Bun Dau Mam Tom – Daydream Dressed Like Nightmare

Bún đậu mắm tôm’ (Rice vermicelli with shrimp paste and fried tofu) is guaranteed to be one of the most memorable dishes of your life. Once you have tasted it, you would never forget it. It will forever be engraved in your mind with one or two of the following impressions: terror and/or fascination.

Bún đậu mắm tôm’ is a simple traditional food in the Northern Vietnamese cuisine. The main ingredients of this dish include fresh rice vermicelli, golden fried tofu, shrimp paste with lemon and chili sauce served with fragrant herbs such as shiso, marjoram, basil and lettuce,etc. Like many other folk dishes, its affordable price makes ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ very popular among all classes of society, from the working class to the top-notch one.


Bún đậu mắm tôm’ is very different from normal food because of the specially made ‘mắm tôm’ (shrimp paste) which has one of the most extreme tastes in Vietnamese cuisine. It is not surprising that few foreigners could eat this extraordinary dish, whilst almost every Vietnamese (especially Northerners) love it so much.

‘Mắm tôm’ (Shrimp paste)

Known as the soul of ‘Bún đậu mắm tôm’, shrimp paste is a sauce made from shrimp and salt through the process of fermentation to create the unique taste and color. Not only in ‘Bún đậu mắm tôm’ is shrimp paste also used in many other traditional Northern Vietnamese dishes such as ‘bún riêu’ (rice vermicelli with crab soup) and bún thang’ (hot rice noodle soup).

Photo: https://chinhgoc.vn

There are usually three forms of shrimp paste: dense, thick (mushy) and liquid. These three forms are only different in the proportion of salt and the process of sun exposure.

In the beliefs of Vietnamese people, shrimp paste has the effect of banishing evil spirits. It is believed that devils are afraid of this kind of sauce, so shrimp paste eaters will not be harmed by the devils. Placing shrimp paste in the house will avoid the appearance of ghosts. Not only people of the lowlands like to eat shrimp paste, but also many ethnic people in the mountainous.

Some mountain ethnic people even have the custom that no matter how poor they are, there always must be shrimp paste to consecrate the deaths of their father because shrimp paste is often considered as luxurious, since the mountaineers live so far from the river where the shrimps are caught.

‘Bún tươi’ (Fresh rice vermicelli)

In Vietnamese cuisine, rice vermicelli is a thin form of rice noodles, round, soft and white fillet made from dried rice starch through the molds and boiled water.

Photo: http://diendanrao.com

In short, ‘bún’ to ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ is like burger to hamburger.

‘Đậu phụ chiên vàng’ (Golden fried tofu)

Tofu is a traditional food of several Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. Tofu is originated by China, made by soy beans, grinded then soaked in water. The starch then flows into water, coming together in the shape decided by the creators, while the waste is filtered out.  The common shapes are squares, circles, or rectangles.

Photo: http://comnieucaophat.com

When the products are finished, they can be cut into rectangles and fried with oil in a big pan.

‘Rau thơm’ (Fragrant herbs)

There are many kinds of fragrant herbs can be eaten with ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ such as shiso, marjoram, basil and lettuce, etc. All washed, fresh and clean before served.

Photo: https://laodong.vn

Originally, there are only those simple ingredients in ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ in order to make it as cheap and accessible to as many laborers as possible. However, as time flies and thanks to the development of the country, today’s Vietnamese can eat ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ with the combination of a few additional delicious ingredients.

‘Thịt heo luộc’ (Boiled pork)

Boiled pork is pork boiled and chopped into thin slices.

Photo: http://eva.vn

‘Chả cốm’

This is my favourite ‘chả’ in the world. The taste of its is indescribable. Trust me, tasting is believing.

Photo: https://lamthenao.com

Where to eat?

The are many famous ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ eateries all over Vietnam. If you are in Saigon, do not hesitate to check out the amazing ‘Bún đậu Cầu Gỗ’ hawker stall, my favourite ‘bún đậu mắm tôm’ destination.

