HO CHI MINH CITY

We woke up to this view of the river every morning from our hotel, Renaissance Riverside. It’s a nice hotel but the city is much nicer. Why not start the day off with a nice bowl of pho from this babe:

There are a tonne of great restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City but the best food is just a couple of bucks from the street vendors all over town. This pho was pretty serious business, with a smattering of beef tendon, lotus root and crunchy pork crackling. It cost us 10,000VND, which works out at just over fifty cents.

With breakfast out of the way we started our ascent to the north of District 1, where we would find our second breakfast for the day…

I eat a lot of Vietnamese food in Sydney and after seeing an episode of No Reservations, where Anthony Bourdain and his old boss chomp their way through Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An, I knew I had to come here. Sometimes I feel like No Reservations can be a little wanky (I hate it when Bourdain focuses on the spiritual side of a city he’s visiting and forces the viewers to ten straight minutes of him sitting in a temple NOT EATING ANYTHING, complete with awful free copyright production music playing in the background – panpipes and harps!) but this episode was free from wank and instead full of incredible food that I absolutely had to eat. And now that we were in the same country as this food, we had no excuse but to find all the dope spots Bourdain and his old French mate ate at.

Our first dish: Banh Xeo, at 46A Dinh Cong Trang

Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese pancake filled with prawns, pork and beansprouts, fried on one side and folded in half. It’s served with a plate full of different herbs and a dipping sauce.

You tear off a bit of the pancake, wrap in herbs and dip it in the sauce, just like B is doing below:

The place also dished some boss spring rolls that were crispy on the outside and dense with pork and spice on the inside. Real good.

We’d not even wiped the oil from our lips and it was time for our next breakfast, our third for the day. Maybe we should call this one lunch, even though it was still in the AM when we ate it. 

After scaling one end of Hoang Sa to the other, walking along the brown river and stopping for morning beers (the best kind of beers!) along the way, we finally found who we were looking for: The Lunch Lady.

The Lunch Lady is a street vendor who simmers a wild new pot of soup every day, spooning it into the bowls of lucky bowl holders who rock up from 11am till when she runs out of her holy elixer. Gastronomy Blog has done a very thorough post that lists what kind of soup she cooks each day, as well as the best map of how to find her.

We were psyched to be here on a Friday because Fridays are when The Lunch Lady makes Bun Bo Hue, the beefiest soup there is! And holy moly would you look at this motherfucker:

I SAID LOOK AT THIS MOTHERFUCKER!!

Words can’t do this bowl of soup justice. It had it all. Slices of beef, pork sausage, pig’s blood, thick noodles, herbs and oh man, that spicy, beefy broth. 

B was so in love with her soup she demanded I take her picture with it:

But I decided to one-up her and had my picture taken with The Lunch Lady herself:

What a babe! Oh and The Lunch Lady is in this photo too.

Friends and family of The Lunch Lady run the stalls that surround her soup stand, selling rice paper rolls, drinks and chế, a sweet dessert that comes in a Pikachu bag!

On the long, hot walk back to our hotel we were deep in thought. Would our life be the same after eating The Lunch Lady’s delicious soup? Is ‘Lady’ The Lunch Lady’s maiden name, or did she take it on after marriage? Would various Pokemon adorn the rest of our beverages in Vietnam? And most importantly, what would we have for dinner?


Cha Ca La Vong is a restaurant that serves just one dish: Hanoi style fried catfish with tumeric and dill. Even though we were headed to Hanoi in just over a week, we’d heard that this Ho Chi Minh City restaurant does the dish better than anywhere else in Vietnam. And it was pretty damn good!


After our fourth and (unfortunately) final meal of the day, we lay in bed with our hands clutching our engorged tummies, content with the food we’d eaten and making an oath to each other not to blog about any other activity we partake in while we stay in this beautiful city.

SAIGON NIGHTS

We landed in Ho Chi Minh City pretty late and even though Singapore Airlines had ensured our bellies were full of slightly above average plane food, we needed to go out and hunt. Eating mad shit was the reason for our Vietnam trip, after all.

After a few blocks of walking we came across this bro perched on a plastic stool surrounded by exactly what we were hunting for: MAD SHIT. He was circled by an array of cured meats, herbs and vegetables; the makings of an amazing banh mi. And hoo boy was it amazing.

