A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

Entering Ba Hoa market, you can be attracted by lots of specialty foods of Central Vietnam such as Thuan cake (Bánh thuẫn), Jaggery (Đường bát), Grilled girdle cake, Tra Que vegetables, fermented dishes, pickles and spices. Most of the sellers in the market comes from Central Vietnam. They can be recognized by their accents. The market is considered as “Quang region in the heart of Saigon”. Quang region includes Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, etc. in Central Vietnam. Quang people who live in Saigon feel like being in their hometown when coming to this market. The market was established by Ms. Hoa in 1967 so that it is called Ba Hoa market. It is located on Tran Mai Ninh Street, Ward 12, Tan Binh District.

From the early morning to late night, Ba Hoa market is crowded with lots of people coming to buy products and enjoying specialty foods of Central Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit the market, do not miss a wide range of excellent dishes of Central Vietnam. What to eat there? Let’s do a Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market with us and see what we can eat there.

1. Vietnamese sesame rice cracker (Bánh tráng mè)

The crispy round Vietnamese sesame rice cracker or Girdle sesame rice cake is specialty food of Central Vietnam. Made from rice and sesame, Banh trang me is sold and stored in dried version. In Vietnamese, they call this food Bánh tráng mè, Banh trang me (in Central Vietnam) or Bánh đa vừng, Banh da vung in North Vietnam. To serve and eat, grill or fry the dried Banh trang me on charcoal for a few minutes. The smelling and crispy Banh trang me has attracted most of the people in Vietnam as well as foreigners.

2. Banh thuan (Bánh thuẫn)

Banh Thuan (Bánh thuẫn) – a Vietnamese traditional cake in Central Vietnam has attracted most of the people for its nice looking, great taste and low price. The cake looks like a beautiful apricot flower which has 5 yellow petals. Banh Thuan is lightly sweet, spongy and as small as a cupcake.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

3. Sugar steamed glutinous rice (Xôi đường)

Sticky, smelling, buttery black Sugar steamed glutinous rice is a popular food which is served on important occasions in Central Vietnam (wedding, death anniversary, Tet festival, etc.). It is a simple but great gift to children in the rural area in Central Vietnam. Sugar steamed glutinous rice is unique and has become a part of the life in Central Vietnam.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

4. Pyramidal glutinous rice cake (Bánh rò)

Bánh rò (Banh ro, Pyramidal glutinous rice cake in English) is a traditional cake in Central Vietnam. Banh ro is a specialty food of Quang region (Quang Nam province and Quang Ngai). The cake is a must food on important occasions (death anniversary, Tet festival, etc.) in Central Vietnam. Banh ro could be considered as the simple or pyramidal version of the famous Banh chung (Square glutinous rice cake in English).

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

5. Vietnamese sweet soup in Central style

There are tens of “Chè” (or “Che”) which refers to various Vietnamese sweet soup (or pudding) desserts. Vietnamese people around the country love to eat Che. People in each region have created Che recipes which meet local preferences, tastes, and local products.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

6. Vietnamese pancake (Bánh xèo)

Vietnamese Pancake is a half-round shaped crepe made from rice flour mixed with turmeric powder, chopped green onion… Most of the tourists know about crispy crepe of Banh Xeo but many Vietnamese people like eating Banh Xeo with tough crepe. The fillings are usually made from shrimp, bean sprouts and pork belly.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

7. Tapioca dumpling with pork and shrimp (Bánh bột lọc)

Banh Bot Loc is a small, chewy, translucent pork and shrimp dumpling, generally eaten as a snack in Vietnam. The pork-and-shrimp-filled dumpling is wrapped in a small piece of banana leaf, steamed in large batches and served with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce. It is a specialty of the central region of Vietnam, specifically Hue and Da Nang. Bánh bột lọc is a fun snack and can be eaten throughout the day. Most of the shops in Da Nang often sell it together with other dishes such as “bánh nậm”, “bánh bèo” or “bánh canh”. There are 2 basic types of “bánh bột lọc”: those wrapped in banana leaves and those boiled directly in the water!

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

Banh Loc is a tiny cake and as long as your finger. It’s made from tapioca flour and shrimp, pork and wood ear depends on the receipts. In Danang, you can be served this cake hot and still in banana leaves. To eat, you can use a chopstick to dip the cake into the fish sauce dip and tuck in. This chewy cake will make you would like to eat more and more.

8. Bloating-fern-shaped cake (Bánh bèo)

Banh Beo or Vietnamese Bloating Fern Shaped Cake is a simple but delicate Vietnamese traditional dish. The cake reminds about a familiar and peaceful scene of green bloating ferns in lakes in Vietnam’s countryside.  This cake is as tiny and thin as bloating fern so that Vietnamese people call it Banh Beo – Bloating Fern Shaped Cake.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

9. Duc cake (Bánh đúc)

Topping of Duc cake is made from shrimp, lean pork, jicama, shallots an garlic. Fresh shrimp are washed, peeled off, minced, seasoned. Shrimp roes which add color and smell to the cake are separated from the shrimps and stirred with sugar. The other of ingredients are minced, seasoned. All of the above are stir-fried until pleasant.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

10. Stir-fried organs with turmeric (Lòng xào nghệ)

Stir-fried pork intestine with turmeric (Lòng xào nghệ) is a specialty food of Quang Ngai province in Central Vietnam. The dish is an example of using often discarded parts of animals in Vietnam. Pork intestine can be boiled and eaten with dipping sauce and herb. It is also used to cook a wide range of strange but delicious dishes such as Stewed pork organs (Phá lấu heo), Pork organs porridge (Cháo lòng). Stir-fried pork intestine with turmeric is an excellent delicacy which is not only good looking, great tasting, sweet smelling, and healthy.

