Thursday, October 19, 2017

The best street food in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh)

Durian — a fruit that you can smell a mile away! 
While it's not for everyone, those who do enjoy it say that 
nothing compares to the sweetness of this exotic fruit

Dondi Joseph goes on an adventurous food trip in Vietnam that includes lots of durian and pho noodle soup.

I had decided on the spur of the moment to go back to Vietnam to eat my way through Saigon. It was hot and sultry in late August, and I was in a state of constant dripping-dampness. It was a tad bothersome, but what the heck, we eat humidity for breakfast in the Philippines.

Heaping piles of mangosteen and rambutan are transported 
via motorbike or scooter in the busy streets of Vietnam

As humid as Vietnam is at this time of the year, the food and flavors are always fresh everywhere you eat. Vietnam is a great Asian street food country in the vein of Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand. 

In fact, I think Vietnamese cuisine is all about street food, the only difference being the relative comfort and price of the eating venues you choose.

Vietnamese rice paper is commonly used to wrap varieties of fresh Vietnamese spring roll

You could be in a relatively expensive air-conditioned Brad Pitt-frequented restaurant; or you could be on sidewalks or in markets, standing or seated on low colored plastic chairs or folding metal stools, spending mere shekels for a thoroughly satisfying meal. 

Yes, they do have Western restaurants and fast food joints in Saigon, but these would be an absolute waste of calorie-count unless you are in desperate need of a pizza or mediocre French food.

Day or night, Vietnamese street food cooks 
prepare meals on the spot for locals and tourists alike. 
Good food need not be expensive. 

When in Vietnam on a food trip, you must eat as the Vietnamese do. You will not go wrong with the multitude of freshly-cooked seafood, grilled chicken or pork, meat-laced pho, or sun-ripened fruits and farm-fresh vegetables, all of which are outstanding. 

Conscious of time but not of our waistlines, we made it a point to stop anywhere the food smelled and looked good: sidewalk vendors with food carts or baskets, any kind of market, and of course, night markets, food streets, and restaurants

Those who enjoy kohol (a variety of freshwater snail 
typically cooked in coconut milk and chili in the Philippines
will find this relatively intimidating dish tasty. 
It's a lot more delicious than it looks!

Lucky for us, every place we tasted was worth discovering.

See what awaits the hungry traveler in this colorful gallery of Saigon's street food. To see another one of our awesome photo galleries, check out this one that illustrates the celebration of life — and death — in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Editor's note: The full article from which this except was taken was originally published in Travelife magazine Volume 8, Issue 2.  

Busy outdoor eateries like this are a common site in Vietnam's streets 

Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls are a healthy option. 
They're filled with steamed shrimp, rice vermicelli, Thai basil, 
mint leaves, chopped cilantro, some lettuce, 
and a hint of fish sauce to liven up the flavors 

Juicy grilled prawn that you can enjoy with rice and your choice of Vietnamese dipping sauces, pickles, flavorings, and garnishes 
Vietnamese street food is cheap, yet satisfying and delicious 

A woman prepares ingredients for Bánh mì
a Vietnamese baguette originally introduced by the French during the colonial period. 
The sandwich is typically stuffed with pâté and native Vietnamese ingredients 
like fresh coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon, and an assortment of meats

Sticky rice and yam puddings best enjoyed with shredded coconut are great 
when a craving for sweets hits you while you're on the go

Meat and seafood can be enjoyed with noodles or rice. 
It all depends on what you feel like!

Phở, or Vietnamese noodle soup, consists of typically chicken or beef, 
rice noodles, basil, fresh bean sprouts, onions, 
and rounded off with a spritz of lime or lemon

In every corner, there is food that's ready 
to satisfy even the biggest appetites

The fried version of the popular Vietnamese spring roll 
that appeals to those who like a bit of crisp and crunch with every bite

Evidence of a kitchen during a busy day
Another take on Vietnamese noodle soup, this time with egg and shrimp. 
The clear broth is pleasantly light, and diners are free 
to make it as spicy or savory as they like with their own mix of sauces

When in Vietnam, remember to feast! 

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