Thursday, June 07, 2007

Vietnam: Part II

A wall of glass doors, reflective and squeaky clean, opens up into a huge area four stories high. Floor tiles as creamy as the purest buttermilk shine as if they were just polished. At one corner, a jungle-themed decoration plaster the walls, enhancing the showcase of fashion products neatly lined below. Another corner, an escalator leads upwards to two corridors, both of which line rows of shops flaunting their branded goods, as if willing you to lavish yourself on their high-end products.

Just outside, a huge fountain with a waterfall provides a refreshing change from the bustling city and adds to the ambiance as I spot a number of people walking about, having their meals by the side tables, or simply soaking in the atmosphere.

Travel downstairs and you'll be blown away by the sheer amount of food and beverage outlets ranging from cafes like Starbucks and Secret Recipe to others priding themselves on selling traditional fare. Of course, not to mention a huge supermarket and several up-market restaurants.

Sounds like a damn good place to shop at right? Of course, that's Paragon in Bangkok, where we entirely enjoyed ourselves last year, you didn't think that was Ho Chi Minh for a moment did you?

So snapping back to reality, Ho Chi Minh is a pretty congested place which leads to compromised land and building areas. Unfortunately, this only means that shopping malls are built pretty small and don't have the luxury of space to have alot of shops. As a result, what you get is a platform of stores without separators, something like Seiyu, but on every level. Gawd, we couldn't even find a place to sit until we reached level 5 where there was a food court.

This was of course in Zen plaza, 10 minutes walk and 2,000 motorcycles away from the hotel we live in. We had our first sampling of Vietnamese food there, which is a little sad but unavoidable since we couldn't really order from the roadside stalls in Vietnamese. The food court is different in a way that you order and pay and they'll serve it to you later.

Pho 24 was alright and tasted really MSG laden IMO. There's a stall beside them though that has really power rice rolls. It's glutinous rice is soft to the max and I could have shown you a picture of it, until my cam screwed up (and along went the desserts pic on the next paragraph). I did take a picture of this though, grilled pork with rice wrap. Not fantastic but good enough to ease my tummy. A stronger pork flavour and softer wrap would've made it perfect.

And if your sweet tooth comes knocking, hop opposite to a dessert stall selling traditional desserts and gelato ice cream. The coconut cream combined with grilled banana and yam blocks was nothing short of delicious. Sweet and fragrant, the flavours, this traditional sweet gave a rich and milky feeling.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

actually i had really good vietnamese food when i went there! u just gotta know the correct places to eat..usually small stalls along the alleyways with low tables and stools serve excellent phos. the broth is amazingly rich and sweet and always served with a free flow of bean sprouts and veggies. You should have tried the roadside stalls seriously, where the locals convene. nothing beats cheap and authentic when ure in vietnam! those roadside bahn mis were excellent too. i think i spent less than 1 sing dollar for each of my meal in vietnam!

The Yummie dummieS said...

Yup, I did try roadside bahn mis. Damn good. Gonna write on that soon :)

D said...

Vietnam really is all about the streetfood, maybe it helped because I had local friends there but to be fair to Saigon I would still put her close to Bangkok on my getaway list and I love Bangkok heaps too.

kim said...

Hey! Welcome back. I'm going vietnam on the 5th of july. Was wondering whether can u give me some info of the hotel u stayed? Thanks a lot!

The Yummie dummieS said...

Hi Kim, we stay in Springhouse hotel, it's quite good for a budget hotel. If u want more upclass kind of stay, New World is a very nice hotel. 5 star if i'm not wrong

smart said...

Hi how much u paid for Springhouse per nite? Is it near where u can get good food? In District 3?

The Yummie dummieS said...

Hi smart, we paid USD 80 for 5 days 4 nights. Mmm, it is a walkable distance to Ben thahn market and a near taxi ride to the city center. Regarding street food, I really am in no position to comment cos i really don't know that much. You can ask D at though.

Sorry I replied late! Storango is a little screwed up if you noticed.

smart said...

Tks a lot. I will be going HCM city 17 Jul till 22 Jul. Plan just for makan there.

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