The baguette alone was perfection. They use rice flour when making bread in Vietnam, and after breaking through the awesome crack of the crust, it gave way to a soft, airy middle. 

It was a good way to end our night / start our holiday. 

PORK FLOSS PANCAKE

Earlier in the year I had my friend Mel round for tacos. Ever the good guest (probably the best really), Mel came bearing gifts; a chef’s blowtorch, a bag of biltong and a can of pork floss. I’ve used the blowtorch a couple of times and we smashed the biltong in less than a week but I only got around to opening the pork floss yesterday.

Trying to fight my Sunday hangover, I found this dope pork floss pancake recipe on Chowtimes and was lucky enough to have all the ingredients in the kitchen. It tasted real good with fish sauce & lime. Pork floss is totally bad ass too, what else should I cook with it?

HOLY HEART ATTACK BATMAN

I just made this for lunch (aka late brunch). I wanted to submit it to This Is Why You’re Fat but the site is down! Whyyyyyyy?

sandwichface:

Eggs, bacon, avocado, fried tomato and Louisiana red chilli hot sauce on French sourdough. Made by Levins.

This sandwich was made on two frog in the holes. Levins made them like this:  

  1. cut a circle out of each slice of bread with a water glass
  2. heat up a fry pan with a little butter
  3. put the bread in the pan an crack an egg in each hole
  4. let them cook then flip
  5. they’re ready when both sides are brown!

Levins fried the little holes of bread too- buttering both sides first. YUM they were super moist and buttery, almost like biscuits. Really good with the hot sauce.

I got Levins the Louisiana hot sauce from the USA foods website. They sell heaps of mad American foods that are hard to find here and postage is pretty reasonable.

DOOD FOOD

10 dudes came round for dinner the other night and received the works: cheeseburgers with bacon, pickles, red onion and rocket on a charred bun. I tried to cook em pretty rare too.

After smashing 2 burgers each and a handful of hand cut fries, I still had the deep fryer going and a bunch of leftover pickles. I make my own dill pickles using cucumber grown by B’s Dad and they’re super tasty. I’d read about deep frying pickles over at Meatwave and decided to give em a try. We didn’t have any cornmeal in the house so I used masa. Different but good.

They came up terrific, the batter of masa and flour puffed up and went nice and crispy while the pickles stayed juicy. The taste was off the hook. Deep fried pickles would be the ultimate bar snack! Serve them with some toothpicks and some good beer. Mmmmm.

SANDWICHFACE

Bianca started this great Sandwich blog where she takes a photo of all the sandwiches she eats. Since I make her an average of two sandwiches a week, there’s a few good rolls I made on the blog.

So far none have come close to this next level sandwich I made for us to eat today:

sandwichface:

Roast pork belly, sweet pickled cucumber, pickled bamboo shoot, red cabbage, rocket, coriander and mayonnaise on long white roll. Made by Levins.

PIZZAS

Bianca bought me a pizza stone for Christmas, here are some of the pizzas I’ve cooked since then. Up top is a pepperoni, mushroom, basil and buffalo mozzarella pizza. The cool thing about the pizza stone is that it makes the base super crispy and thin.

Margherita

Margherita with goat’s cheese

Supreme pizza with a tonne of good shit on it

Truffled salami (best shit ever!) with pine mushrooms

Truffled salami, pine mushrooms and baby spinach

Up next: Tacos? Maybe!

BURGERS

Ok let’s get this food section started proper with some burgers…

Beef cheeseburgers with dill pickles, tomato, lettuce with a side of baked fries & pickled red cabbage. I made the buns too – they’re filled with chopped jalapenos and cheese! The recipe for the buns is below, they were really easy and super good.

Jalapeno cheese buns recipe by Homesick Texan

I made these cheeseburgers at midnight…

And these were made a few nights later at 3am! The BBQ’d red onion rings on these burgers really set em off.

Spicy pork burgers with cheese, red cabbage & apple

Teriyaki glazed salmon burger with cucumber, baby spinach and wasabi mayonnaise 

Fried fish burgers with coleslaw, coriander and hot sauce

Charcoal grilled Portuguese chicken burger

Kangaroo burger with beetroot, rocket and a fried egg

Up next: Pizzas!