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A taste of Cambodia at Saigon market

By Quynh Tran, Minh Nga   June 18, 2017 | 11:21 am GMT+7

Forced to flee civil war, these vendors returned to Vietnam bringing part of their second homeland with them.

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Its official name is Le Hong Phong Market, but for decades people have been calling this market in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10 the “Cambodian Market”, simply because it sells particular products from Cambodia.

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After turning into alley 374/51 on Le Hong Phong Street, it's difficult to miss the market as Cambodian spirits and colors are all over the place.

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The market dates back to the 1970s when Vietnamese Cambodian people were forced to flee Cambodia due to civil war, a vendor named Tu Xe explains. Those families returned to Vietnam and set up the market together.

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These days, the “Cambodian Market” has expanded with locals getting in on the act, but its true Cambodian soul is still preserved by around 15 stores run by the children and grandchildren of the families that fled Cambodia more than 40 years ago. This photo shows Tu Xe's shop where she serves traditional ‘Num bank chok’ noodle soup from Cambodia.

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Does this ‘num banh chok’ noodle soup look like the one you get in Cambodia?

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Of all the items sold at this market, dried fish reigns supreme.

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Hai Nho says she buys the dried fish from fishermen living near the famous Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia.

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Neem leaves are used to make Cambodian dried fish salad. Neem plants are grown in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam but these vendors still buy the leaves from Cambodia, just to ensure the true taste for the salad.

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Cambodian che, or sweet dessert, is another highlight at this market. Co says she follows her mother's recipe to cook Cambodian che at the market.

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Let’s get spiced up with ‘Bok lo hong’ salad, a combination of fresh papaya, tomato, herbs and crab.

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How about banh mi - Cambodian style?