Auguste Escoffier is the famed French chef reputed to be ‘roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des row’, or in English, ‘the king f chefs and the chef of kings’.  Vietnam, being a former French colony, has gastronomic society in his name, Disciples Escoffier. So there is no shortage of fine dining places in Ho Chi Minh City.

I am more interested in local cuisine, and was told that Vietnamese food places a huge emphasis on herbs, spices and strong, salty sauces. North Vietnamese is all about locally grown pepper and chilli. Central Vietnamese is about fragrant spices and is famed for its curry. The South uses everything 🙂

The most ubiquitous herbs used in Vietnamese cooking is Thai basil and Vietnamese mint (gigantic leaves!), plus the Asian staples of lemongrass, lime leaves and perilla leaves, not forgetting black pepper, of course.

So, Vietnamese cuisine is not just pho.

But though I wanted to try local cuisine, I did not want to chance eating street food, so we went to a local restaurant, popular with Vietnamese, called Gao.

And more adventurous, snails spring rolls and cocks’ testicles:

Lovely ambience:

And best of all, though we were supposed to meet up with friends at The Acoustic Bar in District 3, we found a sweet, romantic nightspot with wonderful live music instead down a dark little alley….