Saigoneer

Hẻm Gems: Chu Se's 65 Years of Hủ Tiếu Mì by the Calmette Bridge

Saigon is home to a number of street food eateries that span generations, from a 100-year old vegetarian joint to a 70-year-old hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho restaurant right in the heart of District 1.

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Hẻm Gems: Fine Dining at a Budget Price in Binh Thanh's Mai Sen Bistro

When it comes to dining in Binh Thanh District, most Saigoneers probably think of street food, or perhaps the strip of Japanese establishments on Pham Viet Chanh Street.

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Saigoneer’s 5 Best Hẻm Gems of 2017

In 2017, Saigon certainly saw its fair share of the good, the bad, and the controversial, but it was without a doubt a wonderful year in eating. Across the city, we delighted in finding decades-old street food spots and brand new businesses alike.

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From the Bottom of the Barrel to the Top of the Heap: The Rise of Cơm Tấm

Swing by chị Hien’s street cart for dinner on any given day and you’ll find a cross-section of Saigon that covers all demographics: middle-class residents from the apartment blocks up the street, well-heeled expats from nearby City Garden, neighborhood xe ôm drivers, hungry lotto ticket vendors and everyone in between. Rich, poor, young, old, local, foreign, we all agree on one thing: these people make a mean cơm tấm.

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Hẻm Gems: In Hẻm 284, O Thu Brings a Touch of Hue to Saigon With Cơm Hến

As the sun went down and Saigon’s throngs of workers ventured out of their office nests to fill local streets, I was perched on a red plastic stool in a hẻm in District 3 weeping and snorting like an unhinged moron.

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Hẻm Gems: Chinese-Malaysian Noodles and Saigon's New Generation of Street Food

When it comes to Saigon’s culinary landscape, the southern hub is pretty progressive. In addition to an array of Vietnamese dishes from every corner of the country, the city has also acquired a cosmopolitan palate that includes scores of Japanese izakaya, Korean barbecue spots, Taiwanese milk tea shops, Italian pizza places and burger joints of various international origins. The reason this works, an Indian restaurateur once told me, is because Saigoneers are open-minded: whether they know the cuisine or not, everyone is willing to give it a try.

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Hẻm Gems: The Ingenuity of 24-Way Grilled Oysters in D4

Innovation is important. With a healthy imagination and a bit of gusto, humans have the ability to create everything from DIY submarines to all-terrain wheelchairs to helmets specifically for married Thai women. But while we’re all quick to celebrate such ingenuity, it’s easy to forget the hours of trial and error that went into getting it just right.

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Hẻm Gems: The Green Delight of Phu Yen's Bánh Canh Hẹ

In the age of the internet, we go back and forth about everything, including whether or not the most important meal of the day is, in fact, important. While members of the medical profession continue to debate the merits of breakfast, however, Saigon is full of early-morning delights, from mouthwatering cơm tấm to bowls of phở and quick-and-easy bánh mì. For a departure from your average morning meal, however, look to a more elusive regional dish: Phu Yen’s bánh canh hẹ.

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Hẻm Gems: The Sumptuous Street Snacks of Ha Cao Ban Co

Whether we’re talking about the packaged foods aisle at Circle K or the lady whipping up bánh tráng trộn on the street corner, snack foods often meet two distinct criteria: they are both delicious and unhealthy. The nature of snacking alone – hastily prepared mini-meals eaten on the go – lends itself well to quick, cheap ingredients and foods that can withstand both time and a lack of refrigeration.

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Hẻm Gems: An Evening of Bánh Xèo Phan Rang and People-Watching by the Canal

There are certain foods in life that take time to love. Mắm tôm, for instance, or mắm chưng. Any of the mắms, really. Durian, I’m told, is a wonderful fruit on the fourth or fifth try. And while some of us are raised on cháo lòng and phá lấu and chicken feet, for others the journey toward appreciation can span weeks, months, even years.

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Hẻm Gems: A Quick, Delicious, No-Nonsense Lunch at Quan Com Ga Hai Nam

Now that I'm on my fourth chicken-centric Hẻm Gem, I guess I might as well start carrying out these assignments dressed as a chicken.

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