Bun Bo Song Huong: Ho Chi Minh Specialty: Bun Bo Hue
I will introduce to you a very popular noddle soup of Viet Nam, BUN BO HUE. This is also my favorite Vietnamese cuisine. We usually have it for breakfast.
You can see the origin of this cuisine in its name, Hue, which is an ancient city in the middle of Viet Nam. The dish contains rice vermicelli and beef. Bun means rice vermicelli and Bo means beef. Its special flavour is a perfect combination of fermented shrimp sauce (especially Hue shrimp sauce), lemongrass, pineapple and of course, beef. Some people just simply use sugar and may skip the pineapple but that is one of the most vital spices. The sweet flavour from sugar is not strong and pleasant enough.
Bun Bo Hue is commonly served with a bunch of vegetables (thinly sliced water spinach, banana blossom,mint, basil, etc)
A bowl of Bun Bo Hue normally costs 25,000vnd-30,000vnd. In Sai Gon, the popular brand for this cuisine is “Bun Bo Song Huong”.
Favorite Dish: Bun Bo hueRelated to:
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Phuong Mai Art&Cafe: little oasis in frenetic district 1
This area of the city can be mobbed at certain times. The thing I liked about the restuarant most was that it felt relatively spacious compared to everything going on outside. Nice to have some room at a table. Serves decent food. Definitely not the cheapest place around (a small orange juice was VND70,000; Saigon beer VND40,000). Serves local and international food. Free wifi (though I didn't tryi it).
Also lots of paintings on the walls and there's a gallery. That adds to the ambiance.
Asian Kitchen: Good choice of Pan-Asian dishes in Pham Ngu Lao
It was our final evening in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013 and we were wandering around the Pham Ngu Lao area deciding where to have our last meal in Vietnam. We'd eaten plenty of pho (noodle soup) during our stay, so we were looking for a change.
We stumbled upon Asian Kitchen on a narrow restaurant-lined side street between the main road and the bustling Bui Vien Street. A sign outside advertised "Japanese, Vietnamese and Vegetarian Food" and the menu looked to be extensive and varied.
We sat at a table in the semi-outdoor dining area and flicked through the menu. The choice was indeed extensive. As well as pho and other noodle and rice dishes (with seafood, meat, shrimps, garlic...), there were various curries (Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, coconut), Vietnamese dishes containing chicken, beef, pork and seafood, and other Asian dishes such as Chicken Teriyaki, Singapore Noodles, Pad Thai and Indonesian Nasi Goreng.
I eventually opted for:
Vietnamese Curry with Chicken (65,000 VND / £2.20) and Boiled Rice (9,000 VND / £0.30)
As is often the case in restaurants, I was asked to specify how I would like my curry. I asked for it to be "hot" (sometimes that is a mistake!), but in this case it was no spicier than average. That's not to say that it wasn't tasty, because it was. The dish contained lemongrass, broccoli, carrots, green peppers and one large red chilli. The chicken was tender and the accompanying bowl of boiled rice was adequately sized.
Emma opted for:
Coconut Curry with Chicken (65,000 VND / £2.20) and Boiled Rice (9,000 VND / £0.30)
Emma asked for her curry to be "mild" and it was prepared sufficiently mild for her tastes. It contained various vegetables including carrots, onions and green peppers. Although Emma enjoyed her curry, she said that she wouldn't have known that it was coconut based had it not been for the name.
To drink, I had a Zorok Beer (22,000 VND / £0.70) which was served in the bottle and Emma had a coconut smoothie (35,000 VND / £1.20) which she said was very nice!
Good value, tasty curries and lots of choice!!
Pho 24: Popular pho chain restaurant
Pho 24 is a large chain of Vietnamese pho (noodle soup) restaurants with several outlets in Ho Chi Minh City. We ate at the branch on Phan Chu Trinh opposite Ben Thanh Market during our visit to the city in May 2013.
We visited Pho 24 towards the end of our stay, by which time we had already eaten pho in several restaurants throughout the city and knew what to expect.
Pho 24 is a little more expensive than many of the simple eateries that we visited in the Pham Ngu Lao area of the city, but also more comfortable and modern. At least it would have been more comfortable had we not visited during a power cut! A back up generator was being used to power the kitchen, but there was no air-conditioning in the dining room so we (literally) sweated our way through our meals.
