Saigon – a promised land that cherishes the countless dreams of its people, from the authentic Saigonese to the migrators originated all over the country, whose hearts would not stop lingering at the place once they have set their step. And if the love for Saigon has grown so much, surely no one will be able to ignore these dishes!
Bánh tráng trộn (Vietnamese rice paper salad)
Opening the list of the inescapable delicious dishes is Rice Paper Salad. Although it is not a famous specialty of the Saigonese, the silhouettes of its sellers have reached every corner of this lavish city.
The renowned rice paper salad is a combination of dried rice paper cut into thin strips mix with shredded green mango, adding a pinch of Tay Ninh shrimp salt, scallion oil garnish, and minced Vietnamese coriander. The stage of squeezing kumquat juice is critical for the rice paper to well-absorb the spices and lightly stick together that creates a hard-to-tell delicious chewy taste. Finally, to fulfill the dish, the seller will sprinkle some roasted tiny shrimp, peanuts, beef jerky, more scallion oil, and hard-boiled quail eggs.
In recent years, the appetite of the youth starts to increase, that rice paper salad has been upgraded to a higher level of flavour for being served with dried shredded squid, beef jerky, or crispy lard.
Sủi cảo (Jiaozi)
As one of the esoteric, traditional dishes of the Saigon’s Chinese, jiaozi has become an indispensable part of the must-try list for both Saigonese and visitors.
Almost like the wonton/dumpling dish, but the dumpling has a thicker filling of ground lean meat and shrimp. The jiaozi’s skin is combined from cornstarch, rice flour mixed with eggs to enhance the flavour. After completing the skin, each thinly rolled piece of dough will be filled, wrapped into folds to seal the filling.
Jiaozi can be served with or without broth. On hot days, a plate of dry jiaozis sprinkled with a little fried scallion, served with sauces truly hits the spot. On the rainy, windy, season-changing days, a bowl of hot jiaozi with savoury broth would dissolve the external cold.
Currently, the jiaozi street at Ha Ton Quyen Street (District 11) is the ideal destination for those who love this dish. There, the diners will be delighted with the variety of jiaozi dishes, from the colours, decorations, and fillings, which are also the promises of the restaurants not to disappoint customers.
Cơm tấm “sà bì chưởng” (sườn bì chả) – (Broken rice with grilled pork ribs, shredded pork skin, and pork pie)
If Hanoi features famous fragrant pho, Saigon is no less competitive when it comes to the famous “sà bì chưởng” broken rice.
The main ingredient of the broken rice dish is broken rice, also known as “second-rated rice” with a smaller size than ordinary rice. In the past, when it was difficult, this type of rice was considered as a “treasure” of the common people who got used to saving even in the daily diet in comparison to other wealthy people. Up to now, when life has become somewhat more accessible, people still cherish broken rice as a memory part where suffering life bore a ray of happiness. And so the broken rice dish is also becoming popular everywhere as a specialty, especially in Saigon.
A plate of broken rice will usually consist of broken rice at the bottom with a grilled rib laying on, pork pie, fried egg, and shredded pork skin. For the gourmet diners who love this dish, they certainly know that fish sauce is an indispensable sauce to enjoy broken rice. Sweet and sour fish sauce mixed with chilly garlic sauce adds spicy flavour would stimulate the appetite.
Bánh mì thịt (Banh mi with meat)
Named in the list of the best street food in the world, it is flawed without mentioning banh mi. The call “Vietnamese banh mi” is always the pride of any Vietnamese, whether in the homeland or abroad. It has been, is, and will always be an indispensable part of the must-try list when coming to Saigon.
Being distinctive by convenience, deliciousness, and affordable prices, banh mi has become a familiar dish to both adults and children. In the mornings, the flow of people rushing here and there, holding a warm meat banh mi has painted a picture of the bustling city, making Saigon strangely dear.
In this city, there must be dozens of different types of banh mi, each is delicious and easily capture your taste! Depending on the filling that inside, each banh mi will be given a different name from banh mi with meat, fried egg, meatball, canned sardines, etc. The loaf of banh mi after being taken out of the oven will be golden, hot, and crispy. Then it will be sliced in the middle to brush a little of butter, pate and add vegetable pickles, cucumbers, ham, slices of steamed pork rolls, then drizzled some sauce to increase the flavour. Thin cilantro or onions will be the final ingredient to add to the loaf to enhance the characteristic aroma of this unique dish.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt