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
In my previous-previous job many years ago, I used to travel quite a bit to Ho Chi Minh City for work, and aside from the hospitality of the people there, the one thing I always looked forward to was some good old fashion Vietnamese street food.
Their dishes take advantage of ingredients not entirely unlike Chinese or Thai cuisine, but with the result that is completely different. Unlike Thai or Malay food which often rely on chili, Vietnamese creations often feature plenty of fresh vegetable, and instead of soya sauce in Chinese food, fish sauce seems to be their go-to choice as seasoning.
Quan An Viet, near Klang Parade
While Vietnamese food has some presence here in Malaysia, they are mostly chain restaurants offering pho, a few rice dishes, and nothing else, so imagine the surprise when we saw this little kopitiam manned with Vietnamese with thick accents offering proper Vietnamese street food right at Klang.
In fact, the little area between Klang Parade and Taman Eng Ann seems to have a small Vietnamese community living around the area, complete with shops carrying Vietnamese groceries.
bún bò, bún riêu, gỏi xoài
Quan An Viet offers some 20 different simple dishes, from beef noodle to duck noodle, spring roles to rice dishes, and they’re all priced at less than RM 10.
We first had the bun bo, or rice vermicelli and beef, a dish that’s similar to pho but with slightly different soup base and vegetable reflecting it’s origin in Hue instead of Saigon. It was pretty delicious, though I’d love to see tripes, brisket, or tendon in it instead of just beef slices.
Bun rieu is something new to me, a sort of tomato broth with crab/shrimp paste filled with pork leg, coagulated blood, and vermicelli noodle. Quite an interesting taste but it is something that takes a bit of getting used to.
Goi xoai is their version of green mango salad with some sort of rice sheets. To be honest I didn’t like it, the Thai version is still much superior. Perhaps those in Vietnam is better executed than here.
bánh mì, cơm sườn
Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for bread, a dish that is introduced by French during its colonial period. While the filling tastes pretty good, the quality of bread here isn’t really up to par.
The other dish I tried was the Vietnamese Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Chop, and sadly it was kinda disappointing. The pork chop was too dry and generally lack any umph.
KY & Haze at one of our favorite Vietnamese kopitiam
I would say the spring roles & noodle dishes here are definitely up to par, and for the price you pay, this place definitely offer great value for money. Will definitely head back again for other dishes.
Quan An Viet (Restoran Kui Rong)
Jalan Pekan Baru 35
Kawasan 17, 41150 Klang, Selangor
GPS: 3.064075, 101.455354
Hours: noon till dinner