Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nha Hang Ngon (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)

I was eying on this place ever as one of the must visits for my Saigon trip. Its strategically perfect for our city walk tour and so me and my friend decided to have our lunch here at Nha Hang Ngon.

The place offers local Vietnamese street food but in a more sanitized place like this one. It is set in an Al Fresco dining area within a beautiful French villa. Im sure this place is a hit most specially for foreigners since they would be able to try out the local street food without worrying about their tummies.

Most diners that time were tourists.

We were still very full that time since we had a double breakfast of Bhan Mi Thit which I bought from the streets of Pham Ngu Lao and we also sampled Bich Duyen's breakfast. Oh plus the fact that we were very much pissed with the guys who took us there by tuc tuc since they tricked us into paying them much more that what they initially offered us. Anyway that's another story.

Now lets take a look at the dishes that we ordered. :)

Com Tam Suon Bi Cha (VND55,000) - Vietnamese broken rice with pork chop. shredded pork skin and egg omelet.

Ca Ri Ga (VND 40,000) - Vietnamese Curry Chicken noodles.

I think both dishes were so-so. I really didn't find it amazing or delectable. Maybe we didn't chose the best option or maybe we were still at rage because of the tuc tuc drivers, hehe. But I personally think that the ones being sold on the street would taste better than what we had there. A little bit over priced than usual I think. But, I can say I don't really have to worry about food poisoning or salmonella.

Somehow I can say that this is the best place to go try Vietnamese street food especially if youre a tourist going around Ho Chi Minh. :)

Nha Hang Ngon (Ngon Restaurant)
160 Pasteur Street
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: +84-8-38277131

Quan Cua Tay (Ben Thanh Night Market, HCMC, Vietnam)

That night, after eating great tasting pho at Pho Quynh, we have yet decided not to end our culinary adventure just like that. We were heading to Ben Than Night market anyway and we definitely know that we could still find more good Vietnamese eats there.

We weren't wrong when we found this just at the start of that long stretch of stalls that night.

A lot of people, locals and tourists dine and experience Vietnam's local cuisine here at Quan Cua Tay. The weather that night is perfect for an al fresco dining and so we decided this is the best place to get the dishes bound to be crossed out on our "what to eat" list.

Now here it is!

Papaya and Mango Fruit Smoothies (VND 42,000 each)

Goi Cuon (VND 40,000) - Fresh Spring rolls with rice noodles, shrimp, pork and a whole lotta greens, strong ones which I actually didnt like. :(

Cha Gio (VND 40,000) - Fried pork spring rolls. Just like lumpiang shanghai but not quite the same. I love it!

Banh Xeo (VND 40,000) - Vietnamese pancake with bean sprouts, shrimps, pork slices and that secret ingredient I cant seem to decipher but gave off that great taste to the dish. Enjoyed this one too very much!

All the dishes we ordered are superbly delish! I really enjoyed the Cha Gio and Banh Xeo together with our cold fruit smoothie. The only thing I didn't like was the Goi Cuon since the mint flavors are very strong. However, I managed to remove everything inside and leave the shrimp, pork slices. lettuce and rice noodles then I began enjoying the dish.

There were still a lot of food choices but we were so full that night since it was technically our second dinner. Hehe. I wish to go back and try some other more dishes. Its a little pricey than usual but its all worth since I think that the food they serve is quite good.

Quan Cua Tay
Ben Thanh Night Market
Ho Chi Minh City

Mekong Delta Tour (Part 2)

We continued on cruising along the river to go to our lunch destination. We traveled about half an hour to arrive in a quiet little canal to transfer to a traditional Vietnamese rowing boat. It was something I have envisioned whenever I hear Vietnam and I was sure ecstatic to try it out finally!

More sellers we saw along the way

We finally arrived at a small dock and the tour guide told us to transfer into smaller boats so we can enjoy the scenery more. Each boat can accommodate 4 people. I love it! Its quiet and serene. There was a moment when we were all quiet and then a Vietnamese lady starting singing a Vietnamese song. It was really surreal!

After around 20 minutes of rowing, we finally arrived a small sleepy village where our lunch is waiting for us.

