One of the best things about travelling is being able to share it with the person you love the most. In my first few days in Ho Chi Minh, I was discovering a lot of things and I really wanted to share it with Mei. Good thing I got an unlimited internet sim card so I can video call her. But she upped the ante…she got a plane ticket.
My Beloved Surprise
It was a surprise but not really. Mei suddenly told me before I left that she was coming over to Ho Chi Minh City on Friday night while I was there so we can spend the weekend together! So after leaving the office that Friday night, I headed to the airport, not to go home, but to pick someone up! Mei arrived a little late and while I was waiting I had a familiar favourite from when I was in High school in Marikina, Popeye’s Chicken!
Once Mei got out of the airport I gave her a great big hug! This was our first anniversary travel date. I took her to walking street where I knew there was an open Pho noodle shop open since surprisingly not a lot of stores are open beyond 11pm. After the meal we simply walked around and took in the nightlife right there along walking street. We went back to the hotel to rest for our weekend together.
The Ho Chi Minh City Food Quest
Since we knew we’d be spending the weekend together, we planned a few food stops to prioritize.
Bahn Mi Quest
The first is a bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich made using French baguette). This is an ideal meal in Vietnam as it represents their history very well. They were a former French colony which is represented by the French baguette and it is stuffed with fresh greens and meat from different regions of the country.
Each bahn mi I’ve had in Ho Chi Minh City is different. It depends on the store. The quest we are on to find is apparently one of the best. It is found in a street far from our hotel, about 4km away. The sidewalk going there was sometimes perilous since motorbikes just get on the sidewalk. Sometimes the sidewalk disappears! And we had to cross a couple of streets by a major roundabout.
After a few near hits and a couple of misses, we find the main street this bahn mi stall was supposed to be on. The street is lined with luxury shops which was weird because we were looking for an unassuming street food. So we walked…and walked…turned around and walked some more. It was nowhere to be found!
Until Mei noticed that the small gates to the side of the road actually had a road sign and name! These small alleyways are sometimes gated because there are apartments inside but they are essentially streets. Using that new knowledge and Google Maps, we were able to locate the correct alleyway for the bahn mi.
Unassuming, right? But the sandwich was just really good. It was stuffed with cilantro, some greens I’m not familiar with, and three healthy servings of meatballs which really made the trip worth it.
The meatballs were very meaty and had a mix of other vegetables and spices as well. They were crispy on the outside and very juicy on the inside which was greatly complemented by the bread with its crispiness as well.
Price is not bad. Really not bad. It was just 25,000 VND which is roughly 60 PHP or a little over 1 USD.
I still remember how to get to that bahn mi stall today from the hotel I stayed in by simply walking and remembering which way to go by memory. But for the life of me I cannot remember the street name.
Actually I can’t remember most street names because they are just so hard to pronounce.
Pasteur Street Brewing Company
Now this one was a suggestion by my boss. He frequents Ho Chi Minh City and he knows I like beer. So he tells me this is a can’t miss place for me and I had to visit it with Mei.
Good thing going there wasn’t as difficult as the bahn mi place or else I might have some trouble getting back to the hotel. The beer is really good.
Found in this unassuming alleyway (see a pattern forming?) with walls filled with graffiti is a small flight of stairs going to the second floor. There you open up to a small bar, very western-inspired. The place feels nice and cozy. The staff, very friendly which is great because this is the first time I ever had this type of beer. They brew their own flavors and it’s great to have someone explain.
Since a lot of them looks good, we went for a tasting board which consisted of 6 small glasses of different flavors we choose. As I remember (vaguely) my favorites were:
- I think it was jasmine. Very refreshing and easy to drink. But has a pretty good kick at the end.
- Coffee – Vietnam is known for strong coffee. Mix it with strong beer and I don’t know if I’m getting drunk or waking up. Great experience.
- I forgot the name of one of their bestsellers but it was really good. Strong flavor and a bit heavy which I really like in my beer. Kind of like a jazzed up San Miguel Pale Pilsen.
We also had some nachos to help with downing the beers we ordered.
And remember the small stairs I mentioned earlier? Really difficult part after having a few beers.
Next up is one of the main reasons why I’ve always wanted to go to Ho Chi Minh City.