One of the must-see places in Saigon is the Ben Thanh Market, or the Cho Ben Thanh ("cho" meaning "market"). During the day time, the indoor market is filled with vendors selling everyday items like clothes, souvenirs, and food. At night, the indoor market closes, and the night market on the side streets open up with food stalls, tons of food stalls.
The Clock Tower
The main entrance and clock tower of the Cho Ben Thanh.
Inside the Market
We went on a weekday before the lunch time, and it was already this crowded.
The Night Market
This is a popular place to eat for locals and tourists.
We chose to eat at this place in the night market because we saw a table that had a beautifully presented deep fried fish. I felt like Anthony Bourdain eating here (He actually did eat in one of these food stalls). TV Producers - My food traveling resume is developing. I'm ready for my own food show!
All the food stalls in this night market were similarly "decorated" with plastic chairs. Actually, all throughout the country, the local food stalls all have plastic chairs.
Bia Ba Ba Ba
Beer 333. I read about this beer in a New York Times article prior to this trip. It wrote about Vietnam's developing beer scene, and it mentioned this beer. It's a light local brew that is refreshing with the hot weather. It also pairs pretty well with Vietnamese food. Because of the heat, the beer gets warm so fast. When it gets warm, a bitter taste develops. In southeast Asia, I noticed that some local places give ice with beer. For me, this was a huuge no-no, especially growing up in Northern California where some fantastic brews are made. However, I gave it a shot. And, I have to admit that with some southeast Asian lagers, ice can be added. It mellows the bitterness and brings out the malt flavor.
Grilled Pork with Rice Noodles
A fun appetizer! The pork was nicely grilled, and the rice noodles were different from what I expected. Instead of long noodles, they were like thin, netted, sponges. Delicious!
Deep Fried Snapper
Look at that presentation! We ate the whole thing - from head to tail, and all the bones.
Fresh Greens and Rice Noodles
Along with the fish came this plate to balance the dish. After going to Thailand, I now love mixing hot foods with fresh vegetables. It's a delicious balance for health and for texture and taste.
For dessert, we stopped by a sticky rice vendor. She gave a small scoop of each color/flavor and then poured some sweet coconut milk on top. A tasty and fun ending for our first night's meal.