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My first breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City

Nguyen Thai Binh open air market just right outside of the alley of my hotel

Before coming to Vietnam, one of my goals was to have breakfast on the road side just like most Saigonese do every morning. I want to drink Vietnamese coffee and eat whatever they are serving, as long as it’s on the road side. And it has to be a road side stall with exceptionally low stools and tables. This image has been stuck in my mind for many years after watching some travel documentaries on TV. I find it really cool and it’s almost like an art, to be able to sit on those low stools on the road side, watching all the heavy morning traffic passing you by while enjoying your Vietnamese coffee. I hope I can blend in like those old Vietnamese folk and contain my excitement. You need to have that cool look that is almost like you don’t @#$% care what is going around you. Is not the Fonzy cool or the hip Japanese actor Joe Odagiri cool. It has to be “Vietnamese old man drinking coffee on the road side cool

Restaurant serving the famous Vietnamese beef noodles, Pho. Not ready for Pho yet as I’ve eaten it countless of times in Vietnamese restaurant all over the world.

So I woke up at 6.0o am and my first step is to look for the coolest looking road side stall that serves coffee. I walked to the main road and the open air market right outside the alley of hotel was already doing business at full swing. I walked along Pham Ngu Lao Street and headed towards the direction of Ben Thanh market. Since I am staying in the backpackers’ area, I can see a lot of decent looking restaurant serving Pho and Western breakfast. I walked past all that as I am very determined to have my first breakfast in Vietnam the “cool” way.

Look how cool those guys are. I continued searching for another stall as I was afraid I couldn’t blend in.

This was the stall I really wanted to try but was afraid that I might not be able to order the right kind of noodles I wanted. But before I proceed to look for a better joint, I stole a shot while the customers’ back was facing my camera, NOT COOL Alex!

During the first 1o minutes of my walk, I saw a lot of road side stalls serving coffee but it just doesn’t seem right. I am in the area where there’s too many tourist walking around, hotels and tour agencies. I want to look for a stall that is away from all that and it is operating right outside of an old building. I kept walking and I saw some really nice ones but it was too crowded. I was worried also that I might not be able to order the stuff that I wanted. But I think the main reason is I was feeling a little bit nervous. I am like the new student going to my new school and the cool kids might not accept me as one of the cool guys. I just took some pictures and continue to walk more to find nicer coffee stalls and to build courage as well.

Finally settled for this stall. That’s the one and only table she has and is available at that time.

After one hour of walking and I am getting really hungry. I saw a lady selling Banh Mi and there’s only one table, and it is available. No cool old dudes drinking coffee there and I just decided to eat here instead. So I am sad to say that my mission of blending with the cool Saigonese folks today is a total disaster. I just told myself that I will be here for quite a while and lets just settle for this at the moment. I sat down and ordered my Banh Mi ( 15,000 VND ) and ice coffee. She told me she doesn’t sell coffee but she can order from the shop opposite of her stall. I did feel a little bit defeated when she said she does not sell coffee but I still insisted on having one from the shop opposite of her stall. She just shouted to the lady across the road in Vietnamese and minutes later my coffee arrived. Paid 9000 VND for my coffee and I bite into my Banh Mi. After the first bite, it did make me feel better. As I was chomping down my Banh Mi, I vowed to myself that I will drink coffee among the cool old men of Ho Chi Minh city before I leave Vietnam.

The vendor is seen busy preparing the Banh Mi that I ordered.

My Vietnamese Ice Coffee on it’s way from the opposite side of the road – efficient delivery!

Delicious tasting Banh Mi, French loaf with meat, pickled carrots and thick slice of cucumber that is cut vertically. Some chili sauce and maybe mayonaise ( not sure ) or some special sauce. The combination of crunchiness ( cucumber and pickled carrot ), fluffiness ( french loaf ) and meatiness ( meat ) is to perfection when you take a big bite out of the Banh Mi. Don’t need to eat Subway when you can have this Banh Mi for 0.70 USD.

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Posted by on March 18, 2012. Filed under Travel,Vietnam. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Responses to My first breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Steve in Japan Reply

    March 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    WOW! Look at how low those chairs are and the tables! I bet it would be hard for a tall guy to get comfortable. It looks pretty cool though, great photos man!

    • Alex Reply

      March 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      I am not sure if it will be hard for tall guys to sit comfortably on those low stools but I have a feeling that it may be comfortable if you kinda spread your legs wider apart. Can’t really confirm though, only way to find out is to try it when you come to Vietnam!

  2. Jay Reply

    November 8, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Just went to Ho Chi Minh with friends and that stall with an old lady selling the banh mi is our favorite place. We ordered the cafe sua da from across the street as well. Nice! 🙂

  3. Stan Reply

    January 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Great post – very funny and informative at the same time!
    Stan.

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