Urban Adventures, Ho Chi Minh Street Food Tour
We met our lovely guide Thuong outside the Museum of Fine Arts after a very hot few hours oohing and aahing at magnificent art and totally falling in love with Vu Tuyen’s amazing paintings.
Food tours seem to be changing, you never used to receive a run down of all the stops at the beginning of the tour but it has happened on both of the ones we’ve done so far this trip. I wonder if people need the structure of knowing what will happen before they can enjoy themselves. I kind of like not knowing and just seeing where the night takes you but anyway.
Our first stop, after a short walk, was for Bo Kho, a new one to us all, a slow cooked beef stew with the most amazing broth flavoured with star anise, cinnamon and bay leaf. The married stall owners, one Chinese and one Vietnamese have each added their special touch to make the Bo Kho truly exceptional. Chunks of melt in your mouth beef, carrots and noodles in this unbelievably yummy broth. Some of the best food we have ever eaten has been at roadside stalls in SE Asia and this was one of them. Sat at teeny aluminium tables as rush hour ramped up behind us. If we can find it again I would love to go back.
After another wander, walking half in the gutter and half on overcrowded pavements, we stopped for honey duck on the corner of a crazily busy junction. The ducks are usually eaten on special occasions and are basted in honey and slow roasted. Now on a food tour you don’t usually get a whole meal. You just try a little of lots of things but we’d each been served full portions of the Bo Kho (although Thuong did say we only had a half portion of the noodles – even so I was already feeling a little full) The duck was sweet and delicious and served with cloud soft and crunchy baguette. After one mouthful I was done. Soo tasty though.
We next walked through the narrow alleyways of a local market, tiny cubicles stacked high with produce, whole families relaxing in the sweltering heat. Emerging the other side we made our way to K Coffee for Ma (the only coffee drinker among us) to try a traditional Vietnamese coffee, although something must have been lost in translation as she ended up with an iced coffee which was delicious nonetheless. JHubz and I enjoyed refreshing mango smoothies.
Now no trip with Ma is compete without some mishap and no sooner had we left the coffee shop than she had fallen on the sloping curb and badly bashed her knee. Limping back to the coffee shop the wonderful guard leapt into action and soon secured antiseptic and some tape to clean up then cover her grazed knee. Crisis averted and we were on our way. (Luckily there is a seamstress across the road from our hotel and her ripped capri trousers are being made into shorts as I type, all for the princely sum of £1.76).
Our next stop was another roadside kiosk, and our first of this trip on the super tiny plastic stools (Think kindergarten size). I think we all looked pretty ridonkulous, our knees up higher than the tables but the Bo La Lot was delicious so we didn’t care. Make them yourself beef sausage spring rolls. First you take a piece of the rice paper wrapper, add a spongelike piece of vermicelli noodle, slices of banana, starfruit and cucumber, mint and basil and lettuce, then a yummy beef sausage and wrap as tightly as you can. And dip in wonderful but feet smelling fish sauce. Thankfully we only had one each as we were all pretty full but they were delicious.
Having been promised doughnuts at the beginning we were all a little disappointed to find out that the vendor was not open (Another reason not to tell people what the evening holds) and the stop was replaced with tapioca spring rolls. Fresh Vietnamese vegetable filled cold wrap spring rolls dipped in hoi san. They were delicious but a doughnut they were not.
Now there were definitely less stops on this tour than most every other we have done, but every stop was pretty awesome and so was Thuong. Patiently helping us with our Vietnamese pronunciation and sharing insights as we went along the way. Like the fact that the locals call the central city Saigon and the greater city Ho Chi Minh. The tour is pretty fairly priced and I’d definitely recommend it for new or returning travellers alike Xx