Thanh Binh (140 Le Thanh Ton) is in a narrow storefront room, opposite the market, brightly lit with fluorescent lights and filled with formica tables. But we’re not here for the decor, we’re here for the food. We order goi cuon (shrimp and pork summer rolls) for which they are known, bun bo xao, bun cha gio and cang cua which are crab claws in tamarind sauce. Most items are $1-$2 but the crab is 150,000 VND (about $8) and worth every penny. With a round of beer, dinner is 291,000 VND for three (about $16).
After dinner, we walk around the market building, observing the set up for the outside night vendors. On one side it’s all food vendors, cooking in outdoor “restaurants”, and wow, does everything look amazing. We agree that we’ll have to come back another night.
From there, we walk around, a little aimlessly, just checking out the city’s vibe. Going back past the market area toward the hotel we see a street vendor selling something which looks oddly like fried potatoes and egg. She has a big metal stove on one end of a bamboo pole (for carrying) and on top of the stove, a flat griddle. On the other end of the bamboo carrying pole is a tray with all the condiments (more to come in the following days about this dish).
She fries up the white cubes on the griddle and then squirts them with a thick sweet soy sauce. When she gets an order, she clears a spot and cracks an egg on the pan, mixing it with the fried cubes. Then it all gets scooped up into a bowl, more sauce goes on top along with some sliced vegetables. We order up a bowl to taste and sit down on the little plastic stools on the sidewalk and share it, eating it with a teeny-tiny fork. It’s delicious and I can’t remember for sure, but I think we ordered a second bowl.
After a while we go to the famous Rex Hotel rooftop bar for drinks. The view is “ok” but I expected it to be better after having read so much about it. Drinks are very expensive and the “scene”, while I’m sure was happening in the 60’s during the was, was nonexistent, at least on this night.