Monday, July 20, 2015

Ho Chi Minh City: Seafood Heaven and other Yummy Restaurants

We went on a recent business trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I had no food research plans this time, as we luckily had a Malaysian friend who lived there for many years. He has planned out the whole itinerary for us, for the business visits as well as the food trip.

I had no idea that it was such a seafood heaven place, where your dreams of lobsters and big shrimps can come true. Of course, more than just the seafood, there were other discoveries. Kick-ass drip coffee - both hot or iced, tons of coconuts and cheap massages. I was indeed in heaven (in between business stuff).

Highlights of must go places:

Song Ngu : our first destination. Kick-ass Lobster porridge was unforgettable. Along with an appetizer which I could not name ... it's definitely the place to kick start the trip. WOW WOW WOW!

70 - 72 Suong Nguyet Anh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1Ho Chi Minh City 70000Vietnam

Lobster Porridge is a must!

Coconut and their beautiful plates

One of their famous coffee chains is called PHUC LONG (I know, I know... it sounds funny when you try to say it in English).

Popular with the young people, you could see that the place looked like "Starbucks" yet half the price of Starbucks. Very serious caffeine kick after I had my Vietnamese White Coffee. Must try when in town.

Try to say it in English : PHUC LONG

Dinner time came and we went to this popular restaurant which Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt went to. It looks like a home and they serve up home-cooked-style food. It was hugely popular and was full to the brim when we came in. You need reservations to ensure you have a good seat.

The interior design of CUC GACH QUAN was very simple yet nice. In a way, there were parts which were impressive, yet some parts remained humble and rustic.

I can imagine why it's so popular with the expats in HCMC, as upstairs they have a nice lounge bar which is again rustic in design. Make sure you are wearing pants for dinner so you can go up the high staircase, if you want to see all the hidden rooms they have upstairs.


10 Dang Tat | Ward Tan Dinh, District 1Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam
Beautiful rustic design

Home-cooked style meals for sharing 
What a revelation. I could not believe my hometown brand called Jollibee was actually in Ho Chi Minh City! They have several outlets there. I grew up with this brand back in Manila. It is literally the competitor of McDonald's, and they have same style offerings, except that they have perfected it to the Filipino taste, hence they have won over the hearts of Filipinos.

I had to give it a try -- as I was missing home. However, they didn't serve gravy with the chicken, something which is impossible back home in Manila -- it is a crime not to have gravy with chicken! We also tried the pork burger -- which is decent but really not my thing.

Jollibee at Ho Chi Minh City

Pork Burger and fries -- we didn't finish it.. .just had a small bite to remind me of home

The must try stop for some serious noodle soup: Pho Hoa. Funny, as there is a popular chain in Manila called Pho Hoa. It is very different from this one -- the design of the shop is authentic and very simple -- with tons of people : both locals and tourist throng the place. The crowd starts at breakfast time and the tables are all beautifully colored with garnishes such as veggies, spouts, lime and many more. Very Instagram-friendly table, as you can see from the photo below.

I stopped eating beef long ago, so I tried the Chicken Phoa Noodle. It was awesome!

Pho Hoa

Close up of our meal at Pho Hoa

Beautiful Spring Rolls

Our local friend brought us to another interesting place which is hidden from the street. You cannot easily find this restaurant as it is tucked away inside a small street. Before you can reach it you will see a row of nail bar (local style) and as you walk in, then only you can see the signage of the restaurant.

Our local friend described the dishes as something typical that they would eat. This was a totally new discovery for me, as this was not something I was familiar with and never did associate it to Vietnamese food.

It had many dishes which were so new -- like shrimp wrapped in rice roll type, another dish which was fried clams with rice paper crackers, spicy noodle soup thing was also interesting as the noodle type is different, coconuts to go with your meal, and the small plate rice-based once again. Everything went well with some fish sauce... haha. When in Vietnam, fish sauce for everything! Haha, that's the Filipino side talking -- as Filipinos love eating stuff with dipping sauce.


116 Suong Nguyet Anh | District 1Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam

Other photos and unforgettable meals of Ho Chi Minh City....

Flaming shrimp with coconut husk and juice

Yummy clams with ginger sauce

Random street in Ho Chi Minh City

French influence is very strong in Vietnam and they have cute Creperie places there -- wish they had more in KL!

