Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia s01e01 Episode Script

Saigon, Vietnam - Part 1

As a chef, I love street food.
I respect the authenticity, history and hardworking people who create these amazing dishes.
I'm going to share with you some of the best street food eats of Asia -- Saigon, Vietnam Now, this is how you transport a street food stall .
on the back of a bike.
If you need more heat, pump some air and then it heats up the stock pot and it's boiling, and look it works! .
Bangkok, Thailand There's not a better street food snack than this.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Yes! Ooh, alright, that will do.
Wow! Look at that! .
and Jakarta, Indonesia.
It's like a nasi goreng festival in Jakarta.
The street food of Jakarta, awesome! Are you ready? Let's go! 5:30am.
Now, I'm up this early because this is when Saigon comes alive.
Everyone gets up at the crack of dawn to go to the market and to have breakfast, my favourite time of the day.
So I need to get to this street called Co Giang.
You can get a taxi, you can walk or you've got these little motorbike taxis called xe om.
And they're everywhere.
They're the most affordable way to get around.
They cost around a dollar or fifty cents.
Alright, off we go! Saigon traffic's not too bad this early.
You just weave your way through the traffic.
I'm on the corner of De Tham and Co Giang Street, where I'm almost getting run over.
But this is fantastic, there's food everywhere -- butchers are here, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables.
Now, I'm looking for a place, it sells bun thit nuong, nem nuong.
There's no name to this stall, just look for number 83 Co Giang, and you'll find it.
Wow! I mean, you can just smell it all the way down the street.
Now, what they do, once it's charred, beautifully like that, they cut off just the blackened parts, so it doesn't get a little bit bitter.
Just cut that off slightly.
So, vermicelli noodles.
Some perilla leaf, some fish mint, some lettuce, some bean sprout.
Very, very fresh.
He's going to put some spring rolls in there too.
Cucumber, pickled vegetables, so carrot, daikon, spring onion oil with a bit of pork fat, pork crackling.
Peanuts as well, great texture, and this lovely sweet fish sauce.
They try to look after me, you know.
That pork is unbelievable! It's caramelised, it's smoky.
You know, that marinade had a bit of honey in it.
So much flavour.
Fresh -- see how hot it is, right? Soy bean milk, freshly pressed this morning.
I'm going to have one with a bit of ice.
Back in Australia, we'll pay a good one dollar each for these limes.
10,000 dong per kilo.
That's less Jeez, 10,000? That's, like, 20 cents a kilo.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Check this out! This is where you come What are these? Wow, pigs' eyes for breakfast anyone? This is what I love about coming back to Vietnam and Saigon.
It's the real Vietnam, you know? It's how my parents used to live.
They used to come out here every morning, buy some meat in the morning here, from the butcher's, throw it on the scale How old are these scales? 30 years.
30 years the scales, passed down from generation to generation.
It's absolutely beautiful.
I mean, I don't know about you but I appreciate things like this.
Oh, wow! This is a Vietnamese doughnut stall.
This is fantastic.
People have been coming with their motorbikes nonstop, buying doughnuts for breakfast.
She's made the dough so they just stick together with a bit of water, stretch it out, slide it in.
Now, what I love about these stalls, is they're on wheels, right? So she'll start really early in the morning, sell it to all these busy customers here, and then she'll wheel it to the next location, maybe around nine o'clock.
When that's done, wheel it to the next location.
It's genius really.
So, it's hollow in the middle, really crunchy on the outside.
Originally from China, it's called quay, quay.
Now, you'll find that all the stalls are scrambling away because the authorities have come and they need to push their carts to another place or else they'll get fined.
So they see a uniform, and they'll go to another street.
Now, this street here is called De Tham Street, right in the middle of District 1.
Look for number 92, alright? Come check Come check this out.
Wow! And here we have banh khot.
Rice flour, turmeric powder, coconut milk, prawns, pork, some bean sprouts.
Very crispy and soft on the inside as well.
