Cuisine is always an inevitable part of every travel trip. Some tourists even consider food the most important part of their travel. Saigon is the destination that can satisfy the most fastidious foodaholics. The cuisine in Saigon is a combination of the food from 3 regions of Vietnam: the North, the Central, and the South, which creates the diversity of Saigon food.
Ben Thanh Market is a famous traditional market that welcomes thousands of tourists daily. It is located in District 1 of the city. The construction started in 1912 and was completed in March 1914. In this market, you can easily find the items you like, from small souvenirs such as necklaces, earrings, wallets, and scarves to bags or traditional costumes. There is also an exciting food court established inside the market. So now, let’s go on a Saigon food tour inside Ben Thanh Market!
Bun Rieu Ganh (Crab Paste Vermicelli Soup)
Opening hour: 9:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Address: 4 Phan Boi Chau, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Price: VND 50,000 (S2.15)
Bun Rieu Ganh from outside
Crab paste vermicelli soup is one of the best dishes in Vietnam. In Bun Rieu Ganh (name of the stall), this soup is cooked in the southern way, which is a bit sweeter compared to northern and central Vietnam’s one. A bowl of crab paste vermicelli soup includes many ingredients: fried tofu, pig blood curd, crab paste, tomato, and vermicelli. The broth is reddened by the annatto oil.
The sellers are ready to serve
A bowl of crab paste vermicelli soup
The crab paste vermicelli soup here is served with many kinds of herbs such as shredded banana flower, split water spinach stems, bean sprouts, and spearmint. Besides, there are some types of sauce you can add to your bowl in order to increase the flavors like tamarind sauce, shrimp paste, and some chili.
The menu of the store
Most of the ingredients are homemade by the seller’s family. This stall has opened for more than 40 years, since 1978. Firstly, it was just a small vendor on the street side of the East Gate, Ben Thanh Market, then gradually moved to a small restaurant.
Space inside Bun Rieu Ganh
The space is quite small; there are about eight low tables arranged in two rows adjacent to the wall. When more guests come to eat, they can arrange more tables to serve. The waiters and waitresses serve the orders very quickly. The stall is always busy with a lot of eaters. Bun Rieu Ganh is also famous for attracting many celebrities thanks to the tasty crab paste vermicelli soup, so it is worth it to add Bun Rieu Ganh into your Saigon food tour. The stall also gives you more choices in drinks such as coconut water, lemon tea, peach tea, iced coffee, etc.
Banh Beo Hue (Hue Bloating Fern-shaped Cake)
Address: near the North Gate of Ben Thanh Market
Price range: VND 20,000 – 25,000 ($0.86 – $1.08)
The price for a standard plate is VND 20,000
Bloating Fern-shaped Cake is a traditional rice cake originating from Central Vietnam (Thua Thien Hue Province). This kind of cake is made from rice flour and then steamed. When served to the guests, the seller adds some shrimp powder (the ground shrimp), spring onion, crispy fried bread, pickled vegetables, a piece of Vietnamese sausage, and sweet fish sauce over the rice cake.
The food is delicious
A plate here often includes more than one kind of cake, like fern-shaped cake, rice dumpling cake, and sticky rice dumpling. The seller will ask you if you want your dish spicy before adding chili or not as your request.
The seller is from Hue, so this is a chance for you to enjoy an original “version” of this dish. The store is quite small, but it is always crowded because the food is very delicious and the price is much lower than other stores in this area.
The store is always busy
If you like the sausage here, you can ask the seller to give you more with a little bit of additional money (VND 5,000). They also provide some other kinds of sweet cake like banh bo (sponge cake).
Goi Cuon (Summer Rolls)
Address: at the gate of the food court inside Ben Thanh Market
Price: VND 30,000/3 rolls ($1.29)
Summer Roll is a famous dish of Vietnamese cuisine. A roll includes many ingredients, such as a slice of pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, vermicelli, herbs, and chives. All of them are rolled and wrapped inside a piece of rice paper. Inside Ben Thanh market, there are a lot of stores offering summer rolls. They often sell with other dishes like vermicelli with egg rolls or with grilled meat.
Menu with a lot of dishes
The dipping sauce is considered to be the soul of this dish. It is the hoisin sauce which is added some peanuts and pickled carrot and beet.
Summer rolls and sauce
Store from outside
Many people often make a mistake when distinguishing summer roll and spring roll. These dishes are both familiar food in Vietnam; the summer roll is fresh, while the spring roll is fried with different ingredients.
Com Tam (Broken Rice)
Address: Phung Kieu store, inside the food court of Ben Thanh Market
Price: VND 50,000 ($2.15)
It will be a huge pity if you travel to Saigon without trying a plate of broken rice. It is the most famous street food in Saigon and is also seen as the symbol of Saigon cuisine. That is also the reason why many stores inside Ben Thanh Market offer this dish. A random pick for this review is the Phung Kieu store. The sellers are very friendly and ready to serve the guests.
Broken rice served with sweet fish sauce
The corner of the store
A plate of Broken Rice often includes rice, grilled pork chop, egg paste, and shredded pork skin. It is served with green onion oil, pickled vegetables, and sweet fish sauce. They also provide a lot of dishes such as crab noodle soup and Nam Vang noodle soup.
Che (Sweet Soup)
Address: Kiosk 1130 – 1154, Ben Thanh Market
Price range: VND 20,000 – 35,000 ($0.86 – $1.51)
Be Che is a familiar store with local people
Sweet soup is a popular and familiar dessert of Vietnamese cuisine. Be Che is a long-standing store that has opened since 1968. There is a wide range of sweet soups here, from hot soups such as rice ball sweet soup, tofu, and sweet taro with coconut milk to iced soups like sweet lotus seed soup and sweet black beans soup.
Che Thung (Sweet potato, taro, cassava soup)
Menu of Be Che
The store’s space is not very big, but it is usually crowded with many people eating in and taking away. There are about 2 – 3 sellers to serve many guests.
Conclusion on a Saigon Food Tour inside Ben Thanh Market
Maps for Food Tour inside Ben Thanh Market
Most stores inside the Ben Thanh market have quite small spaces. And the atmosphere is noisy. The sellers in the food courts always want to invite you to their stores. But you don’t need to give much attention to them; find somewhere you feel comfortable. Unlike souvenirs or clothes, most of the food here is not bargained for because they have fixed prices on the menu.
With an age of more than ten years, Ben Thanh food court is a familiar place not only for local people but also for foreign tourists. It is an interesting destination that cannot be ignored when you travel to Saigon.
|If you wish to go on a Saigon food tour with a local guide, don’t hesitate to contact us!|
The exchange rate used in this blog is US$1 = 23,525 VND.