New Year’s Eve in Ho Chi Minh City can be summed up in three words:
LIGHTS! SNACKS! LIGHTS!
Saigon Opera House.
The first order of business in Saigon was to bite into some local, original, supremely delicious banh mi. I had trolled the internet and after reading so many recommendations, we decided to try Nhu Lan bakery. Thank you, internet.
We tried the doner kebab banh mi, which has become very popular recently and for good reason. The beautiful morsels of sweet, juicy, tender meat laid down upon a perfectly soft baguette with the right proportion of crunch as you sink your teeth into the perfect sandwich, left us in silent rapture already contemplating another sandwich. I think what sets apart Vietnamese cuisine from other southeast asian fare is the use of fresh veg, herbs, and vinegar. I love to indulge in a fatty piece of pork or beef that floods my savory senses but throw on some fresh cilantro and vinegary pickles and it’s harmony on my palate!
We also decided to grab a traditional banh mi and other treats to go since we were late meeting our friends at the war museum.
We grabbed a sandwich and pork bao. But there were plenty of other things that had us wishing we lived here.
I would have loved to take some of these pickled veggies home …
to have with my suckling pig.
We tore into the bao after catching a taxi. The minced pork was moist and there was a sunny surprise in the form of an egg yolk that made the bite nice and creamy with extra protein.
Don’t miss out.
We didn’t have a lot of time in Hanoi but here are some snapshots of what we saw.
Beer and alcohol as offerings to the gods. These are the kinds of gods I can get behind.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. He’s been floating inside there since 1969 to be forever preserved for all those to revere him.
I paid a buck for this blurry photo. Enterprising sidewalk barbers, man.
Thit cho (dog meat, the “c” is rubbed off). Roasted dog stand on the side of the street. In most countries, dog is found in back alley restaurants but in Hanoi, it was all too easy to come across. There were mounds of designer knockoff items here but no cute LV doggy outfits, and no romping doggies. 😦
Quan An Ngon Restaurant. If you don’t have enough time to hit up all the food stalls around Hanoi, stop by Quan An Ngon in the French Quarter. It’s an old villa packed with a variety of food stalls you can order from and have a nice sit down drool-worthy meal.
Green mango and fresh squid, shrimp pasty salad with shrimp crackers. Simple, refreshing, incredibly satisfying. The perfect way to start a meal.
Banh cuon. Rice rolls filled with minced pork and woodear mushroom. I could eat these for breakfast every morning with a side of pho.
Sticky icky spicy pork ribs. If there were a country in Southeast Asia I’d pick to live in based on cuisine, it might have to be Vietnam.
Quan An Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau
French Quarter, Hanoi
After a heavy rain the other night, we heard a banging against our balcony door. This is who we found a’rappin.
This beast is an Atlas beetle, which can grow up to 14 centimeters. The crazy rhinoceros horns are used by males to battle each other for a female mate. The pictures sucks because we are both pussies and didn’t want to take the off chance that it would fly in our faces, eat us, and nest in our bodies like insect aliens. So my husband pushed me out the door, I snapped quickly and he pulled me back in. Hey, giant beetles and cockroaches are scary. And supposedly, this thing can carry up to 4 kg.
Much prettier, and more importantly, more dead.