A three-part series looking at some of the best early-morning eats in Ho Chi Minh City. Words and photos by Simon Stanley.
Whether it’s our favourite brand of cereal eaten over the day’s news headlines, a buttery slice of toast hurriedly munched on the way to the station, or a full-blown multi-course feast, breakfast is a universal ritual, a time and place to re-engage our minds with the present through a nostalgic nod to the past.
On the streets of Saigon, breakfast is served early. At the very first flickers of daylight, the backstreet kitchens and food carts get to work. Alive with markets and street vendors, wrapped in steam and the heady aromas of barbecued pork, strong coffee and pho noodle soup, this is the best time of day to experience Vietnam.
In this pressure cooker of a town, famously frenetic and famously laid-back, with culinary influence plucked from all over the world, breakfast comes in many forms. It can be a ham and egg banh mi sandwich on the backseat of a motorbike; it can be a long, lazy affair with friends and noodles and endless chatter, or it can be a two-dollar sushi platter at your desk on the 28th floor.
Modern flavours of the West are indeed starting to creep their way onto Vietnam’s breakfast menu, but old habits die hard and traditional dishes are still preferred. The banh mi sandwich will probably always be the outright winner due to its portability and flexibility, yet there are plenty more options out there for hungry, bright-eyed visitors wishing to soak up the flavours of this enigmatic city.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best and oldest breakfast spots in Saigon, each specialising in just one or two dishes for which they have become legendary…
Continue reading here.
For more classic flavours, part 2 is here.
For the future of Saigon’s morning routine, part 3 is here.
Published October/November 2016, Rice