December 20, 2016

Plus 1 trip to Vietnam day 5: phở and bánh mì day

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It's our last day in Vietnam, and our last chance this trip to hit all of my planned stops in terms of sights and eats.  And yes, we woke up early once again... without the need for an alarm clock.  So we got up and went out for breakfast.  Since she didn't get her phở fix yesterday, Hello Kitty insisted that we pass up the bún chả I had planned for us.

So we hopped in a taxi and headed to Phở Lệ on Nguyễn Trãi.  The place is pretty easy to spot, and was doing business at 9 a.m.  Downstairs was already full so we were told to go upstairs... which was also pretty full.

First thing we noticed was that every table had a big plate of herbs.  Those are, of course, essential for a good bowl of phở.  Plus the requisite chili and hoisin sauces.

The owners and some staff speak Cantonese, and immediately pointed us towards the most expensive bowl, saying that it has four different types of beef.  Well, since we're tourists and dunno when we'll be in town next... why not?!

Phở thập cẩm - the all-in-one, which has rare steak, well done flank, beef meatballs, and tendon.  The broth was beautiful.  Light yet flavorful, without much MSG that I could taste.  The two of us were such happy campers, after slurping down a big bowl of this.

With our bellies full, we headed back to our hotel.  After a short break, Hello Kitty had the idea of checking out a French bakery and try out their croissants, so we walked to Pat' a Chou nearby.  We passed by the place yesterday and thought it looked really cute.  And it was!

We were happy that even though the whole place looked very French, they did in fact offer cà phê sữa nóng to go with our viennoiserie.

The croissant was actually pretty good - nice and flaky...

...and nicely done on the inside.  Not too wet and doughy, with enough air inside.

The pain au chocolat was pretty good, too.  But I wish they had given us a little more chocolate...

After checking out of the hotel, we decided to go hit a couple of museums before our late lunch.  The Ho Chi Minh Museum is only a short distance across the bridge from Bitexco Financial Tower, so we decided to take a leisurely walk over there.  After all, we've got plenty of time and mucho calories to walk off.

Unfortunately, I was mislead by Google.  The museum actually does take a lunch break, so when we arrived the gates were shut.  So we had to make do with just a couple of exterior shots from afar...

Next stop was the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum.  Thankfully they don't take lunch breaks, so we could spend some quality time here.  This beautiful building was built in the 1930s as a private residence, and was taken over by the the museum about 30 years ago.

Besides the interesting local art, I absolutely loved this building itself.  The central Art Nouveau staircase, along with the antique French elevator, was exquisite.

Another Art Nouveau building on the grounds houses the "ancient contemporary art"... which seems to be an oxymoron.

Once again, there was a beautiful staircase leading to the upper floors, while the antique French elevator is housed separately.

We were pretty happy to have come for a visit, but it was around 2:30 p.m. and it was time for lunch!  We took a taxi to Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa for our long-awaited taste of the classic Vietnamese sandwich.  They only do takeouts, and you see the boss lady - along with her staff - assembling the sandwiches quickly with their myriad of ingredients.  Besides butter and the pâté, there are four different types of sliced pork used here.

Since there was nowhere for us to sit and enjoy this sandwich, we resorted to ducking into the Phuc Long Coffee and Tea House nearby and ordered a couple of drinks.  We made sure to sit upstairs to be away from the eyes of the staff...

Besides the pork and butter, there were also strips of pickled radish and herbs inside the bánh mì.

O-M-G.  This was hands down the best fucking bánh mì I have ever had.  Not that I'm a connoisseur and have eaten this all over the planet, but man!  That's some good shit!  The two of us were just speechless.  OK... the truth is that we were speechless because we were too busy chomping...

Very satisfied with our eats on our last day.  So satisfied that we went back and bought two more bánh mì to take on the flight with us.  Hell, I'd take this over airplane food any day!  And since we ended up with a two-hour delay due to mechanical issues on our brand new A350-900, the fact that we had good food on the plane with us made the misery a little easier to bear...

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