Three-seater restaurant.
I'm going to take a seat.
A piece of lettuce, some fish mint, bit of Vietnamese mint as well, some basil, and you put this tiny, little -- look at that -- tiny little parcels in there and you just wrap it up.
Of course you've got your little nuoc cham.
Dip that in.
So good.
The texture of the lettuce, the mint and also the little banh khot, unbelievable really.
Now, when the French colonised Vietnam, they introduced some incredible things to the country.
There's the baguette, the great architecture of course, and coffee.
It's called ca phe sua da -- Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk.
What we have here, we have the little filter I got the coffee in there, around two tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee, which is a bit a bit more robust.
It's, um, nutty.
It's chocolatey.
It's a bit caramelly as well.
Hot water.
I'm going to compress that down.
Now, under here I have condensed milk, around two teaspoons of condensed milk.
Put that on top.
And I'm going to pour around 10ml of hot water.
Now just let that steep through the coffee beans, absorb the water and then I'm going to pour the rest of the hot water in.
You put your filter on to the lid.
I'm gonna mix that up.
Look at that deep, dark colour.
Love it.
Oh! Forget about your macchiatos, your latte, your cappuccino -- ca phe sua da is where it's at.
It's seven in the morning, and I've arrived to District 3, to a laneway called Hem 51.
And you can see it's already really, really busy.
Now, this place here specialises in breakfast.
You have to get here early or else they sell out.
Now, look at this Look at this laneway.
It's very Saigon.
I love the worn walls.
And, wow, looking around me, it looks incredible.
So, what that it is is a French baguette or Vietnamese baguette with fried eggs, op la eggs, sunny side up, with a charcuterie plate, I cannot wait.
Now, I'm here with Mr Goon, who I've just met.
And he's been telling me he's been coming here since he was at school, since 1971.
He's been coming here every day.
And he's been telling me that, um, this dish was inspired by the French when they came over.
And the dish is called jun-ka.
Op la bhun.
Op la.
In French it means 'au plat', which means sunny-side up.
We've got pate.
We've got mayonnaise.
We've got sausages.
We have some pork terrine from the north, from all over Vietnam, and it's all on this one plate.
So, the Vietnamese way of having this dish -- a bit of fresh chilli, there's a bit of soy sauce on the eggs, and then get your crisp baguette and just dunk it in that beautiful sunny-side up.
A little bit runny.
It has to be a bit runny, which means the op la style.
A bit of pate, bit of ham and sausage.
Fantastic breakfast.
Now, Saigon, or Ho Chi Mihn City, has 24 districts.
And here, I'm in District 4.
It's right next to District 1.
It's the smallest district out of all of them, but it's where you should come for your lunch.
Now, look at what I have here -- a beautiful street, quite small, with all this grilling and smoke and aroma.
Absolutely amazing.
It's called Le Quoc Hung.
I'm at around number 154 to find one of my favourite rice dishes, com tam bi suon cha.
Ooh, there it is.
Com Tam Oanh.
I'm just asking what the marinade is because it looks quite milky.
And she said it's actually fresh milk.
So I'm guessing a bit of lemongrass, a bit of fish sauce, fresh milk, I guess that tenderises the meat for them.
Bit of garlic as well, bit of pepper.
And it's chargrilled over charcoal.
And they serve it with broken rice, a bit of pork terrine as well, fried egg, whatever you like -- cucumber, tomatoes.
This is one of my favourite lunch dishes of Saigon.
Com tam bi suon cha.
OK, let's try one.
I love going back to the kitchen here.
Pork fat, and they'll just drizzle it with some shallot oil, and they just slowly render the fat off, but the texture of it and the flavour -- to die for.
Bit of cucumber, tomato, lovely chargrilled pork cutlet, some pork terrine as well.
A bit of shallot oil with that gorgeous fat.
Thank you.
Now, broken rice is really interesting.
What is broken rice? It's the rice that's been polished, that's broken in that milling stage.
