Tuesday 30 September 2014

10 Food Places To Try In Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)

My picks for the food places to try in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) are appended below. If you are wondering what and where to eat in Ho Chi Minh, hopefully, this list of 10 Food Places To Try In Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) would get you started. Happy Eating! 

1) Fanny Ice Cream
Fanny Ice Cream an ice cream parlor is located along Ton That Thiep Street, a 5 minutes walk away from Saigon Centre. Established in Vietnam in 1994 by Jean-Marc Bruno, a pastry specialist graduated from the renowned Le Nôtre Paris school, it manufactures and distributes its premium ice cream to over 1000 restaurants and hotels, and has 7 ice cream parlors in Vietnam. The beautifully presented Demi Bol consisted of a mix of sorbet and ice cream, chocolate sauce, almonds, caramel sauce, whipped cream and fruit salad.

Its franchise outlet recently opened in Singapore earlier this year. The Demi Bol in Singapore costs S$25.
Demi Bol 149,000 VND (S$8.95)

2) Kem Cong Truong (Kem Công Trường)
Kem Cong Truong, an eatery located next to Turtle Lake (Hồ Con Rùa) around 15 minutes walk from the Reunification Palace sells mainly small snacks, desserts and drinks. Established before the 70s with its neon signboard, it is well-known among the locals for its Coconut Ice Cream (Kem Trái Dừa); an authentic Vietnamese-style Coconut Ice Cream. True enough during our visit, we were the only tourist. Unlike the Thai Coconut Ice Cream, this came with traditional toppings; crushed peanuts, pineapple, and dried bananas and plums adding complexity to the taste and texture.
Coconut Ice Cream (Kem Trái Dừa) 

3) Nghi Xuan Restaurant (Nghi Xuân)
Nghi Xuan Restaurant is a boutique restaurant that specialises in traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant is located at the end of an alley opposite the Saigon Opera House. The Tiny Steamed Rice Cakes (Bánh bèo tôm chấy) which consisted of Shredded shrimp, pork lard and spring onions added on top of the rice cake is highly recommended.
Tiny steamed rice cakes (Bánh bèo tôm chấy) 68,000 VND (S$4.10)

4) Banh Xeo 46A (Quán Bánh Xèo 46A)
Banh Xeo 46A an eatery located along a small narrow road between shop houses is famous for its authentic Vietnamese Pancake known as Bánh Xèo. The Vietnamese Pancake was crisp, thin and slightly sweet with a hint of coconut fragrant. Its interior was filled with beansprouts, shrimps, onion, pork and mung beans. This is a must try! While you are there, you should also try their Spring Rolls (Chả Giò) 20,000 VND (S$1.20).
Vietnamese Pancake (Bánh Xèo) 60,000 VND (S$3.60)

5) 3T Quan Nuong (3T Quán Nướng)
3T Quan Nuong located next to Fanny Ice Cream, is an open air roof top Vietnamese Barbecue (BBQ) / Grilled restaurant. It is popular for its Roasted Prawn with Salt and Chilli (Tôm nướng muối ớt) which was consisted of grilling live prawns on wooden skewers. The prawns were fresh and dipping them into the lime, salt and chilli dipping sauce added a different dimension to the taste.
Roasted Prawn with Salt and Chilli (Tôm nướng muối ớt) (100g) 58,000 VND (S$3.50)

6) Pho Nho (Phố Nhỏ)
Pho Nho located along Nguyễn Đình Chiểu road, near War Remnant Museum serves Northern (Hanoi) style pho (beef noodles). Its interior was nicely designed to resemble the streets of Hanoi with its murals on the walls and traditional street lights and foot paths.

