During our time in Ho Chi Minh City we did 2 tours with Tiger Tours, and made their food tour our first one. There is really no better way to enjoy the culinary delights which Ho Chi Minh City has to offer, than in the company of the ladies from this company, zipping around the bustling city at night on their scooters. It is amazing how much easier you get around the city on 2 wheels than you do in a 4 wheel taxi! With over 2 millions motorbikes and scooters on the roads it’s no wonder Ho Chi Minh City has been nicknamed the city of motorcycles.
This tour starts and finishes at a really reasonable time and we were picked up at the hotel by 2 really friendly guides and a further support staff in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, everyone gets paid and that plenty of photos were taken… This last point in particular means that on this tour you can forget about everything – they photograph you, the food & the surroundings, they pay for everything and all you need to do is eat, drink and ask for what you want! It’s like going on holiday with your parents!
Every Day Meals in Ho Chi Minh City
We had some great meals during the tour with the first being DIY spring rolls with various meats – which was also the most delicious part of the tour. This is a staple of home cooking in the city because it is quick, easy, cheap and can be prepared with a huge variety of ingredients. It was a little tough starting with this because you have to be mindful of the fact that you still have plenty of other places to eat… and these things were absolutely gorgeous.
Next was a Chinese restaurant where we had crocodile. The croc tasted good but was cooked with the bones which I’m never a fan of, and whilst I really like crocodile and alligator meat, this was probably the least delicious I have had (and I’ve eaten croc burgers from Iceland – the cheap frozen foods super market, not the country). As well as this we had goats udders… A definite first for me. They were ridiculously chewy and the feeling of eating them was over the top weird but fairly tasty, and really spicy! The nicest thing about this dish was that you cook it yourself on a little gas stove on your table. The final dish from this restaurant was frogs legs. I have eaten these in France and America as well, and must say that these were really not very good at all.
Everything at the Chinese restaurant had ice for some reason too. My beer came out with a giant ice cube in it, which makes sense to keep the beer cool on what was a very hot night, but it melts very fast which means I soon discovered that there is no drink quite as horrible as very watered down beer! But the ice continued when I went to the toilet… Why did their urinals all have ice cubes in them?!?
We then zipped across half of Ho Chi Minh City to a seafood restaurant where we had many different dishes ranging from oysters to shrimp and snails to scallops. This restaurant really knows how to cook seafood, and it incredibly popular, with tables spilling over on to the pavement, and almost the road! However it was at this point where I was asked if I wanted to try the weirdest dish I have ever eaten – baby duck egg… be adventurous and give it a try but don’t expect to enjoy it! Our guides said that very few of their customers actually agree to trying it, and when it arrives at the table even fewer actually have a go. I was concerned that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to eat it and asked if it would cause offence, but was reassured that people having a go or even just ordering it and then chickening out is something they are used to! The duck egg came out with the rest of the food and sat there ominously in the middle of the table until last, taunting me as I enjoyed the seafood.
They finally opened a small bit at the top of the egg at which point you are meant to suck out the juices… Which by the way is (and I’m trying to find the best possible word to describe it) rank! Then you use a spoon to eat the inside just like a normal egg… you get the feathers, meat, yolk, bones… the lot. I have to admit that after just a small bite or two the reality of what it was mixed with a very strong eggy taste and smell, it was too much and I couldn’t eat any more. I wanted to see what its actually like and opened the shell, but was told that you shouldn’t do it around people who eat them, because they like to live in blissful ignorance of what the inside of one of these eggs looks like.
To finish off of course there was desert which was refreshing and delicious… especially after the shock of the baby duck egg! I must say that the choice of deserts in Ho Chi Minh City is a little limited to fruits, smoothies and ice creams… but as I said they certainly were refreshing (and I will get to a spectacular desert bar review another day). One of the nice things about the tour however is that there are refreshing little treats throughout the tour as every single meal is washed down with your choice of drink, which includes alcoholic drinks – so we enjoyed our meals with a few local beers!
Now all in all this is one of the best tours I have been on… You can learn a lot about a city, country or culture through their food, and you really see how much of a melting pot of cultures this city is by enjoying the cuisine of the city. We came back to the hotel feeling full and very pleased with the whole experience – ready for our tour to the cu chi tunnels the following morning. Although I must admit at this point that we almost didn’t make it to that tour because come around 2:00am it became apparent that something from the food tour did not agree with me! It is easy to point the finger at the baby duck egg because it was just down right disgusting, but it was cooked really well, and as someone who doesn’t usually eat any seafood, I think I merely over did it with the seafood, or should have taken my own advice I always give people… Say no thank you to ice in your drink, as it could well have been the tap water used for the giant ice cube in my Chinese restaurant beer.
Thankfully I was much better by the next morning and was able to enjoy the next tour, but do be careful when you’re delving in to the delicious world of street food and local cuisine!