Living as a Foodie in Saigon

Written by Cecilia Blomberg, (Student Correspondent) University of North Carolina
CET Public Health & Service-Learning in Ho Chi Minh City, Summer 2015

I come from a family that lives to eat instead of the other way around. Read below to see how I practice my foodie life in Saigon!

This is definitely one of my favorite dishes I’ve had in Saigon. It’s called Cơm Bò Lúc lắc. I got it at a random coffee shop, called Thi ềm, and since it’s somewhat far away, I’ve been mourning my lack of a return. It was about 1.65 in US dollars. Can you even believe it? The rice was seasoned so well, and the meat complemented it perfectly.

Cơm Bò Lúc lắc

Cơm Bò Lúc lắc

Bánh Bèo:  I had this dish one of the first days I came to Saigon. Michelle convinced me it was a good pick for breakfast, but afterward, I just found it so weird! The white round things are gooey and the pink/orange things are shrimp encased in yet another gooey substance. It wasn’t shockingly delicious and it wasn’t gross either, just different. Overall I think it’s interesting enough to be worth a try.

Bánh Bèo

Bánh Bèo

I really disliked all things coconut flavored before coming to Vietnam. I now realize this is because I wasn’t experiencing a real coconut! The kind you see in this picture is the most refreshing thing I’ve ever had, and it is packed with electrolytes! It has such a subtle salt and sweet flavor and has the consistency of something only slightly thicker than water. When you’re done drinking the juice, the server comes around to cut the top open more. That way, you can stick a spoon inside to carve the meat out from the inside.

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Quail eggs.  One of the girls in the program, Michelle, has an uncle who brings us these little delicacies for breakfast. After boiling and peeling them, you roll the little egg in a special mineral salt. The result is a bite size wonder that fills you up after only like 4-5! It’s a great source of protein and the perfect solution for those mornings where you don’t feel moving far from our beds.

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Sinh to bo… otherwise known as the avocado smoothie. It’s so good I couldn’t even bring myself to wait to drink it in order to take a more flattering picture.  This is the epitome of why I love sweets in Vietnam…they are never too sweet! They always have a perfect balance. This smoothie is a good way to incorporate the right fats your Vietnamese diet.

Sinh to bo

Sinh to bo

Bánh mì ! This is the core of street food.  It’s a Vietnamese sandwich with vegetables, meat, liver spread, sauce, and eggs packed into a bread bun that reminds me of the “symphony of crackle” described in the pixar movie, Ratatouille.  If I’m not stealing Michelle’s quail eggs, I have different versions of this almost every single day. It’s so delicious and costs only 10.000 dong, equivalent to about 45 cents!

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Bánh mì.

Bánh Canh Cua :

A fact that needs to be accepted before you come to Saigon is that you will be eating a lot of noodley soups and rice dishes. In the everyday heat, it is so hard for me to settle with hot soup, but I rather eat with my friends, and that seems to be their favorite, so I comply. Sometimes it is my biggest pet peeve. You have to eat most soups with chopsticks because if you try to use a spoon, the noodles just flop off and splash your face. But even eating with chopsticks doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be safe from the soup finding a way to mix with the sweat on your face. Now to my point… This soup pictured is a total exception!!! It has thicker noodles, a flavorful broth, and crab. I could eat this always. It is much, much better than the bún thịt nương that my friends will pretend is the superior dish.

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Bánh Canh Cua