Thursday, March 04, 2010

Saigon, Vietnam - A Morning Market

Saigon Market Morning Market

On the morning I went hunting for breakfast, I came across a morning market that was very much alive and kicking. It was now 7 am and life was going on here. People picking up breakfast, people shopping for groceries and vendors competing with their neighboring competition. A little more to eat wouldn't hurt I thought.

Saigon Street Life

Saigon Morning Market

While some locals run their businesses at a farmer's market or stall, there are vendors on wheels. Two wheels to be exact. Most of them sell fruit but I've seen something as wild as a guy riding with a hot deep fryer filled with oil on the back seat of his bicycle. I named him "Mr. Deep Fry-cycle". If the LA health inspection gets riled up over a taco truck on a street, imagine what they would say about the "deep fry-cycle". He would be sent to prison!

No matter where I am, the sounds and smells of a farmer's market are all part of the experience. Your senses are put to the test with each step that you take. In a sense, it is a bit of a sensory overload, but that of enjoyment.

Saigon Morning Market

Saigon Morning Market

Similar vendors are grouped together and although they are selling the same product and directly competing with each other, it's a friendly rivalry. I bought these freshly-fried fish cakes (ca chien) which I love almost more than anything. The fish was so tasty and full of that 'bouncey' bite that I look for in pureed/paste-like Asian products. Thai fish cakes for example, oh man.

Saigon Morning Market

Who doesn't like fried tofu. I didn't see anything that resembled Taiwanese stinky tofu, which I enjoy as well.

Saigon Morning Market

7 am, and the grill masters are out. Here's a Vietnamese version of yakitori. You've got various ground meat that are shaped into balls and chicken/pork organs. They served fish sauce dip on the side and the smell was great.

Saigon Morning Market

In addition to your standard seafood fare like fish and mollusks, you get beautiful blue-colored prawns fresh from the sea. These things were some of the largest prawns I've seen.

Saigon Morning Market

Most of the vegetables and seafood were all set outside. I then walked into a large depot that had something entirely different going on: meat. And to my surprise, there was not one single man wielding a sharp cleaver. Here in Saigon, the women are the Queens of the Kitchen and can very well chop up a pig faster than you can ever.

Saigon Morning Market

Saigon Morning Market

While most Westerners turn away upon the site of a completely butchered pig, it is actually more respectful and resourceful to use everything. I saw everything chopped up and ready for purchase. There were no putrid smells of death because everything was so fresh.

Saigon Morning Market

Saigon Morning Market

Ribs, chops, shanks, ears, offals, feet, tails and head. Nothing gone to waste. These were some of the most bad-ass women I've come across. And the irony of it at all, they still managed to look as beautiful as they could with jewelry, dyed hair, make-up and painted nails. Nothing will get in the way of good looks, even if it means dissecting a 250-lb pig on an early morning. Thanks for reading.

More postings on Saigon, Vietnam:
Saigon, Vietnam - Hello Saigon, Nice to Meet You and Eat You
Saigon, Vietnam - Banh Xeo 46A, a Taste of Vietnamese Crepes
Saigon, Vietnam - Bun Bo Hue, An Afternoon with Nguyen Thi Thanh
Saigon, Vietnam - Saigon Seafood Stalls


weezermonkey said...

Who doesn't like fried tofu?

Crazy people, that's who.

Lori said...

That is so true. Look at them, choppin' pigs, parts blood and they look beautiful. And I so agree with you. That nothing is wasted is honorable. Everything needs to be respected.

Ravenous Couple said...

mom used to sell and butcher pigs at the market just like that lady--and it's great and fresh because nothing is frozen, everything is bought and sold in that day.

A. Rizzi said...

haha that's awesome. great pics. great commentary, so true. Vietnamese ladies will always put effort into looking good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! Vietnam is my dream! I'm most probably going there finally Feb next year and I can't wait. You make great pictures it was a pleasure to browse through them

Michelle said...

AH! I saw that second picture and I had to do a double take, I have a similar one:

Mmmm fried tofu!

e d b m said...

Weezer, I love tofu in any form. Fried, boiled, korean hot pot, etc.

Lori, oh yeah there will be morsels of pig meat in their hair but they'll be focused on their makeup. Thanks for stopping by.

RavenousC, that's awesome. I hope to see a posting on that ha? I would record that on video and put it on youtube. I walked by the market towards 3 pm, pretty much nothing left.

A. Rizzi, thank you for stopping by.

NoOnionPlease, I would start researching all the types of vietnamese food you want to eat. There's so much good food to eat there.

Michelle, what up. I love that address/phone number stamp! Love the texture created by the shanty building walls!

"Tramie" said...

I really love love love your posts on Vietnam. Ok, I'm being a little bias here...

Don't get me wrong, I love your blog in general, but the posts on Vietnam really got to me. I was half laughing and half crying reading them. Simply awesome!

Thanks for such great read!!!!

Tiago Lopes said...


Exile Kiss said...

Hi E D B M,

Subarashii~. :) Wonderful pics as always, and you've captured the magic and beauty of this morning market perfectly. Thanks.

me said...

stumbled on your blog while searching for some osaka goodeats for our trip at the end of the've found a new follower=). awesome posts!

Anonymous said...


Minh said...

do you know Anthony has already done another episode dedicating Vietnamese food? Win!

Rylander said...

I'm looking to travel to Vietnam and Thailand for a month next January, and these posts have gotten me unbelievably excited. I plan to do the same thing: street food, street food, street food. Photograph, devour, rinse, repeat.

Thanks for sharing these! Lovely. :)

Anonymous said...

just a note..I think that those large blue prawns are fresh water , or perhaps brackish water prawns, Ive caught them in fresh water stream in Hawaii.

great pics

That's Ron said...

awesome ... n Fried tofu is the BOMB...

next time when ur in south east asia... pop by my home country Malaysia...

P.s : saw that video of you with Anthony Bourdin... I'm filled with jeolousy!

Joanne said...

What a wonderful photo experience as well as the walk thru the market. So glad I discovered your blog.
I was actually looking for a substitue for Maggi Liquid Seasoning and your blog from 2008 came up. I didn't find the info. there, so, do you have any recommends to sub. for Maggi Seasoning?

Anyway - wonderful post. What an experience. Thanks.

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