So far Vietnam food has been, well, a bit of a let-down, its like a Thai food made a bit bland! Food makes a holiday, it's how we remember places, it's the fond memory we recall, and bland is not how I wanted to remember Vietnam!
Time to go explore the cheap housing areas! The place where people are packed into side streets is usually a good start if you want to find authentic food.
So I picked a place on the map full of side streets and headed out to see what it contained.
I'd been told they eat dog, and rat, and all manner of scary things, but what I found was Japan town! Around this area all the restaurants and bars are geared towards the Japanese workers that are building an underground railway under the city.
The streets here are densely packed, but clean and well lit, really nothing to be afraid of. Here I found a Japanese bar that served bar snacks, gop-gam as Thais call it, that I'd never experienced before. They were tinned Japanese products, warmed up and served with a little wasabi and a little mayonnaise. They tasted fantastic.
I tried many of them, each one a few dollars, and with some real surprises. Japanese food around the world has become so fixed, sushi, with one flavor, wasabi, and this place reminded me of how varied and subtle Japanese food is.
Even the rice was heavily flavored and eaten with pickled radish. Reminding me of the sweet radish rice dishes we eat in Thailand. Similar but different.
Pork belly cooked so long it melts in the mouth, served in its cooking liquor. Chicken yakitory, barbecued chicken, served in a can, lots and lots of variety.
I decided to explore this area several times, and found many Japanese restaurants. Even the Japanese restaurants that focus on sushi offer a far more varied menu. Even the burgers were soaked in teriyaki sauce to give them juice and a flavor kick.
ASEAN, the South East Asian answer to the EU, doesn't include the big two countries, Japan and China, but the food influence of these two is everywhere here.