So they save it on the side, and texturally, Vietnamese love it.
And now it's actually quite expensive to buy.
You can't complete this dish without this kind of broken rice.
So much flavour there.
25,000 dong.
Just over a dollar.
Now, what I love about street food is that just say for example along this street, you can walk down this street, you can have a sixor eight-course meal, like a street food degustation or a street food crawl.
Check this out.
You can have dessert.
Pastries are there.
But before the pastries, you have your entree or appetiser.
Now, this -- you see the sign -- is called sup cua, which means crab soup, with oc heo.
Oc heo is pig's brain.
I've got some pig's brain here.
Look at that.
How appetising.
Pork terrine.
That's going in the steamer.
There's food everywhere! Ooh, look at that.
We've got crab.
We've got egg.
We've got shredded chicken in there.
We've even got a quail egg in there.
He thinks I'm selling it.
I wonder how much it is? Let's charge him, uh, 15 Good business! OK.
So, we've got the soup.
I'm going to put a bit of, uh, a bit of sesame oil in there -- a few drops.
A few drops of sesame oil, not too much.
A bit of soy sauce goes in.
A bit of brown vinegar as well, Chinese vinegar.
And a bit of coriander goes in.
How's that? And I reckon just a little bit of chilli as well.
Some pickled garlic chilli.
Look at that, guys.
What a great little starter, a great appetiser -- crab soup with quail egg, shredded chicken and pig's brain.
- Thank you! - Perfect.
Look at that, my first 15,000.
- Bye-bye.
- Thank you! I'm going to stay here and see if I can sell any more.
Sup cua! Sup cua! Sup cua! Hello.
Sup cua! The sun is about to set, it's around 5:30.
And it's the perfect time for locals to come out and have a little evening entree or snack before dinner.
Now, this dish is called bo la lot.
I'm on Co Giang Street.
It's number Look at that, lucky number, 88-88 Co Giang, remember that one.
Now, this is a betel leaf here, gorgeous.
You'll probably see it in Thai or Laos restaurants eaten raw.
But with Vietnamese cuisine, you get the beef in there and you marinate it with a bit of coriander, coriander roots, some garlic, a bit of chilli.
And you wrap it all up -- a bit of fish sauce as well -- and you chargrill it.
And the aroma that comes from these betel leaves is very beautiful, like a sweet incense aroma.
Get some rice paper.
The rice paper in Vietnam is actually quite softer, not as hard, and it's actually dried in the mist, not dried in the sun.
So you just need a bit of wet cucumber, just lightly wet it and it will soften straightaway.
Cucumber, green banana.
And this is star fruit.
So, star fruit's a bit tart.
You wrap it all up with some gorgeous basil, Vietnamese basil, some fish mint, lettuce leaves, some bean sprouts, and you just wrap it up like that.
And you dip it into this very special sauce that Mr Tun made, which is mam nem, which is made from fermented anchovies, bit of chilli, some pounded pineapples as well.
A textural delight.
Mr Tun, the chef, he rolls and makes all these little rolls, he's grilling it frantically, people come by with their bikes, he parks their bikes for them, runs back Oh, shhhh This is an occurrence I see a lot in Saigon.
And uh, there are so many bikes, so much traffic, that they do you do have collisions.
But everyone helps out.
There's no road rage, it's an accident.
People get up, check if they're OK and people just get on with it.
Now, this morning I saw the smaller versions called the banh khot.
Here we have the banh xeo.
This one looks really fantastic.
I mean, open air, we've got four cast iron pans here.
And this is a version of the centre, banh xeo mien trung.
And what it is is a beautiful batter, spring onions, some rice flour, some turmeric powder, a bit of oil goes in as well.
And he's going to cook it on this non-stick pan until it sizzles.
A bit of mung beans in there, some pork, prawns, bean sprouts.
And it needs to be really crispy.
You see the really high heat, really crispy, but inside it's nice, soft and moist.
