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Holiday in Ho Chi Minh City: The 10 Foods You Totally Have to Try

May 1, 2013 at 1:45 PM | by | ()

Yesterday we showed you the hypertension-producing traffic that is a common occurrence in Ho Chi Minh City. Now, we will take on the real reason we braved the road-rage in the first place, food!

Vietnamese food is a tourist attraction all to it's own because it spans plenty of tastes, ingredients and iconic flavors that are independent to the region. From pho shops and bowls of noodles along the side of bustling streets to rice paper rolls in a market and Vietnamese baguettes while strolling the sidewalks, this city has a lot to offer for empty bellies.

We joined up with an American expat and his Vietnamese wife who run a food tour around each of the districts with Back of the Bike Tours. The goal? To sample the delicious food the city has to offer from the back of a scooter and away from tourist traps that overcharge.

We were promptly collected from our hotel and, before departing, briefed on what to expect. We discussed food allergies and preferences, but it wasn't long before we were in the thick of the streets of HCMC. Each tour is different depending on the participants, so here is a peek inside our culinary adventure across the city, what we ate and what you should definitely look for:

· Bun Bo Hue: We started with Bun Bo Hue, a fragrant beef and pork soup with lots of lemongrass. With direction on how to properly look like a local, we dipped our beef in the spicy fish sauce for extra flavor.

· Banh Khot: Next stop was for Banh Khot, a savory coconut fritter that is topped with either ground pork or a prawn and a pile of fresh herbs ripped from the stalk. Washing it all down with freshly pressed sugar cane juice, Nuoc Mia with a hint of kumquat.

· Bun Thit Nuong: Then off to the other side of town for Bun Thit Nuong, a freshly grilled pork, pork springrolls and sausage served up with vermicelli noodles and peanuts with fish sauce and chilli. After meeting the cook that started the street-side eatery 30 years prior, we couldn't feel more like a local.

· Banh Canh Ghe: An ocean crab soup, called Banh Canh Ghe, made with housemade pork rinds and a blow-your-head-off green chilli sauce was next. Sitting next to a bubbling pool of swimming crab, we knew it couldn't get much fresher.

· Banh Mi Thit: The official sandwich of Vietnam followed, and from a shop that was more like an assembly line than street food, but the fresh bread, pate and 6 different types of pork was the best that has ever crossed our lips.

· Goi Du Du Bo: Digging into a fresh papaya salad that is so popular, the park across the road has become the restaurant with just a few salad carried like Frogger on trays through the traffic. We got our afternoon caffeine fix with Café Sua Da, the traditional sweetened iced coffee.

· Che Buoi: Our final stop was a delicious table of desserts, including this coconut flan baked in a young coconut.

· Che Thap Cam: A sweet pomelo-skin soup also on our dessert table, complimented by a traditional icy drink with beans, jellies and coconut milk.

· Che Bap: A warm sweet corn pudding topped with salted coconut milk.

· Banh Chuoi Hap: Saving the best for last, our favorite dish had to be this steamed banana and tapioca cake served with coconut milk and dried shrimp and spring onion.

By the end of the 4-hour tour, we were stuffed and a bit heavier on the back of our scooter. Even with a full belly, we couldn't seem to stop smiling after such an awesome experience. If you are heading to Ho Chi Minh City in the near future, we would highly recommend checking out the different tours for all tastes offered by Back of the Bike Tours; you won't be left hungry disappointed.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak/Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Best! Experience! Ever!

I totally recommend this to anyone travelling through the region. It's fun and the best way to see a large chunk of Saigon without being harassed by street vendors ;-) The food was A-Mazing! It's a MUST DO.