As you'd expect, the menu consists largely of pho. There are versions containing chicken and various forms of beef (fillet, well-done flank, brisket, soft tendon, tripe, shank, well-done brisket and meatballs). I didn't see a vegetarian version listed on the menu, but presumably a meat-free noodle soup is also a possibility. As well as pho, there is a section of the menu devoted to "com tam" (broken rice) served with various forms of pork (pork chop, pork pie, shredded pork skin) and fried eggs. You can also get Vietnamese spring rolls.
We both opted for:
Pho Ga (Noodle Soup with Chicken Breast) - Price: 59,000 VND / £2.00
Large bowls of tasty broth, thin noodles, spring onions and chicken breast. Compared to nearby "Pho 2000", we thought the chicken at Pho 24 was of a lower quality; there was more skin and fat and the meat was generally not as good. The pho came with an impressive plate of accompaniments; sliced onions, beansprouts, green and red chillies, various green leaves and a couple of sauces to add to the pho as desired. We enjoyed the pho here, but found it to be better (e.g. at Pho 2000) or cheaper (at several places on Bui Vien Street) elsewhere.
To drink, I had a can of 333 Export beer (34,000 VND / £1.10), which was around three times the price of a beer in the Phan Ngu Lao area of the city. Emma had a mango smoothie (35,000 VND / £1.15).
We were provided with wet towels which, given the hot temperatures and lack of air-con, we were more than happy to pay the 2,000 VND (£0.07) each for.
Tasty bowls of pho and large portions. However, we found pho that was either better and/or cheaper in many other places in Ho Chi Minh City.
Nha Hang Ngon: Delicious Vietnamese food in Dong Khoi
We ate at Nha Hang Ngon one evening during our stay in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
This huge Vietnamese restaurant, with a leafy courtyard and several dining rooms spread out over various floors, was recommended by our Lonely Planet guidebook. The guidebook suggested that this was a great place to sample Vietnamese street food in stylish surroundings amid hundreds of local and foreign visitors.
Sure enough, when we arrived at Nha Hang Ngon (which is located on Duong Pasteur, a few minutes walk from the People's Committee Building in the Dong Khoi area) it was extremely busy. All of the outdoor tables were taken, so a waitress guided us through various airy dining rooms, past water features, ponds and greenery and up flights of stairs until we eventually came across a vacant table. As we made our journey to our table, we could smell the tempting aromas of the food being cooked and see smoke coming from the kitchens. It certainly whet the appetite.
Passing the busy tables with smartly dressed diners, I began to feel a little under-dressed. I was by no means the only person wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops, but I was in the minority. Nha Hang Ngon is far more upmarket that the places that we tended to dine in around the Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao areas.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the menu and saw the prices – they were pretty much the same as we'd been used to paying in Pham Ngu Lao, despite the step up in surroundings.
The menu was very extensive and featured a wide array of soups, noodles, rice dishes, seafood, pancakes, curries, chicken and beef dishes.
Having eaten so much pho already, I was keen to try something a little different. I opted for:
Mien cua (Cassava vermicelli in soup with crab meat) - Price: 58,000 VND / £1.90
A delicious bowl of tasty broth with thin noodles made from cassava, various diced vegetables and herbs and plenty of tender crab meat (and the occasional piece of shell!). It came with an accompanying plate full of green leaves (some of which I recognised as mint), bean sprouts and chilli sauce to add to the soup as desired. It was delicious and incredibly good value for money.
Emma opted for:
Hu tiu / Mi xao rau nam (stir fried noodles with mushrooms and vegetables) - Price: 80,000 VND / £2.70
Very tasty, thick flat noodles with mushrooms and various green vegetables and a pot of soy sauce to flavour as desired.
We also shared:
Banh xeo (Vietnamese rice pancake) - Price: 56,000 VND / £1.85
A large rice pancake (which reminded me a bit of an Indian dosa), filled with bean sprouts, onions, pork, shrimps and served with an accompanying selection of green leaves and herbs.
For dessert, we both opted for:
Che Troi Nuoc (Glutinous rice balls in ginger syrup and coconut milk) - Price: 21,000 VND / £0.70 per portion
We each received a bowl containing one large rice ball with a slightly savoury filling (maybe sweet potato) and two small rice balls with no filling. They were swimming in a delicious combination of hot, sweet, sticky syrup (of the kind you would find on a syrup sponge) and cool coconut milk, and topped with diced nuts. Very nice!
