I just had my first couple of meals in Ho Chi Minh, and I have to say, I’m seriously impressed.
For lunch, I stumbled across a tiny little restaurant that specializes in broken rice. It was a pretty basic version of this dish: it’s a fairly substantial pile of rice (made with, as the name suggests, broken grains of rice) topped with grilled pork, greens and some crispy bits (I have no idea what these were but they were super tasty). It also came with a really satisfying bowl of vegetable-packed soup.
The price? 30,000 dong, or about $1.66 Canadian. That is obscenely cheap for such a satisfying, delicious lunch.
For dinner I went to a place called Bun Thit Nuong Chi Tuyen. Their specialty is a dish I’ve had countless times back home that features a mix of rice noodles, pork, veggies, and herbs, with a spring roll on the side. You top the whole thing with a sweet fish sauce (there was also a container of fiery red chilies at the table that I’ve never seen back home; it really kicked things up and was a pretty amazing addition).
This is my go-to dish at Vietnamese restaurants, and this was the best version of it that I’ve had by far. The noodles had a really great chewy texture, and the balance of flavours was incredible. Back home, sometimes the herbs are a bit overwhelming, or the proportion of vegetables is off, but here everything was just right.
And don’t even get me started on the spring roll, which was absolutely perfect.
And you know what else was perfect? The price. 47,000 dong, which works out to $2.60 Canadian. It’s suddenly becoming very clear to me why this place is so popular with younger travelers. You can make very little money last a long time here.
And a bonus at the noodle joint: this almost improbably adorable puppy, who was sleeping on a chair just outside of the restaurant.