We can all imagine how much fun a food tour can be. Now imagine getting around a city on a Vespa. Did that get your attention? The food tour in Ho Chi Min does just that. Each traveler rides on the back of one driven by a Vietnamese woman to swift through the chaotic and crowded streets of the city. A good first-hand experience of what it’s like to get around as a local.
As if the riding adventure wasn’t audacious enough, the tasting menu included baby duck egg, goat breasts, and a whole frog with it’s skin.
First stop was to taste the famous Pho soup. Pho actually means noodles which is made of white rice flower and the main ingredient of the dish. It is typically a breakfast dish and is very popular amongst the Vietnamese who start their day with it.
After the delicious start, we were taken through the crowded Chinese market where the fresh catch of fish and local vegetables are sold. People and vehicles seemed to be coming from all directions and we were quite impressed by our tour guides’ expert maneuvers between the crowds.
We went on to explore several districts around the city. The lines and lines of restaurants would make anyone confused on where to eat, but of course our guides knew exactly which restaurants to take us to.
On our first stop, we had our very own grilling station to bbq our food. Most Vietnamese restaurants have this self-service grilling concept which makes the dining experience interactive and fun. While our local guides ordered our feast, we were given some raw goat breast and Okra to grill. The meat was very tender and delicious. We then tasted some calamari cooked in a Tamarind sauce which gave it a sweet and sour taste. The last dish in this stop was 2 whole frogs, one with skin and one without! If there’s something to compare frog meat to, we would say it is closest to chicken. The frog with the skin tasted slightly fishy, but not in a bad way.
We then went on to have some seafood at the best seafood restaurant in town. We tried everything from crab, to scallops, and clam. These were steamed and topped with fried shallots and served with a variety of sweet, sour, and spicy sauces as sides. We ended our savory escapade with a rather unusual dish, but a delicacy in Vietnam: boiled duck embryo. We have to admit, we did not have the guts to properly taste this dish and settled with tasting the white part of the egg. Let’s just say it was not our cup of tea.
We were happy to change our palate with a delicious dessert that also happened to be our last dish for the day. Our tour guides explained that it was a jelly like coconut dessert that uses a seaweed by-product called agar agar instead of gelatin (vegans take note). Being served inside a coconut shell was a nice touch! Very simple yet bursting in the sweet flavor of the coconut. A great way to end this exciting tour.
Contributer: May Al Omari