Flat Rice Noodles with Pork Slices, Intestines and Quail's Egg
What I observed was that the snacking culture in Vietnam isn't nearly as popular as that in Thailand. The focus seems to be more on meals (noodles, rice, etc). At night, beer with snacks are popular, but the snacking isn't done throughout the day. Still, Vietnam has a lot to offer, and you'll find many pleasant surprises if you try as much as possible to dine like the locals. This was the first bowl of noodles M and I had in Saigon, and it was a really great start. I still haven't managed to find out the exact name of this noodle dish (anyone?), but the noodle toppings comprised of tender pork slices, intestines and a quail's egg. The flat rice noodles had unique jagged edges that lent a nice texture. It was delicious. We found the stall in the Pham Ngu Lao area when we were trying to find our hostel. If you happen to spot it, definitely give it a try!
Ca Phe Sua Da, Ca Phe Sua Nong, Banh Canh with Pork Slices
We were as groggy as the photos of our breakfast at 3:45am in the morning. Side story: We actually set the alarm clock to 4am to catch the 5am bus to Dalat, but forgot that Vietnam is exactly an hour behind Singapore, so we woke up at 3am and thought we somehow missed the bus when it was 5am on our watches but really just 4am. That was one early, early morning! Don't ever forget to adjust the time on your watches! A Ca Phe Sua Da and Ca Phe Sua Nong (iced and hot Vietnamese coffee respectively) perk-me-up was in order, and while we really had a crabby broth in mind when we tried ordering Banh Canh, this pork version was still pretty decent. We now know just how many varieties of Banh Canh there are. The Banh Canh noodles were reminiscent of lao shu fen, but made with a mixture of rice and tapioca flour. You can find this stall directly opposite the Phuong Trang Bus Office located right in the heart of the Pham Ngu Lao stretch.
Banh Mi Thit Nguoi
What's a trip to Vietnam without trying Banh Mi? Now, the varieties of Banh Mi will astound. Okay, maybe i'm exaggerating, but not knowing what kind of Banh Mi you want really isn't going to bring you anywhere. If you're only going to try it once, choose the classic Banh Mi Thit Nguoi, which is the version made with various cold cuts and liver pâté. Another noteworthy version would be Banh Mi Thit Nuong, which is made with grilled pork. The liver pâté, while undeniably questionable in the sense that you don't really know what goes into it, was nevertheless deeply fascinating to me. I couldn't help but try a few other Banh Mi Thit Nguoi, and finally found my favourite stall along the stretch of Pham Ngu Lao road beside the park, in front of a store called Nam Pham. That stall served a mean Banh Mi Thit Nguoi that I still can't stop thinking about.
We tried this at the Ben Thanh Market, and thought it was pretty good. Banh Beo is essentially a dish of steamed rice cakes drenched in a savoury sauce. The toppings seem to differ from place to place. Here it's topped with scallions, fish cakes, pork rinds, fried shallots, and what looks like dried shrimp floss.
We really loved this one! We were thinking of trying something else in the Ben Thanh Market, spotted this particularly dessert stall that seemed really popular with the locals, and pointed at what most of them were having. Che is a general term for Vietnamese dessert soups. The version we had was a sweet and creamy concoction that comprised of dates, a chewy jelly presumably made from tapioca, and gingko nuts among other ingredients. It was also served with a refreshing glass of Vietnamese iced tea.
There's nothing quite like fresh coconut juice when you're combating the Saigon heat!
Bun Bo Hue
This was a really great bowl of noodles. While most people are familiar with Pho, Bun Bo Hue is another hugely popular noodle dish in Vietnam that first originated from Hue. The broth is mildly spicy (most of the time anyway), commonly topped with lots of Vietnamese coriander, and has a strong flavour of lemon grass. It tastes a little like a beefy and porky version of asam laksa (the bun noodles are similar to laksa noodles even), but the unique mix of Vietnamese ingredients employed (including Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste) gives it its own character. Don't leave Vietnam without trying a bowl of Bun Bo Hue!
Pho with Maggie Mee
This was the last thing we ate before flying home, and M chose to have his favourite maggie noodles, pho style. It's a decent bowl of pho, but nowhere as great as the one from Pho Hoa that I'll soon post about. I find it really cute actually, that M is such a maggie fan. Right now, he's in New Zealand doing crazy stuff like bungee jumping and sky diving, but somehow, the adventurer misses his maggie mee.
Other Vietnam Posts
Itinerary: Saigon and Dalat in 5 days
Pho Hoa, Saigon, Vietnam
Fanny, Saigon, Vietnam
Quan An Ngon, Saigon, Vietnam
Com Nieu, Saigon, Vietnam
Cha Ca La Vong, Saigon, Vietnam
Dalat Street Food - As Fresh As It Gets, Vietnam
Trong Dong, Dalat, Vietnam
Tau Cao Wanton Noodles, Dalat, Vietnam
Le Rabelais, Dalat Palace Hotel, Vietnam
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