Now, the reason why it's called banh xeo is because when you put it in the hot pan it sizzles.
It makes that 'xeo' kind of sound.
Now it's time to find my favourite stall in the evening.
This is the middle course.
Come check it out.
But I'm here for a very special dish, which I really want to make myself.
I'll show you what it is.
Where is it? I can't find it.
I think it's under the table somewhere.
Here it is, duck embryo egg or duck foetus.
It's been preboiled already, I'm going to wok-toss it.
I'm going to put in a little bit of tamarind because it's quite sour, quite tart.
Mix that up.
A bit of sugar.
So, you need to balance that tartness.
A bit of salt.
So, saltiness, sweetness, tartness.
Now I'm going to crack my egg in there.
Wow! Hoo.
I'm gonna let that reduce a little bit.
Vietnamese goes on top there, get rid of the water.
She's teaching me how to cook here.
And look at this, beautiful embryo egg with tamarind.
Oh .
topped with fried peanuts, mmm.
Now, look, it's almost formed, you can see it there, you can see the head, see the head there.
Oh, you have to try this.
Now, I've had my entree and my appetisers.
This is the main course.
This is the wok section.
This is where I can hear the wok roar.
This is where it comes alive.
He's going to do some beef wok-tossed, called bo luc lac.
A bit of oyster sauce, a bit of chilli sauce, a little bit of butter -- this is a bit of the French influence as well.
Now, when you put the beef in, you need to see flame.
I need him to do some flame.
That's it.
Nice charred, nice smoky flavour.
So you can get the breath of the wok, that's what we're talking about.
So, garlic, onions, capsicum, a bit of salt, a bit of sugar, oyster sauce.
In Vietnamese it's called shaking beef, bo luc lac.
I've been smoked out! Over here, guys.
Over here.
Over here.
You know what? I've eaten all day.
I've eaten on my own all day, all morning, all night.
Take a seat, join me, taste this wonderful street food with me.
This place is so busy, it's pumping.
Bikes coming in and out.
It's really a hot evening.
Having this dish with the wok, beef, you gotta have the Vietnamese way -- beer with ice.
I'm addicted to it.
It's really, really good.
Very refreshing.
Oh, wow.
Now, this is one of my childhood favourite dishes, my Aunty Five used to make this for me when I was really young.
I love it.
It's basically rice flour, mixed with glutinous rice flour.
It's mixed in a pot with a bit of water and then it's flattened, it's steamed, and then it's taken out, cooled, cut into square cubes and then pan-fried.
You have to check this one out.
Little bit of soy goes in first, a bit of vinegar as well, and then she cracks an egg in it.
Bit of spring onion as well.
This is a classic, classic, Saigonese street food snack.
It's really crisp and dark brown on the outside, but when I bite into it, mmm, it's a bit sticky, soft, silky, absolutely delicious.
Oh, look, I have to be honest.
I was a little bit hesitant to take you and showing you this place, Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, but I'm obliged to because it's really good and it's Saigon's best banh mi store.
Now, it's on 26 Le Thi Rieng, and they've been here for around 30 years.
Now, you find that everyone's coming up with their motorbikes, their partners get up, line up.
You line up for hours sometimes, it's that busy.
Two ladies started with a small cart, way at the bottom there.
They saved enough money to buy this whole building.
Now, this banh mi place is also called banh mi o moi, which basically translates as banh mi lesbian or lesbian banh mi.
It's because the two owners are beautiful lesbian lovers.
And Huynh Hoa has a nickname of lesbian Banh Mi.
You've got all the cold cuts there.
You've got xa xiu, cha lua, you got the cheese head as well, the head cheese, we've got the pickled vegetables, daikon.
It's got a bit of everything.
Next time, I continue my journey in Saigon and share my favourite pho restaurant in Vietnam.
I discover my very own lunch lady and try some spicy crab claws that will blow your head off.
The smell! The chilli! Up the nose.
Whoo! Done! That's a do-it-yourself crab chilli salt street-food style.