The Saute Beef Noodles Soup with Slices of Round Steak (Phở Áp Chảo) did not disappoint. Dipping the Crispy Chinese Roller (dough fritters) into the pho, reminded me of a particular dish back home. While you are there, you should also try the Yogurt mixed with Coconut Milk and Sweet Sticky Rice (Sữa chua nếp cẩm).
Saute Beef Noodles Soup with Slices of Round Steak (Phở Áp Chảo) 55,000 VND (S$3.30), Crispy Chinese Roller 30,000 VND per piece (S$1.80)

7) Hoa Dong (Quán Hoa Đông)
Hoa Dong is a small eatery located 5 minutes walk away from the North Gate (Cửa Bắc) of Ben Thanh Market. While Pho is a more commonly known food associated with Vietnam, you should not leave the country without trying the Glass Udon Soup with Crabmeat (Bánh Canh Cua) and Grilled Pork served with Rice Noodle (Bún Chả Thịt Nướng). Both dishes are a must try at Hoa Dong.
Grilled Pork served with Rice Noodle (Bún Chả Thịt Nướng) 60,000 VND (S$3.60), Glass Udon Soup with Crabmeat (Bánh Canh Cua) 65,000 VND (S$3.90)

BeefSteak Nam Son located along Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai at the end of  a long alley is popular among the locals for its Vietnamese style western food; beefsteak (Bít tết). The eatery opens as early as 6am as the locals love eating this for breakfast. The Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) is served on a sizzling hotplate. Shred the Baguette (Bánh Mì) into small pieces, dipped it into the sauce in the plate and spread the pate (minced pork liver) on it to experience how the locals eat it.
Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) 60,000 VND (S$3.60)

9) Ngoc Suong Marina (Ngọc Sương Sài Gòn)
Ngoc Suong Marina also known as Marina Saigon Seafood Cuisine is a Vietnamese seafood restaurant located along Nguyen Dinh Chieu road (near Pho Nho). The recommended dishes to order are the Ngoc Suong Fish Salad (Gỏi cá Ngọc Sương), Deep Fried Prawns With Salt and Pepper (Tôm sú chiên giòn rang muối tiêu), Crab with Tamarind Sauce (Cua rang me) and Seafood Fried Spring Roll (Chả giò hải sản).
Deep Fried Prawns With Salt and Pepper (Tôm sú chiên giòn rang muối tiêu) 205,000 VND (S$12.30), Crab with Tamarind Sauce (Cua rang me) 55,000 VND (S$3.30) per 100 gram

3G Trois Gourmands located in District 2 is around 20 to 40 minutes drive away from the city centre depending on traffic conditions. The restaurant located in a traditional colonial house with its interior beautifully furnished specialises in serving French cuisine. Their Set Menu offers a choice of 5, 6 or 7 Course meal at a nett price of USD40, USD45, USD50 respectively. Although the prices seems expensive, the food here was excellent and value for money considering the quality and quantity. You would have to pay much more to enjoy such food in Singapore.
Clockwise from top left:  Scallops Mashed Potatoes Truffle, Homemade Smoked Salmon, Duck Breast with Orange Sauce, Gils Dessert

Two Important Tips
1) Change money at goldsmith shop
The two goldsmith shops opposite “Cua Tay” gate number 5 (west gate) of Ben Thanh market on Phan Chu Trinh Street offers the best exchange rate. Better than the rates in Singapore.

2) Get a Vinasun Taxi
We did our research and knew that getting a good taxi was important to avoid getting rip off. The two most reliable taxis are Vinasun and MaiLinh. However, do note that there are alot of copycats with varied names such as Ma Linh, Mei Linh Vinasune, Vinason or Vinasum.
Source: Hello Saigon!
After an incident (read the last 3 para if you are intersested) that happened to us, we took just Vinasun taxi. We really learnt it the hard way. Faith restore in taking taxis in Vietnam. Thank you Vinasun. We also ensure that the Vinasun taxi was
      - a big taxi (the first car in the photo above). Not those small ones as copycats normally use those                   smaller ones
      - window are not tinted
      - wear maroon tie

