Many who know me know how much I love to eat and how much I love food. Vietnam, and Saigon in particular, has certainly not been disappointing me or my stomach with its culinary delights! In fact, I had spent most of my days in Saigon eating. Just eating. The rest of the time was spent waiting for my stomach to digest so that I could eat again. Honestly!
I love good food and Vietnam has lots of it, with Saigon being the food capital of the country. I was quite possibly in food heaven here! My top five favorites:
Commonly known as fresh spring rolls, but sometimes confusingly referred to as summer rolls, goi cuon is a savory way to whet your appetite before indulging in a Vietnamese meal. Moistened rice paper is rolled with vermicelli noodles, lettuce, fresh herbs and pork or shrimp (or sometimes, even a combination of the two). Not fried (hence, fresh) but served cold with either a peanut or hoisin sauce, goi cuon lives up to its name with the freshness of its ingredients. It's so good, it's hard to remember to save room for the rest of the meal! A single goi cuon will cost you roughly 50 cents USD.
Pho Bo Kho
Delicious beef stew and rice noodles makes for a hearty and savory meal. The stew is made with lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and Vietnamese curry powder, among other tasty things. Allowed to stew for several hours to attain maximum flavor, pho bo kho comes out thick with tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef. Carrots and potatoes are added to the stew an hour before serving with chives on top as garnish. I add a liberal amount of fresh lime juice before digging in. Nom nom! A bowl of pho bo kho in Saigon will set you back $1 - $1.50 USD.
Probably one of the best things the French did for the Vietnamese was introduce the baguette. I'm not typically a huge fan of sandwiches but man, oh man, do the Vietnamese know how to bake a mean baguette! These crispy baguettes are stuffed with tasty fillings, such as pickled carrots, cucumbers, slices of various meats (including BBQ pork) and pâté, making for a great snack on the go! A bahn mi sandwich with all the fixings should cost less than $1 USD all over Saigon.
Com basically translates to "rice." Nothing special you may say, but when the Vietnamese make com, it's not just your basic rice. The rice serves as the staple of your meal, but the real treat is what you put on top of it. Veggies are always good and always an addition to com. Try the bamboo shoots or morning glory greens! For meat-lovers, there is usually an array of curry chicken, stewed beef, crispy pork and grilled fish on offer. The choices are quite endless and every single thing that I've tried is absolutely delectable! Always ask for the price first though, because some vendors will try to charge unsuspecting foreigners extra but a plate of com with a helping of veggies and meat, usually served with a small bowl of soup, will typically cost between $1 -$1.50 USD.
Vietnam's beef noodle soup is the national dish of the country. There are probably at least five pho stalls in any given street. Lucky me! Filled with rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, bean sprouts and a side of basil, mint and cilantro, the broth is subtle yet flavorful, fragrant, delicate and well, delicious! For added flavor, I squeeze fresh lime juice into the bowl before mixing it all up. The accompanying plum sauce is absolutely divine as well, giving your taste buds just a little extra kick. It's no wonder every Vietnamese eats at least a bowl of pho a day! For $1 USD, you really can't go wrong with pho!
My love of pho and high regard for good puns led me to buy this tank top, which goes to show you just how much I love pho if I'm willing to advertise it all over my front!
So these are my five favorite Vietnamese food in Saigon. What's YOUR favorite dish in Saigon?
© Connie Hum 2010