Photo: http://www.dinhthanhhai.com

Adress: 202 Nguyễn Trãi, Phạm Ngũ Lão, Hồ Chí Minh

Opening hours: 8:00am – 11:00pm

Phone: 090 833 57 78

Price: ~70.000/person (3.07$)

If you have any problem travelling in Vietnam, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more assistance. We would be thrilled to help.

Ngọc Lê

From French Baguettes To Today’s Banh Mi

Speaking of Vietnamese food, most people immediately think about Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, but there is one rising star of Vietnamese cuisine that has already made it onto the international culinary stage. That is banh mi.

Although catching attention of foreign visitors later, banh mi has already achieved significant popularity as “the world’s best street food”, which praised by many famous food bloggers, journalists, for example the Guardian, BBC, etc. and much more.

With just nearly 20,000VND (about $1), you can easily enjoy a true taste of Vietnamese street food, especially in Saigon where it appears almost everywhere.

Actually, banh mi is a delicious symbol of Vietnam’s lasting links with its former occupiers. Let’s explore its journey to become one of the most popular street food in Saigon.

From French baguettes …

Vietnamese baguette, or most commonly-known as ‘Banh mi, originally came from the baguette brought by the French in the early nineteenth century. Not until 1859 when French army occupied the Citadel of Saigon did this kind of bread appear widely throughout the country.

Compared to banh mi nowadays, the soft inner part of the bread during this period was less fluffier and its crust was also less crisp. The Government of the Republic of Vietnam usually provided a light meal of bread and fresh milk  from the Fore Most to primary school students. However, loaves of baguette baked in batch of about 7-10 turned out to be not enough to meet the schools’ demands.

Source: kientruc.net It’s not so difficult to find baguettes in Saigon during this period.

So in 1970, tall brick ovens were imported from Japan, allowing for baking dozens of bread at one time possible. This is also the type of the oven that is commonly used today. These ovens are closed ones, which retains steam when baking. At extreme heat and extreme water vapor, the bread will become hollow with a super soft airy crumb texture and crispy crust.

… to becoming banh mi like today …

At that time, Vietnamese people still used banh mi with cheese, omelet, cold meats (pâté, jambon), butter, and jam such as strawberry, orange, grape or hot milk for breakfast. They also used it with soup or ragout for dinner. The major modification contributing to today’s banh mi was conducted by one couple, Mr.Hoa and Mrs.Tinh, who used to work for a bakery in Hanoi and then moved to Saigon and opened Banh mi Hoa Ma.

The shop initially served banh mi in French style, with the separation of bread, cold meats, and pâté. But more and more laborers came to the shop and eat in hurry, which made them come up with the idea to put all the ingredients into one Banh mi.

Source: divashop.vn

Other shops also started to serve in this way and began to change banh mi to please more customers by making it lighter and airier with a thin crunchy crust. For more convenience, they decreased the size of banh mi by 2-3 times and replaced animal oil with oil butter to give a lighter feel. Thanks to the rich ingredients from the tropical climate and diverse cuisine, local people were free to put their creativity into their banh mi, which created different types for customers to choose from, such as pork meatball banh mi, grilled-pork banh mi, banh mi pha lau (offal braised in a sweet coconut juice), roasted chicken banh mi, and so on.

Source: migrationology.com

Soon, from a tiny shop in the corner of Cao Thang-Nguyen Dinh Chieu, hundreds of stalls selling banh mi have developed throughout Saigon, nationwide and even around the world.

The rise of Banh mi

Banh mi has become a phenomenon across the globe for over the last few years. You will find at least one famous bakery in almost everywhere Vietnamese people are living. In the United States, we have Bánh Mì Saigon in New York, Bun Mee in San Francisco, and Lee’s Sandwiches, the famous fast food chain specialized in Vietnamese cuisine. Coming to Canada, we have Bánh Mì Boys in Toronto, Bánh Mì Thi-Thi in Calgary. Coming to the Czech Republic, we have Banh mi Ba and Mr. Bánh Mì in Prague. Born to serve the Vietnamese community, but these bread shops are quickly accepted and loved by foreigners.