11. Young jackfruit salad (Gỏi mít non)

To make Young jackfruit salad, choose green jackfruit which is not too young but not too old. A suitable young green jackfruit has a crunchy, buttery, sweet-tasty, mild flavor and meat-like texture. If the fruit is too old it is not crunchy but tender. Peel the young green jackfruit in water mixed with some salt using a sharp knife to make sure the white color of the jackfruit flesh is kept and reduce its mucous membranes. Cut into pieces, remove the core of the young green jackfruit. Boil, drain off the pieces and cut them into juliennes.

12. Don – a specialty food of Quang Ngai

Don a specialty food of Quang Ngai, Vietnam. It is similar to baby clam but its shell is in yellow or light black. In Vietnam, Don only occurs in 2 big rivers in Quang Ngai province: Tra River and Ve River. Don lives in the rivers, at the mouth of the rivers, and on the river banks. They are abundant at the river mouth. Don lives under the sand so that it is difficult to catch them. Catching Don is hard work, it needs experience, skill, and patience.

13. Button top (Ốc ruốc)

Button top (Ốc ruốc, Oc ruoc) is a species of sea snail which has a solid, rounded shell which is up to 2 cm wide. It shows a glossy, highly variable and colorfully patterned exterior. Button top looks like a cloth button. They are abundant in Central Coast Vietnam. Button top is a valuable gift from the sea to local people. It is a favorite food in Central Coast Vietnam and has become a specialty food of this region.

14. Fried shrimp roll (Chả ram tôm đất)

Fried shrimp roll – a specialty of Quy Nhon – Binh Dinh is one of the most favorite traditional foods in Quy Nhon province, Binh Dinh province of Central Vietnam as well as the entire country. They call Fried shrimp rolls Chả ram tôm đất or Cha ram tom dat in Vietnamese.

15. Fried corn roll (Ram bắp)

Vietnam has various fried roll recipes: Vietnamese fried roll (Chả giò, Cha gio), Fried shrimp roll (Chả ram tôm đất), Fried crab roll (Chả giò cua bể), etc. Most of the Vietnamese spring rolls are made by using rice paper to wrap filling which is made from various combinations of pork, shrimp, crab, egg, cellophane noodles, shiitake, wood ear, carrot, etc. Fried corn roll (Ram bắp, Ram bap) perhaps is the simplest Vietnamese fried roll. It is made from rice paper, onion, green onion. The roll is usually served as a snack. It is also offered to ancestors at Tet festival, death anniversary. Crispy tiny fried roll has become familiar with every Quang Ngai people.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

16. Cao Lau (Cao lầu)

Caolau appeared in Hoian ancient town in 17th century when Hoian port was opened for business. Caolau noodle is a perfect blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. It looks simple but it needs time, patience to cook. The rice to make the noodle must be the best and soaked in mix of water from Ba Le well and ash of a special tree in Hoian. That’s the reason why the noodle is yellow and tender chewy. The broth is enough to mix the noodle with toppings (shrimp, pork, chicken) and green vegetables. Locals tell me that they eat Caolau because it’s not only delicous but also modest.

17. Quang noodle soup (Mì Quảng)

Mi Quang is a perfect mix of texture and flavors. What makes it unique? The wide yellow turmeric noodle and the broth make Mi Quang different from others.. Ingredients to cook the broth are pork and dried shrimp or chicken, duck, crab living in rice field.

A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market

18. Break cake (Bánh đập)

Banh Dap is one of the cheapest but the most delicious dishes in Hoian. It’s just a tender chewy round wet rice paper and a thin layer of peanut oil and chopped green onion in the middle of 2 crispy Vietnamese grilled rice crackers. The cake is served with a very special dipping macerated shrimp and fish paste. To eat, dinner use his hand to push the cracker onto the plate and make an interesting sound.

19. Stir-fried baby clam (Hến xào)

Originated in Central Vietnam, stir-fried baby clams in girdle cake is an authentic dish of the country. Highlights of this amazing dish are tender baby clams and crispy Vietnamese girdle cake in Central style. Onion, sautee, chili pepper and other spices add tastes to the dish.

Stir Fried Baby Clams In Girdle Cake

20. Velvet tamarind (Trái xay rừng)

Are you mouth-watering at these foods? Let run to Ba Hoa market and enjoy these delicious dishes.

It’s a big chance to see the best part of Saigon by night, eat street foods, have fun and enjoy the city like a local? A Saigon street food tour in Ba Hoa market is the best choice for you!

Eating Saigon is a great thing to do on your trip. How to eat the city to its fullest? It is easy to eat at fine dining restaurants which are for rich people and tourists. However, the real Saigon is at local restaurants which are favorite places of many Saigon people. Reaching the local restaurants outside of District 1 sometimes is difficult for foreigners. A Saigon Food Tour is a great choice to immerse into the city life, enjoy all the exotic foods with your tour guides as friends.


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