To drink, I had a bottle of Saigon Special Beer (27,000 VND / £0.90) and Emma had a fresh coconut (26,000 VND / £0.85). When Emma had finished drinking the milk from the coconut, the waiter kindly sliced it into two so that she could eat the thin layer of coconut with a spoon.
Delicious food, lovely surroundings and incredible value for money! Despite the stylish surroundings, the prices were pretty much the same as the simple eateries we frequented in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Highly recommended!
Ice Cream Hoa Tuyet 99: Durian ice cream in Pham Ngu Lao
We visited Ice Cream Hoa Tuyet 99 for exotic flavoured ice creams during our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
This basic ice cream parlour is attached to the Hanh Hoa Hotel on Pham Ngu Lao (the main backpacker area) and serves a wide choice of fruit and ice cream combinations.
As well as conventional chocolate, strawberry and banana flavours, there are options including exotic fruits such as durian, jackfruit and dragonfruit, as well as coconut, kiwi, mango, red beans and peanuts.
I opted for:
Kem sau rieng (Durian ice cream) - Price: 29,000 VND / £1.00
I'd discovered on a previous visit to Singapore that I actually liked this much-maligned (and extremely pungent!) tropical fruit. The rapidly melting bowl of ice cream that I received at Hoa Tuyet 99 had the unmistakable taste (and smell!) of durian. It was topped with colourful sugar strands and I enjoyed it.
Emma opted for:
Sua, thach (Milk, coconut jelly) - Price: 26,000 VND / £0.85
A large mound of milky ice cream topped with coconut and fruit flavoured jelly pieces.
Exotic fruity ice creams in Pham Ngu Lao!
Royal Saigon Restaurant: Mango sticky rice in Pham Ngu Lao
We ate at Royal Saigon Restaurant one lunchtime during our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
This simple restaurant, serving the usual Vietnamese staples of pho, noodles and spring rolls, occupies the ground floor of a guesthouse on busy Bui Vien Street in the heart of the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao.
We visited in order to sample the mango sticky rice. This is one of Emma's favourite dishes and it is practically impossible to obtain back home, so we were taking every opportunity that we could to get some! The previous evening, we had enjoyed mango sticky rice at Coriander Thai restaurant opposite and from our table on the upstairs balcony we had spied a couple of diners eating the very same at Royal Saigon. We were keen to see how it compared!
The mango sticky rice at Royal Saigon cost 65,000 VND (£2.20)...compared to just 35,000 VND at Coriander...and, to be honest, although it was nice, we preferred Coriander's version.
Here, the mango sticky rice consisted of a small portion of glutinous rice surrounded by small slices of mango with its skin still on. It came with a choice of two sauces; warm coconut sauce or cold mango sauce. I opted for the former and Emma opted for the latter. We found it best to share the two bowls of sauce between us, enjoying the contrast of the warm milky coconut and the cool fruity mango.
As well as the mango sticky rice, I had a bottle of Saigon Export beer (15,000 VND / £0.50) and Emma had a small bottle of mineral water(7,000 VND / £0.25).
Nice plates of mango sticky rice....although we preferred the (significantly cheaper) version that was served at Coriander Thai restaurant opposite.
Coriander: Excellent mango sticky rice on Bui Vien Street!
Emma and I ate at Coriander Thai Restaurant one evening during our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
Coriander was recommended in our guidebook as one of the better value options for Thai food in the city, and it was conveniently located on bustling Bui Vien Street, in the heart of the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao, where we tended to eat in an evening.
We had already eaten bowls of pho at nearby Lam Cafe that evening, but we were keen to sample some Thai cuisine. In particular, we were keen to try the mango sticky rice. This is one of Emma's all time favourite dishes, but is practically impossible to find in our home town, so we weren't going to pass up this opportunity!
Like many of the cafes and restaurants on Bui Vien Street, Coriander is very basically furnished and looks a bit scruffy from the outside. We made our way through the ground floor dining area, up a narrow wooden staircase and found that the upstairs dining room was empty. We sat at one of the simple wooden tables that overlooked the busy street and surrounding restaurants below. It felt like we were sitting on a balcony. We couldn't have wished for a better vantage point for watching the world go by.
The menu consisted of various rice and noodle dishes, Thai curries, soups, hotpots and seafood dishes (particularly shrimps).
