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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Outside Malaysia

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
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!
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
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
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.

map to ben thanh market, Saigon

Happy food hunting!

Address:
Phan Bội Châu
Ben Thanh
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
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
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
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.

map to Pho Cao Van at Ho Chi Minh City

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.

Address:
Phở Cao Vân
25 Mạc Đĩnh Chi,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS10.784681, 106.699296
Hours: 6 am to 10:30 pm

Over the last year end holiday season, we spent quite a few days in Ho Chi Minh City, and I thought it’d be a good opportunity to sample the various street foods this biggest city in Vietnam has to offer and do a bit of introduction to you, so here goes.

Bun Bo Hue 31, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Bun Bo Hue 31, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

This was my 10th time to Ho Chi Minh City, but previous 9 were all due to work and happened more than 9 years ago, I was greeted with a rush of nostalgia, so much of the city has changed, yet so much stayed exactly the same as when I first stepped foot here more than a decade ago.

Thankfully, part of the latter includes what Saigon has to offer when it comes to the rich variety of local cuisine.

Bún bò Huế
Bún bò Huế- spicy beef and vermicelli soup

We start off the introduction with Bún bò Huế. 

While Vietnamese pho gets all the attention, bun bo, in a way, is one that I find more interesting. Originated from Hue, a former capital city of Vietnam situated somewhere in the middle geographically, bun bo has a spicy soup base made from boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail, and even pig’s knuckles, which gives it a sweeter flavor and a bit more kick.

Like most Vietnamese noodle soup, it also comes with a generous portion of vegetable on the side, including sliced banana blossom, green onion, bean sprout, cilantro, and more. Squeeze a slice of lime, and add some fresh green chili in the soup and you’re good to go. The vermicelli used is also usually the round & thick type, which I think is perfect for this application, simply beautiful and absolutely delicious.

spicy beef and vermicelli soup
spicy beef and vermicelli soup

I had my bowl at Bun Bo Hue 31 near the middle of the city, a shop frequent mostly by the locals with staffs who spoke almost no English. To order, you can simply point to the menu, or use the phone as a translator. Give it a try when you’re in Vietnam.

Bun Bo Hue 31 map

Address:
Bun Bo Hue 31
P. Q.1, 31 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, Đa Kao,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS10.784853, 106.699163
Tel: +84 8 3827 7257
Hours: 6 am to 9 pm

This is the last food entry for our London Trip, and more importantly, the only place that I was recommended to go by my colleague William who went to the same city just weeks before Haze and myself made the trip that was sponsored by Malaysia Airlines – the restaurant chain is, of course, Burger and Lobster.

Burger and Lobster, London
Burger and Lobster, London

While most food in London (in our experience) was rather expensive in comparison with what we get in Malaysia, Burger and Lobster somehow manage to provide a sweet deal that is in a way, cheaper than back home.

As the name suggest, this place only offers Burger and Lobsters. After we sat down, we were presented with a drinks menu and no food menu. You would either choose burger, or lobster (baked or steamed), with each dish priced at £20.

As Asian, it was no surprise that we opted for the crustaceans.

baked or steamed lobster with chips, pick one
baked or steamed lobster with chips, pick one

The lobster dish is very straightforward and simple, you get salad & chips as sides, and butter sauce to go with the seafood. And sometimes simplicity is best when it comes to good quality seafood, the lobster was fresh, succulent, and full of that seafood sweetness. The salad was superb as well, though the chips were again, tastes like deep fried potato cut into thin strips with salt sprinkled on them.

We found that portion was just right as well. If you’re one of the bigger eaters, they do have some bigger sized lobsters instead of the standard 1.5 pounder.

Haze & KY at Burger & Lobster, we certainly enjoyed it
Haze & KY at Burger & Lobster, we certainly enjoyed it

While we went to the branch at Knightsbridge, there are actually quite a number of Burger and Lobster branches in London and a few other cities. If I go back to London again, I will most likely revisit this fantastic chain.

P/S: Pince & Pints is doing something similar in Malaysia, I have yet to give it a try.

Burger and Lobster at Knightsbridge, London Map

Address:
Burger & Lobster
Fifth Floor Harvey Nicols
Knights Bridge,
London SW1X 7RJ
GPS51.501666, -0.159802
Tel: +44 2072018676
URL: www.burgerandlobster.com

To continue on sharing our trip to London, we now talk about one of the more famous names in the food industry – Jamie Oliver. If you don’t know who he is, you either don’t have a TV, or don’t have any friends who has a TV. In either case, google is your friend.

So, since our hotel, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush, is so near to Westfield London, we thought of giving Jamie’s Italian a try, one of the celebrity chef’s many restaurants in UK.

Jamie's Italian at Westfield London
Jamie’s Italian at Westfield London

The restaurant has a small alfresco dining area, but the bulk of the seats is actually indoor, it is beautifully decorated with a mixture of rustic & classy feel to it. I thought it exudes class above the price point of this establishment.

The menu is fairly straight forward, you have bread & antipasti, a selection of mains & sides, pasta, desserts, and drinks. There’s also kid’s menu as well.

Gennaro's Famous Porchetta, Haze
Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta, Haze

We only sampled two different dishes here at Jamie’s Italian. Haze had the Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta (£13.95), slow cooked pork belly filled wih garlic, chilli & herbs, served with roasted root vegetable, spiced apple sauce, and salsa verde. It tasted healthy and the pork meat portion was pretty good, but ultimately the skin was far too chewy to be edible, I think the Europeans still need to learn from the Chinese on how to roast perfect pork skin.

Stone bass
Stone bass, and I just realized we had an extra item on our bill…

I initially ordered the Venetian Fish Stew, but eventually had to change to one of their specials of the day – Baked Stone Bass (£16.95) due to the unavailability of my initial choice.

The baked bass was beautifully done and sat on a bed of (I assume) mashed potato & radish with cubes of avocado. It was quite balanced and tasted rather good with a bit of extra salt & pepper. I quite liked it.

From the small sample size, I thought Jamie’s Italian was pretty decent for it’s price point. The experience would have been better if I didn’t find out as I write this that the Venetian Fish Stew was actually still in my bill (accidental I think)…… Oh well.

P/S: there’s a branch in Singapore.

map to Westfield London

Address:
Jamie’s Italian
Unit 1078

Westfield London,
London W12 7GB, United Kingdom
GPS51.506733, -0.222849
Tel: +44 20 8090 9070

Note: This UK – Malaysia Influencer Exchange programme was organised by Malaysia Airlines.
However, opinions are of my own. Malaysia Airlines flies between London and Kuala Lumpur
twice a day on the A380. There are 8 seats in the First Class, 66 in Business Class and 420
in Economy. Make your flight reservations today on www.malaysiaairlines.com.