At the airport, if you want to get a Vinasun taxi, head left once you exit from the airport's arrival hall (where there are people waiting for their friends, family, or clients). Walk to the far left, end of the taxi stand, you will spot Vinasun wardens wearing dark green shirts with maroon ties. The airport is not far from the city and should cost about 150,000 VND around 30 to 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Rip Off Incident (sharing this to spread the awareness and help more people avoid such situations)
Despite our research, we were ripped off on our first night. We spotted a MaiLinh taxi and board it. The driver was wearing a tie, had his photo displayed on the dashboard and on the meter. Seems to be the right (genuine) taxi. The first sign that something was not right was that he was impatient; drove very fast and cut into the opposite lane of the road despite other vehicles honking. In addition, the meter jumped very quickly. It was at this moment I noticed that the side-windows for passengers were slightly tinted (oh shit..). It did not help that our destination was Cuc Gach Quan, located at a quiet private residential area.

The taxi driver drove us to the restaurant, showed us the restaurant and then move forward a little as there was a security guard there. We then paid him the meter fee of 350,000 VND which was ridiculously considering that it should be below 100,000 VND (S$21). He locked us in and demand more money (than what showed up in the meter) shouting and even throwing newspaper at us. Knowing that this was not a battle that we should fight, we slowly gave him more and more. But he kept asking for more.  The process repeated (i.e. shout, throw newspaper, give abit of money) several times. We kept asking for him to open the door but he turned even more aggressive. Lucky for us, another security guard in charge of a residential a few units ahead sensed that something was amissed and walked up. We kept waving at him as the front window was not tinted (at this time, a staff from Cuc Gach Quan also came over) and the driver quickly opened the door, told us to get out and drove off.

The security guard managed to record the number of the taxi and we explained the incident to them through a staff who understood English. The staff of the restaurant called up MaiLinh to lodge a case for us. Unfortunately, the company stated that they had no such taxi number and claimed that the driver did not belong to their company. In total, we paid slightly more than 450,000 VND (S$27) to the driver. But what matter was that we were safe..

Sunday 28 September 2014

Gelato Singapore: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Gelato (till end of 2014)

Source: Gelato Singapore
Gelato Singapore: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Gelato (till end of 2014)

- Valid till end of 2014
- Not valid for Rosa Gelato
- The management reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions without prior notice

Wednesday 24 September 2014

So Pho: 1 For 1 Baguette (Banh Mi) (till 26 Sep 2014)

Source: So Pho
So Pho: 1 For 1 Baguette (Banh Mi) (till 26 Sep 2014)

- Valid till 26 Sep 2014 from 2pm to 6pm
- Valid for  Baguette with Grilled Chicken & Chicken Pate, Baguette with Grilled Beef or Vegetarian Baguette only
- Valid for dine-in
- Valid for one redemption per table per receipt
- Flash their facebook post on your mobile device to redeem
- Not valid with other promotion, discount, privilege and set menu
- The management reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions without any prior notice

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Starbucks Singapore: Selected Grande-Sized Beverages For Only $4.90 Each (till 28 Sep 2014)

Source: Starbucks Singapore
Starbucks Singapore: Selected Grande-Sized Beverages For Only $4.90 Each (till 28 Sep 2014)

- Valid till 28 Sep 2014 from 3pm to 11pm
- Valid for only Grande-sized Java Chip or Tiramisu Frappuccinos or Lemon Ginger, Passion Tea Lemonade or Yogurt Citrus Fizzio
- Valid with a minimum purchase of 2 cups
- Limited to 4 cups per transaction.

Monday 22 September 2014

Saveur (Purvis Street)

