District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The busiest district, the centre of the madness and also the home to the most historic buildings, bustling shopping malls, crazy moped-filled streets, and delicious food the city has to offer. I always find it funny when I talk about the city being split into districts. Does anyone else have Hunger Games in their head by any chance? What a film – “I volunteer as tribute!”
During our first week we were staying the Ruby River Hotel, pretty central to all the District 1 madness, but also quiet enough that we could get a good nights sleep. Although most mornings we would hear the motorbike horns as our get up alarm. We would also hear the food vendors on their pedal bikes and megaphone announcing they were selling food (a bit like the ice cream man of Vietnam). These noises have become all too familiar to us now.
Over the next few days we explored the cities central district, visiting Ben Thanh Market and Street Food Market which quickly became one of our favourite places to eat. Not only were the prices cheap – around 70 VND for a meal = £2 GBP – but the food was incredible. The street food market hosts about 50 different eateries all under one roof. A mixture of traditional Vietnamese dishes to Thai or Italian dishes with my particular favourite being “GOT BUN?” A Vietnamese place selling the best bao buns the city has to offer (A steamed bread bun encasing a tender piece of meat). In particular the fried chicken or the belly pork bun. I could have eaten one of those every night if I could, must resist!
The street food market offered a real insight into the travellers life as we were surrounded by backpackers as well as some locals enjoying the ambiance around us. The place was simple, wooden benches and tables to eat from, a make shift roof that wheeled on and off if it rained, and some painted street artwork on the walls. But all in all a perfect place to devour excellent food for minimal cost.
A couple of nights in I decided to get on trip advisor and find what some of the other food fanatics had to say about eateries in HCMC. About 6th down on the list I spotted something I’d always wanted to try… POKÉ. I’m a massive fan of Sarah’s day on youtube and Instagram (if you don’t follow her, you must!) and I know she always makes her own poke/nourish bowls and I’ve seen them all over the web so wanted to try! I felt like I needed pure vegetables to give me a boost of nutrients. Vietnamese food is pretty plain, normally rice or noodles with meat so I needed my dose of vitamins. Poke Saigon was located on ‘Walking street’ (no cars allowed) in a picturesque building called Apartment 42 Nguyen Hue https://goo.gl/images/kA1w7p. They say that all the best restaurants or bars are hidden away in this city, and this was definitely correct for this place. The place itself was small but bright and clean so it was all we wanted.Here we picked our own salad, vegetables, sauces and fish poke to create a delicious bowl of yumminess for just £4/5 – I will definitely be back!
With District 1 boasting a whole range of food options both western and authentic we are excited to try more food that the city has to offer. Jonny and I have said we are going to try and have a date night every week where we try a new restaurant. Its so cheap to eat out here that it seems a shame not to. I’d say you’d spend the same amount eating out here every night (depending on how upmarket you go) as you would buying food in to cook at home – its crazy!