Late night “snacks” in Saigon
It’s a bit after midnight in Ho Chi Minh City and your stomach is grumbling. As you look around, you see nothing but shuttered security gates, sidewalk cafes and taxi drivers waving frantically. But where’s the grub? Don’t worry, the dark city alleys hide a plethora of choices for the hungry night owl, whether you’re craving a warm plate of Xoi – sticky rice – or a Banh Mi – bread – stuffed with chili-egg goodness. We’ve found the best late night snacks just for you.
1. Bread – Banh Mi
When you are looking for a quick, convenient, easy meal to grab on the go, bread is the common solution. With just an eye blink and voilà…you will have delicious bread – crispy on the outside and tender on the inside – for your late night hunger. The flavor of the food comes from greasy paté, fat and creamy mayonnaise, sweet and sour daikon and carrot pickles, fresh coriander and cucumber slices and salty, chewy Vietnamese pork pie or cold cut cured meat, grilled pork. Depending on your needs, bread can be made with various fillings that are mouth-watering: sausage and ham, fried fish patty, sunny-side-up, meatballs, char sew, etc.
‘Night Owl’ can find bread everywhere and every time on the streets in Vietnam with many different types at reasonable price. Suggestions:
- Bánh Mì Tân Phát: Corner between Lý Tự Trọng – Hai Bà Trưng, District 1, HCMC. (2:30pn – 11pm)
- Bánh Mì 24/24: 466 Nguyễn Thái Sơn, Ward 5 , Gò Vấp District, HCMC.
- Bánh Mì Cô Điệp: 238 Võ Thành Trang, Ward 11, Tân Bình District,HCMC. (8am – 11pm)
2. Congee – Chao Trang
If you’re the kind of person who believes that “Digestion can intervene in a good night’s sleep” and go for light food at night, Congee is for you. It is not only low in calories but also easily digestible, which goes good with your stomach, in turn improving sleep quality.
Congee is a very versatile dish. Consistencies vary from thick and creamy to thin and broth-like. It is a savoury rice porridge made from rice boiled in water or stock until it is bland and smooth, and it does wonders for a hangover! Head to Chao Trang stall for a taste of Southern Vietnamese congee with an appealing aroma of pineapple leaves. Different garnishes are placed in smaller bowls on the side so you can customize your own congee with pickled cabbage, salted duck egg, braised egg or pork.
End your night with healthy easy-to-digest low-calorie foods is perfect. Chinese medicine believes that congee gives our digestion a break which promotes healing in the body. The price of congee is remarkably reasonable, from VND15,000 to VND25,000 per dish. Suggestion:
- Cháo Trắng Hàng Xanh: 283 Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh, Ward 25, Bình Thạnh District, HCMC. (5pm – 2:00 am)
3. Sticky Rice – Xoi
Along with Bread, Sticky Rice is another option for ‘night owl’. It provides the four ingredients for a perfect late night ‘snack’: affordability, speed, delicious tastes and filling food. Sticky rice could be found at any corner of Vietnam from street food shoulder poles, rolling carts moving around the streets to Sticky rice shop. You can buy a portion of Sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf for about 20,000VND – 25,000VND (around $1 for a feast). There are many different kinds of sticky rice but they could be divided into 2 main groups: savory and sweet.
