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10 delicious dishes in Cho Lon (Big Market) of Saigon

I live in Lon market where is the largest home of Chinese community in Viet Nam, mostly in district 5, 6, 11. Along with the development of Chinese community, the Chinese cuisine has also made Saigon cuisine more multiform. It is a pity if you go to “Chinatown” but do not try delicious dishes of Lon market which are characteristic of Chinese flavors.

1. Dimsum

When going a round of Lon market, you will certainly see people sell Dimsum everywhere, from the food stalls on side walk to the luxurious restaurants. Dimsum does not only appear simply in meals of Chinese people, it also brings inside a value of artistic essence of Chinese cuisine. Firstly, this dish Cantonese region just serves as a convenient- fast- not too expensive dish for businessman on “Silk road”. Gradually. It has developed to be the complex of breakfast meals in diversed shapes, and the flavor makes tourists all over the world long for. 
You can find out some amazing dimsum restaurant at Cho Lon, Saigon.
You can find out some amazing dimsum restaurant at Cho Lon, Saigon.
The way to process Dimsum is not as easy as what you think, from the cover to the different types of kernels through the skillful hands of chief. The dimsum which is big enough to fit people’ mouth has become a lively work of art more than ever. Dimsum is put in steamer as big as a hand, so it always keeps the heat to ensure in delicious status for every meal. In addition, you can also choose the fried one or boiled one. You will not try full taste of this dish if you do not use a cup of soy sauce including a little vinegar, chili and some sliced ginger; all of them will perfectly combination with each other to make the dish the most delicious. Besides, after the meal you should sip a cup of hot tea, this will help you become "Dimsum connoisseurs".
The suggested places to have delicious Dimsum meals:
  • Baoz dimsum: 86-88 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ward 7, District 5.
  • Tan Nguyen Thai Dimsum: 102 D - E An Duong Vuong, District 5.
  • Mr Hao Dim Sum: 175 Tran Tuan Khai, Ward 5, District 5.
  • Long Phung Lau - Dimsum & Seafood: 570-572-574-576 Nguyen Trai, Ward 8, District 5.
  • Dim Tu Tac: 29B Tran Hung Dao, Ward 6, District 5.
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2. Pha Lau

In spite of having the same name, Pha Lau of the Tieu people is really different from the one made from the internal organs of pigs or cows mixed with coconut milk. People use some organs of pig as tripes, ears, tongue and chicken legs, fried tofu, eggs… All of them are embalmed with cinnamon, octagonal, salmon, and some medicinal herbs, then cooked together in a pot. They usually use this dish with rice or rice gruel.
"Pha lau" is a favorite of Saigoner.
"Pha lau" is a favorite of Saigoner.
In addition to the traditional eating way, people make the Pha Lau more attractive when sandwiching it in hot crispy bread and combined with sauce of salted vegetables, gold branch or lotus root.
Now there is only one side walk stall of Tieu Pha Lau on Nguyen Trai road over 60 years old and three generations Pha Lau Tam Ky at 823 Nguyen Trai, Ward 14, District 5.
  • Opening hours: 11 - 23h30 daily.
  • The price of Pha Lau bread is 15000 VND per litter, mixed Pha Lau is 27000 VND per kg

3. Roasted pork, duck

When you ask someone where to eat delicious roasted pork, duck, they certainly direct you to Lon market. Bui Huu Nghia is so famous for delicious roasted pork, duck that there are more than 10 stalls selling it, from a few decades to several years old. Because of being processed quite sophisticatedly and elaborately, in the past the dishes were mostly made for kings. However nowadays you can savor these two dishes everywhere you want. Especially on the day of the Goddess, people in Sai Gon are busy to buy roasted pork, duck to worship.
Roasted duck with the greasy taste of "Beijing roasted duck"
Roasted duck with the greasy taste of "Beijing roasted duck"
Therefore, roasted pork, duck have individual characteristics to make highlight for sophisticated processing. The way to realize a delicious roasted duck is that its skin is crispy, brown yellow, shiny and eye- catching, and duck meat is soft, still sweet, and fresh when eating. One of important point is that the taste must have a little smell of flowers, amaranth powder and aromas in accordance with each family home remedies. The delicious roasted pork depends on the meat and marinated spices, and also the unresistable crispy cover. The things can be eaten with these two dishes are bread, cake, fried dumplings or steamed dumplings to make the dishes more attractive.
The places you can come over to buy roasted pork, duck:
  • Roasted duck Vinh Phong: right at the corner of Bui Huu Nghia - Phan Van Tri, District 5.
  • Roasted Phat Thanh: 132 Bui Huu Nghia, Ward 7, District 5.

