Saba Eats Ho Chi Minh City
WOW its been a few months now from my last Saba Eats Ho Chi Minh City post. Sorry guys, I’ve been super busy with a few projects and have let the blog slip a bit. I promise to get back on horse and start posting more regularly now. Since the time that has past I’ve actually been back to Vietnam and visited Ho Chi Minh City on a few separate occasions, amongst other places in Vietnam. Now this post isn’t going to continue from my previous post but I’ll fast forward to one of my more recent trips as I’ve come to be quite familiar with the place now.
The hunt is on!
It was 6.30PM on a hot August night. It had rained earlier so it was quite humid. I was sweating, a bit tired and very hungry. I decided I better head out and look for something to eat. That was the main reason of me heading to Vietnam in the first place so now was a good a time as any to start filling my belly.
I was staying at district one this time, so I was right in the guts of it all. I headed to Bến Thành Market about a three minute walk from my hotel. Bến Thành Market is a big market place in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a busy place and is popular with the tourist. Being a tourist hot spot I find the prices around here a little bit more expensive but in the grand scheme of things it’s peanuts compared to what I would pay back home. But for those who are on a tight budget please take note.
Prices aside I always find its a good starting place to find me a good feed.
I made my through the market, which took me a little longer then expected as I was haggled by store owners to stop and check out what they where selling. I can’t blame them, everyone need to earn a dollar right?
Once I got through to the market, I found my self in front of a food stall. It was a small place with very low small stainless tables and little red plastic chairs. So cute! They had a heap of fans on the walls that did vertically nothing to cool me down. It was a very basic set up, which I really love and think is just awesome. Its really makes you feel like you are in Vietnam.
The stall was selling Bún mắm. For those of you who have not heard of this dish, Bún mắm is a Vietnamese noodle soup. The noodles are thick vermicelli and the soup is made from a fermented fish paste. Its is an acquired taste to say the least. You have been warned. It falls into a catagory of Vietnamese foods called
“smells like hell, taste like heaven”
Lucky for me I have an acquired palette.
Now this is one of my favorite noodle soups to eat. Along side the thick noodles are prawns, bbq pork, squid, eggplant and a host of fresh herbs and greens. But for this dish to be good the balance of the soup needs to be spot on. Back home its very hard to find a place that can get the balance right. They are either way too salt or over the top sweet. But this place hit the nail on the head and got it spot on. I was very impressed and will be heading back here again on my next visit. If I can remember how to get there again lol
One of Saba’s favourite eats in Ho Chi Minh City!
After digesting my bowl of noodles I headed over to Bui Vien Street, which was only about a 15 minute walk from the market. Bui Vien street is a very busy street, its lined with bars and food stalls and also has a bit of seediness to it. It is loud down there. You will find the streets full of tourist and locals alike. There was only two reason I headed down to Bui Vien street. The first was to get a drink, as I was very thirsty after my bowl of noodle soup and needed to wash it down with a nice cold beer. My choice of beer when in Saigon is of course Saigon Bia.
Saigon red to be exact.
I always go to the same little bar each time I visit this place. It’s only a very small place with about 10 tables. The beer here is amongst the cheapest you will find on Bui Vien street. The two lady owners have gotten to know me over my few visits and are very friendly. They know what beer I like to drink and I don’t even need to order anymore as they automatically open a bottle for me and put it on my table. Great customer service if you ask me. So after a few refreshments the time had slipped away from me and a few hours had past. I needed to move on to the second reason I headed to Bui Vien Street.
Gumbo! What Gumbo I hear you say. Yes Gumbo.
Ok let me tell the story of why I needed to go find this Gumbo. When I was in Saigon last time at the airport waiting for my plane home. I was sitting next to an American fella who was catching the same flight as me. We had a 2 hour wait, so we got a talking. He told me he was from Louisiana. Straight away it popped in my mind and I said to him “you guys eat gumbo there right?” He replied “oh you know Gumbo, have you tried it before?” I said “no unfortunately” He asked me why and I explained to him that as I had no idea what it tasted like and that I didn’t want to try it unless I was in America. If I was going to try something for the first time I really wanted it to be the real deal.
He then told me about a store in Bui Vien who sold Gumbo. I found this rather strange, but he told me that the previous owner was from America and had passed the recipe onto the current owner who had now been serving it for years. He said it was a really good Gumbo and if I ever was in Saigon again I should try it. From that day it was on my to do list.
After leaving the bar I headed over to the stall that sold the gumbo, we ordered the gumbo and I was so excited. So now all I had to do was wait. I ordered a beer and waited for my Gumbo to be served. Now when I say waited, I really had to wait and wait and wait. It felt like forever before it came out. This wasn’t due to my excitement it actually took them 40 minutes to get it out to me. During the time I was waiting I just kept saying to myself it is so going to be worth the wait.
So my Gumbo finally arrived. It was a fair sized bowl, and came with a serving of white long grain rice. I’m not sure if this is how they would serve it America, but I was in Vietnam so I guess the rice is a must.
It looked good, and smelt great. It was time to finally dig in and try this gumbo. I got my spoon and took my first taste of the soup. My first thought was its ok, but it was still very hot so can’t really judge it just yet. As I kept eating it the taste didn’t get any better. Actually the more I ate the less I was enjoying it. Oh I was very sad, all my excitement just lead to disappointment. I only got through half the bowl and I couldn’t’ eat anymore. I pushed my bowl away from me as I was done with this Gumbo.
Me ordered another beer as I had to wash this gumbo out of my mouth. Upon turning to my right, I noticed there was another gentleman who was also eating the Gumbo. He looked at me and then looked at my bowl then said to me
“I know its not that good today”
He explained that he comes to this place regularly and the gumbo was always spot on but for some reason today there was just something not right about it. I haven’t ridden Gumbo off, but I don’t think I would come back to this place and have it again. I think the next time I try Gumbo I will have to be in Louisiana.
As such I moved on, had a few more beers and called it a night.
More Eats to come in Part 3!
Part 2 Saba Eats Ho Chi Minh City!