Posted by: tonkatsudelights | July 12, 2007

In the Land of Pho

This post is long overdue, but I guess it’s better late than never. Have been relatively busy in the last couple of weeks… didn’t have much time to finish this post that has been in draft for so long…

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A trip to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh city aka HCMC) again. And this time it was much better cos I got a companion —Ms. PS, who is taking over my responsibility to handle Vietnam, and later, in two months’ time, Thailand. It means… there will be another Bangkok trip sometime in the next 2 months.

And then I’m moving on to handle India. Same young organization. But the challenge is that … their location is so widespread. They are all sitting in 6 different cities! Realistically I can only cover 3 cities within one week’s trip. So yeah… expect to see more posts on India trips in the future…

Knowing that my trip to HCMC in the future will be few and far between, I made it a point to eat out. No room service dinner. Sometimes if I have work to do and I have no companion to go out with, I simply have room service dinner. But this time, … it’s time to explore, baby!

BUN BO HUE

Bun Bo Hue 

A different version vs. the pho that I usually eat. This one is spicy! As per the explanation from my Vietnam team, this is Hue-style noodle. It’s coming from Hue, which is the old capital of Vietnam.

What’s inside the noodle soup itself is actually quite the same as the usual pho. Beef, beansprouts, and the usual suspects. The only difference is the spicy soup. And I love it! Hehe. And even so, I still added chilli sauce in it. Make it more spicy!

 –> The complete set of bun bo hue special. With a plate full of veggies of course…

 –> I absolutely love the chilli sauce. It has bits of pork fats in it. Hehe… yeah… I know… not healthy. But it’s good. I think I can even eat the chilli sauce with rice only! Hehe… I wonder if they will allow…

Besides the noodle, we also ordered fried mussels and pork rolls. Nah for the pork rolls, but yeah… the spicy little fried mussels is a nice surprise. Btw, I’m not sure that is the right English word because what they refer to as mussel is actually very very very very tiny…

 –> They called it spicy fried mussels. Is it really mussel? They look so small!

AN PHAT QUAN

The 2nd evening I had a group dinner with the Vietnam team. Since one of the lady just gave birth a few months back and she needed to get back home early to take care of her baby, she suggested that we went to a restaurant near her place, in Bien Hoa province. The name is An Phat Quan.

This restaurant looked very much like a restaurant you would find in a small town. A good restaurant in a small town. It served seafood, some of which turned out to be quite good. 

The highlight of the dinner for me is actually the first dish. They called it ‘the tomorrow shells’ –as per the literal translation from Vietnamese language to English. The shellfish was chopped up in small pieces and served with nuts, and they were just so tasty. 

 –> The tasty ‘tomorrow’ shells. Why the name is like that, don’t ask me. Ask the Vietnamese, pls

The other dishes, though, are either okay or they simply failed to impress me. But nothing turned out to be utterly bad. And yeah… as usual, Vietnamese food somehow is always accompanied by heaps and heaps of vegetables. I noticed that the Vietnamese eat a lot, but most of it are veggies. Beansprouts everywhere. Is that why everybody in Vietnam seems to be so thin?

 –> Heaps and heaps of veggies everytime!

  –> Oyster & mushroom congee. Nice!

PHO 24 and WRAP & ROLL

  

And yes, of course. Pho. If you come to Vietnam, it seems like the first thing the locals asked you to try is pho. In HCMC, there is a pho shop that was visited by Bill Clinton before. It’s called Pho 2000. If you go there, you will see a picture of Bill Clinton together with the restaurant owner, hanging on the wall of the restaurant.

I’ve never tried Pho 2000, so I am not sure how it tastes. But according to Ms. PF who has given it a try, the pho there tastes the best, compared to all pho she tried during her trip to HCMC.

Another popular pho restaurant that is conveniently located near our office and/or hotel is Pho 24. It even has an outlet in Diamond Plaza, the same building as our office. So it’s very convenient for me to just go down and eat it for lunch. I think it tastes quite good, not especially wow… but good.

Some of my people said that they think Pho 24 is better than Pho 2000. They also said that they can show me pho better than Pho 24. Well well… you know I believe them. There are probably other places that offer pho better than these two. But one of the selling point for both Pho 2000 and Pho 24 definitely is the convenience. Location. Availability. Clean place. And especially for foreigners, language. Which reminds me how we got our orders mixed up 3 times in Bun Bo Hue…

Another thing I tried along with Pho 24 is the Wrap & Roll. This Wrap & Roll basically sells things like spring rolls and its siblings. It’s just that they brand it and sell it in a fancy place. Modern design. And it also has an outlet in Diamond Plaza. I tried what they called as bo bia — which basically consists of pork, dried shrimps, beansprouts, and the usual spring roll stuffings. I find the stuffings OK, but… the spring roll skin is just too tough to cut. It is thin and translucent, but it requires a great effort to eat it. After eating the bo bia, my mouth became tired of chewing. Heh.

 

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Responses

  1. Tried Pho 24 or Pho 2000. Want to try something unconventional. Pho with clams. I was wondering with some friends along the street near the ben thanh market and bump into this eatery. Wow, pho with clams. Never heard of it before. Tried the spicy soup with clams and yes, yes. It taste really good and we like the clams fried with lemon grass and chilli and its not hot at all and goes so well with bread. Drank their signature beverage called this Green Ocean and mann, it was refreshing. Located at 276 Le Thanh Ton, district 1. HCMC.


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