste is not overly different from marble goby, in fact.
If you’re into some special type of seafood, this place would offer quite an experience.
P/S: I believe it was something below 300,000 VND for the three of us for this meal.
Quán Lẩu Cá Kèo Bà Huyện 2
10 Nguyễn Thông, phường 7
District 3, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.777475, 106.685398
Tel: +84 8 3930 0636
Next on Vietnamese Street food introduction is Chao Vit, or Vietnamese duck porridge. A classic dish that I had for the very first time during this trip to Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnamese Duck Porridge stall by Chu Manh Trinh road
We actually stumbled upon this little road side stalls by Chu Manh Trinh road in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City while walking from the touristy areas towards our Airbnb room slightly further North East. The stall was well stocked with plenty of duck, and with a crowd seated around it enjoying porridge & slices of duck meat.
We just couldn’t miss the opportunity.
the porridge also comes with coagulated blood
We ordered a portion of duck for two person to go with porridge, as well as a portion of innards. This was done with a combination of Google translate via the phone, and a bit of finger pointing to the other tables. Technology sure helps in making all these authentic food so much more accessible to those who can’t speak the language, we were the only non-natives at the stall.
simple eat by the road side – chao vit
Chao Vit is excellent, the boiled duck meat is served with green onions, cilantro, pepper, fish sauce and more. The condiment that goes with it compliment the meat perfectly, and can be made spicy if that’s your preference. As for the porridge, they’re made from broken rice and even comes with chunks of coagulated blood, one of my favorite ingredients!
It was really one of the best dishes we had in Saigon, if you’re ever at District 1 and don’t mind dining with the locals, this is a place that you need to check out.
safe to say we both loved this dish a lot
The meal cost us just over 100,000 VND if I’m not mistaken, totally worth it.
Chao Vit road side stall
Chu Mạnh Trinh
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.782813, 106.703568
Got bored with the Vietnamese Street Food series yet? Well, there’s more!
In this installment we’re checking out Gỏi cuốn, or Vietnamese Spring Roll.
Che Minh Khai, one of the many eateries near our Airbnb
Contrary to popular belief, spring roll isn’t served only during spring. You can actually get them all throughout the year.. (OK I made that up).
Vietnamese spring roll is quite a fair bit different from its Chinese counter part of the same name, with some saying origin started from Vietnam, while others believe it was the Chinese who came up with the dish first. In any case, the ingredients are a fair bit different.
gui cuon, or Vietnamese spring role, with dipping sauce
Vietnamese spring roll is made up from rice paper as the wrapper, with pork slices, shrimp, rice noodle, green onion, and and generous amount of vegetable. It is often served fresh and at room temperature. A type of peanut sauce is usually served as the accompanying condiment.
dip & bite, can you see the ingredients?
If you try this at HCMC from one of the restaurants typically frequent by the locals, you can expect to pay about 5,000 VND for each piece. 2-3 pieces should suffice for light breakfast.
Che Minh Khai
18A/16 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.786134, 106.700463
Tel: +8408-3825 6432
Hours: 7am to 8pm
You can just about find a street food vendor near every busy intersections in Ho Chi Minh City, the set up varies, but more often than not they have these tiny tables and chairs seemingly set up for kids of kindergarten age. If you’re Vietnamese size, these will fit just, and fortunately for myself and Haze, our body size is within range.
street side food vendor outside Ben Thanh market
Ben Thanh market is one of those “must-visit” places in Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you feel like getting slaughtered buying touristy or otherwise imitation goods. We went there only because it was almost a decade since I got my fake Nike jerseys there, plus we had rented a scooter so it was rather convenient to do so.
you want spicy? we’ve got spicy!
Anyway, there is this little bot chien & ha cao stall situated right outside the market manned by a middle aged lady with a frying pan and a metal small pot on clay stove. Street food is best sampled with the locals, so we made this our spot for afternoon in-between meal snacks.
bột chiên – fried rice cake
Bot Chien is the Vietnamese version of fried rice cake (25000 VND). While the base ingredient is similar to our “char kuih kak“, the execution is vastly different. The rice cake is fried together with egg in generous amount of oil, with the surface area all crispy while retaining the inner bits soft.
Soya sauce is then poured over and then topped with shredded green papaya and chopped green onions. If you like it spicy, there’s also chili sauce & sambal that can be added to the whole mix.
This dish was actually pretty good, the various ingredients complement each other well, and best consumed while the rice cakes are still crispy even though soaked in soya sauce. The green papaya also serve to cut through the greasiness of the dish as well, I’d recommend anyone to give this a try.
há cảo – shrimp dumpling
Ha Cao, as you may suspect, is the dish of the same name in Cantonese – shrimp dumplings (25000 VND). You get the shredded greens as well as the sambal, soya sauce and fried shallots ala Vietnamese style, but otherwise they aren’t overly different from the Chinese version. It was still enjoyable, but if I had to choose between the two, bot chien would be my choice.
Happy food hunting!
Phan Bội Châu
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.772582, 106.698676
The most famous Vietnamese dish outside Vietnam is of course, the Vietnamese beef noodle, or pho (pronounce as “fe-eh”). This is likely the first dish most people think about when it comes to Vietnamese food, and for good reasons – it is accessible, delicious, and uses ingredients familiar with most other cuisines.
Pho Cao Van, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
There are in fact, two slightly different types of pho, one originated from Saigon/HCMC, and another from the Hanoi, a distance of over 1100 KM away. While both soup stock utilizes beef & beef bone as a major component, the Southern version also incorporate a stronger presence of aroma from fish sauce. In a way, pho from HCMC is the one you usually get, especially outside Vietnam.
the traditional way is to give you way too much vege
Pho Cao Van at Mac Dinh Chi road, however, is one of the few places that serves traditional Northern style pho at Saigon. At 40,000 VND and above per bowl, it is certainly one of the more expensive pho options out there, but also one of the more “authentic” versions there is.
squeeze the lemon, and dip those tendon in the chili sauce
I ordered a bowl with nothing but beef tendon (partly due to my failure in Vietnamese sign language, but no regrets), accompanied by a huge portion of fresh vegetable in which there is no way you can actually finish. The soup was light yet full of flavor from boiling beef bone over long hours. The tendon, melt in your mouth. It was absolutely lovely and not hard to see why this particular shop gets a steady stream of customers despite being rather shabby in appearance and yet charges a slight premium over others.
If you’re at Ho Chi Minh City, or anywhere else in Vietnam, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of pho, whichever versions it may be.
Phở Cao Vân
25 Mạc Đĩnh Chi,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.784681, 106.699296
Hours: 6 am to 10:30 pm