Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Chaotic streets, good coffee, great street food

Vietnam is the place to visit if you want to experience Indochina tradition, French architecture and lively street food culture.

One thing to remember when visiting Vietnam is, the locals almost don’t speak English at all. We stayed for 2 days and most people we met don’t speak English. That includes our hostel receptionist, our Grab (it’s like the Uber of South East Asia) drivers and the Barista at a coffee shop next to our hostel. We found those who can speak English in famous tourist area/landmark such as souvenir sellers in Benh Thanh Market and waitress of famous Coffee shops.

We relied so much in Google Translate to communicate. For example when ordering a cup of coffee I would type “Ice milk coffee, take away” and showed them the translation. Luckily for us Grab has automatic integration to Google Translate. So whatever you typed in English is automatically translated to Vietnamese and vice versa. Therefore we didn’t have any problem getting a pick up.

Street Food Culture

Vietnam has a lively street food culture. Local, everyday Vietnamese eat in stalls found on the side of the road like this. This is where they have breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Even when you go to the center of high end business area, you can find food stalls on the sidewalks. During lunch breaks they are filled with office workers getting their affordable lunch.

Nothing is faster then getting your food right in the street, drive-thru style.

Phở

No visit to Vietnam would ever be enough without a big hearty bowl of Pho. This noodle soup finds its place in the heart of Vietnamese people. It is usually served with slices of beef and meatballs.

For those who don’t eat pork, I highly recommend this food stall called Pho Muslim. It is owned by a very friendly Muslim Vietnamese. He taught us how the locals mixed their sauce.
We loved it so much that we visited this place twice during our 2 days visit. And that drink is amazing. I don’t know its name but it is a coffee with tofu/egg puddings (I’m not sure).

Bánh mì

Bahn mi is the French heritage for Vietnamese cuisine. It is a baguette sandwich with various fillings. You can find them everywhere, in one of the food stalls….

… or in a restaurant. This is the reason why McDonald’s is dead in Vietnam. You can’t compete with cheaper, hearty local version.

Cà phê

Coffee has a strong presence in Vietnamese street food culture. You can find a fancy coffee brewer serving people on plastic chairs in the side walk.

The famous egg coffee or cà phê trứng. They invented this during war time when milk was scarce, so they replace milk with egg in their coffee. I think this taste more like a dessert.

Cơm Gà

I love chicken so much that I made it a personal mission to taste KFC in every country I visited. However the KFC I found it Vietnam is disappointing. I don’t recommend you to have KFC in Vietnam.

Instead, go get this amazing Com Ga Quay. The crispy skin on that chicken is amazing.

 

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