One of the things on our to-do list in Ho Chi Minh is to eat at Bánh Mì Hòa Mã, a restaurant that was featured on Mark Wiens’ Youtube channel.
The tiny restaurant is located on a corner of a building with seats sprawled into the alleyway. It appeared popular among the locals as almost all the tables were filled and there were many motorcyclists getting a to-go version of the meal during our meal. I guess this is Vietnam’s analog to drive-throughs?
We ordered the most popular dish, bánh mì ốp la, from a menu of only a handful of other dishes. Bánh mì means bread and ốp la means sunny side up eggs. However this restaurant throws in some extra goodies like sausage, tofu-like meat and some pink pâté for the crispy baguette.
The meal tastes like what you expect from looking at the pictures. Personally, there were no tastes I haven’t tasted before that would make me “Weins Face”, but I still recommend this bánh mì ốp la over other restaurants’ that just give you literally bread and engs.
On the Road Again
By now, travelling airplane-length bus rides has become routine. We boarded our bus and started our five-hour journey to Mui Ne.
Just a few observations: the Vietnam countryside has many rubber plantations (rubber is one of Vietnam’s top exports). It is very reminiscent of Cambodia including the building style and people in lounging around in hammocks. I did notice that that the Vietnam countryside looks much more green and less dusty due to better paved roads.
Russian Signs Everywhere
We arrived at Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel, which unlike the hostel in Ho Chi Minh, was very cramped and dim. The all-tile bathroom looked like something out of a Saw movie.
Our hostel is located two hours away from Mui Ne proper on a street full of overpriced and mostly empty tourist restaurants. Apparently Mui Ne is a very popular place to visit for Russians because of its weather and proximity so most establishments had Cyrillic on their signs and menus.
Something about towns losing their locality and being catered toward tourists puts me off. In addition to relatively expensive Vietnamese food, all the restaurants also served spaghetti, pizza, and burgers.
We reluctantly entered a tourist restaurant due to hunger and flipped through the menu while the waitress awkwardly hovered over our shoulder.
Lost and Found
Thankfully, Jon realized his camera was missing so we had an excuse to leave the restaurant.
By this time it was pitch black. Since we had a busy schedule the next day we had to find the camera by night.
We backtracked all the way back to the beach and amazingly we found the camera using our phone’s flashlight.
Hooray, drinks on Jon for finding his camera! By drinks, we mean bottled water for the next day.
We still needed dinner but this time we decided to avoid all the touristy restaurants and choose a lower-priced one near our hostel. From our experience so far, restaurant orders take quite a while in Vietnam. However, this definitely did not prepare us for the hour wait. It felt like they were raising the pigs and harvesting the rice for our meal.
In a larger city, this wait time would be unacceptable, but in a resort town on the countryside, I guess one has all the time in the world.
We booked a tour with our hotel to see the white and red sand dunes, the Fairy Stream, and Fishing Village. What are these you ask? You’ll find out on our next post!