I opted for:
Pad Thai Goong Sod - Price: 80,000 VND / £2.70
The menu suggested that this famous Thai noodle dish was "spicy", so it was the natural choice for me. Unfortunately, it wasn't very spicy at all. In fact, the sauce was rather sweet, almost fruity. It wasn't like any Pad Thai dish that I'd seen before; the noodles, along with three or four shrimps and a few mixed vegetables, were wrapped up in a thin omelette. It was nice enough, but nowhere near spicy enough for my tastes. I had more enjoyable dishes at lower prices during our stay in Vietnam.
Thai Green Curry - Price: 80,000 VND / £2.70 and Steamed Rice - Price: 10,000 VND / £0.30
Emma asked for her curry to be "non-spicy" and she was very happy with the result. It was a creamy curry with nice pieces of chicken and, I think, slices of galangal.
For dessert, we both ordered:
Kow Niew Mamuang: Sticky Rice with Mango - Price: 35,000 VND / £1.15
Half a mango cut into slices and served with a portion of warm, sweet, sticky, glutinous rice. Truly delicious!!! Emma enjoyed it even more than I did!
To drink, I had a bottle of Saigon Red Label beer (15,000 VND / £0.50) and Emma had a glass of pineapple juice (25,000 VND / £0.80).
When the bill arrived, we noticed that we had been charged for the hot towels that were placed on our table. It wasn't much, a mere 4,000 VND (less than £0.15), and they were much needed to freshen ourselves up in the humid conditions.
Nice Thai food, great views from the upstairs dining area....and delicious mango sticky rice!!
Lam Cafe: Great value pho amongst the bustle of Pham Ngu Lao
Prior to our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013 I made a shortlist of restaurants that I wanted to visit based on the reviews on TripAdvisor. One of the places on that shortlist was Lam Cafe on Bui Vien Street in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao.
Bui Vien houses lots of budget eating places, with cheap bowls of noodles, cheaper bottles of Bia Saigon and simple plastic tables and chairs on the side of the street. It's a great place to sit and watch the world (and most of the world's motorcycles!) go by. Lam Cafe was a typical example of this. It was bustling when we arrived but we managed to get an outdoor table. Had we failed to get a table, we could have sat outside "Chao Sai Gon Cafe" on the opposite side of the street which appears to be part of the same establishment. We saw the waitresses redirecting customers across there during our meal and we saw trays of food being taken across.
The menu was very extensive and included breakfast items (toast, sandwiches, eggs, omelettes) and international lunches (burgers, pizzas, pasta dishes). However, it was the more local and regional sections of the menu that caught our interest; a wide selection of noodle soups, Thai rice and noodle dishes, green and red curries, Indian "Jungle Curry", laksa noodles, spicy soups...
I opted for:
Pho Noodles Shrimp Soup - Price: 45,000 VND / £1.50
A large bowl of very tasty broth filled with noodles, bean sprouts, green vegetables, onions and about 10 shrimps. There were no chillies in this pho, but it was still very flavoursome. There was a lot of ground black pepper in the bottom of the dish. Unlike at other places that we had sampled pho, here the leaves (which had a hint of aniseed flavour to them) were in the soup rather than served as an accompaniment. It was very tasty and great value for money!
Pho Noodles Soup with Pork - Price: 45,000 VND / £1.50
Very similar to my bowl of noodle soup, but with pieces of pork rather than shrimps.
To drink, I had a cold bottle of the local lager, Bia Saigon (15,000 VND / £0.50) and Emma had a can of Sprite (17,000 VND / £0.55).
One of numerous basic cafes on bustling Bui Vien Street, serving authentic Vietnamese and pan-Asian dishes. A great place to watch the world go by while slurping on a bowl of noodle soup and enjoying a cold Bia Saigon. Unbeatable value for money! Highly recommended!
Nha Toi: Vietnamese restaurant next to War Remnants Museum
We ate at Nha Toi Restaurant one lunchtime during our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
This Vietnamese restaurant is located just a few metres from the entrance of the War Remnants Museum; it was the ideal place for us to grab a quick lunch before spending a couple of hours exploring the museum.
The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the "exotic" section, complete with graphic pictures of each dish. These included pan roasted sparrows, grilled crocodile with chilli salt, grilled chilli duck tongues and deep fried frog with butter. Other dishes on this page included braised eel with coconut milk, grilled tribe pig meat and the fairly innocuous sounding crispy sesame "egg" fish (until you read the description: "the fish body is full of tiny eggs").
We weren't looking for anything quite so exotic! Thankfully, there were plenty of more standard Vietnamese dishes on the menu: bowls of pho (noodle soup), spring rolls, salads, fried rice, stir fried noodles and vegetables, grilled shrimps...
