Saigon Stories Part 1, Vietnam Travel Log 2018

29th July 2018 / Ho Chi Minh City

Sorry, sorry sorry. Sorry for the lack of new articles from me, because I’ve been travelling a lot in the last month. The good news is, I have lots of material lined up in the weeks to come from all my travels.

Oh, the Saveur Blog Award Nominations are up, it would make me a very happy camper if you would visit this link and nominate The Shanghai Kid! The ‘winners’ of this nomination only qualifies the blogs for voting for the blog of the year awards. Thanks in advance!

So in June, I finally fulfilled one of my travel goals to visit Vietnam. Finally I got to sample true authentic Vietnamese food in the motherland, and boy, as it glorious.

This is part one of my Vietnam travel log, featuring Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City.

First observation on arriving in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): “Holy shit, that’s a shitload of motor bikes on the road!”.

Even after living in China for 11 years, I was still amazed by the number of Motorbikes on the roads of Saigon. Its amazing how they manage to fit on the road, together with the cars.

The shophouses of Saigon are tightly compressed together, and are narrower than most other shop spaces in Southeast Asia.

The variety of shops and restaurants in Saigon are very diverse. From the homegrown cafes on the streets to international brands like H&M in large mega malls.

We stayed at a boutique hotel right before the bustling backpacker street of Bui Vien. Once the most happening and vice-laden street of Saigon. Now, it’s a lot more toned down, and mostly just crowds of tourists and locals sitting by the bars, people watching, hoping to get a glimpse of the old days.

We visited during World Cup season, hence people were literally more interested in the match of the day than hooking up with girls.

First meal was Pho Bo at Pho Quynh (323 Phạm Ngũ Lão), a random eatery I came across while exploring the neighbourhood. I was attracted by the crowd of people eating there – my usual way of choosing a place to eat.

First Pho in Vietnam was awesome. The soup was clear and light, yet had a deep beefy flavour and sweetness in it. Sure, some of the best Pho that I’ve had outside of Vietnam tasted similar, but perhaps because the fact that I was eating this in Saigon or that I was starving, this tasted better.

The medium rare beef slices were fresh and finished cooking nicely in the hot broth.

As expected, raw bean sprouts and herbs were offered on the side. Unlike in other Vietnamese eateries in the world that I’ve had eaten, in Vietnam, they give you a bush of herbs to pick from.

What pleased me the most about this bowl of Pho was the noodle. It was the thin variety and had a lovely resilient bite, a pleasant chew. Interestingly, this was the last pho that I had in Vietnam that used the thin noodle.

Stay tuned for more eateries and the insanely best Banh Mi that I’ve ever and probably will have in Part 2 of the 2018 Vietnam Travel Log.

Author: Fred Lin

Fred "The Shanghai Kid" Lin was born in Singapore, and grew up in a family of foodies and home-cooks. He moved to Shanghai in 2007 and fell in love with the city, eventually carving a self-made career out of digital media design and development. He founded The Shanghai Kid food blog in 2013, and opened an award-winning Singaporean restaurant in 2014, which won CityWeekend's Outstanding Southeast Asian restaurant of the year in 2016. In 2017, he decided to reboot, and shut down all his businesses in Shanghai before moving back to Singapore with his wife. Fred plans to immigrate to Melbourne in the near future.

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