Ho Chi Minh – Days 1 and 2

Day 1

Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh (HCM), one of the first things I noticed is all the scooter bikes.  Being born in Manila, and having spent some time there, I am used to chaotic traffic, but I would say that the bikes in HCM, add another interesting dimension to the traffic scene in the city.

Here are some of the places we have eaten at so far.

Le Banh Mi – We came here mainly because it was close to the hotel, and I was hungry after waking up at 3:30AM to catch an early morning flight to Vietnam.  This is the first Vietnamese food I had in Vietnam so I cannot say how good it was compared to other food in the country, but compared to Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam, I would say I was pretty impressed.

The banh mi – had a pork sandwich with mayo and fish sauce.  The bread was absolutely delicious as was the filling and sauce.  I ordered a second.

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Beef Pho – OK, the broth was so delicious.  In North America, I was used to adding hoisin and sriracha to the soup.   This soup, required nothing.  It was perfect.  Clear and savory.

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I also had the spring rolls which were just OK.

Anan – Anan is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that combines a modern twist on Vietnamese dishes and incorporates French techniques.  I made a reservation in advance and the table was ready upon arrival.  We had the tasting menu.

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We had some cocktails throughout the evening.  All were good especially the Whisky Matcha and Vietnamese Young Sticky rice wine which reminded me of a complex scotch initially, then more of a port the more I drank it.

Here are a few of the dishes:

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“Tacos” which were more of like a Vietnamese crepe
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crab fried rice
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tamarind and coffee cotton candy

The service was good.  After, we went to the rooftop to check out the bar.  A good place to come for before or after dinner drinks.

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Trung Nguyen Legend Coffee – I stumbled upon this places while walking around Saigon.  I ordered the Legend Coffee.  First of all, its about $10 for what is the equivalent of a shot of espresso so its not cheap, but after tasting it, I get it – its good, and I wanted another.

They bring you a drip and you wait about 5 minutes for the drop to finish.  You then add condensed milk (I usually take my coffee black, but when in Rome…) and ice.  Drink with straw.  Its goooooooood.  I also had a couple of pastries – stick to the coffee.

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Day 2

The day started with a visit to Landmark 81, the tallest building in Vietnam and 14th tallest in the world.  Despite the name, it has 82 stories.  I saw the building from the air landing in HCM.

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The bottom floors are a mall with lots of dining options.  However, my main purpose of visiting was to go up to the 81st floor.  Unfortunately, upon arrival, I was told that this would not be open until sometime in 2019.  I would recommend one not visit until this option was available.

Other things I checked out today included the War Museum (which is interesting to see because it presents the war from another perspective), Reunification Palace, Notre Dame (entry not available), Opera House (entry not available), Saigon River, and Post Office.  While interesting, Saigon, in my opinion, is not a city for sightseeing, but I’m here for the food, so on to the next…

Xu Lounge –     I opted for the 5 course tasting menu.

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Overall, the meal was delicious and the service was good.  If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might be annoyed because you will be able to smell smoke from the lounge below.  The restaurant itself, is on the second floor and is quite nice.  The tasting per person works out to about U$50, which I consider to be tremendous value for the service and food received.  Flavors were unique and packed lots of umami without being overpowering.  Here are a couple of the dishes.

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Spring Roll wrapped in lettuce which is how it is eaten here, and my favorite dish of the evening, pork sausage wrapped in la lot leaf with a peanut sauce
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various Vietnamese desserts, subtle flavors and not too sweet, perfect way to end the meal

Overall, I would return.

Day 3 – Street Food

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