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.
Address: 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.
Whenever I go to any foreign places, it is always interesting to tune to their local tv channels to get a taste of the local media. I think there is no other places that airs more languages on national TV than in Malaysia. On last count, we have more than 10 languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Tamil, Hindi.. not to mention Manglish.
Situation in Vietnam is slightly different, instead of airing shows in their respective languages, they usually dub it in Vietnamese. However, if you listen closely, they only use ONE person to dub the entire movie. It doesn’t matter if the actor on screen is old, young, male, female, baby, dog, cat.. just one person speaking the dialogs monotonously, without emotion nor any hint of passion.
My Vietnamese friend, Trinh invited me to his house for dinner, and knowing that I am some sort of an explorer when it comes to food, he got his wife to prepare one of the more interesting dishes I’ve had recently. Fried bee’s pupae!
don’t they look lovely?
The dish is prepared by frying the pupae lightly with minimal seasoning, looks to me that only oil and some shallots was used. My friend told me that there are many ways the dish is prepared. As you bite this strange looking creature, the liquid interior of the insect bursts in your mouth, the texture is certainly interesting. However, to be honest, the taste is rather blunt, I think a stronger seasoning might help.
very good Vietnamese hospitality
My Vietnamese friend’s house is quite narrow and short in Malaysian standard, but in the city of 7 million, land is pretty expensive. This particular house is slightly less than 3 meters in width, and probably some 10 meters in depth. It was a pretty interesting experience.
Updates will be sparse these few days as I am traveling on assignment at Ho Chi Minh City again. This time around I surely will try more interesting food. So far I’ve tried fried bee larva (will post on that soon), lets see what I manage to get in the next few days!