Living in Saigon is a wonderful experience and I count my blessings everyday. Not only is this one of the most exciting cities I have ever visited, but it continues to surprise and delight me, daily. The architecture, the broad sweeping boulevards and the parks and open spaces create a landscape that is very pleasant in which to immerse oneself. One of my favorite parts of being here though is the food in Saigon.
Food prices are simply amazing. It is possible to have a full night out with a meal here for the price of one beer in a London pub. And the food on offer simply blows me away, everyday. Everything from traditional Vietnamese food, pizzas, Western food and amazing restaurant cuisine is on offer, and all at a fraction of the cost, one would expect to pay in the West.
Here are a few of my favorites:
The national dish in Vietnam is Pho. This aromatic, fresh, clean tasting, beef noodle soup is everywhere. The broth is almost clear, yet packed with flavour, it comes in different styles. Some people go for rare beef, others for brisket or meal balls. It is accompanied by lime, chillies, bean sprouts and greens. I love it, just pile all the extras in and squeeze fresh lime into it, stir and enjoy. This is very popular as a morning dish and is served from street stalls, shophouses and restaurant chains like Pho 24, which are dotted all over the city. Bun Bo Hué can be bought at many local restaurants. This is a version of Pho from the east coast city of Hué. The noodles are thicker than in Pho and lemon grass is used.
Banh Mi is another staple and another of my favorites. Basically, it’s a sandwich. French bread is cut and filled with a mixture of cold meat cuts, salad and wonderfully tasty dressings. There is a Banh Mi barbecue at the end of Ho Tung Mao in District 1 that serves delicious Banh Mi with a kind of doner style meat inside. These are absolutely delicious and at little more than one dollar, make an incredibly nutritious and affordable lunch.
Fruit is a big seller in the City, with locals normally rounding off a meal with one kind of fruit or another. Stalls are everywhere around the streets and vendors carrying a good range of quality fruit. Due to its geographical location in the south of the country, Saigon, reaps the benefit of the country’s fruit basket. Yellow and green mangoes are extremely popular. As in other parts of Asia, green mango is often eaten with a sugar and spice mixture. Mangosteens, rambutans and dragon fruit are also very common. I have to say, I find dragon fruit quite bland, but mangosteens are delicious and similar to lychees. Coconuts are softer than the ones we see in Europe; their water and pulp is delicious. The vendor simply chops the top off and sticks a straw in. Then of course there is the world famous durian, its smells terrible and in my opinion, tastes like it smells. However, you should try it; some people adore it.
So there you have a little delve into a few of the tremendous food items available round the clock, on the streets of one of Asia’s most fabulous cities.
About the writer: Keith Hancock is a singer/songwriter and writer based in Saigon, Vietnam. He has lived in Asia for more than 5 years and travels throughout the continent researching and writing. He owns and writes for Saigon Districts, an informative website about life in Vietnam’s largest city, aimed at the expat community. Keith is one of only two DIAMOND STATUS rated writers on Ezine articles in the whole of Indochina. He has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.