4. Pulled noodles

The image of this fresh pulled noodles made right on Chinese traditional trolleys we often see on Chinese movie, is still in real life. This is also one of the most delicious dishes you should try in Lon market when you go to “Chinatown” area.
Pulled noodle with fresh noodles.
Pulled noodle with fresh noodles.
The freshness of pulled noodles made right at place is the biggest difference between pulled noodles and the noodles you buy in market or supermarket. And at that time you also have a chance to see pulling noodles kungfu, the process of kneading completely by hand in the traditional way of the cook to make the noodles soft yellow.
The destinations to enjoy pulled noodles:
  • Thieu Ki noodle restaurant: 66/5 Le Dai Hanh Street, Ward 7, District 11.
  • Khai Ki pulled kungfu noodles: 118 Ha Ton Quyen Street, Ward 4, District 11.

5. Ravioli soup

Lon market is famous for having a road of ravioli soup, it is Ha Ton Quyen road on District 11 which is known as a heaven for people loving Chinese cuisine. And certainly we cannot ignore shiny yellow ravioli soup with round big kernel inside.
Ravioli soup of Saigon.
Ravioli soup of Saigon.
Ravioli soup is a new type from the dish “van than” which the South often call in a different way “hoang thanh”. The cover made of wheat flour is soft and tough, inside is a kernel tasting well. The kernel of “hoanh thanh” is chopped meat, but one of ravioli soup has the sweetness of shrimp. Though a bowl of ravioli soup is small, it will obviously make you surprised because of fried fish, pork skin, cattle, and vegetables…insides. Seeing the bowl you think it cannot make you full but in fact it does beyond thought. Besides you can mix pasta dish or order fried ravioli dish with soy sauce.
Two places you can go to have ravioli soup:
  • Ravioli soup Thien Thien: 195 Ha Ton Quyen, Ward 4, District 11.
  • Ravioli soup Ngoc Y: 187 Ha Ton Quyen, Ward 4, District 11.

6. Chinese Tea

In Lon market, besides the famous dishes, Chinese Tea or Che Tau also has a distinct flavor, not the same as one of tea in other mountainous regions. Tea is not only a dessert as usual, but it is also considered as a medicine to turn down heat and add blood to the body.
Chinese tea with a characteristic taste.
Chinese tea with a characteristic taste.
The tea in Lon market takes the light sweetness of sugar as standard, and is made with some of herbal according to the traditional recipe of each stall. Some tea we think it is difficult to drink, but in fact they are very sweet and cool. You can try featured Chinese tea which is the most easy to find in tea shop such as: hot ga tea shop, me den tea shop, papaya, tofu tea, boiled egg tea, ginkgo tea…
The Chinese tea of old tea shop you can try:
  • Ha Ky tea shop: 138 Chau Van Liem, Ward 11, District 5.
  • Thanh Tam tea shop: 98 Bui Huu Nghia, Ward 7, District 5.
  • Tuong Phong tea shop: 83 An Diem, District 5.
  • Tau cot dien tea shop: between 2 houses 476-478 Tran Hung Dao, District 5.
  • Nha Den tea shop: 476 - 478 Tran Hung Dao B, District 5. 

