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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many many years ago, before the existence of this website and when I was still a student in the States, we took a super long road trip down to New Orleans for spring break. It was a beautiful city with quite a bit of culture, and it was also the first time I had Louisiana style seafood, with crayfish, shrimps, and those really distinctive sauce.
A few weeks ago, I had the same type of seafood treatment for the second time of my life, right here at PJ SS2’s Crab Factory.
Crab Factory has been in existence for almost 3 years now, situated just right across the road from McDonald’s in the busy commercial area that is PJ SS2. Parking can sometimes be a challenge at this area, especially on a Monday night when Pasar Malam is in full swing. Which isn’t really a problem since Crab Factory smartly chooses Monday to be their rest day.
The restaurant is tastefully decorated with very practical table arrangment fit for group and couple dining as well. For those who are worried about going out of hands in terms of budgeting for a seafood feast, the prices are well written on the wall, in the menu, as well as their website at crabfactory.com.my
The ‘standard operating procedure’ when it comes to a shell-out type of restaurants like this is a little bit different from the conventional seafood restaurants many of us are familiar with. There’s no fork & spoon, chopsticks, or even gloves.
The seafood is poured onto your table that is laced with a giant piece of food grade wax paper. You then use your base hands to feed these delicious sea creatures right into your mouth ala caveman style. Quite a fun experience for most, but you’d want to make sure the nails are clean prior to dinner.
For a restaurant this size, the seafood selection is rather impressive. There are various types of crabs such as brown crab, king crab, spanner crab, and meat crab. Then there’s normal lobster, red lobster, and slipper lobster. You want shrimps? They’ve got tiger prawn, white prawn, freshwater prawn, and amaebi. Then there’s baby octopus and several types of shellfish as well.
If you can’t choose, the easiest way to start is with one of their sets. Such as the crab set we tried. In addition to your choice of crab, the set come with king white prawns, yabbies, hamaguri clams, NZ green mussels, scallop in shells, and baby octopus.
Additionally, there’s also sweet corn, chicken sausage, potatoes, french beans and shallot rice. These are the stuff that will help fill up the stomach a bit if you don’t want to overindulge yourself to way too much seafood (like we did this session)
We sampled quite a variety of offerings from Crab Factory. The crabs were really fresh, big, and very juicy. The white shrimps tend to soak up seasoning very well, while baby octopus is perhaps just a tad slightly more cooked than I’d like it to be, but I think they stay quite true to the Louisiana style.
As for the sauces, I found myself enjoying the Signature Southern Bang sauce quite a bit, but my favorite has got to be the with the butter garlic sauce, which I think let you really taste the sweetness of seafood.
Overall it was quite a fun experience, the only problem I had was trying to operate the camera while eating with my bare hands (many trips to the water basin).
If you want to treat yourself some out-of-the-norm seafood feast, this is certainly a worthy option.
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Haze always described me as someone who’s bordering insufferable when it comes to dining at shopping malls. It usually takes me quite a bit of merry-go-round trying to evaluate what is worth eating before settling into a restaurant. Luckily, at IOI City Mall, I found just what’s worth spending a meal – at Kakatoo.
The restaurant is tastefully decorated with a modern touch and Baba Nyonya colors, and with a cute logo to boot, it is one of the better looking outfits among the many restaurants on the lower ground of this huge IOI City Mall.
As for menu, they offer a mix of Western & classic Nyonya dishes, I was only interested in the latter.
For the two of us, we went for the classic dishes that defines any Nyonya restaurants – ikan cencaru with sambal, and paku paki sambal belacan.
The fish (RM 29.90 for two) was on point. Fried to perfection and with properly seasoned sambal too. They gave a bit of extra sambal tumis in the middle, but I’d be a happier man if even more was offered.
In retrospect, we probably should have ordered some other vegetable dishes that provides a bit of variety in taste, but thankfully the pucuk paku pakis (RM 16.90) did not disappoint. It was spicy, crunchy, fresh, and definitely went well with rice.
The Nyonya dishes experience at Kakatoo was one that worth revisiting, and now if I go to IOI City Mall again, I know where to go for a decent meal I won’t regret.
Hello, guess it’s time to share another one of our experimental recipes, this time – fried pumpkin with salted egg yolk.
We originally stumbled upon this dish at a restaurant in Klang, and since it was quite an eye, or taste bud opener, I decided to re-create the same thing in our own kitchen. The result was pretty decent. So if you want to try something perhaps a little different at home, this recipe should fit the bill.
Ingredients (2-3 pax):
The version in the picture has a bit too much cooking oil to it, so with a little less oil it should be perfect, happy cooking!