Ben Thanh Market is a bustling and busy area for locals to pick up their daily groceries and for tourists to haggle with vendors. Just a couple of streets away from the madness is a road by the name of Durong Nguyen Trung Truc, home to some superb food businesses.
Amongst them is a place serving Bun Thit. A dish of noodles and grilled meat, in this case pork, along with garnishes such as peanuts, pickled vegetables and Vietnamese herbs. On the approach to the stall, you can smell the pork being freshly grilled over charcoal.
The “restaurant”, Bun Thit Nuong, is actually a street food stall. Small stools, just above the height of the floor, act as chairs and the tables are not a whole lot larger in terms of height. The seating arrangements also stretch to both sides of the street. The way a Vietnamese stall or restaurant can suddenly expand at will is just mind blowing.
English is spoken at the stall but to be honest you can get away with simply indicating how many bowls you would like by using your fingers. Take a seat and await a Vietnamese speciality while watching the motorbikes and street vendors whizz by. Some may come and hassle you but they do take no for an answer quite quickly before moving on.
Our bowls of Bun Thit arrived. We almost had to reach for our sunglasses such were the colours on display. The white and orange of the pickled radish and carrot, a staple of Vietnamese garnish, the scattering of peanuts and aroma of grilled meat. This was going to be good.
You can jazz up your bowl by adding a kind of fish sauce syrup, sweetened fish sauce in other words, which is excellent with a hint of chilli. Mixing everything together, I went in for my first taste. Words fail me as to describe how good this is.
Ok, well I’ll give it a go. The pork has a lovely sweetness to it and smokey flavour from the charcoal. A crispy spring roll filled with pork meat adds a crunchy texture to the bowl. The noodles and the garnish come together to make an epic salad. Everything is just so well balanced.
With such strong flavours, you would be forgiven for thinking that they would be competing against each other. Somehow, this isn’t the case. The flavour is cranked up to 11 and doesn’t let up. Eating it perched on the street with your knees beneath your chin just makes it that much better.
For 48,000 Dong ( around £1.60) per bowl this is deemed by some in Saigon as expensive. In our opinion if the quality reflects the price then it is a worthwhile investment. This is absolutely in keeping with Saigon’s exceptional standards when it comes to food.
With the restaurant in District 1, the access is a whole lot easier. If you’re working your way through Vietnam’s greatest culinary hits then be prepared to stick Bun Thit on the list. Especially the bowls of it they serve right here at Bun Thit Nuong.
Opening Times: 1100-1700 (potentially later every day apart from Saturday)