CHARGRILLED PORK SKEWERS WITH VERMICELLI NOODLE SALAD (BUN THIT NUONG)
Co Giang Street in Saigon's District 1 is hands-down one of my favourite food streets. Where it crosses with De Tham Street is my go-to place for this noodle dish, one of the few Vietnamese noodle dishes to be eaten without a broth but, instead, with the popular Vietnamese dipping sauce nuoc cham, and lots of it too – enough to immerse the vermicelli and the fresh herbs.
BEEF NOODLE SOUP WITH RICE NOODLES (PHO BO)
To get my pho fix in Saigon, I visit District 1's Pho Ngoc on Ho Hao Hun Street, which has been running for more than 30 years. The diners are regular customers. Add a poached egg to the broth when ordering for extra silkiness.
VIETNAMESE PORK BAGUETTE (BANH MI THIT)
Banh mi is a great example of the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine, and is known to be one of the best sandwiches in the world. There are hundreds of great banh mi carts in Saigon, but my favourite is Banh Mi Huynh Hoa on Le Thi Rieng Street. They are true artisans.
STEAMED RICE ROLLS WITH PORK AND WOODEAR MUSHROOM STUFFING (BANH CUON)
Beautiful, elegant to eat and amazing to watch being prepared, banh cuon is one of my all-time favourite Vietnamese breakfast dishes. The delicate rice flour sheets can be made extremely thin and I love to watch the aunties making these. Breakfast doesn't come much tastier than this.
CRAB AND TOMATO BROTH WITH VERMICELLI NOODLES (BUN RIEU)
Vietnam is a land of noodle soups. The locals enjoy at least one bowl of noodles a day and there are noodle soups to be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For me, lunch-time noodles means one dish, bun rieu, a classic crab and tomato broth noodle soup originally from northern Vietnam I like to eat mine from a place in District 1's Phan Boi Chau Street.
ROAST PORK, LING AND FERMENTED ANCHOVY BROTH WITH RICE NOODLES (BUN MAM)
I really love this unique noodle soup – a must- try dish with a broth made from pungent, fermented anchovy stock and served with roast pork, chunky fish pieces, prawns, calamari and eggplant. I like ordering this from a place opposite the east gate of District1's bustling Ben Thanh Market. They use premium produce.
SILK WORM NOODLES WITH SHREDDED PORK & COCONUT MILK (BANH TAM BI)
This is a popular dish in Saigon and across southern Vietnam. The thick noodles, which resemble silkworms, hence the name, are made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca flour. Both sweet and savoury, somewhere in between an entree and dessert, I love to enjoy it as an afternoon pick-me-up treat.
STICKY RICE WITH CHICKEN (XOI GA)
Next door to this little store in District 1 with their specialty written up simply as "Sticky Rice with Chicken" there's another sticky rice with chicken store with the exact same name, Xoi Ga Number 1. I found out the original owner passed the business on to one of her daughters and her other daughter, angry that she didn't inherit, decided to open her own right next door. Be sure you go to the original, at 15 Nguyn Trung Truc Street.
Luke Nguyen is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, television presenter, author, and gastronomic traveller. He is appearing at the Good Food & Wine Show in Sydney this weekend (June 24 and 25) at the International Convention Centre. See goodfoodshow.com.au