I opted for:
Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls - Price: 85,000 VND / £2.80
10 mini spring rolls, with a thick crispy batter, filled with mashed shrimp, pork, carrots and other vegetables. Served with a small dish of chilli sauce. The spring rolls were pretty standard; nice enough, but nothing special. I had many better meals (at lower prices) during our stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
Emma opted for:
Crispy Spring Roll with Fresh Vermicelli - Price: 95,000 VND / £3.10
This was a more substantial meal than mine and was selected from the vegetarian section of the menu (I don't think Emma wanted to risk getting sparrow or crocodile in her spring rolls!). It consisted of a dozen or so small spring rolls, filled with shredded veg and served with cold vermicelli noodles, salad, peanuts and a bowl of chilli sauce.
I had a bottle of Saigon Special Beer (22,000 VND / £0.75) and Emma had a can of Sprite (20,000 VND / £0.65).
Conveniently located next to the War Remnants Museum. Lots of exotic dishes on the menu. We had more enjoyable meals, at similar or lower prices, elsewhere in Ho Chi Minh City.
The View at Duc Vuong Hotel: Cocktails on the rooftop!
My girlfriend and I visited The View Restaurant one evening during our stay in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
The View is located on the rooftop of the Duc Vuong Hotel on Bui Vien Street in the heart of the popular backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao.
We had just eaten at the very impressive Five Oysters restaurant opposite the hotel and had noticed a sign advertising the rooftop bar and "Saigon Beer with a free snack" for just 12,000 VND (£0.40). I'd just paid 10,000 VND (£0.35) for a Saigon Beer with my meal, but I didn't begrudge paying an extra 2,000 VND to enjoy it on a rooftop with spectacular views over the city!
We made a beeline towards the hotel and a member of staff ushered us through reception, into the lift, and sent us on our way to the 7th floor with an instruction to turn left when we got there. When we emerged on the rooftop we found several terraces, each decked out with chairs and tables, decorated with greenery and lit by fairy lights.
The views were incredible. We could look out into the night sky and see the neon-lit skyscrapers (such as the Bitexco Financial Tower) in the distance. Immediately below us, we could watch the motorcycles darting along bustling Bui Vien Street. We expected the prices to reflect the impressive setting and to be inflated because of the panoramic views, but that wasn't the case here. Prices were largely comparable to those at ground level.
Although I'd intended to enjoy a glass or two of Saigon Beer, the waiter informed us that there was a 2-for-1 offer on a particular cocktail each evening between 6:00pm and 8:00pm. This was a Sunday evening and the discounted cocktail was the Cuba Libre (rum, coke and lime). We were able to purchase 2 Cuba Libres for 85,000 VND, making them great value at less than £1.50 each. We enjoyed a couple of Cuba Libres each while nibbling on the complimentary sweet chilli flavoured popcorn.
At the time of our visit, the 2-for-1 cocktail offers were as follows:
Mondays = Blue Hawaiian
Tuesdays = Long Island Iced Tea
Wednesdays = Mai Tai
Thursdays = Mojito
Fridays = Gin Fizz
Saturdays = Saigon Sunset
Sundays = Cuba Libre
There were also a variety of beers available at very reasonable prices: Saigon Red and Saigon Green at 12,000 VND per bottle, Heineken at 25,000 VND per bottle/can and Tiger at 22,000 VND per bottle/can or 40,000 VND for a large bottle.
Soft drinks were generally priced at 19,000 VND each.
We hadn't intended to eat, but we started to feel a bit peckish after finishing off the bowl of popcorn. The food menu was pretty extensive and included many Vietnamese dishes.
I opted for:
Vegetable Pho (noodle soup) - Price: 39,000 VND / £1.30
I thought this would be a small snack – but how wrong I was! I received a huge bowl filled with noodles, bean sprouts, onion, tofu, mushrooms and various green herbs. There was an accompanying plate of green leaves (with a star anise taste to them), lime, red chillies and a chilli sauce to flavour the pho as desired. I added a liberal helping of the chillies and chilli sauce into the bowl. It was delicious and hot...and left me sweating in the evening heat. Great value for money!
Emma opted for:
Sauteed Cauliflower with Beef and Steamed Rice - Price: 49,000 VND / £1.60
Tender pieces of beef with sauteed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots and a bowl of steamed rice.