View from my Breakfast Place - Tous Les Jours is everywhere in HCMC

Busy streets of HCMC

Trung Nguyen is one of the local coffee chains -- you won't miss it. I had a wow Vietnamese Coffee with Milk

Traditional style and very strong caffeine kick

I didn't expect it to turn out into a food trip. HCMC is impressive for seafood lovers like me. Also note that their airport is modern and clean, their people are friendly, taxi are soooo easy to get and they are all pretty decent and honest, there are some malls to shop in (with many Malaysian brands there!). We visited the expat areas, which are beautiful and modern. Very easy to travel around and tons, tons, tons of Boutique Hotels in every corner!

Easy place to visit -- whether alone or in a group. Just make sure you research the food places that you want to eat at to avoid disappointment.

Honda Cars Repair : Good Service and Speedy Repair

Weeks ago a lorry accidentally bumped into the back area of my Honda (while driver was driving it). Thankfully, I wasn't inside the car. And also, everything was functional except that we could not open the boot of the car.

I asked around for contacts and luckily the salesman at Honda gave me this contact. Sky Choo from KAH Motors was very prompt and he had the car done in a few days.  Their place is huge, with a big lawn with tons of Honda cars (that badly needs repair) and a massive warehouse where they do all the fixing.

After fixing the car for about 4 days, the driver had to bring back one round as the back up sensor was not working well. They quickly fixed and everything was in order.

Highly recommended in case you get into any accidents and have a Honda car. They are located at Jalan Ipoh (Sentul), not too far off from Mont Kiara.

They also coordinated with our insurance company to get it done. Good service.

The guy to look for is SKY CHOO

Massive land area , with garden, tents and warehouse

Warehouse where you can find tons of cars being repaired inside 

Yellow Brick Road: Jalan Batai Damansara Heights

There has been massive transformation at Jalan Batai at Damansara Heights. Months ago, we saw how it looked like the old style shop houses, which is typical in Malaysia. With some planning and enormous renovation, the shop house and the surrounding area suddenly looked clean, new and fresh. No wonder it is attracting a lot of people nowadays!

We used to come here for some dinner date nights at Sitka. And I wondered about this cafe called Yellow Brick Road. Today, we went there for a try. Tons of people waiting in queue, so we waited for about 15 minutes before we got to our seats.

The place is renovated nicely, with indoor and al fresco seating.

Coffee was delicious and decent strong blend... perfect for that weekend indulgence, since I don't get to enjoy coffee everyday... better to have a nice, strong one every now and then!

Food: hubby really enjoyed his vegetarian meal while perhaps I had high expectations for their pancakes, it came across as ordinary. Perhaps I ordered the wrong one. Should we visit again, I would likely try other things than pancakes. We were too hungry to take a picture of hubby's food and jumped straight away to eating. Mine took much longer, and after a follow up they informed me that there is a long queue at their kitchen. 

Parking was easy on the weekend, plenty of spaces. We even ended up buying some herb plants and flowers, as there is a flower shop nearby the carpark pay machine.

Certainly a pleasant addition to weekend breakfast mornings. Do try to follow the steps towards the Yellow Brick Road.

Customers waiting patiently

Outside the Yellow Brick Road
Al Fresco Seating 
I was so focused on their pancakes... here is the menu
The signage that will greet you as you enter the cafe
Interior of Yellow Brick Road
Coffee time!

Hubby enjoyed his Piccolo Latte
My cafe latte

  1. Address: 50490, 7, Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sangkaya: Coconut Ice Cream Craze

My first encounter with coconut ice cream which really left that lasting "wow" impression was our recent trip to Krabi. It was purely accidental, as there was a sudden downpour, and we were struck inside the little roadside restaurant so we decided to indulge in their dessert.

It left a lasting impression. Naturally, when some friends mentioned Sangkaya and the coconut ice cream craze that's happening around, I had to try it for myself.

I initially hesitated to take 4 scoops of ice cream, thinking that it's probably going to cost me a thousand calories (exaggeration here....). In the end, I didn't regret taking those big scoops as it was heavenly. First outlet I visited was the one at NU Sentral, at the top floor near the cinema.

They have several outlets lined up ... some opened already while others are in the midst of opening. For people looking for ice cream alternatives -- meaning no dairy, this could be the key!

Sangkaya Coconut Ice Cream -- yum!

Sangkaya at Nu Sentral - top floor near the cinema

Scooping up our order

Their Menu : Try the signature inside the coconut husk!

Sangkaya at Uptown

Very busy at Uptown even at 10pm in the evening!

Bill for 2 people having their signature coconut ice cream

Having his first try of Sangkaya -- with lingering memories of Krabi!

Happy Me -- indulging in coconut ice cream!

They have a facebook page : 

Happy Coconut Ice Cream to you!
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