The place looks very relaxing. The weather that time was warm but not humid and we definitely enjoyed sampling the local dishes.

We were served with a chicken dish, sort of like our Tinolang Manok but without the soup. It was quite tasty and very refreshing to the palate. The food by the way is included in the tour but we were also offered to sample what they called "Elephant Fish" which is basically fried Pla-Pla served with rice noodles, vegetables and rice paper.

Our lunch. Chicken stew with steamed vegetables and rice

Elephant Fish Wrap

Who said I cant drink beer for lunch? :D

After lunch, we were allowed to go around town using the bicycles provided by the restaurant. I would have loved to go around in a bicycle but the ones they provided was too tall for me! Yes I was scared to trip or to crash so I said pass. Besides, that cold Saigon bia was more enticing than going around town cycling. Hehehe.

Around 3 PM we head back to the boat and cruise going to the province of Vhin Long where our bus going to Saigon is waiting for us.

A short walk going back to our boat

Vhin Long Province

All the tourist then loaded up our bus and I guess most of us just doze off. Next thing I know were on a stop to get some refreshments. Our tour guide even boasted for that place to have 5 star comfort rooms. Haha. Too bad I was so tired I only had one photo of the place.

Back on the road during sunset, me and my friend just chatted about how wonderful our day was immersing ourselves in Vietnamese culture.

What a view to end the day!

Saigon welcome us back with this sight. Yes a premonition of a great night ahead. :D

The tour I can say was totally awesome. I just don't know what exactly is the name of the company who provided us the tour but its highly recommended. The tour guides speaks good English and for sure the tourist are very well taken cared of.

Our tour cost $17 with transportation and lunch.

Mekong Delta Tour (Part 1)

I have asked Chanh of Bich Duyen Hotel to book us a one day Mekong Delta tour. He sent me a list of choices and I have decided to take the Saigon - Cai Be - Vhin Long - Saigon tour.

Me and my friend got a wake up call from Chanh around 7 in the morning telling us that the bus will pick us up at 7:45. The tour we got was a whole day tour going to Vietnam's country side for the tourist to experience the Vietnamese way of life.

The tour didn't start right away. We still went around District 1 to pick up other tourist who will join us in the tour. We finally head off to the highway at around 9:00 and started the tour then.

That's Duc, our tour guide. I think he does have a very cute smile. :D

Duc told us alot of things about the places were going to visit. I just forgot most of the things he said since I was so engross watching the scenery outside the bus. Their highway looks alot like our NLEX, a little narrower though.

After 2 hours, we stopped for some refreshments at a local stop over. I have first witnessed the Vietnamese way of life which I thought was really laid back. I actually saw a lot of these places before we even stopped. Chairs and tables facing the road and hammocks under the shadowy trees with people just chilling around with some coffee while chatting with their friends.

Chairs and hammocks for relaxing

Me and my friend were starving that time since we haven't had the chance to actually eat breakfast before we left Saigon. The moment I saw a lady selling Ca Phe Sua Da, I literally ran and ordered for me and my friend. Then, that was the start of another addiction.

Our breakfast. Local crackers and Ca Phe Sua Da. :)

We went back on the road after a few minutes stop. I just slept on our way and after an hour or so, we then arrived at the Province of Cai Be. I very much appreciated the tour package that we have availed because as soon as we arrive there, we were already asked to ride our boats and in a few minutes, were already cruising Mekong Delta while other tourist still wait for their boats.

Tourists waiting for their boats

Boats parked at a dock in Mekong River

Another tour guide who lead us to the Coconut Candy Factory

We then cruised along the Mekong Delta and there we have witnessed how merchants live their lives on floating houses.

We cruised along the Mekong Delta River going to a Coconut Candy Factory. It took us about 30 minutes from the Cai Be dock to the Village of Than Tri were we witnessed how to make local delicacies such as sweetened popped rice, coconut candies and rice papers.

Sweetened Popped Rice

Rice Paper

Rice Wine

Coconut Candies

We had a great time watching how the locals make their delicacies. It was also great to realize how similar their products are with ours.

After that we head back to our boats and travel an hour to our lunch destination. Where we experienced boat rowing and cycling at a sleepy town.

Read Part 2 for more adventures.