A fabulous rooftop setting and very reasonable prices considering the location. An ideal place to sip half price cocktails in an evening while admiring the illuminated city skyline. Recommended!
Five Oysters: Delicious shrimps on Bui Vien Street!
Prior to our visit to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013 I made a shortlist of restaurants that I wanted to visit based on the reviews on TripAdvisor. Top of that shortlist was Five Oysters on Bui Vien Street in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao.
At the time of our visit, Five Oysters was ranked 9th out of 828 restaurants in HCMC and was getting glowing reviews on the quality of its seafood and its excellent value for money prices.
We'd already decided to eat there on our first evening in HCMC, but even if we hadn't the sign outside advertising beef and chicken pho at 35,000 VND (£1.20) a bowl and draught Saigon beer at 10,000 VND (£0.35) a glass would likely have lured us in! We'd paid 65,000 VND for a bowl of pho at Pho 2000 earlier in the day and 26,000 VND for a can of beer, so it was clear that Five Oysters was very reasonably priced. Now it was just a case of hoping that the food lived up to expectations.
One of the friendly waitresses sat us at a table at the front of the restaurant, practically on the pavement. It was the perfect position for people watching along busy Bui Vien Street, but it also meant that every passing seller made a bee line for us. We therefore had to ward off a stream of ladies selling postcards, tourist maps, fans and sunglasses throughout our meal.
The extensive menu stretched to a dozen pages or more. It included a good selection of seafood and meat dishes, as well as soups, pho, fried rice and noodle dishes, spring rolls and salads. There were dishes made with beef, chicken, pork, shrimps, crab, squid, octopus and, as the restaurant's name suggests, oysters. There were some more unusual dishes such as steamed shark, frog curry and frog porridge.
"Salt-grilled Shrimps with Chilli" - Price: 80,000 VND / £2.70
Ten large shrimps grilled on skewers, in their shells, with a coating of hot chilli paste. They were accompanied by a bowl of salt, pepper and chilli into which the shrimps could be dipped after their shells were removed. They were a bit messy to eat, but they were absolutely delicious and fantastic value for money!
I also ordered a bowl of steamed rice (5,000 VND / £0.15) to go with the shrimps.
Green Mango Salad - Price: 40,000 VND / £1.35
As salads go, this one was interesting and tasty. It consisted of grated carrots, bean sprouts, green mango, peanuts, mint leaves....and too much chilli for Emma's liking. It certainly had a kick to it and I ended up eating most of it.
Mango Flambe - Price: 50,000 VND / £1.70
This was from the dessert menu and consisted of slices of warm mango in a mango puree. Emma enjoyed it a lot.
To drink, I of course opted for the draught Saigon beer (10,000 VND / £0.35), which was served in a chilled glass, and Emma had a coconut smoothie (30,000 VND / £1.00).
We really enjoyed our meal at Five Oysters and would highly recommend it. Be sure to try the salt-grilled shrimps with chilli – absolutely delicious!!
Pho 2000: Tasty pho near Ben Thanh Market
We ate at Pho 2000 on our first afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013.
This popular pho (noodle soup) joint is located on Duong Phan Chu Trinh, above a branch of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cafe, right opposite Ben Thanh Market in the heart of the city. It was conveniently located just around the corner from the hotel we were staying at (Tan Hai Long Hotel).
Pho 2000 carries the tagline "Pho For The President". This is a reference to the fact that Bill Clinton once enjoyed a bowl of pho there during a visit to HCMC. There is a photograph of the event on the dining room wall to prove it. As such, you will find Pho 2000 recommended in most guidebooks and it is a bit of a magnet for tourists.
Pho 2000 did indeed feel a bit more touristy than other places we ate at in HCMC, and their prices were higher. Despite that, the food still tasted authentic to us and the meals were still very good value for money by western standards.
The air-conditioned dining room was spotlessly clean. It was also very busy. Only a handful of tables were vacant and most of them had reserved signs on them. We were lucky to grab an unreserved table. This was around noon on a Sunday.
We studied the laminated menu card, but we'd already decided that we'd have our first taste of pho here. It was just a question of which version we'd choose. We had the choice of noodle soup with beef, chicken, seafood or vegetables. Other dishes on the menu included chicken with rice, spring rolls, beef stew and grilled pork.
We both opted for:
Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup) - 65,000 VND / £2.20 for a regular bowl
We opted for "regular" rather than "large", but it was still a decent sized bowl.
