On second day we planned to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels by joining the tour and had to depart at 8 am from our hotel. Since our hotel booking wasn’t included breakfast (as our intention to try the local food nearby), we woke up and got ourselves ready a bit early in order to find and eat breakfast before leaving.
We looked around at the Café nearby and found all of them were still closed. The Café that I planned to visit earlier was a bit distant from our hotel and there was a construction that blocked our way there. Therefore we decided to look around at nearby area for food street seller.
We crossed the road finding any sign of food seller and saw one selling Bánh mì. Bánh mì refers to any kind of bread. However, as Vietnam was colonized by French before, the French had long ago introduced their own bread, specifically baguette to Vietnamese.
I suddenly remembered my sister-in-law advice before flying to Ho Chi Minh. She asked me to try the baguette there. She said that any kind of baguette there (no matter which stall) was very nice and I should try!!! Hm.. I was wondering if what she said was true. So, we decided to order one first (in case if it wasn’t nice, we could find other food).
|Bánh mì seller at road side - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The seller was very nice. Upon seeing us, he cut few pieces of roasted pork (especially crispy layer part) and handed it in for us to try. My friend, MG, who tasted it first, was immediately shouting to me to order 3 instead of only 1 or 2. She told me excitedly on how nice the baguette was!!
Looking at her excitement, I decided to take a bite on her bread and, wow!! It tasted very very very nice!!! The baguette was crispy and not soggy or hard like what we usually bought here in Singapore. The roasted meat was tasty, the accompanying vegetables were fresh, and the sauce tasted delicious!! As per her advice, I ordered two more so that each of us could eat one piece each :) And it was very cheap too!!! It cost only VND 15,000 each (less than S$1)!!! In addition, you could choose few different types of fillings for your Bánh mì. The most common ones were: crispy roasted pork belly, ham and pork roll, two fried eggs, fried fish cake, and so on. So, when you go there, make sure you eat this!!!
|Porridge seller on the road side - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
We munched the bread on the roadside. While eating, we saw other sellers selling porridge, Vietnamese style noodle, and something else with soup. They catered not only to the construction workers or other people who were working nearby the area, but also many people stopped their bikes in front of the carts, bought their food takeaway. The business was not bad.
|Eating like local at the road side ^^|
Since we had already had a baguette each, the noodle seemed too heavy for us. Therefore, porridge would be a better choice to try. I asked the porridge seller how much it cost. With limited language, the seller said VND 10,000 (S$0.625) per bowl. Wow!!! Without much thinking, we ordered one bowl, again, to try it first.
|Delicious pork porridge for breakfast - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
The porridge was not just a plain one. They added some pork parts such as: liver, intestines, and few cuts of you tiao (Chinese fried breadstick) or dầu cháo quẩy (similar what we called here in Singapore, You Char Kway). And the porridge tasted really really good!!! In Singapore, we had to pay S$3 to S$5 for a bowl of pork porridge, depending where you buy. It means 1 bowl of porridge in Singapore, you can buy 5 bowls in Ho Chi Minh! You can imagine how expensive the living standard in Singapore is with this comparison alone!!!
Oohh… Three of us were very satisfied with our local breakfast and by the time we finished our meal, we were ready to leave for our tour. Please read more about the details of the Cu Chi Tunnels tour here :)
By the time we came back to hotel, it was 1 pm. We were all hungry. There were plenty of food list that we all had to try and I decided to try the local dish called broken rice (Com Tam) from food chain called Com Tam Cali. The night before my sister-in-law showed us the photo and she too recommended us to eat.
