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Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions: 5 Saigon dishes to kick-start your day

Take your time and dig in to the rising stars of Vietnamese breakfast cuisine.

Banh mi with a sizzling pan of protein

Lying in the heart of the city, Hoa Ma at 53 Cao Thang Street in District 3 has gained fame for its signature dish: banh mi served with a sizzling skillet loaded with fried eggs and an assortment of meat.

Take a seat on a tiny plastic chair down a small alley to sample the dish.

The shop opened in 1958 and moved to its current location two years later. It’s about a three minute motorbike ride from Ben Thanh Market. Guests are welcomed from 6-10 a.m., and each serving costs around VND40,000 ($1.76).\

Pho

Over the past 40 years, this restaurant on Pasteur Street in District 3 has been tempting diners with the delicious smell of pho, the quintessential Hanoian dish.

Pho Hoa has gained fame and is recommended by gourmets if you’re after a true taste of Hanoi.

A bowl of pho here costs VND75,000 ($3.29), and guests can order an extra bowl of the fatty broth to appease their appetites.

Hu tiu noodle soup

While the popular beef noodle soup pho is loved by many Hanoians, Saigonese have crowned their own dish: hu tiu, a kind of rice-based transculent noodles that are thinner and chewier.

Hu tiu is accompanied by pork ribs, pork offal, shrimp, squid, wonton dumplings, fried garlic, fried shallots and scallions, leaving gourmets with varied choices for their breakfast.

A bowl of Saigon noodle soup will cost you VND30,000 ($1.31).

It’s not hard to find hu tiu serving stalls in the downtown area but if you want to get a true taste of the dish, take a trip to the following addresses: Thanh Xuan in District 1’s Ton That Thiep Street, and Phu Quy in Ho Thi Ky Flower Market in District 10.

Hue beef noodle soup

The dish is a specialty of the former imperial capital in central Vietnam, and is a tricky one to cook.

In Saigon, many restaurants and street-side eateries serve these spicy beef noodles like the original version from Hue, but the broth is a little bit sweeter to fit local tastes.

Ha’s eatery on Vo Van Tan Street in District 3 is recommended by old-timers, with each bowl costing VND45,000, or almost $2.

Broken rice

Born as a popular food option among the working class in the south, the dish has gradually found its way into Vietnam’s culinary hall of fame.

Traditionally, a serving only consisted of rice, scallions and shredded pork skin. Over time, the broken rice dish has evolved to meet the diverse tastes of even the most fastidious diners.

Instead of pig skin, southerners add grilled pork chops, but the focal point of the dish lies in the secret recipe behind the fish sauce. The sauce is made from refined sugar, premium fish sauce and sometimes a little bit of pineapple juice. Garlic and chili are also added.

Scallions are an indispensable part of the broken rice dish, which can be found at both street-side eateries and seasoned restaurants.

Ba Ghien on Dang Van Ngu Street in Phu Nhuan District is frequented by long lines of customers, earning it widespread fame in Vietnam’s largest city.

A plate of broken rice will set you back VND44,000 ($1.93).