It was Election Day while we were in Ho Chi Minh City last month. Bright red flags were proudly displayed along the streets, but that was about it. No other electoral activities were evident. Ah well. Couldn’t expect very much to begin with right? It was also that very day that we found out that Facebook is banned in Vietnam. Really. Uncool.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Ho Chi Minh City is uber busy. Traffic is never-ending, the shops and stalls are bustling and even in the hidden back alleys, you’ll find the locals cleaning up, taking a nap or just going about their business. It was very interesting to watch the locals manoeuvre their way through the busy streets, or find space for more goods and belongings in tight spaces. The people are innovative, very business savvy and friendly. They work hard, and they play hard. There’s often people cooling off from the heat with iced drinks by the roadside drinks stall. The parks are filled in the mornings and evenings with people exercising, playing games or just hanging out with friends and family. Talk about work-life-balance!
Now on to the wonderful food of Vietnam. There were cooked food stalls at Ben Thanh Market (mentioned in my previous post) but I was too much of a chicken to sit by the stalls on day one of my visit to try them out. I really wanted some pho, but I was not going to risk it as the stalls were…ahem…way too “authentic”. Instead, we went to a shop near the market called Pho 2000 – the President’s Pho. Not kidding. Apparently Bill Clinton was there – complete with a faded framed photograph of Billy enjoying his pho, adorning the wall.
I was excited to experience my very first bowl of pho in the land of pho. Melbourne has a huge Vietnamese community and we are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine. Like many others, I’ve had many bowls of pho before, but just the idea that I was in Vietnam and having pho took me to a whole new high. The ‘president’s pho’ did not disappoint. We ordered a bowl of beef pho and a plate of grilled chicken on broken rice.
The pho was light and fragrant with a delicious, clear soup and served with a generous helping of herbs (basil, mint, sprouts). The rice noodles had a wonderful springiness to it in contrast to the super tender wafers of beef brisket.
The marinated grilled pork served on rice was an eye-opener. The ones that I have tried in Australia tend to be a dryer version in comparison to this. The grilled pork was very tasty, evidence of hours of in marinade I’m sure, but the kicker was that it was succulent and tender. Accompanied with a quick stir fry of spring onions and bean sprouts and their spicy dipping sauce, nuoc cham. It looked really simple but oh, so yummy.
Each dish costs us about 35,000 dong which was about two Aussie dollars. Delicious and CHEAP! What more could a girl want eh?
Maybe to eat lots and still be svelte and slim like most vietnamese women in their traditional dress. Sigh…one can only dream…