iPho Do You? Lets Eat in Vietnam

I would have never imagined Vietnam to be a gastronomical experience. Thankfully this clueless traveler got familiar with the local cuisine. This post is all about the food I was able to try during my trip to Vietnam. Lets do this alphabetically.
 iPho Do You? The 2012 edition of must-have tourist shirt from Vietnam

Eating can be mistaken for a past time in Vietnam. Eating places are everywhere in the city. You can just pick one and eat right at the side walk, no one would mind.
eating as the locals do. Photo by Ted Mendoza

Ben Thanh Market (not edible)

The market is the best place to score souvenirs, ao dai (national clothing), fruits, flowers and food (of course). Its a 5 minute walk from our hotel.
Ben Thanh at night as it is popularly pictured as. Photo by Ted Mendoza

It didn't actually look as I thought it would from pictures, at least this side of the market didn't. Eating at Ben Thanh is like eating in a hawker center with a market ambiance. I am not too crazy about that so I didn't bother to try. IMO, eating at the night market stalls on the other hand is the thing to try. You can enter Ben Thanh from the North, East, West or South entrance. This is the South Entrance. 

On this side there are a lot of shops across the market like jewelry shops (that doubles as money changers), restaurants and beauty shops. We are at the interesting side of town if I should say so.
The eating stories begin at a sandwich stand right across this part of Ben Thanh and its a Banh Mi Stand.

Banh Mi?
We just had too much Pho during the earlier part of the trip and wanted an alternative. We had to go through a lot of trouble to find this. Locals were giving us a quizzical look while saying "WHAT? BAN MI? How about pho?" to keep conversation to a minimal. As it turns out, it is pronounced as Baan-mei (say it with a nasal accent and you'll find what you're looking for).
Just our luck, we found it near Ben Thanh market, it was right in front of us. Banh Mi is the local version of a subway sandwich. You get to choose between pork, beef or chicken. Then they put in some floss or saffron like ingredient. And oh please do tell them that you don't want it spicy if you don't want it spicy. I managed to eat a whole chili pepper without knowing and ended up quiet and tearing up over lunch. There goes the drama.

Vietnamese coffee comes in all sorts. Trung Nyugen happens to be the most popular commercialized brand.
Coffee sold by the gram at Ben Thanh Market
Iced Vietnamese coffee tastes even better with condensed milk. Vietnamese coffee isn't as strong as Barako just in case you're scared of a little caffeine.

During the month of June the fruit festival is celebrated in Vietnam. This began in 2010 and has now become an annual celebration. Although we weren't able to join the festivities or check out the fruit expo where you can try all sorts of fruits. We just settled for whatever was nearby, hence Ben Thanh marker forever.

Peanut Dips
Peanut dips comes in a wide variety. Peanut and garlic, salty, sweet, spicy, sometimes both, its used as a dip for all sorts of food. Here's a peanut and garlic dip to go with unripe mangoes.

Pho (Vietnamese Noodles)
Our first meal in Vietnam was brought about disorientation from exchanging our money and finding a place to eat. Thank the Vietnamese people for creating Pho 24s all over HCM city. They accept dollars as well as Vietnam Dong.
Can't be bothered. Eating Pho at a nearby Pho 24

I learned that Cassava in English is actually tapioca. They are quite rich with that like Cambodia is rich with coconuts. We had tapioca cakes on the the way to CuChi and was also served boiled Cassava with tea for snack.
This is boiled tapioca that comes with a sweet and salty peanut dip.
This tapioca is like our suman but has ginger and coconut in the center gives it a little kick.

This is all that I've managed to stomach for the time being. More on Vietnam coming around the corner.

Later days, folks

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