PEr FYI

November 17, 2018

Glow, Ho Chi Minh City…perfect for an undisturbed pint in the moonlight

Nowadays it’s a race to the top as everyone vies to head up to rooftops for cocktails that little closer to the stars.

Thirteen storeys up at the President Place building in District 1, Glow boasts a laidback atmosphere with plenty of tropical trees, black-and-white furnishing and spacious dancefloor. There are fabulous views whichever way you look. The place hum with the sort of vibe that practically demands a second bottle of white be ordered.

It’s perfect for an undisturbed pint in the moonlight. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 27, 2018

Van Phong Kien Truc Su Tran Binh, Ho Chi Minh City…the flavours are pure Vietnamese.

Contrary to other Asian cuisines, most Singaporeans have only a lukewarm love affair with Vietnamese food.

Enter Van Phong Kien Truc Su Tran Binh, which helps the Vietnamese food scene step up a gear. If you’re already a fan, this could become a favourite. If you’re not, it might just convert you.

The food is full of bright, fresh flavours, with an abundance of fragrant herbs and minimal use of oil. Try the superb dau hu trung nha lam – home-made tofu with egg. But why stop there? Choose the Thit kho trung – pork stewed with egg and the squid fried with fish sauce and also the climbing perch stewed in claypot.

It’s not great. But it’s good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 30, 2018

Saigon Vespa Tours, Ho Chi Minh City…enjoy the thrill of living life like the Saigonese

Getting on a scooter in one of the busiest cities in the world with a stranger seemed like a sensible idea. Walking is not popular in Ho Chi Minh City – a city with 7.43 million motorbikes – so being on one is the ideal way to see the buzzing centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

My heart was in my mouth as scooters, taxis, buses and bikes came at me from every angle. Though it sounds scary, the fact is that negotiating Ho Chi Minh City’s night traffic on the back of a vintage Vespa turned out to be exhilarating. Strangely, the breeze on my face; the exotic smells of spices; the people watching; the bustling night markets and the neon lights of the bars and massage parlours, all began to have a hypnotic effect. In accordance to our request, the first pit stop was at Lesbian Sisters bahn mi. They had bought the bahn mi and that saved us waiting time. We devoured them within 20 minutes on the roadside. Before we can digest all this, we were off to a trendy skybar – Glow. After a quick drink and soaking in the view, we were drive to a restaurant of our choice.

While you don’t ride around in luxury, that was never part of the deal, the tour gives you a chance to experience life as a local, being exposed to the thick smog emitted from the scooters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 2, 2018

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City…feast upon mouthfuls of incredible flavours

Banh Mi Huynh Hao is better known as Lesbian Sisters Banh Mi. The reason being that the store was opened by a lesbian couple and was originally staffed by an all-lesbian workforce.

Here, the banh mi (which translates simply as “bread” in Vietnamese) the once humble pork and pickled vegetable sandwich now elevated to heights of gastronomic chic. Banh Mi Huynh Hao is a street food stall that serves a baguette stuffed with a plethora of coldcuts, pate, spicy mayo, and fresh vegies. It is freshly made in front of your eyes and made to order. It is made to excite. The freshly baked baguettes which are kept warm in a charcoal-fuelled oven tend to be particularly airy and crumbly. The flavour was slightly sweet and extremely moreish.

This surely is Ho Chi Minh City’s finest Vietnamese cuisine. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 19, 2018

37th Street, Ho Chi Minh City…satisfy my cravings for authenticity

Walking into 37th Street feels like wandering onto a stage set where lowered wooden tables and benches, the stone pavement, the dessert cart and even the cutlery allude to the street food which influences the menu.

The vast majority of those on the menu we try burst with excitingly vibrant flavours. I had the Pho dak biet pho – pho with rare sliced beef & well done plank and beef meat balls. It was a big bowl. Nevertheless, the bowl was soon empty. It’s deceptively crystalline, belying its lushness. The steaming, perfectly balanced broth is remarkably light and carefully flavoured.

This pho is the drug of choice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 29, 2012

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong, Ho Chi Minh City…Don’t bother to eat here

Cha ca la vong – a very popular Northern Vietmanese dish – is catfish fillet marinated in tumeric plus sauteed onions, garlic, roasted peanuts with tons of dill.  This fish is served on a sizzling silver platter with a plate of fresh lettuce, herbs, and rice vermicelli. The sauces served with this dish are the shrimpy fish sauce and the regular mixed light fish sauce. There is also crispy fried sesame rice paper served with this dish.