Sweet Xoi is cooked by coconut milk and sugar or any kind of beans (mung beans, black-eye pea, peanuts, red beans, etc) mixed with sticky rice; its toppings are shredded coconut meat, mix of toasted sesame and salt, sugar, crushed peanuts. Suggestions:
- Xôi Tôn Đản: 232 Tôn Đản, Ward 15, District 4, HCMC. (7pm – 11pm)
- Xôi Cadé: 451 Trần Phú, Ward 7, District 5, HCMC. (8pm – 2am)
- Xôi sầu riêng (durian): 365 Bùi Hữu Nghĩa, Ward 2, Bình Thạnh District, HCMC. (5pm – 11pm)
While Savory Xoi is basic (plain) steamed sticky rice, topped with Vietnamese pork roll or shredded boiled/ grilled chicken, Chinese sausage, pork floss, boiled quail egg, dried baby shrimp, crushed peanuts, deep-fried onion and soy sauce. Suggestion:
- Xôi gà bà chiểu: 318/1 Bùi Hữu Nghĩa, Ward 1, Bình Thạnh District, HCMC. (5pm – 12am)
- Xôi mặn 409 – Xôi nhà xác: 409 Trần Phú, Ward 7, District 5, HCMC. (4pm – 10pm)
- Xôi gà 56: 56 Trịnh Đình Trọng, Tân Phú District, HCMC. (6am – 2am)
4. Broken Rice – Com Tam
In within these foods listed here, maybe Broken Rice is the only gives that warm and cozy feeling thanks to the open charcoal grills. You can smell a barbecue’s aroma several meters away. Can you imagine the feeling when the hunger monster comes at midnight and an attractive smell rice dish with grilled honey glazed pork chop is served? Isn’t it heavenly?
Steamed white broken rice is heaped onto a plate; sliced tomato and cucumber adorn the edges. A grilled pork chop marinated in fish sauce, spices is laid on top. Next to the meat is Cha – an egg, pork, mushroom and glass noodle ‘cake’. Also piled on top is Bi – a mixture of shredded pork and pork skin which adds a slightly chewy texture. Finally, a fried egg, a drizzle of chopped spring onion in oil, and some pickled carrot and radish on the side.
The tasty broken rice dish late at night won’t let you down; instead, it can turn many of us into drooling fools. It’s easy to see a Com Tam stall with an attractive smell on the streets. Suggestion:
- Cơm tấm Huyền: 95 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Ward 3, Bình Thạnh Dsitrict, HCMC. (6pm – 4am)
So dry so far. Let’s have some soup, shall we?!
Vietnamese noodles are varied and distinct. They are different in the types of noodle, the soup, the broth, the toppings. Below are some suggestions for late night/ overnight noodles stalls.
Rice noodle/ Egg noodle as known as hu tieu go/ mi go. Unlike the ordinary noodle served in restaurant, the vendors usually use piece of metal or wood to make a tinkling sound. When heard that tinkle, Vietnamese known hu tieu go/ mi go is just around the corner. This noodle is easy to eat and have affordable price. With around or less than $1 you will have a hot noodle soup with pork sliced or wonton on top to fill up your stomach. Suggestion:
- 12A/1 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Đa Kao Ward, District 1, HCMC. (4pm – 2am)
- 154/56 Phạm Văn Hai, Ward 3, Tân Bình District, HCMC.
Pho – the soup that built a nation – is also a choice for you. This can be seen as a main meal but who said it can’t be midnight snack, right? Cure your sickness with chicken soup and treat your hunger with chicken pho, isn’t it fantastic? Hard as it may be to pronounce, Pho is easy to eat. No matter what time of day or night, a steaming bowl of pho noodle soup is never hard to find in Vietnam. Suggestion:
- Phở Hà: 31 Hải Triều, District 1, TP. HCM. (Mon – Sat: 4pm – 5am, Sun: 4pm – 12am)
Vietnamese meat rice vermicelli soup (bun rieu) is for you if you need a break from Pho. A hot bowl of noodles is topped with fried tofu, congealed pig’s blood, a slice of Vietnamese ham and a hunk of tenderly stewed pork. Last but not least, an appealing selection of condiments are put on the side, like shrimp paste, chilies, limes, and a pile of raw vegetables and herbs. Let the clouds of smoke and aroma of the broth mixed with crab paste greet you at:
- 7 Bún Riêu: 171 Hậu Giang, Ward 5, District 6, HCMC. (6:30pm – 2am)
Late at night, your options seem limited, yet some of the most delicious offerings are passing you by inconspicuously. Hopefully this guide will help you out. Some of the ‘snacks’ above-mentioned here may be quite hard to digest at night as it can be seen as heavy-meal. Thus, when hungry, definitely go for snack or else you won’t sleep well anyway, but make sure it’s the right kind of snack for you. Enjoy and make you stomach happy.
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