Runner suggests Saigon food itineraries ahead of night race

By Hoai Phuong   February 5, 2023 | 02:00 am PT
Runners taking part in the VnExpress Marathon HCMC Midnight should try broken rice, noodle soup, and hot pot dishes when coming to the city for the race on February 12.

Xuan Diu, a member of Adidas Runners Saigon, a well-known running club in Ho Chi Minh City, loves exploring local cuisine and culture in the city. Diu was among the top finishers at a number of domestic marathon events.

Ahead of the VnExpress Marathon HCMC Midnight 2023, Diu made a list of the best eateries in the city to introduce running lovers across the country to the local eating experience.

"Saigon cuisine with its diversity and culinary quintessence will satisfy various tastes," Diu said.

Broken rice

Having lived in Saigon for years, Diu said she can eat "broken rice" every day without getting fed up.

"Broken rice is a signature dish of Saigon, and a must-try dish here," she said. "I have eaten broken rice in many places, but Saigon's is the most delicious and unique.

A plate of broken rice. Photo courtesy of Instagram/ minacopham

A plate of broken rice with a grilled pork chop in Saigon. Photo courtesy by minacopham on Instagram

An authentic broken rice must be cooked from fluffy broken rice retaining elasticity, softness, and not dryness, and it must be served with grilled pork chops and sweet fish sauce.

Diu has tried almost all the famous broken rice restaurants in HCMC. She suggests that runners of VnExpress Marathon Midnight can try restaurants near the central area for convenience, such as the Ba Cuong Restaurant, Nguyen Van Cu Restaurant, and Bai Trac Broken Rice.

The price for a plate of rice ranges from VND30,000 ($1.28) to VND100,000.

Noodle soup

Noodle soup (hu tieu) is often served as breakfast or a midnight snack. Runners can easily see noodle vendor carts on the city's sidewalks. The price is only from VND20,000 a bowl.

Nam Vang noodle soup. Photo by Nguyen Thy

Nam Vang noodle soup. Photo by Nguyen Thy

Noodle soup with soft noodles and bone broth, with the sweetness of white radish and chives, will tickle the taste buds. Toppings include sliced lean meat, sometimes pork sausages, stewed bones, boiled quail eggs or beef balls.

Diu suggested that runners try Nam Vang noodle soup, with prices ranging from VND40,000-100,000.

Southern hot pot

HCMC is the place for hotpot lovers, satisfying diverse taste of runners from north, south and central Vietnam. Goby fish hotpot and fish sauce hotpot are two suggestions for runners to discover the southern characteristics of this dish.

Goby fish hotpot represents the southern flavor. This hotpot has a mild sour broth, and is accompanied by the sour giang leaves, other herbs, and gooseberries. When the broth is boiled, the fish will be poured into the pot.

Xuan Diu suggested that runners should try the Goby fish hotpot at the Ba Huyen Restaurant in District 3.

Ingredients to make Lau Mam. Photo by Thu Ky

Ingredients to for fermented fish hot pot lau mam. Photo by Thu Ky

Lau mam (fermented fish hotpot) originates from the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. The soul of the hot pot comes from fermented fish paste, and a wide range of vegetables including tomatoes, water lily stems, okra, polypody young shoots, centella, passiflora foetida young shoots, and Ludwigia prostrata.

Racquet coffee

As its unique name suggests, racquet coffee is filtered through a fabric racket. The coffee powder is put into a cloth bag, dipped into the boiling water, and then poured into cups for the guests to enjoy.

Racquet coffee has a unique taste, slightly sweet and with a little fatty aftertaste.

Xuan Diu has tried racket coffee at many shops in Saigon such as Cheo Leo Cafe, Racquet Coffee and Ba Lu Coffee.

Runners can also try other famous dishes such as snail, banh mi, and foods at local Chinese restaurants.

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