Though the cuisine at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Ho Chi Minh City may not be esthetically attractive, it is delicious, affordable, and a true taste of local culture. And the best part? Diners can walk away with a full meal for US$5 or less at this market.
Hoang Hoa Tham Market on Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City is packed with vendors hawking clothes, fabrics, household wares, thrifted goods, and some of the cheapest, most delicious meals in town.
Sup cua (crab soup) is a popular dish in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly among white-collar employees and the elderly.
Crab soup is hot, easy to eat, packed with flavor, and deliciously greasy, making it an ideal breakfast or afternoon snack.
|A cup of ‘sup cua’ (crab soup) from a stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
At a junction between the busy stalls at Hoang Hoa Tham Market sits a nameless sup cua cart with no signs, merely a few plastic stools arranged around a pot of hot soup.
Here, diners can feast on sup cua loaded with chicken breast, shredded crab, quail eggs, and broth made out of simmering bones.
Despite its simplicity, this sup cua is packed with big, bold flavors, and it only costs VND15,000 ($0.65) per cup.
Not all the best food at Hoang Hoa Tham is located in the heart of the crowded market.
In its own separate area sits a food court with four stalls where delicious bun bo (beef noodle soup), hu tieu (stretchy rice noodles served with pork and shrimp), pho, and savory cakes from Hue City are on sale.
|A dish of savory Hue cakes topped with crispy fried shallots and Vietnamese bologna at Tuyet Tram Stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
The most famous stall for these cakes is Tuyet Tram, run by the same owner for 20 years who takes great joy in sharing this savory dish from her hometown of Hue.
Tuyet Tram sells banh gio (dumplings in banana leaves), banh nam (flat steamed rice dumplings), banh beo (steamed rice pancakes), and banh bot loc (tapioca dumplings).
Each variety of cake has its own distinct flavor, but when combined with scallion oil and sweet and salty fish sauce, they all become equally mouthwatering.
|Food stalls at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
The Tuyet Tram stall also sells a variety of addictive gio cha (Vietnamese bologna).
A Hue cake dish at Tuyet Tram costs around VND30,000 ($1.29) depending on which savory cake is ordered.
The chao suon (rib congee) Thu Ngan Stall is also a major draw for foodies looking to fill their bellies at Hoang Hoa Tham.
Thu Ngan serves salmon congee, minced beef congee, and a tasty rib congee that packs a bold punch for the low price of just VND20,000 ($0.86).
|The Chao Suon Thu Ngan stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Few stalls offer food that is both as outstanding and reasonably priced as Chao Suon Thu Ngan.
The tenderness and richness of the ribs sold at the stall, along with the small amount of fat and cartilage that protect the meat, are to die for.
That is why the unique chao suon at Hoang Hoa Tham Market has remained popular over the years.
|A bowl of ‘chao suon’ at the Chao Suon Thu Ngan stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Not only does this stall offer great food, but the hospitality from its owner, Ngan, is unmatched.
Even when diners choose the cheapest dishes, she makes sure to offer them extra porridge and checks in with them to ensure they are satisfied.
The Anh Map noodle booth, which features a broad range of Vietnamese vermicelli, is another must-try when visiting Hoang Hoa Tham.
|A woman serves a bowl of vermicilli at the Anh Map stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
Anh Map initially only sold bun rieu (crab noodle soup) but, as time passed, bun thit nuong cha gio (rice noodles topped with grilled pork and spring rolls) and bun mam nem (rice noodles with fermented anchovy sauce) were added to the menu.
|A bowl of ‘bun mam’ (Vietnamese noodles with fermented fish paste) at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
The Anh Map booth is consistently busy with customers because of the freshness, tastiness, and richness of the ingredients used.
Each bowl of noodles here costs about VND25,000 ($1.08) .
After filling up on savory food, visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth with the delightful che cu nang hat dac (sweet dessert with water chesnut and arenga pinnata) from the Tam sweet dessert stall.
|A glass of ‘che cu nang hat dac’ at the Tam sweet dessert stall at Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Duc / Tuoi Tre|
The eye-catching color of the sweet delicacy is as appealing as the flavor.
The creamy flavor of homemade coconut milk paired with just the perfect amount of sweetness makes a cold cup of this sweet treat difficult to resist.
Tasting a cup of che cu nang hat dac for only VND10,000-15,000 ($0.43-0.65) at the Tam sweet dessert stall is sure to be a delightful treat.