Sunday, January 3, 2010
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a *must* visit when in Ho Chi Minh City. Just like it's neighbouring cousin in Bangkok- the Chatuchak Market, Ben Thanh Market offers a piece of Vietnam experience (food and fare) for the locals and tourists alike.
Ben Thanh Market is strategically located at District 1 of HCMC. We were fortunate that the backpackers hostel we were staying in was just about 15 mins of walking distance from Ben Thanh.
Shoes, shoes, shoes and more shoes
Just like Chatuchak, Ben Thanh has many many many stalls (though not as many as Chatuchak) selling almost repetitive things- shoes, lacquerware, souvenirs, fake branded clothings, food, fruits, poultry etc.
On our first visit to the BTM, we were attracted to the food section. It is similar to the foodcourt of some of our bigger markets (ie. Pasar Besar Ipoh). There were just too many tempting food- spring rolls, big prawns, noodles, rice dishes etc etc. We vowed to make a comeback for the food on the following day since we already had some pho for lunch at Pho 24.
Look ma, Big Shrimps!
On the following day, we revisited BTM. I chose this stall as our first stop as the BIG orangy shrimps were just too tempting!!
Rice with Baked Flank- 20.000 vnd (RM4)
The baked flank was really good- well roasted, tender and the accompanying gravy had us finishing the rice and licking the plate clean! I would come back for this over and over again.
Roast Shrimps- 50.000 vnd for 3 pcs (RM10)
I think these were fresh water prawns. They were roasted and then cooked with onion oil similar to that of the baked flank. They were awesome- Big, Fresh and Juicy!
Steamed Thin Rice Pancake (aka Chee Cheong Fun)
There are many similarities in food among Asian countries. For ie. when I was younger and hadn't the opportunity to travel, I always thought Malaysia originated satay. It was only later that I found out every Asian country has their own version of 'skewered meat'... and some of them are called 'sate' too.
Hence, when I saw this... I realized that the HK Chee Cheong Fun and Anson (Teluk Intan) Chee Cheong Fun has found their distant cousins!
Steaming the rice roll
And putting in the fillings- minced meat
Though similar to the HK and Anson versions, it is different in terms of fillings. The HK one comes with shrimps and char siew while the Anson version boasts a variety of ingredients, such as crispy shalots, dried shrimps, chopped turnips etc.
The Vietnamese version however comes with minced meat, bits of spring onions and topped off with a piece of fish cake, a few slices of Viet ham and fried shallots. There is also an accompanying sour plum sauce and julliened cucumber and bean sprouts.
Rice Paper Roll with Shrimps- 5.000 vnd each (RM1)
One can never have to much of rice paper rolls as they're not only yummy but also healthy!
Fried Spring Roll with Pork- 5.000 vnd each (RM1)
These fried spring rolls with pork fillings were nothing outstanding but fits the reputation of streetside food...
Vietnamese Iced Black Coffee- 8.000 vnd (RM1.60)
And there is no experience like having a mug of iced black coffee within the hot stuffy environment in Ben Thanh Market. Kauuuuu!
Shove the shaved ice
My travel partner-in-crime was more attracted to the local 'tong sui', so we made a quick move about the food court to this stall.
Che Chap Cam and Vietnamese Leng Chi Kang- 10.000 vnd each (RM2)
The popular orders were these two 'tong sui', which were basically the Vietnamese Cendol In a Cup and Vietnamese Leng Chi Kang. The other 2 cups are some local iced tea which were complimentary. Nothing much to shout about but definitely a cool drink for a hot day.
Fruit stalls are also aplenty and they are pretty cheap too. Mangoes, grapes, apples, oranges, avocadoes... you name it, they have it.
Do Not Disturb. Durian session ongoing
... including the Asian King of Fruits too! We had wanted to savour some durians too but forgotten about it.
Extra services- no, not that kind!
One of the services provided by the fruit stalls here is the peeling service.
All peeled and ready to be eaten!
We bought a box of jackfruits and ciku, all peeled and ready to be eaten at about RM10. After all the meat, vege and rice rolls eaten... here's some vitamin nutritions to get us going for the rest of the trip!
The Vietnamese Experience
To end today's post, here's a picture of a Gwai Lou family having their meal on stools and plastic chairs as table!
Click also to view-