Saigon or HCMC was placed in the list of the world’s top food destinations. If you have a chance to travel to this active city, do not miss a food journey around famous local markets. Here are 3 of them.
Ba Chieu Market
Ba Chieu Market is one of the most ideal destinations for gourmands. Here, you can enjoy a wide selection of typical Vietnam dishes such as Vietnamese grass jelly dessert, sweet bean soup, wraps and rolls, rice spaghetti with crab, steamed sticky rice with chicken or barbecued pork.
I arrive in Ba Chieu market at lunchtime. Inside the market, food stores showcase a variety of aromatic dishes. As a sweet-tooth gourmand, my first choice is the Vietnamese grass jelly sweet soup. The store also serves other delicious dishes such as coconut milk with pennywort, ginseng or green bean sweet soups. Unlike other big markets, where they offer tasty Chinese sweet soups such as braised papaya, egg sweet soup or tofu with almonds, Ba Chieu market is more simple. Sellers here are also very friendly.
Delicious steamed sticky rice with chicken and grilled meat at Ba Chieu Market (Source: Saigonamthuc)
If you visit Ba Chieu market, you cannot miss the steamed sticky rice with chicken and grilled meat. Located in a corner of Bui Huu Nghia – Vu Tung Street, the sticky rice restaurant is always crowded with guests. Trays are presented full of ingredients such as chicken legs or grilled meat. I am interested in having the sauce, which is made from fat, onion and tiny dried shrimp. I take my chance here to taste the sweetness of sticky rice, the saltiness of the sauce and the richness of the meat while sipping a cup of cool soy milk in the sweltering day. Sometimes, this is the best part of my day.
Tan Dinh Market
Guangzhou dried noodles Tan Dinh Market (Source Foody)
I like dropping in Tan Dinh market to view the remarkably pink church and enjoy the food here. You can find most of the scrumptious dishes of Saigon at this market, from fried rice, crab soup, Nam Vang noodles and steamed rolled rice pancakes to sweet soups such as Thai, mixed soups and flans. In addition, you can try fresh seafood dishes and snacks. The main market closes in the afternoon. However, the night here is bustling with diners.
Two of the most delicious dishes at the market is a Hue dish and Guangzhou dried noodles. At Nguyen Huu Cau street (at the intersection with Tran Quang Khai street), you can see a line of restaurants serving Hue dishes. This is also my friend’s favorite place whenever she wants to taste something really homey. In order to enjoy many different Hue dishes such as floating fern-shaped cake, steamed cassava cake, fermented pork roll or mussels with girdle cake, you should go in groups. If those dishes have not satisfied your taste, you can enjoy the steamed thin rice pancake with grilled meat or vermicelli with a special kind of sauce.
Hue dishes popular at Tan Dinh Market (Source: Internet)
I often have Nam Pho rice spaghetti. This is a typical dish of Hue with a delicious broth of crab roe, fresh shrimp and pork. The lean and fatty meat is seasoned and stir-fried with crab roe and then added to the shrimp broth. The crab and shrimp meat are chopped and mixed with pork pie.
Also at Nguyen Huu Cau Street, you can drop into a restaurant for Guangzhou dried noodles, sold 24/7. In addition, diners can taste Vietnamese rice noodles, rice vermicelli, rice spaghetti and fish porridge. It will take you a week to enjoy all of the dishes here.
If you would like to have a good taste of Chinese dishes, you must have them in old restaurants, decorated with spectacular things such as a bike decorated with colorful glazed paper. The restaurant that I choose to have dinner is such a place. The broth served at the restaurant us very sweet and tasty. The dried noodle with grilled pork is the most popular dish for diners. A bowl of mixed noodle with shrimp, heart and kidney is also a good choice for your meal. Do not forget to ask for your sauce, which is unique to the restaurant.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh market, which is a cultural destination of Saigon during the day, is one of the world’s most fascinating food markets in the evening, according to USA Today. The market is a perfect location for tours to discover street-food. Ben Thanh market reminds me of three remarkable dishes, including vermicelli with sauce, vermicelli with sour crab soup and cold tofu. The vermicelli restaurant which is more than 40 years that is located opposite the East gate of Ben Thanh market is one of t he most delicious restaurants in Saigon. The Southwestern vermicelli enchants gastronomes with its special fish sauce. To make this dish, the cook must prepare the ingredients carefully.
The fish and shrimp must be very fresh to bring the best taste to the dish. Although the vermicelli at the restaurant is more expensive than in other kiosks, diners flock here to enjoy this scrumptious dish. This dish is served with sour tamarind sauce, bitter vegetables, bean sprouts and coriander and will be a memorable culinary experience.
Famous vermicelli at Ben Thanh market
With a tour around markets, diners can enjoy a wide selection of delectable dishes. If you like vermicelli with sour crab soup, the restaurant at the crossroad of Le Thanh Ton – Nguyen Trung Truc, near Ben Thanh Market is a good choice. The dish is a combination of snails, pork pie, tofu, tomato, crab soup and vermicelli. Fresh-water crabs are pounded for the soup while big snails are stir-fried to be very crunchy. The soft taste of tofu mixed in the sweet broth is really wonderful.
At the intersection of Le Thanh Ton and Truong Dinh street, gourmands can enjoy the icy tofu. It will be and unforgettable moment to enjoy this dish, along with a cup of coconut milk and leathery cassava balls, while chatting with your friends after a busy day.
Apart from these three markets, Saigon also includes others such as Cho Lon, Vuon Chuoi and Ban Co markets, which are also food paradise for you to discover. Let’s plan for a journey to discover Saigon’s food map around markets to increase the flavors for your summer.
(Source: Travellive – May 2015)