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Tag / saigon

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

Recently I paid my third visit to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) for the 3rd time, as the destination is not exactly a hot tourist spot, I decided to introduce the place to you.The skinny:

  • Vietnam is the 13th largest nation in the world with some 83 million people
  • HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam
  • Way too many motorcycles
  • Traffic is at a constant state of controlled chaos
  • Chicks are cute
  • Food is excellent
  • People are friendly
  • Things are generally cheap

Currency is Vietnamese Dong but USD is often preffered. US$1 is currently about at 15800 Dong.

The following photos will give you a better sense of what HCMC has to offer.

Traffic:
The traffic is generally very chaotic to foreigner, honking sound can be heard every 5 seconds. However, it seemed relatively safe at the lower speed of flow and people aren’t so full of rage like them road bullies you find in Malaysia.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
lotsa motorcycles, and helmet is an option, not a must

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
Viet chicks on bike, you see that alot

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
more bikes, with valet service too

Food:
Being in South East Asia, the flavor of food does not vary too much from Malaysia or Thailand, and best described as a mixture of both with a hint of Chinese. There are very few fastfood restaurants around, and their beef noodles (Pho).. yumm.. ooooo yummm..

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
pho, comes with basil, bean sproud, and jalopeno pepper on the side, excellent

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
kerang bakar (grilled clam) is served here too

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
steamboat fish in slightly spicey soup base, plenty of vege on the side

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
mixed rice buffet style, similar dishes to Malaysian food

Cool Restaurants:
Despite being a relatively poor country, there still plenty of people with decent spending power, hence, fancy eat-outs. These places, however, are relatively cheap compared to Malaysian restaurants. For example, a decent meal for 4 fetches US$20

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
one of the cafes, better decorated than Starbucks, which they don’t have btw

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
another restaurant with nice rain forest theme

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
my favorite pho shop, a meal costs less than US$2

War History Museum:
The war history museum is a must-go place to get the perspective of Vietnamese side on the war that killed so many.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
plenty of photos taken during the war

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
recreation of POW cells, and how Faggot will look like if he’s ever incacerated

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
more war remnants

Shopping:
What is a city without places to shop? They’ll just instantly lose 50% of visitors. You know which gender I’m talking about anyway. HCMC has all that covered, there are plenty of places selling everything from handbags to wooden decorative boats.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
pottery and more

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam KY travels
scaled wooden boats, these are from less than US$10 and up

MAS has 2 daily flights to HCMC. If you plan to go to Bangkok for the 2nd time or more, I suggest you might want to give HCMC a try.