Saigon is one of the most famous destinations for foodies in Vietnam. I spent one night with my friends and 2 local guides in Vinh Khanh food street, District 4, Saigon to enjoy yummy snail dishes, BBQ, and hot pot. We started at 5:00 PM, returned to the hotel at 9:30 PM, stopped at 2 restaurants.
Our first stop was the most famous snail restaurant which serves the best snail and seafood dishes in the city. For your information, it was Oanh snail restaurant, the address is 543 Vinh Khanh Street, Ward 8, District 4, HCMC, open time: 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM. According to my local guides who have been living in Saigon for over 10 years, the dishes below were the most popular, typical, and exotic. We ordered 5 dishes and some Green Saigon beers. Most of the foods were new to me and one of my friend who were foreigners. Most of the foods were topped with Vietnamese mint which enhanced the taste of snail and seafood and made the dishes more smelling.
1. Stir-fried mud-creeper with coconut milk
The snail meat was played off with a sweet, salty, and greasy sauce. It was interesting to suck the shell to eat the snail meat which was tender, chewy, and crunchy. This food left a deep impression on me. In addition, it had a seductive smell which made me would like to eat when the waiter laid it on to the table.
2. Toasted ocean crab leg with chili pepper and salt
I used a special tool to break the shell, remove the meat from the shell, and eat the meat. The sound of breaking the shell with a special wire cutter was funny. For the person who ate this food for the first time, using the wire cutter was a little difficult. It became easier and easier. The meat of Toasted ocean crab leg with chili pepper and salt which was salty and spicy.
3. Fertilized duck egg
Fertilized duck egg was one of the foods fear factor in Vietnam. Peeling the boiled fertilized duck egg, you could see a whole duckling. According to me, the smell of this food was not very good but not very bad. The Vietnamese mint and a dip made from lime juice, ground pepper, and salt enhanced the flavor of the food. The broth on the top of the boiled egg impressed me, it was very rich and smelling. The duckling was completely tender. In fact, I would say it was great if I did not know what it was or I closed my eyes.
4. Stir-fried blood crockle with tamarind sauce
My local guide told me that if blood crockle was rare cooked, it was more delicious and more healthy. The sweet and sour sauce played off the shells as well as the tender but a little chewy meat of the blood crockles. I loved this food the best at this restaurant.
5. Stir-fried sweet snail with butter
Sweet snail was one of the most favorite snails in Vietnam. A toothpick was used to get the snail meat out of the shell.
Our second stop is Chilli BBQ & hot pot restaurant at 232 Vinh Khanh Street, Ward 8, District 4, HCMC.
We ordered portions of pork belly with five-spices, okra, eggplant, shrimp, mushroom and pork belly roll, pork chop with salt and chili. All of the above are marinated, we grilled them on charcoal ourselves.
7. Hot pot
At the end, we ordered a Seafood hot pot. They brought us an oven and a pot of broth. We put the seafood, vegetables, and noodles into the pot, waited for the foods were well-cooked, then eat. The broth warmed and fulfill our stomach.
The foods were not all about the tour we joined. We experienced the unique local culture of Saigon – one of the busiest and most crowded cities in Vietnam. When eating, local people were drinking, cheering, laughing, and talking to each other noisily. Vinh Khanh street was full of restaurants serving snail dishes, seafood dishes, hot pots, and barbecue. The smell of the foods spread everywhere in the street. And we were so lucky because we had 2 very nice, funny, and knowledgable local guides.