Saveur's Pasta $4.90
Saveur is a restaurant serving affordable French Cuisine. The owners of the restaurant first the business in a coffeeshop before moving to its present location at Purvis Street. Today, the restaurant occupies 2 units at Purvis Street (side by side) and has a second outlet at Far East Plaza.
Saveur located at Purvis Street is directly opposite the National Library. It is around 10 minutes walk from either Bugis or City Hall MRT station.
There used to be long queues at the restaurant but now that the hype has died down and it has 2 units (larger seating capacity), there was no need to wait or queue for a table despite it being a weekend evening. Outside its entrance, there was even a small kiosk for customers to key in their mobile number to enter the queue. I guess there's no need for this now.
The restaurant was around 70% full during our time of visit. Looking at its kitchen counter, it still looks so classy and modern despite its pricing.
French Onion Soup $8.90
The French Onion Soup $8.90 with served with a slice of toasted french loaf was probably the most 'not-for-value' dish. It comes with a pricey price tag and in addition, it failed in the taste department. There was a weird after taste.
Potato au Gratin $3
For sides, we ordered the Potato au Gratin $3. I wonder if it was me, but the word 'Gratin' typically means that the dish is baked and comes with (top) layer of light brown crust. This was not the Potato au Gratin I was expecting. Nevertheless, at $3 this was a decent dish in terms of taste. Maybe they should rename this dish.
Saveur's Pasta $4.90
We also ordered their signature Saveur's Pasta $4.90 for sharing. It consisted of Angel’s Hair Pasta with minced pork sauce, sakura ebi, kombu and chilli oil. Tossing everything together, the taste was amazing with hints of sweetness, saltiness and just a slight hint of spiciness at times. I wonder how come it was not spicy if chilli oil was added. Priced at $4.90 this was a real steal, I could not have expected more in terms of taste at such pricing. It even came nicely plated.
Duck Confit $12.90
I ordered the Duck Confit $12.90. The Duck Confit was served on top of a bed of mashed potato with sauteed shitake with parsley and garlic at the side.
Duck Confit $12.90
The Duck Confit, typically prepared by roasting the leg of the duck till it is crispy was on the skinny side. It was not meaty enough. Moreover, some parts of the duck leg was not even cooked and hence was not crisp. Those parts that were crisp were very well executed. The mashed potato at the bottom was delicious. I was scrapping the empty plate to ensure that none were wasted.
Seabass $14.90
The partner ordered the Seabass $14.90 which was pan-seared. It was served with sauteed potato and french beans.
Seabass $14.90
The Seabass was incredibly fresh with no fishy after taste and its skin was pan-seared till it was so crisp. What puzzled us was that the french beans were layered (i.e. sliced in-between to make it 2 halves). The crunchiness was lost as a result.  

The french food at Saveur is quite affordable and value for money. Other than the French Onion Soup, it would be hard to find such prices at anywhere else. If you are on a budget, this is a place to consider. In terms of ambience, the restaurant was crowded and noisy. It was hard to strike a conversation at times.  

Saveur (Purvis Street)
5 Purvis Street #01-05/06
Singapore 188584
Tel: 6333 3121​
Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 12pm - 215pm, 6pm - 915pm
                          Sun 12pm - 215pm, 6pm - 9pm

Saveur (Far East Plaza) 
14 Scotts Road
#01-07B Far East Plaza
Singapore 228213
Tel: 6736 1121
Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 1130am - 930pm
                          Sun 1130 - 9pm

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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Shallots: 1 For 1 Set Lunch Promotion (till 19 Sep 2014)

Source: Shallots
Shallots: 1 For 1 Set Lunch Promotion (till 19 Sep 2014)

- Valid till 19 Sep 2014
- Set Lunch Promotion are inclusive of Salad Bar Buffet
- Free item will be of equal or lower value
- Offer cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts, promotions or vouchers

Monday 15 September 2014

Kki Sweets ケーキ(SOTA)

Left to right: Tiramisu $9.80,  Antoinette $8.80
KKI Sweets ケーキ is a Japanese inspired patisserie bakery serving a variety of beautifully decorated cakes, freshly baked daily.
KKI Sweets ケーキ  previously located at Ann Siang Hill is now located at the second level of the School of the Arts (SOTA). The school is a 5-minutes walk away from Exit A of Dhoby Ghuat MRT Station or Exit D of Bras Basah MRT Station.

