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Janaline's World Journey “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

My Vietnamese food experience

VIETNAM | Saturday, 12 September 2009 | Views [3644] | Comments [3]

Deep fried scorpion!!!

Deep fried scorpion!!!

You can’t help but fall in love with Vietnamese cooking or drinks.

 Its hot most of the time, well it only cools off a bit during rainy season and only for the hour or two that it’s raining.  I fell in love with Vietnamese ice coffee or café sau da, which is strong coffee with condensed milk and ice, really refreshing in this heat.

Another of my favourite road stall drinks is the sugar-cane juice they sell on almost every corner. The sugar cane is freshly pressed through a mangle at the street side stalls and they add either fresh strawberries or lemons for flavour. You are handed the thick syrupy drink in a small plastic bag with a straw in. Don’t look down on this, it is a great drink and hydrates you on a hot summers day.

 Fresh fruit smoothies and various tea blends are sold all over the city. You get every kind of fruit and yoghurt blend imaginable in most of the cafes. These drinks are healthy and delicious and definitely refreshing on a hot summers afternoon.

The food is good and even healthy. They have the best fresh spring rolls served with a peanut dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham) or a sweet chilli sauce. These spring rolls are a refreshing change from the usual fried variety, and have become a favourite of mine. They are great as an appetizer or even a meal.

 

Wrap and roll, on 62 Hai Ba Trung Street, in District 1 is my favourite spring roll place. The food and service is good. I usually had the shrimp on sugar cane skewers that you then used to make your own spring rolls with. The fish salad is served with a big plate of assorted shrubbery like basil, mint, and lettuce, and a small pile of vermicelli noodles. You then roll it all up in a rice paper wrapper and dip it in the bowl of fish or sweet chilli sauce and it's perfect.

Fresh fruits are the most popular desserts in Viet Nam, but "Chè" is the most traditional Vietnamese dessert. Wrap and Roll has an excellent che. It's a sweet pudding usually made from mung beans, bananas, coconut milk, pearl tapioca, sweet yam or yucca root vermicelli and sugar. This is undoubtedly my favourite desert in Vietnam.

 

Another great and truly Vietnamese place with great spring rolls and desserts is Ngong, just across from the reunification palace. It has fabulous Vietnamese deserts and great lemon grass clams.  You make your own spring rolls as well of which the Shrimp around sugar cane is the best.

Street food is an important part of every day life and very tasty.One of my favourite market stall food is Ban Xeo, which a large crispy omelette with prawns, pork, beansprouts, spring onions and tonnes of oil. The golden crepe (rice pancake) is accompanied with a fresh array of vegetables - the tart taste of basil, a savoury leaf (which they call the fish leaf), a large leaf that tastes like wasabi, and a range of others I have never seen before. Together the flavours fuse an incredible crispy, savoury, minty mix! It’s a messy dish because you eat with your hands. You break the ban xeo into pieces and then pack it onto the big fish leaf with an assortment of the other leaves, sprouts and onions. You roll it into a spring roll with the lettuce and dip it in the fish sauce as you eat it. Absolutely delicious!!!

 If you are up for some strange food there is alwaysBo Tung Xeo Restaurant - 31 Ly Tu Trong where you can treat yourself to crocodile, frog, grasshoppers, shrimps, ostrich, scorpion, snake and rat. You get your own Vietnamese barbecue at your table, with the raw meat served to you, which you then prepare on the grill next to your table. Their speciality is marinated beef, but the crocodile is a winner and we went back a couple of times just for shrimp and crocodile.Personally I would not recommend the deep fried scorpion as its very crunchy and mostly just shell. The grasshoppers are quite good and the crocodile is excellent. If you want to try the snake, have minced snake, as the whole snake in soup is just too bony and disgusting to actually enjoy.

Barbeque your own meat at your table

If you want this same experience but just a little smarter or more up market go to the Temple club on Ton That Thiep. They basically serve the same food as in Bo Tung Xeo but there are more westerners around and they even have music playing.

 If you can imagine beef noodle soup for breakfast, then you decidedly want to try Pho, aVietnamese dish that has been around for nearly 100 years. You will find a pho shop on nearly every street. The small local pho shops are the best to try out even though they might not always look as clean as you would want them to. In this classic soup, paper-thin slices of beef are cooked with rice noodles in individual serving bowls into which hot beef stock, herbs and spices have been added. Just be sure to ask for the chillies in a side dish so that you can add it too taste other wise your pho might be too spicy to eat.

 Another food source to try are the small family home restaurants. Some of them can only accommodate a few diners and are called rice places. You can usually get a dish of fish, chicken or pork with rice and vegetables for a very decent price. They usually have very tasty dishes but you have to make sure to get there early before they run out of the best dishes. They are usually cheaper than what it would cost you to cook that dish for yourself at home.

 You will find a couple of great French restaurants throughout the city.  Au Parc is my favourite French lunch place, close to the reunification palace. They have great chocolate deserts, filling salads, excellent sandwiches and fresh fruit shakes.

Le Jardin on Thai Van Lung is a charming little French bistro with the best brown onion soup I have ever tasted. It has a lovely atmosphere and is always packed so be sure to make a reservation before going.

 If you were in the mood for Japanese cuisine the best place would be the Sushi bar on Le Thanh Ton in District 1. Sushi Bar boasts of very friendly and attentive service and absolutely scrumptious food.

 

Sushi Bar does not have only Sushi specialties but Sashimi and other Japanese specialties can be sampled here too. One important feature of Japanese cuisine is that it uses only the freshest of the ingredients. Sushi Bar uses only the freshest either bought from local markets or imported from Japan. Since over 45 varieties of Sushi and Sashimi are served up, you can pick and choose about the food.

 

Sushi Bar offers a very wide food choice with an extensive menu and has a large selection of Moriwase, which is, assorted Sushi or Sashimi and separate Nigiri Sushi, Maki Sushi and Temaki Sushi, steamed egg and Miso soup. They don’t just serve your normal sushi they have the best-fried sushi that I have ever tasted. Make sure to sample some of their Tempura, rice and noodle specialties.

 

 Overall food in Saigon is great; there is something for all tastes and cultures.

Tags: food, janaline smalman, saigon, travel, vietnam

 

Comments

1

I cant believe that i can be crazy about Vietnamese cooking or drinks. I am watching this food first time. I think, Vietnamese might be costly. I don't think to try it ever.

  sara Sep 12, 2009 5:52 PM

2

Believe me, Vietnamese food is great!!!
You have to try it to experience it and its quite cheap. A dish at a local Vietnamese restaurant costs around $2/$5 so if you dont like it, you could always order something else.
Atleast try the spring rolls....you can never go wrong with a fresh prawn spring roll!!!

  Janaline Sep 12, 2009 9:10 PM

3

Vietnamese food is the best compared to her neighbouring Laos and Cambodia.

  paul Nov 2, 2009 9:42 AM

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