I recently got the chance to visit one of my all time favourite cities in Asia for street food – Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam. It’s a hectic place that can take first time travellers a little time to adjust to. This being my 7th trip to Saigon, I’ve now fully embraced the wonderful madness of this densely populated city.
With this being a working holiday, I based myself downtown in District 1, where most first time travellers will find themselves at some point during their trip. I have a ritual of heading straight from the airport to one particular street food spot, for a Vietnamese rice noodle salad, bags in tow, before even checking in to my hotel. The name of this stall is Bún Thịt Nướng Nguyễn Trung Trực and it’s located directly behind the famous Ben Tanh Market.
So what is Bun Thit Nuong?
Bun thit nuong (bún thịt nướng) can be found all over Ho Chi Minh City but Bún Thịt Nướng Nguyễn Trung Trực is definitely one of the best places I’ve had this dish. It’s is a kind of fresh rice noodle salad with marinated grilled pork, peanuts, herbs and salad leaves, pickled carrots and daikon, served with a sweet fish sauce dressing (nước chấm). Add chả giò (fried rice paper spring rolls) and you’ve got bún thịt nướng chả giò.
Bun Thit is literally my perfect dish. Noodles, pork and Vietnamese spring rolls in the same bowl? I’m sold! The combination of flavours and textures with the soft, sweet, smokey pork, the crispy spring rolls (Vietnamese spring rolls are THE BEST in the world by the way), the crunchy peanuts and fresh herbs is truly amazing. Add in the salty, sour zing from the nước chấm dipping sauce and it’s game over!
Why is this my favourite place for bun thit nuong ?
Well, apart from the fact that the bun thit here is exceptional, I love street eating and you can’t get more street than this. You are literally sitting with dozens of locals on tiny kid’s plastic chairs right there on the pavement. It’s the sort of unique street food experience that get’s me excited about travelling!
The pork skewers are grilled by the dozen right in front of you on small charcoal barbecues and the way they put the bowls together is like a military operation with each server taking on a different role. One person cuts the spring rolls, one arranges the noodles and the other adds the salad and dipping sauce. I could just sit and watch them in action all day!
What about the price?
A bowl of bun thit nuong here will set you back a measly 45,000 VND (£1.59 / $1.94). This is why I love Vietnam!
You can check out the full video review below
How do you get to Bun thit nuong Nguyen Trung Truc?
Bún Thịt Nướng Nguyễn Trung Trực is really central, making it really easy to get to. As mentioned above, it’s located behind Ben Tanh Market and if it’s your first time in Saigon, it’s more than likely you’ll end up there at some point. The Market itself is a tourist trap. It’s busy, you get hassled non-stop and the food inside is more often than not, extremely substandard.
There are a few excellent choices on the streets surrounding the market, though, and this place is definitely one of them. If you’re in the area and what something a little different and funky, make sure you check out Bún Mắm Phan Bội Châu.
You can walk to the market from anywhere in District 1 but if you would prefer to get a taxi, or motorbike taxi, we’d suggest downloading the Grab Taxi app or Uber, both of which work well in Ho Chi Minh.
Getting in from the airport
If you are coming from the airport, the easiest and quickest way to District 1 is to use one of the above apps to get a taxi which will set you back around 100,000 – 140,000 VND (£3.54 / $4.30 – £4.95 / $6.00). If you want a real bargain, however, you can take the very comfortable 152 bus from outside arrivals for 5000 VND (£0.18 / $0.22) . Let me put that into perspective; you can get a bus from the airport to the centre of town and grab yourself a bowl of delicious noodles for the grand total of 50,000 VND which works out to £1.77 or $2.15!
You can find directions to the stall and opening times by clicking the link below:
Other stand out dishes that I had on this trip were Bun Bo Hue, Hanoi style pho and beef lo lot, all of which will be covered in my upcoming videos, so stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel!
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