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Street barbie


Top of Hanoi's gutter grub hit parade and an unfamiliar face on the lunchtime pavements of Saigon is Bun cha. So far I've spotted a paltry eight places serving this northern specialty in Saigon. A large proportion of them are near the airport. Whereas, the bun cha babes of Hanoi are grillin' in the gutters on every available street corner in town. In the soft south I've found only one al fresco barbie and that's at 8 Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1. They've lifted their bun cha out of the gutter with their waist high 'deluxe' barbie unit. You won't find this up north. You won't find a guy grilling up north either, but it's the man's job down south.


I blogged up another Saigon bowl of bun cha some time ago, but a serious bun cha habit isn't easy to break and it's never long before the carnivore in me starts stalking the streets for more charred carcass. This joint on Ly Tu Trong Street has five or six plastic tables on the pavement next a bamboo tree. There's plenty more seating inside. Like the bun cha I blogged up previously, it's massively popular. Packed around 11am (Bun Cha is a lunchtime only dish) mostly with Hanoians looking for northern scoff cooked by northern cooks. There are a few differences between this one and the last one I tried; there's far less variety in the hedgerow department here (lettuce, beansprouts, rau muong (stripped morning glory) and Rau Dap ca (fish mint) - that's yer lot), smaller cha gio (Vietnamese spring rolls) and a much lighter fish sauce.


I've eaten here many times before without complaint, but I found the meatballs were a little 'off' today and needed a higher char factor. I added a spoonful of the garlic vinegar and a couple of the garlic cloves from the pot on the table. The lightness of this bun cha sauce begs for the bollocks the garlic vinegar gives it. The cha gio were slightly disappointing. Large lumps of pork meat are not a fave find inside my spring rolls. It's a crime committed in various other parts of Saigon and I wish it would stop. You'll find better here and here. Bun cha, cha gio, iced tea and a wet napkin set me back just over a buck at 18,000VD.


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I've kind of given up on finding bun cha in Saigon to match that in Hanoi. The mess o' greens (among other aspects) here is always lacking.
There's someone squatting and grilling *something* everyday around 5pm (after work hours) on Ton Duc Thang across the street from Ly Tu Trong. Could it be true gutterside bun cha (tho' it's a lunchtime dish)? Haven't checked it out -- in my book 5pm's cocktail hour, not dinnertime.


The meatballs look good, it's a pity that they weren't. Perhaps they weren't seasoned properly before cooking. It's quite difficult to get the seasoning right in that type of dish.

As always, great post!

Actually I would say there's some decent hedgerow down here especially at 20B Tran Cao Van. A lot of the herbs you can't find in the north as they don't grow up there. But, you're right. It's not the same, never quite up to a really good Hanoi one for some reason.

About the Ton Duc thing. It isn't bun cha sadly, it's Bo Lap Lop. Basically small portions of gristly beef grilled in a leaf. I tried it a year ago, thought it would be fantastic, but it's tatseless crap. Definitely not worth cancelling cocktail hour for.

Thanks Reid - when I said the meat was 'off' I was trying to be polite. I think the meat was old, past it's sell by date.

Grilling in the gutter is a very apt description. My husband was horrified to see them placing the grills with meat sandwiched in between directly on the ground.

Hate to turn this into a footie blog(!) but the boys are about to start their game against Portugal. Hope you're awake!

Oh yeah and the street grub looks great too. :o)

You can turn it into any kind of blog you like after that... Who cares???

Yes, I did stay up (utterly knackered now). Yes, the Portugese deserved to win after judging the overall performances over 90 mins plus stoppage time. But, to go out, like that - AGAIN... This is the 4th time, 4TH TIME!!! in a major tournament. Just when will the bad luck run out for England???

This from BBC SPORT

"It's a big disappointment to lose like this but it always seems to happen. It's a bitter blow," said Owen.

Midfielder Frank Lampard said he and his team-mates were "devastated" by the manner of their exit.

"To go out on penalties is the biggest kick in the teeth you can have in football," said Lampard.

"We seem to be unlucky in these situations - but how many times are you going to be unlucky?"

Chin up boys.

Let's hope the feast of football continues. Goodbye England. Allez les bleus.

Hello pieman,

Tis another foodie commenting:
If it is in fact Bo La Lot, it may be bad at that joint but Saigon is the place for this beefy dish if you can find the right one. Best ones I've eatened are way out in Go Vap District...probably too far from you. I'm in Hanoi right now and I can echo others' sentiments about Bun Cha. Try finding decent Saigon dishes up here, it's a load of crap for a Southerner like myself. You should definitely find a good grub place for Banh Xeo (crepes)...also great place in Go Vap District called A Phu. Good Luck!

Thx Conrong - No, the dish on Ton Duc Thang is Bo LaLop not Bo La Lot. The sign actually says 'Bo LaLop Mo Chai' - 5,000VD. I don't know what Mo Chai means, but I do know this dish is not Bo La Lot, at least not as I know it.

As for Hanoian dishes, in my opinion there are 4 or 5 worth checking out, but that's about it, the rest is total arse; meat, rice, veg - bang, bang, bang - no thought, no imagination, just crap. Most northerners will defend their cuisine to the absolute hilt, but that doesn't mean it's any good;) How anybody can honestly say the southern stuff is worse, just don't know grub.

And by the way, I have travelled several thousand miles just for food before, so no doubt I will eventually get to your Go Vap District joint, just give me time. Banh Xeo has been covered before.

Interesting to read your writing .. oyuare clearly someone who is a serious food adventurer.. I live here and know a lot about food, but I still learn from you!


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