Ho Chi Minh City, famously known as Saigon, is the capital of Vietnam. Vietnam has come a long way to where it is now, especially surviving the American-Vietnam War. Going to Vietnam has been one of my to-go countries and now I can cross it out of my list for the moment (as I have not been to Hanoi). Ho Chi Minh City is somewhat like Bangkok. The buildings are rather old but the government is slowly transforming the city to more touristy and modern. Now most of the shopping malls have newer outlooks and more luxury brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, etc have expanded to Ho Chi Minh City.
Hotel Nikko Saigon, a five star hotel which was my choice of hotel to stay at in Ho Chi Minh City, has great service, and most importantly, all the service staff are able to speak English. I also overheard one of the staff spoke Japanese and Korean to tourists. The hotel offers a wide spread of breakfast buffet every day and the buffet was wonderful.
Pho, a dish that belongs to Vietnam only, is a vietnamese noodle soup which consists of rice noodles that are linguine-shaped, broth, meat (usually either chicken or beef), and herbs. Pho 2000 is a small noodle restaurant and is famously known as “Pho for The President”. The President refers to U.S. former President Bill Clinton. In year 2000, former President Bill Clinton was the first American President to visit Vietnam since the American-Vietnam War, and he stopped by Pho 2000 for a bowl of pho.
Pho 2000 served the best pho I had tasted so far. The broth was clear, not too salty, and not greasily. The rice noodles were soft and easy to swallow. The meat and noodle portions were generous, and the restaurant gave a lot of vegetables. It was a balanced meal and a wonderful dish!
I love spring rolls and Vietnam sells a very special type of spring roll called gỏi cuốn. Prawns, pork, rice vermicelli, and vegetables are wrapped in a Vietnamese rice paper that is paper-thin. The Vietnamese spring rolls are usually served as appetizers and it goes well with a dipping sauce, which is commonly peanut sauce. The spring rolls tasted rather bland, and that probably explained why the dipping sauce was given to add some flavors to the spring rolls. This dish is great to wet your appetite before a bowl of pho.
After trying Vietnamese food for some days, I chanced upon a Japanese restaurant and decided to take the risk. To my disappointment, the salmon sashimi was not very fresh, and the sushi did not taste fantastic. However, the portion was good and the price was reasonable for the quality I got. I believe there are better Japanese restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
I was so thirsty while walking the streets and needed something to quench my thirst. I saw a mobile drink stall which looked interesting and so I bought a cup of Vietnamese milk tea. The stall owner was very friendly though he could not understand much English. He made the milk tea using a cocktail shaker, which was an unusual way of making a cup of milk tea. Surprise, surprise, surprise! The milk tea turned out super good. The tea taste was strong and at the same time, you could taste the milk too. I hoped to see him again so that I could get another cup of milk tea!
I ended my stay in Ho Chi Minh City with a cup of lychee martini, and two scoops of ice cream. A sweet ending to my trip.