Southeast Asia is a kaleidoscope of experiences; night markets, rice wine, barbequed “palmetto” bugs, specialized street vendors, multiple religions worshiped as one, and an unrivaled bike culture. This little corner of the world has been a feast of culture and Vietnam was not exception.
We decided to experience the culture by delving into the food. We found a business called Saigon Back Alley Tours and went for it! Impressed a bit by their raving reviews on Airbnb and Trip Advisor and….. the opportunity to hang with a local who knows the ins and outs of real Vietnamese flavor we decided to jump in!
Our first stop was in District 3 to try the delicious Vietnamese pancake.
Bánh xèo – sizzling pancake – being done in front of our eyes. It’s a crispy pancake and a huge plate of greens with a flavorful mix of herbs and sauces.
The second stop was to delight in chuối nếp nướng, or grilled banana and sticky rice. Upon first glance, it wasn’t something we would have tried on our own. The bananas are folded in sticky rice and wrapped in a banana leaf. It’s slow grilled and then added to a bowl of warm condensed coconut milk. Such a delicious, mildly sweet dessert.
Next up: the traditional and popular street food – bánh phở! Pho is a broth, with rice noodles, a few herbs, and meat (beef or chicken).
We walked off a bit of the food as we crossed districts to visit the biggest night flower market and grabbed a local beer before making our way to the local Cambodian night market. We tried our hand at making mixed rice paper.
And shortly thereafter we enjoyed a warm deconstructed spring roll chased down with a refreshing sugar cane drink!
Not sure how we could eat anymore, we rolled ourselves to the last destination to partake in the well known bánh mì sandwich. Served on a warm baguette, our bánh mì was topped with cucumber, pickled carrots, pork sausage and pâté (pork liver paste).
Overall the tour was a great decision that gave delicious insight inside Vietnamese culture and local cuisine.
If you ever find yourself in Saigon, take the food tour!