Two weeks ago, I had my very first trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. It turned out to be quite a food-trip. I am a traditionalist when it comes to food, eating only what I am familiar with, accepting what I had ascertained are nice to my taste buds. When it comes to food, I am the least adventurous person you can know. Well, my travelling companions are the total opposite. They are foodies and enjoy discovering local delights (much to my horror).
I suppose you can say that when in Ho Chi Minh, the must try food is pho. They sell it everywhere but because we are tourists, we went to Pho 24 and Pho 2000 due to their raving reviews online.
I must add that Pho 2000 is pricier than Pho 24 and much tastier too. The beef slices seem to melt in your mouth and the whiff of fragrant soup adds to the experience of slurping down koay teow lookalikes. We went to the outlet right opposite Ben Thanh market and it so happens that is the outlet in which the ex President of USA, Bill Clinton visited as well.
Located on the second floor, you will first have to enter Coffee Bean before climbing up the narrow stairways to get to the shop. The whole place, needless to say, is teeming with tourists.
Hu Tieu Muc
No idea what is its English name. This nicely air-conditioned restaurant is located just past the Central Post Office and Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. With the post office on your left, keep walking straight, cross a small road and you will see it right away. It’s right next to a barbecue stall (which seems to be always crowded); Hu Tieu Muc has lesser people. Our meal there was purely by chance but this seafood pho will and undoubtedly remain in my mind as one of the best pho I have ever tried.
They use the freshest ingredients – ample squids, prawns, quail eggs and meatballs (the best!) – with the most fragrant and tasty clear soup ever. We went back for a second round before flying back home.
This is the barbecue stall located right next to where the seafood pho is. I am not a fan honestly, but everyone else seems to like it and ordered double portions of barbecued chicken wings, chicken feet, a hearty bowl of chicken pho, and beer so I had no choice but to join them as well.
Wrap and Roll
This is another successful franchise – we even have it in Singapore. The prices are definitely lower so we decided to go for the combo platter to try out all the different spring rolls. It makes for a nice snack/tea break kind of food.I can’t help but to notice that Vietnam food have a lot of raw vegetables and herbs in them. Even the bean sprouts are not cooked with the pho. They are put separately on a plate, making it optional for you to eat them. If you do eat them, they are pretty much raw and crunchy.
Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro
After days of pho and endless spring rolls, we decided to have non-Vietnamese food…which led us to this place, Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro. It is in District 1, very near to one of the shopping malls called Vincom Center.
I have no idea how they have such a gem in the middle of Ho Chi Minh but this Thai restaurant makes you feel as though you are in Bangkok itself. The pad thai, ton yam soup, mango salad, fried fish with spicy sauce and masaman beef are so on point. I give up taking photos after the first two dishes came and just focus on appreciating the ambience and the food served.
My parents even went to eat second time on their own after I left (they stayed an extra night, you see). Makes me want to bring my parents back to Bangkok to eat the good food I have discovered with the help of the foodie boyfriend. Maybe next time.
Another well known touristic restaurant would be Ngon Restaurant or also known as Nha Hang Ngon.
If you want to try Vietnamese food, this is the it place to go.
Cafe Bene! Of course, Singapore has it too. This cafe originated from Seoul, Korea but seeing how the 21st century is the age of globalisation and mass cultural exchange, Ho Chi Minh has their very own Cafe Bene outlet. As we have such sweet teeth, we went in and devoured a mango bingsu and honey caramel bread. No food trail is ever completed without desserts after all.