Food? On the streets? Where?!?

Here's a recent article on the abundance of grub on the streets of Saigon by the New York Times. Yeah, no shit. Give it a read, though. While I feel like there's many better options for more authentic 'local' food the recommended 'Cơm niêu', I do agree that the international dining options puts out disappointing performances way too often. Let me expand on that thought...

9th floor overhead shot of a Hủ tiếu cart setting up shop in a hẻm (alleyway). Note the impatient chick in the yellow shirt looking over for her bowl of noodles. Yeah, I see you.

Example: I ordered a 'Mediterranean Bruschetta' appetizer the other night at Skewers restaurant in District One. What came out was a small mound of diced beets, tomatoes and zucchini with cilantro (really?) and a splash of extra-V and balsamic over a warmed slice of wheat bread. Hardly memorable and ridiculously inexpensive to make considering the cost of veggies in Vietnam. I'd estimate the appetizer's cost to the restaurant [raw material] at 12.000 VND (60 cents) yet they decided on setting the price at 95,000 VND. A ridiculous mark-up for a unspectacular dish. So goes the story of the Ho Chi Minh 'International' food circuit. High on profit. Low on originality.

Value per (thousand) dong = inexplicable at times!

Foie Gras at Reflections restaurant. Meal for two: ~1.300.000 VND (~$68)

Other Asian cuisines are well represented but when you venture outside of the continent it gets a bit rough. I really like Black Cat for burgers and Xu or Reflections for a little flash although usually I leave 'International' restaurant counting the amount of local meals I could have ate for the same price. 'So that meal was about 52 plates of pork and rice and I'm not even satisfied. FML.' Goes without saying I'm a bit weary when it comes to trying out new places in D1 these days.

Nighttime Hủ tiếu cart. 5.000 per bowl (27 ¢).

A few places I've tried around D1 (out of $$$ and ****)

Square One $$$ *** 1/2
Xu $$$ *** 1/2
Kabin $$ *** 1/2
Qing $$ ***
The Black Cat $$ ***
Pacharan $$$ ***
Golden Elephant $$ ***
Seoul House $$ ***
Ohan $$ ***
Reflections $$$ ***
Mumtaz $$ ***
Zan-Zi-Bar $$$ ***
Tandoor $$ ***
K-Cafe Sushi $$ ***
Scoozi $$ ** 1/2
Texas BBQ $$ ** 1/2
Kuru-Kuru $$ **
Byblos $$ **
Halal@Saigon $ **
La Habana $$ **
Hostaria $$ **
Skewers $$$ **
Gringos $ **
Sushi Bar $$ **
Ganesh $$ **
Cepage $$ **
Dae Jang Geum $$ **
Ashoka $$ **

Au Parc $$ *1/2
Mexico Lindo $ *

Any other Sài Gòn residents have anything to say about the international dining scene? Am I missing something?

Stay Bona Fide.


FlavorBoulevard said...

How was the Texas BBQ? At least D1 has so many international restaurants now, maybe it just needs more time...

Rock Portrait Photography said...

Zan Z Bar offers deliciously prepared food at no more than you'd expect to pay for that quality with good service. The fine wine is also welcomed.

However, a plate of bo chien for 12000 is often all I need.

A. Rizzi said...

@Flav - TBBQ was pretty good, not amazing but I've actually only had the pulled pork and chicken wings so far. Actually it's even tough to find great BBQ in California so I guess I gotta be more lenient with this category.

@Rock - Yea I've been there for drinks but haven't eaten yet. Always looks crowded. You're talking about 'banh bot chien' right? I'm with you there- sometimes (mostly?) it's all you need.


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