Source: i am food blog

BBC Travel Writer David Farley praised banh mi as “the best sandwich in the world”, while the famous food blogger i am a food blog admitted that banh mi was his favorite food. Together with gelato of Italy and pearl milk tea of Taiwan, banh mi was listed as one of the 20 best street foods by Rough Guides Publisher. Banh mi ranks second in a recent story run in the Guardian about the World’s Best Street Food and written by foodie Richard Johnson. Moreover, the word ‘banh mi has been officially added in the Oxford English Dictionary in April 2011 and the American Heritage Dictionary in 2014.

Just like that, the number of food trucks dishing up tasty and inventive street food keeps growing up in London, USA, etc. and the explosion in food blogging, the phenomenal success of television cooking shows have made banh mi more and more popular than ever, especially the recipe of banh mi thit nguoi.

In Vietnam

Becoming a culinary wonder of our globalized age, but here, in Vietnam, banh mi is the most common breakfast, especially among students and workers. It is quite cheap, which usually costs about 10,000-35,000 VND (0.5-1.5$). The price of 35,000 VND can be considered expensive.

Banh mi is the epitome of street food, which is sold almost exclusively from stalls and vendors. There are different types of ingredients to choose, for example, grilled pork, omelet, meatball, etc. but the most famous recipe which many tourists fall in love with must be banh mi thit nguoi. This kind of banh mi mainly contains a cornucopia of roast pork, pâté, cured ham, headcheese, a few dashes of Maggi sauce, slices of cucumber and chili pepper, a spread of mayonnaise, a mixture of pickled daikon and carrot and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Recommended Addresses

     1.Banh mi Huynh Hoa ( Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa ):

Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, Q.1

Open hours: 4:00-9:00 pm, daily

Price: 35,000 VND ($1.60)- it’s rather expensive in here but it’s worth the price for being the most meat packed.

Banh mi Huynh Hoa is famous for the incredibly rich fillings and its super savory flavor of pate.

Source: migrationology.com

      2. Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai (Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng Hẻm 39):(served grilled pork banh mi only)

Address: Hẻm 39 Nguyễn Trãi, Q.1

Open hours:  5PM–7.30PM

Price: 18,000 VND ($0.8)

This small stall is praised as one of 12 best street food in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

Source: migrationology.com

       3. Banh mi Bay Ho ( Bánh Mì Bảy Hổ):

Address: 19 Huỳnh Khương Ninh, P. Đa Kao,  Q.1

Open hours:  2PM–5PM and morning

Price: 12,000-15,000 VND ($0.50-$0.66)

Tucked away in the corner of the street is a small little stall that is over 80 years old.

Source: グッチのVietnam☆Local Foods

      4. Banh mi  Hoa Ma ( Bánh mì Hòa Mã)

Address: 53 Đường Cao Thắng, phường 17, Quận 3

Open hours:  5 AM–10AM

Price: 50,000-60,000 VND ($2.2-$2.6)

And here is a Saigon original’s banh mi breakfast

Source: migrationology.com

       5. Banh mi Hong Hoa (Bánh mì Hồng Hoa)

Address: 62 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Bến Thành, Quận 1

Open hours:  5 AM–9PM

Price: 13,000-20,000 VND ($0.6-$1)

This place is really famous among foreigners and it even has a menu in English.

Source: migrationology.com

Trang Nguyen

Hu Tieu My Tho – Southwestern Vietnam Delicacy

Tien Giang – one of the 9 provinces belonging to the Mekong Delta, is a popular destination for tourists to explore the South of Vietnam. It’s famous for not only diverse eco-tourism destinations like fruit laden Thoi Son Islet or ancient pagodas, but also a fantastic kind of rice noodles called Hu tieu My Tho which means the noodles (Hu tieu) made in My Tho (Tien Giang Province).

Continue reading “Hu Tieu My Tho – Southwestern Vietnam Delicacy”