Photo of the day: big bowl of chillies @ food stall in Dong Ba market
Our day started with another hotel-provided breakfast. This time we had an a-la-carte menu with all sorts of choices from the regular eggs and toast, to fried rice, soups, smoothies, yogurt, cereal to my favourite Bun Bo Hue. To continue on my quest to fine good Bun Bo Hue in Hue, I had to order it. The colour was definitely closer to what I expected, than the one I got last night. It was a nice breakfast-sized portion. The broth was decent but still not what I am looking for. The topping was limited to some slices of beef. I also had their watermelon smoothie and home-made yogurt which were both very tasty!
Next, we went to Nook Cafe (also by Nina). It is a very cute cafe and bar with a thoughtfully decorated interior. This was a perfect place to do work, read, or just chill. I just ordered some jasmine tea, enjoyed the environment and got a lot of writing done. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. I always have this fear that if we eat lunch past 2pm, nothing will be open (flashblack HCMC). So we walked over the bridge to the Dong Ba market to see what street foods we can try! It was a lot bigger than the Ben Thanh market, yet it was a lot more difficult to navigate with the very narrow spaces between the stalls. We couldn’t really find a central food area but we eventually wandered to a noodle stall which looked promising so we sat down. We didn’t even order anything and they just brought over two bowls of something for us. I love it! We eventually found out that Aaron had the Bun Gan Cha (with beef tendons) and I had the Bun Bo. The broth was very good, but not quite spicy enough so we added some Nuoc Mam from the huge bowl of floating chillies. The portion sizes were modest, even though they give us the large bowl already. Overall, good noodles from a random street food stall. Hopefully we won’t get sick!
Next we went back to our hotel and did some work in the lobby. Again, their service is amazing as they brought over some water, as well as some mango when we asked.
Since we didn’t eat too much for lunch, we were getting hungry again. We decided to go back to the main street we walked passed last night, where there were many restaurants and street stalls. We picked Hang Me Me as recommended by our hotel to try some local foods. Their menu was quite interesting, with what seemed like just small plates. We already tried Banh Beo last night so we decided to go with the Banh Ram It and the Banh Nam. First to arrive was the Banh Ram It. It is basically a small Banh Beo on top of a crispy cracker! Aaron loved the different textures. It was something that would go well as a bar snack with some beer. The Banh Nam was totally different. It came wrapped up in banana leaves. When you open it, you can see the translucent rice flour and shrimp paste in the middle. It looked like a delicacy. The taste is very familiar but I cannot put my finger on it. I guess it taste like shrimp paste, but not the fermented type. Both of these are eaten with Nuoc Mam. The portions look like snack size but I was pretty full after finishing it.
Our plan was to restaurant hop, since there was a place across the street, which was full of locals last night. They had a huge menu with snacks, cocktails, burgers, desserts and local food. We grabbed some beer along with some Banh Khoai, the local version of the Banh Xeo. It was “happy hour” so their local Huda beer was only $0.50! Aaron had the Tiger because I was saying that all Asian beers tasted the same. We did a little taste test and decided we found the Huda more refreshing, but the tiger has a more fruity, complex taste. The Banh Khoai was a bit disappointing. It was just this oily, crunchy chip with not enough filling – just a couple pieces of pork and lettuce and red peppers perhaps? We noticed they have a different menu to the locals and they mostly only ordered drinks or dessert so their specialty is probably not their “local foods”.
We’re 2 weeks into our trip now. Time flies but I am also looking forward to a lot more to come! Today was kind of a day off for us to catch up on work and confirming plans for our next few destinations. It’s nice to finally get that done with so we can focus more on the present.