It helps to be obsessed by a single dish when you arrive in Saigon. I usually hit up a few of my favourite restaurants (the upmarket street food specialist Quan An Ngon, commercial pho franchise Pho 24 anywhere about town) and then am lost in a sea of choice. There’s bun of almost limitless variety, multitude variations on pho, and street food on every corner and clinging to each alleyway. I negotiate these choices by getting momentarily obsessed with seeking out a single dish and then moving on. I felt like thit nuong: casing-free Vietnamese pork sausage, served with the rice noodle bun or in the ultimate Vietnamese sandwich as banh thit nuong; and with this idea for a dish as organising principle, I hit the streets for some local charred charcuterie action.
In the basement of the mall-like Andong market in Cholon is a small concentration of thit nuong vendors, along with the normal assortment of dehydrated animal stalls. I picked the thit nuong vendor that both had the more impressive charred sausage display and laughed the most at me. I’m not really that funny.
The sausage was garlicky and sweetly caramelised, the rest was light on the herbage and bean sprouts but topped with crushed peanuts aplenty. Now, to find a new obsession.
Price: 14,000 VND