Category / Travel
Continuing with the introduction in Vietnamese street food, today let’s talk about bo kho, or the Vietnamese beef stew.
Thus far, everything dishes in this series is from the same 4-day December 2016 trip to HCMC, and they’re mostly common dishes you can find most anywhere in the city.
a nice big pot of bo kho, Vietnamese beef stew
Kho is a cooking technique in Vietnamese cuisine, while bo is beef. Like most dishes in Vietnam, fish sauce is one of the ingredients in this stew. The result is a more complex taste than the usual Western style stew.
Bo Kho is usually served with either rice noodle or banh mi (baguette in Vietnamese), though you can also have it with rice.
bo kho comes with banh mi (baguette), or rice
The version we had was from a small restaurant a stone’s throw away from the Airbnb at HCMC by the name of Thuc Don. Haze had the version with banh mi (45,000 VND) while I opted for rice (40,000 VND).
The meat was lovely, with really soft flank cut with tendon attached. The stew itself has a rich and complex flavor, made better with those chunks of carrots. I didn’t miss the absence of potato or celery at all.
of course, coffee at Vietnam is always the accompany drink
If you love beef, this is a dish to try in Vietnam, and if you’re not in Vietnam, this won’t be a difficult dish to replicate at home either. I think I’m going to find a recipe and try it at home.
Com – Pho
18A/23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.786259, 106.700355
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
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
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- 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
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
P. Q.1, 31 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, Đa Kao,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
GPS: 10.784853, 106.699163
Tel: +84 8 3827 7257
Hours: 6 am to 9 pm
Quite a few moons ago we went to do one of the more touristy things you can do in Selangor – firefly watching at Kuala Selangor.
To be honest, it was my first time doing that, and I had our Singaporean friends Angus & his girlfriend to thank for this experience. Funnily, the attractions closest to us are some that we often never bother to visit.
Firefly watching at Kuala Selangor
The tour is fairly simple, you arrive at around sunset, pay some RM 30 or so, put on your life jacket and hop on the boat. D’Tour is just one of the many operations that offers similar services.
The boat then take us along Selangor River to the area where the fireflies gather. It was quite a sight to see, the trees by the river were packed with fireflies that seems to blink in sync, like a single colored x’mas tree. Quite neat, and no, we didn’t get too many mosquito bites.
It was quite fun and anyone should at least try this once. The whole journey lasted around an hour or so.
D Tours Kuala Selangor
No 1. Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
Pasir Penambang, 45000 Kuala Selangor
GPS: 3.351486, 101.249347
Tel: 019-263 9123/017-639 5017
Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant, Kuala Selangor
After the tour, it was seafood time, naturally.
This part of Kuala Selangor has quite a few seafood restaurants in operation, and many of them are seemingly packed on every weekends. We hop onto the one right next to D Tour – Kuang Wah Seafood Restaurant.
The set up is a carbon copy of many Malaysian seafood outfits – with plastic tables & chairs, and a wall of aquarium and fiber glass containers full with assortment of live seafood for your picking. The prices are also clearly stated.
deep fried mantis prawn, lala with superior soup, drunken live prawn
For the four of us, we started with deep fried mantis shrimp with chili and salt (RM 30). The meat was firm and rather flavorful, a good start.
Then it was lala in superior soup (RM 15). The soup was more spicy than superior, but does tick the checkbox somewhat.
Drunken prawn came in a clay pot (RM 30), and had some mushroom, green onion, and plenty of ginger strips in a soup base that I can’t stop drinking. It was quite awesome, and you can also definitely tell the freshness of the prawns by how sticky the skin is to the meat.
steamed 7-star garoupa, Sg. friends & Haze
Our main dish was the steamed seven-star garoupa fish. We chose the simplest of preparation method to enjoy the natural flavor of the seafood, and it proved to be good decision. The meat was smooth and sweet, with the superior soya sauce complimenting the fish meat perfectly.
Overall it was a pretty good dinner, our friends from Singapore certainly did not complain. I’d say that Kuang Wah offers very good value for money as well. The dinner came to be only RM 132 to feed four hungry adults, with each of us having a fresh coconut (RM 4.50 each) as well.
If I was at Kuala Selangor again, I’d certainly not minding coming back to this particular restaurant again.
Restoran Kuang Wah
No 1A, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu,
45000, Pasir Penambang,
Kuala Selangor, Malaysia
GPS: 3.351753, 101.249370
Tel: 03-3289 6719