We visited KKI Sweets ケーキ during a Friday evening at 730pm. The wooden theme furnishing was simple yet modern and elegant. Most of the items were sold out except for just the Tiramisu $9.80 and Antoinette $8.80. Hence, we just ordered both cakes.
Tiramisu $9.80
The Tiramisu $9.80,  cylindrical-shaped was topped with a layer of bitter cocoa powder.
Tiramisu $9.80
The moose underneath the the cocoa powder was light and soft. At its centre was the sponge fingers soaked in Kahlua. This was decent but not fantastic. At $9.80, it is quite pricey for the small portion.
Antoinette $8.80
The Antoinette $8.80 consisted of white chocolate mousse with mango puree in the centre.
Antoinette $8.80
The mousse was again incredibly light and soft that it seems to melt in the mouth. The sweet and rich mango puree in the centre added a new dimension to the taste and complemented well with the subtle white chocolate flavour. This was divine and unique. But before you know it, you would have finished it in a few mouthfuls and wished that there was more.

The two cakes we tried were quite well done. Personally, I prefer the Antoinette. If you are keen to visit, do note the price as it is on the higher end. In addition, if you are dining in, there would be an additional 10% service charge. Lastly, try to be there earlier before 5pm if you do not want to be disappointed as their cakes might be sold out by then.

Kki Sweets ケーキ(SOTA) 
1 Zubir Said Drive 
#02-01 School of the Arts (SOTA) 
Singapore 227968
Tel: +65 6225 6650
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm to 8pm

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Thursday 11 September 2014

Gelare Singapore: 1 For 1 Waffle Promotion at Tampines 1 (till 30 Nov 2014)

Source: Gelare Singapore
Gelare Singapore: 1 For 1 Waffle Promotion at Tampines 1 (till 30 Nov 2014)

- Valid till 30 Nov 2014
- Not valid on Tuesday
- Valid for dine-in only
- Not valid with other discounts or promotions
- The management reserves the right to amend the terms and conditions without any prior notice

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Dunkin' Donuts: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Coolatta Promotion at HarbourFront Centre (till 31 Oct 2014)

Source: Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Coolatta Promotion at HarbourFront Centre (till 31 Oct 2014)

- Valid till 31 Oct 2014
- Valid at Habourfront Centre outlet only

Monday 8 September 2014

BeefSteak Nam Son (Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh)

BeefSteak Nam Son also known as "Nam Sơn" among the locals is a no frills Vietnamese restaurant. I understand the locals love coming to this restaurant for breakfast and some visit as early as 6am or 630am!
BeefSteak Nam Son as its name suggests specialises in serving Vietnamese style western food; beefsteak (Bít tết). It has 2 branches. The branch that we went to was located along the Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai (main road).
After seeing the signboard, we turned in and found ourselves in a long alley filled with rows of motorcycles. At the end of the alley, we reached the entrance of the restaurant.
Entering the restaurant, we were greeted by rows of dark wooden tables and white plastic chairs that were arranged systematically to maximise the space. The above photo shows part of the outdoor dining area. There was also an indoor dining area with the same type of tables and chairs. In terms of furnishing, it was simple and basic. Although there was no air conditioners, the restaurant had high ceiling with many ceiling and wall fans. Hence, it was well-ventilated.

We were surprised to see that the restaurant was full when we arrived at 9am for breakfast as it had such a large sitting capacity. Despite the crowd, we were able to find a table shortly at the indoor dining area.
The menu with most of main and side dishes. This should be for foreigners as it was translated in English language.
On the other side, it was the beverage menu. We noticed that most of their customers seems to be regulars as they did not need a menu and ordered on the spot. It was fairly easy ordering as they had many staff who were able to multitask. You could order through anyone (e.g. the person who is clearing or serving the food.

The condiments (chilli sauce, fish sauce, pepper) on every table.
Daily Homemade Passion Fruit with Ice (Chanh dây) 25,000 VND (S$1.50)
This was the Daily Homemade Passion Fruit with Ice (Chanh dây) 25,000 VND (S$1.50).
Baguette (Bánh Mì), Salad, Cucumber and carrot mixed with olive oil (Món Chua), French Fries (Khoai tây chiên) 
Although the restaurant was full, shortly after we ordered, these [Baguette (Bánh Mì), Cucumber and carrot mixed with olive oil (Món Chua), French Fries (Khoai tây chiên)] were served at our table!