We took a cab there. In my list, the address was 35 Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1. The taxi driver dropped us near to a shopping mall called Parkson Saigon. But we couldn’t find any store beside it. I thought I jotted down the wrong address as when I asked around, many of them had no idea where the place was, until a local passer-by helped us asking another person and told us that the food chain might be located inside the mall, at the food court. We followed her advice and walked to the mall and looked for the food court.
|Cơm Tấm Cali Đặc Biệt 6 Món or Cali special broken rice – 6 flavors|
Hohoho… We relieved when looking at the signage that we were looking inside the food court. But too bad, the choices were rather limited than the usual restaurant’s menu. When we ordered their special dish - Cơm Tấm Cali Đặc Biệt 7 Món or Cali special broken rice – 7 flavors (cost VND 65,000/portion), the seller told me that they had only left with 6 flavors. We had no choice but to accept it.
|Nem nướng cuốn or grilled pork spring rolls|
|Chả giò or egg rolls|
We ordered Sườn Cốt Lết Nướng or house special BBQ pork (cost VND 44,000/portion), Nem nướng cuốn or grilled pork spring rolls (cost VND 32,000/portion), Chả giò or egg rolls (cost VND 18,000/2 rolls), and a local drink for MG. Eih, we were quite surprised to see the portion. The photo that my sister-in-law took was looked like a big portion. But in real, it wasn’t.
|Sườn Cốt Lết Nướng or house special BBQ pork and 'cireng' filled with prawn :D|
|Steamed pork paste - Vietnam dish|
MG went to the next door stall and ordered some other local dishes that we never tried before. Couldn’t remember the name but it tasted like ‘cireng’ or deep fried rice flour filled with prawn and dipped into a sauce, and a steamed pork paste wrapped with banana leaf, which tasted a bit unusual.
|Phở Ngoon at Parkson Saigon|
I saw Pho shop called Phở Ngoon in the food court and asked my hubby and MG whether their stomachs were still available for some Pho. Because Pho was the MUST HAVE food when you visit Vietnam. It’d already been day 2, but we still hadn’t tasted any Pho yet. So, although their stomach had already been half full, they both were agreeing to my suggestion.
|Phở Đặc Biệt and Pho with Beef Ball - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam|
Therefore, I ordered two bowls of it: Phở Đặc Biệt – Pho special with beef (all in one) and the normal beef Pho with additional beef ball soup. Hehehe.. What an appetite we had!!! :D
|Trio Coffee at Highland Cafe Parkson Saigon|
And we didn’t stop there. Hahaha….. Since we were all just coming back from the Cu Chi tour, crawling inside the tunnel and walking a distance to see different things they’d shown, we became sleepy and tired. We ended up moving to the next door – a local coffee joint called Highland Café - to have a cup of Vietnamese coffee :) As the photo above shown, we ordered trio coffee for three of us ;)
We went back to the hotel after a heavy lunch. We took a look at the swimming pool at the rooftop. MG asked me to look at the Spa menu. The price was quite ok so we decided to book a traditional Vietnamese spa for the next day. Then we just went back to our room and took a rest.
|Lẩu cá kèo at 87 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Quận 3|
In evening we went to Lẩu cá kèo at 87 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Quận 3 to taste the hotpot and grilled Ca Keo or Goby Fish. Read more details story here.
|Bánh bía - Vietnamese pastry|
After dinner we headed to Bến Thành Market, a large market in central Ho Chi Minh. We bought the Vietnamese pastry called Bánh bía – looked a bit like mooncake with fillings of durian and salted egg yolk. We opened one for tasting and it tasted good. Only then, we proceeded to buy few more packets as gifts back home :)
|Glutinous rice seller at Bến Thành Market|
After that we had a stroll in the night market. Many things were sold there, mostly souvenirs, t-shirts, branded ‘fake and cheap’ stuffs like the North Face big backpack (bargained as low as VND 270,000 – around US$13), etc. I didn’t take any photo there as I was busy holding my bag tight, afraid to experience any pickpocket in such crowded place. Lol! Thereafter we walked back to the hotel and had a rest again at night.
It’s more like ‘Wisata Kuliner’ in Indonesian or Culinary tour for the day 2 experience. Hehehe… After all, travelling would include learning about the local food and culture too mah? Let’s wait for our 3rd day itinerary in Ho Chi Minh!!! To be continue… ;)