After having sampled this authentic Vietnamese dish in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, I’m finally starting to be able to distinguish great cha ca from the so-so stuff, and honestly the stuff here is a little below so-so.  It’s kind of too light here. The turmeric marinade isn’t as pungent (in a positive way) or strong as it usually is. The shrimpy sauce and light fish sauce are also a bit too light. They also use a different sesame rice paper than is usually served.

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong sounded good as a local place that has been going for 5 generations serving only one dish. The only positive – they do have a nice interior design.

 

The search for good cha ca in HCMC continues…..

This is the true truth as I say it as it is…..

November 7, 2011

Oc Oanh, Ho Chi Minh City…street side meal to inlcude in your culinary tour of HCMC.

One of the best things about Ho Chi Minh City is the abundance of cheap, fresh, and delicious street food. When I say street food, I really mean sidewalk food.
 
Eating on the streets of HCMC is a truly rewarding experience. Your taste buds be jumping with joy. Sit down at Oc Oanh and you will be met with delicious food and friendly smiles.
 
Any way you slice it, dice it, chop it, or segment it with scissors, Oc Oanh at – 534 vinh khanh street, District 4 – is worth paying a visit to on your culinary tour of Ho Chi Minh City .  Low plastic tables and chairs are placed along the side of the street, motorbikes screaming by the whole time. A dazzling array of clams, mussels, cockles, oysters, snails, and many other things I can’t recognize the entire stretch of the stalls.
 
Now I know, if you want to eat authentic Vietnamese, you must eat the street food. A restaurant lacks the full authenticity — while the flavors of the food may be right, the atmosphere is not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

October 2, 2011

Ngoc Suong Marina Seafood Cuisine, Ho Chi Minh City…the place to go if you don’t scrimp on your seafood

Situated in District 3, the majority of the dishes are Vietnamese specialties. Shrimp may come raw, steamed with beer or in coconut juice. There is also a smattering of Western preparations—lobster Thermidor and Coquilles St. Jacques (French style baked scallops).

The ambience is the big plus – swathes of space are carved into cosy corners with décor that is tasteful with a subtle nautical. On top of that, the service staff are all very nice.

We had Ngoc Suong fish salad (goi ca ngoc suong) and grilled winkles (oc huong nuong). My favourite was the seafood au gratin (hai san dut lo).

This is the kind of restaurant you go to if you are not or don’t intend to travel like a backpacker when you go to HCMC and don’t scrimp on it’s culinary delights! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

September 8, 2011

Thuong Xa Tax (Saigon Tax Trade Center), Ho Chi Minh City…looking for eye-popping lacquerware at good bargains? This is the place

There’s one golden rule to shopping in Vietnam: bargain, and bargain hard. If you’re looking for bargains on just about anything, this is the place. The vendors are easygoing, and easy to bargain with. They are hungry to close a deal.  

The Tax center, formerly known as the Russian market, offers it all. The ground floor mostly specializes is locally made gold and silver jewelry and a reasonably sized supermarket selling a good array of local and imported food stuff on the 2nd floor. Of special note is the 4th floor where you will find all the amazingly beautiful lacquerware – the traditional industry in Vietnam. The entire floor showacases an eye-popping selection of diverse designs and colours of lacquer boxes, vases, coasters, plates, trays, curved plates, etc

The most important rule of bargaining is to be cool. Raising your voice, looking angry, and making accusations will only characterize you as a rich, clueless, ungracious foreigner who deserves to be ripped off. In the Vietnamese mind, such people are being obnoxiously haughty and superior. It is well worth the loss of a sale to tell such a person to screw off. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

August 30, 2011

Nam Giao, Ho Chi Minh City…Banh Beo and Bun Bo Hue that hits the spot

I used to believe that pho was the only authentic Vietnamese food. A friend brought me to Nam Giao to taste what I’ve been missing  – the ancient capital Hue cuisine & let me tell you.. I became an instant fan.

I love the Banh beo tom tuoi  which was steamed rice flour cake with fresh ground shrimp. Bun bo hue (Hue spicy beef noodle soup) – the best thing I had and it hit the spot. Don’t get intimidated by the description. It was not spicy what so ever!

The Va tron (fig salad) was disappointing for me. The Hen xao xue banh tran (saute baby clams over baked rice pepper) and Bunh canh cua (shrimp, crabmeat, sliced pork with special rice noodle soup) were alright, nothing really special about them

This is the first time I’ve ever had hue style BBH and banh Beo and I absolutely love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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