The Baguette (Bánh Mì) and Salad were complimentary dishes. The Baguette deserves a mention. It was very well executed and it was so good that we requested for more after our main dishes came! (You can request for unlimited replenishment of Baguette)
French Fries (Khoai tây chiên) 15,000 VND (S$0.90)
We ordered French Fries (Khoai tây chiên) 15,000 VND (S$0.90) for sharing. Although it was average, this was a good side dish was soaking up all the sauce in the hotplate of meat!
Ostrich Steak (Bít tết Đà Điểu) 90,000 VND (S$5.40)
The partner ordered the Ostrich Steak (Bít tết Đà Điểu) 90,000 VND (S$5.40) which was served with a sunny side up egg on a hotplate.
Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) 60,000 VND (S$3.60)
I ordered the Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) 60,000 VND (S$3.60) which was also served on a sizzling hotplate which splattered the oil and sauces out. The serving was generous as the cut of the meat was fairly large. We followed what the local did and shredded our Baguette into small pieces and dipped them into the sauces and also spread pate on it.

If you are wondering what pate is, it is actually minced pork liver.

Never underestimate the influence of western breakfast in Vietnam. It was so crowded when we visited and majority of the crowd was locals except for another foreign couple. Despite the crowd, the service was prompt and efficient! In addition, the food was unique. This is worth a visit if you are interested in trying what the locals eat.  

BeefSteak Nam Sơn (Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh)
200 Bis Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, 
District 1,  Ho Chi Minh
Tel: +84 (08) 3930 3917
Opening Hours: Daily 6am to 10pm

BeefSteak Nam Sơn (another branch)
157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia
District 3, Ho Chi Minh
Opening Hours: Daily 6am to 10pm

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Friday 5 September 2014

Datouxia (Da Tou Xia 大頭蝦 Prawn Noodles)

*Edited on 21 Sep 2014. Closed*
Super Prawn Noodles (dry) $10.80
Datouxia (Da Tou Xia 大頭蝦 Prawn Noodles) opened recently, less than 2 months ago specialises in Prawn Noodles and Ngoh Hiang.
The non-air conditioned eatery, located just outside a bus stop has a large seating capacity. When I visited on a Friday evening, the restaurant was empty except for another couple (probably in their 50s).  
The menu with their prices indicated are nett prices. They sell a variety of prawn noodles (including jumbo prawns), pork ribs, pig tails and even abalone noodles. 
 They also have a separate menu for Ngoh Hiang (variety of fried Chinese food).
Super Prawn Noodles (dry) $10.80
I ordered the Super Prawn Noodles (dry) $10.80 and a Golden Wing(s) $0.90. 

Surprisingly, the Super Prawn Noodles (dry) was served with pig tails which was weird since I did not request for that and its not indicated in the menu for such an order. Nevertheless, I went ahead and try this bowl of Super Prawn Noodles. 
Super Prawn Noodles (dry) $10.80
There was three jumbo prawns sliced into halves which made it easier to savour the prawns. The jumbo prawns did not disappoint. Big in size, they were so fresh and its meat was firm and sweet. Prawn lovers would love this. Chilli, fried shallots and pork lard were mixed with the noodles and beansprouts. The chilli was very spicy, you may wish to ask for less chilli. 

As for the soup, it was tasty and robust, full of essence of the prawns. However, I felt thirsty after drinking the bowl of soup.
Golden Wing(s) $0.90
I spotted the Golden Wing(s) $0.90 in the Ngoh Hiang menu and decided to order one to try. As I order this, the staff informed me that they had only one piece left as he was probably worried that I would order more than one. The Golden Wing, did not impress me. It was over fried and the interior was dry. 
As shown in the above receipt, the prices indicated in the menus are in nett. 

Datouxia (Da Tou Xia 大頭蝦 Prawn Noodles) 
383 Upper Aljunied Road
Singapore 367868 
Tel: 9062 2342
Opening Hours: Daily 730am to 9pm
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