7. Stewed chicken, duck

In addition to Pha Lau, or tea, the stewed dishes of Chinese people are also cooked with herbal helping to stimulate tourists’ taste. There are two famous stewed dishes of Chinese people: special duck egg noodle soup and stewed chicken with Chinese traditional medicine.
You will certainly be overwhelmed by a big bowl of special duck egg noodle soup with big duck thigh in Chinese traditional medicine taste. Depending on the favorite of each person, they will choose watered noodle or dried noodle. However to this dish you should enjoy dried noodle to feel the full tough of shiny yellow pasta.
Lon market is considered as a big gathering place of special duck egg noodle soup with many selling points running  along Nguyen Trai Street, Huynh Man Dat, Tran Hung Dao, Ha Ton Quyen ... You can try at two following typical restaurants:
Stewed chicken with very soft meat.
Stewed chicken with very soft meat.
  • Hai Ky: 349 - 351 Nguyen Trai, Ward 7, District 5.
  • Hue Vien special duck egg noodle soup: 59C Thuan Kieu, Ward 12, District 5.
Evil chicken stewed with Chinese traditional medicine is not only a regularly dish, but it also a potent drug helpful for the body. This dish is made from the whole evil chicken (black chicken type with white feathers), then is stewed with some of Chinese traditional medicines such as ginseng, jujube and ginkgo. Firstly when you are not familiar to it, you will find its taste unusual, a bit bitter because of the taste of Chinese traditional medicine. However the evil chicken is so soft and extremely sweet.
Where to eat stewed chicken with Chinese traditional medicine:
  • 77 restaurant- stewed chicken with Chinese traditional medicine: 87 Nguyen Thi, Ward 13, District 5.
  • Vinh Quy evil chicken: 464 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 2, District 5.

8. The noodles

One of the most delicious noodles is the savory noodles of Chinese people. The Chinese people who had origin of Trieu Chau gave only the descendants the way to cook this dish, so finding stalls selling the noodles here is very difficult. However if you have a chance to try the dish, this is really wonderful because of the unpredictable scented smell. The noodle of Chinese people is soft and as big as Pho in the North, and soup is a full taste of sour, spicy, fatty, salty, and sweet. The savory noodles is often served with beef meat or deer meat, and a little ground roasted peanuts. I think just need this, the dish will certainly makes you full.
"Hủ tiếu" or Chinese noodle .
"Hủ tiếu" or Chinese noodle.
Quang Ky restaurant is a popular place selling this dish over 50 years old from Trieu Chau origin at 117 Trieu Quang Thuc, Ward 11, District 5. In addition, you can also go to some other places such as traditional savory noodles To Ky, savory noodle Cao Van Lau…
There is another noodles type, it is Ho noodles. The name is quite strange because it has origin from Tieu people. Ho noodles is different from savory noodle or small tough noodles of the the West. Ho noodles has square shape, thin slices, and served with chopped shredded pork and pig stomach, tongue, blood ... If you want to have an original bowl of Ho noodles, you have to go to the corner of Go Cong - Gia Phu (District 6). The restaurant is open for sale from 12 noon with the ultra-low price, only 25,000 VND / bowl.

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9. Tieu rice soup

Tieu rice soup is one of the most typical dishes which is still reserved by Chinese people. Tieu rice soup is similar to Chao Long dish of Viet Nam, but the difference is on the cooking way. The stuff like heart, liver, lungs… are not cooked with soup, but till the guests order they will be put in a small pot to be boiled and stirred with white soup.
When having a hot bowl of soup, you will feel the sweetness of pig stomach mixed with the aroma of soup. To give more taste for the soup, the chief will add squid, mushrooms, green onions, pepper, ginger and chilly. Especially when eating Tieu rice soup, it cannot lack of chicken eggs, and finger- shaped soufflé batter. You can also find Tieu rice soup in every corner of Chinatown. However if you want to try it in the rightest taste, you should come over Mrs. Ut Tieu rice soup in Ban Co market ( District 3) over 70 years old.

10. Racket coffee

Racket coffee or Stewed coffee is the way to make coffee from Chinese people for a long time in Saigon, it is also known as the popular way to make coffee of ancient Chinese people. Racket coffee has distinct characteristics, not the same as filter coffee. As the name, this coffee type is made in a cloth racket and stewed in a kettle. The way to make racket coffee is not complex, but you need care for processing. Coffee powder in a cloth racket made with boiled water to get the last remainder. After that, coffee is cooked in a kettle with the small fire. This makes coffee in hot status and keeps the strong and delicious coffee taste.
Racket Coffee with cheap price and truthfully aroma.
Racket Coffee with cheap price and truthfully aroma.
Now in Saigon there are two store still keeping the way to make racket coffee for over half a life? You can go to his coffee shop Mr. Thanh located in 313 Tan Phuoc street next to Tin market (District 11). Anyone who comes to the store recognizes the ancient nostalgic architecture still in the house. In the corner of the kitchen where Mr. Thanh made coffee, the smoke from the kettle stewing coffee on stove makes the house warmer and more familiar. Only with some wooden chair and table, coffee cup adding a little milk in the old- fashioned glass also make the visitors here meditate about the life.
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