Airline tickets to Vietnam were so inexpensive in the Fall of 2016 that we took a spontaneous week long trip in November. In 7 days we managed to eat our way through Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and Hoi An. There was never a moment that found ourselves hungry. We ate so much food out on our own and with Danton’s family I have a Facebook photo album dedicated solely to the food I ate while in Vietnam. Of all the things we ate in HCMC, these are the top 5 most memorable foods:
Enter this address in google: 242B Sư Vạn Hạnh (Bên Hông CC Sư Vạn Hạnh), Quận 10, TP. HCM
Che Khanh Vy is an awesome spot found in district 10. You can order 1 bowl for 4,000 VDN, or if you’re like me and know nothing, or have a hard time choosing, get them all! You can get an entire tray of deserts for 70,000 VDN.
There was never room for dessert on our trip, but I wasn’t about to miss out on a chance to try new things. On one of our last nights in Ho Chi Minh we had desserts for dinner.
I won’t pretend that I can remember all 16 desserts. The only one I know for sure is Che Chuoi, because it’s my favorite. It is a warm coconut milk and tapioca dessert with banana (bottom most right in photo). Danton’s family makes it once in a while so I get to indulge- lucky me!
All the desserts we had, except for the flan (not pictured), were warm. Some are on the sweeter side, and some are more suitable for those that prefer things on the milder side. Che comes in a variety. Some have tapioca or gluttonous cakes, bean, pumpkin, and even corn! Just try them all, you’ll find one you love for sure!
It might be a good idea to bring some friends… it’s quite the undertaking!
Enter this address in Google: 418 Huỳnh Tấn Phát, tt. Nhà Bè, Nhà Bè, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Quan 22 serves a course meal prepared from snake. I have written about my experience briefly on another post which you can check out.
The idea to have snake was mine. I had heard about it before and about taking a shot of vodka with the snake’s heart and thought it would be a neat experience. Danton’s family was kind enough to fulfill my wish!
The servers brought us the snake live to see first. Then they killed and drained the blood for us. I admit it was kinda sad to see, and I wasn’t really expecting it at all (poor Snakey). The blood was mixed with vodka and set on our table before they took the rest of the snake away to prepare the dishes. If you want to know how cobra shots taste, you can watch the vlog!
This course is meant to be shared with a larger group. We had about 7 people with us that day, and we enjoyed the meal with beer and the cobra blood concoction. The snake was prepared as a stirfry, salad, a crunchy deep-fry, and a congee with mung bean at the end. In addition, we had steamed and grilled prawns and quail balut eggs. It was way too much food, and we had a ton of left-overs.
If you have a large group and want to be daring, I think trying snake is a good experience. It was definitely memorable for me, but I don’t think it’ll be the first thing I try again when I go back to Vietnam.
Enter this address in Google: 54 Đồng Nai, Phường 15 Quận 10 Hồ Chí Minh
District 10 treated us well! This is another favorite spot of mine. Chim Cut Chien Bo translates to butter fried quail and that’s what they serve. If you’ve never had quail before, it’s like a very tiny chicken that tastes a bit more “wild”, but not at all gamy. You can’t deny that anything “butter fried” is amazing!
It is fairly inexpensive at 16,000 VDN per bird which works out to about 50 cents CAD. Go ahead and order a bunch! It comes served with bread and some veggies, like what you might find in banh mi. Your fingers will get greasy so I would save the wet napkins for the very end!
4. Giant River Prawns
Okay, this place is actually quite a ways out of Ho Chi Minh City, and it took us a long time to find. I’ll link to another, more accessible restaurant for those staying in HCMC below.
I can safely say these are the largest prawns I have ever had the pleasure of eating. This place serves ones the size of your hand! What really strikes me is that these come out of the Mekong River so they are freshwater prawns. The tails are quite large so you need a few bites to devour. The meat is sweet and the texture is really similar to lobster, I find. What do they eat in those murky waters?
We also had some grilled catfish along with our giant prawns. This was nice and refreshing in the rice paper wraps with vermicelli noodles and greens.
Quan Lau Tom 5 Ri Sai Gon is in district 10 as well, and will be much easier to get to than the restaurant above.
Enter address into Google: 142 Trần Nhân Tôn, 2, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
The prawns aren’t as huge as the other, but they are still sizeable and oh so tasty! The prawns are hanging out in tanks inside the restaurant, and staff fish them out when a customer makes an order.
At this restaurant we had hot-pot. The live prawns are skewered so when you cook them in the soup, they don’t curl. We also have some freshwater crabs in the pot as well- be careful when cracking the shells as it is much thicker and harder than Dungeness crabs.
My taste buds were spoiled on this trip from all the fresh seafood we had. Steamed, grilled, boiled- giant freshwater prawns are so so so delicious.
5. Bun Mam
For directions visit their Facebook page!
I should really just make a post to the foods found in District 10 because nothing I had was a disappointment. Bun Dau was probably my favorite discovery in the city because of the dipping sauce and the simplicity of this dish.
Without the sauce, it’s just a 35,000 VDN ($2 CAD) platter of vermicelli, tofu, pork belly and veggies. With the dipping sauce, it becomes a delicious (and healthy?) beer food to enjoy with friends.
The sauce is comprised of fermented shrimp paste, Thai chilis, sugar, and juice from a kumquat. You’re probably thinking barf* shrimp paste. The pungent gray paste is very off-putting to many, and Danton is not a fan himself. As a Thai girl, I don’t mind it! Anyways, the sugar and kumquat stirred together with the paste into a frothy mixture has become one of my favorite flavors, ever. It helps to cut the saltiness of the shrimp paste and helps to mask the smell. I think it will definitely change your mind about fermented shrimp paste- Danton seemed to enjoy it =]
If I can find the right citrus in Vancouver for this dish, I’ll be such a happy camper!
So there it is! My 5 most memorable eats in HCMC. I cannot wait to go back and try more things, and maybe expand my choices to outside District 10…
Have you been to Ho Chi Minh? What is something people absolutely need to try when visiting this city? Let me know in the comment section below!