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Chinatown street selection


After the kimchi bug finally flushed its last, I was back on the streets last Friday and heading into Chinatown to Cho Lon post office again for another parcel pick-up. During my last visit this way, the post office staff suggested I hit their local pho joint. This time around I took matters into my own hands at a line of three stalls, huddled next to each other just over the road from the main entrance to the post office. There were three options, all of which I have blogged up before; Banh xeo, Mia da and Banh mi. The Banh mi stall is missing in the shot above as the rains arrived mid-mastication and she was first to jump ship and save her soggy bread.


Actually, I haven't blogged up this banh mi rendition before. This is Banh mi op la, it's as simple as it gets. Basically an egg sarnie (or baguette) nothing more, nothing less. It's solid breakfast grub. The seller, who speaks decent English, will give you the option of one or two fried eggs. I opted for the one egg number as my stomach was already rumbling at the sight of Mrs. Pancake's Banh xeo a couple of stalls up. Even with the ongoing bird flu paranoia in Vietnam, I find Vietnamese eggs are a mighty tasty feed. A couple of these sarnies could well sort you out at breakfast with little need for any additional tucker. But, one's enough today, however I'm still peckish and I have a blog to feed. So, moving on...


I swilled the egg butty down with a cool glass of Mia da. There's nothing much new to say about this that I haven't mentioned before - it's still an excellent sugarcane thirst quencher and I have it at least once a week. With the wind picking up, I was eager to sample the streetside Banh xeo before rain stopped play. It certainly looked like quality street nosh; clean leaves, attractive looking nuoc mam (fish sauce) with thin strips of carrot and chilli and then there's the large beansprout, pork and prawn filled wafer thin Banh xeo. This is a solid workmanlike rendition, way better than the one I had at Ben Thanh night market, but not up to the standard of Saigon's premier Banh xeo haunt. The main criticisms being this Chinatown chick chucks too much chili into her nuoc mam and edges her pancake a little too firmly into grease territory for my delicate waistline. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Banh xeo banter that ensued at these stalls and I'll be back.


Despite the rain, this stall holder was doing a stonking takeaway/office delivery trade from her one burner stall. Above you can see a tray set for several diners just waiting on the pancakes to arrive piping fresh from the pavement level pan. She also sells Hu Tieu (Pork noodle soup). As for the bill, hold onto your hats: Banh mi op la - 3,000VD, Mia da - 2,000VD, Banh xeo - 6,000VD. That's an 11,000VD street stuffing or 70 US cents, 38 British pence or, for readers in Greenland, that's 4.3 Greenland Krone. Bargainsville Chinatown champs. Yum.


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There are a couple of sugarcane juice vendors around the corner from the American Embassy too. Opposite the Chip toy store. Tried them? I've been a little afraid to try myself; protecting my tummy.

Yes I know these, although I've never tried them. I wouldn't worry about your stomach. The juice come in nature's very own protection. Never had any issues with this anywhere in Vietnam. BTW, next to the toy store, there's a 'triffic Banh Mi Op La seller.

Just found your blog after the tip off on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree.

All I can say is: Wow ! Fantastic site, has me drooling all over the keyboard...

I'm hoping to make a trip out to one or more of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in the near future. One of my main objectives when travelling anywhere is to get at those real food 'gems' be they street stalls, local haunts or luxurious established restaurants. Your site certainly helps in me starting my list for this trip !

Happy eating !


Egg baguettes are now at the classy top of my food-to-eat-after-booze list. That yolk is practically running off the screen

Hey Noodle Pie,

Sandwich looks mighty tasty! In fact, most of the Vietnamese dishes you feature look tasty. I went for Vietnamese food last night and kept thinking about all of these dishes you blog about....sadly, I had to go with an old standard, bun cha gio bo. =(

Nice food photos. I'm getting very hungry. Thank goodness it's lunchtime and the food over here in Italy is similarly good-looking (good-tasting too!). Anyway, happy eating.

Rick, Jackie - welcome to the blog.

Anthony - I'm a Brit, therefore traditional apres indulgence grub is a curry and more lager. But, I appreciate your Aussie sense of moderation.

Reid - You sound hard done by. I would gladly swap some of the dishes I eat for some of your Hawaiian numbers... well for a day or so I would... If you were paying... and the surf was up...

I want to thank you for encouraging me to be more adventurous. I'm willing to eat most everything, but not always when it's from a non-air-conditioned stall if you know what I mean. Anyway, to get to the point, I tried the fresh sugar cane juice yesterday and loved it. And, I'm still here to tell the tale.

Congratulations Lei. Next stop Rau Ma... Give it a whirl.

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