The bowl contained a tasty broth, lots of thin noodles and plenty of tender chicken and was topped with a sprinkling of herbs.
We also received a plate of leaves and limes and a bowl of red chillies to flavour our pho as desired.
I emptied the bowl of red chillies into my bowl of pho along with a handful of leaves. I'm not sure what the leaves were, but they tasted strongly of star anise. The addition of the leaves and chillies totally transformed the dish from a tasty broth into a hot and spicy soup. It was delicious - the red chillies caught my throat, brought tears to my eyes and caused my nose to run – and I always take that to be a good thing!
Emma just added a few leaves to hers, but she enjoyed it as much as I did.
As with the food, the drinks were a little more expensive than average. I enjoyed a refreshing glass of lemon juice with ice and lime (35,000 VND / £1.20) and Emma enjoyed a pineapple smoothie (42,000 VND / £1.40).
Emma then ordered a dessert: Thach Dua Trai Cay (35,000 VND / £1.20) – fresh fruit with coconut jelly – and I ordered a can of 333 Beer (26,000 VND / £0.85).
Tasty pho in a cool and clean dining area, close to Ben Thanh Market. Recommended!
Hoa Huong Duong Bubble Tea: Refreshing ice teas on Pham Ngu Lao
We first visited Hoa Huong Duong Bubble Tea during our first morning in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2013, and it became one of our favourite haunts during our four days in the city.
This bright and modern cafe is located on the corner of Duong Pham Ngu Lao and Duong Yersin, opposite 23/9 Park, and just a few minutes walk from Ben Thanh Market and the hotel that we were staying at (Tan Hai Long Hotel).
The menu at Hoa Huong Duong is dominated by flavoured ice milk teas, green teas and black teas. The choice of flavours includes tapioca, aloe vera, taro, jasmine, peppermint, grass jelly, grape, lychee, strawberry, kumquat, kiwi, red bean, honey, chocolate, peach, passionfruit....and dozens more. As well as teas, there is also a selection of fruit juices, fruit smoothies and ice coffees available.
On our first visit, we placed our orders and watched as the drinks were freshly prepared in front of us. We then went upstairs, to the air-conditioned seating area, where we were able to sit at a windowside counter and look across into 23/9 Park where locals were exercising and playing a game that was reminiscent of "keepy uppy" but with a large shuttlecock rather than a ball.
I ordered a peppermint flavoured ice milk tea (30,000 VND / £1.00) and Emma ordered a cold lychee flavoured green tea (25,000 VND / £0.85). Both were refreshing in their own way and were much needed as we adjusted to the heat and humidity.
Our next visit was late the following evening. It was still warm and we opted to sit outside at one of the few tables on the pavement.
I ordered an ice milk tea again (aloe vera flavour this time; very sweet, but still refreshing) and Emma ordered a peppermint ice milk tea after sampling mine during our first visit. We then picked teas from the special section at the top of the menu (slightly more expensive at 35,000 VND / £1.15). I went for "Flan (4 flavours)" which turned out to be a sweet milky tea with four different flavoured (strawberry, mango, chocolate and egg) pieces of a jelly like dessert. I needed a wide straw to be able to consume the flan parts of this drink. Emma went for the "Milk Cacao" (chocolate mint) flavoured milk tea which was much nicer than my flan flavoured one.
Our third visit to Hoa Huong Duong saw us revert back to the more refreshing fruit flavoured ice milk teas. I opted for kiwi and Emma opted for grape. Both were fruity and delicious!
We made a final visit to Hoa Huong Duong on our last evening in Ho Chi Minh City. I tried a kumquat flavoured ice green tea (25,000 VND / £0.85) and Emma tried a strawberry flavoured ice green tea (same price). Both of our drinks included real fruit; a small kumquat in mine and fresh strawberries in Emma's.
Tapioca pearls, fruit flavoured jelly and pieces of "flan" can be added to any tea for 5,000 VND (£0.15).
There are several branches of Hoa Huong Duong in the city, but we only ever visited the branch on Pham Ngu Lao.
A great selection of refreshing ice teas in a modern air-conditioned cafe. Recommended!
Sumo bbq: Buffet bbq
Our first time doing this kind of barbecue in your own table it's a buffet style...the service were good and the interior more like a Japanese style..plenty of choices from different variety of meats & seafood to grilled in your own table the waitresses are ready to assist you anytime
Favorite Dish: Tuna was my favorite it was so good
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