In my previous Hue post I may have said a visit to this town wouldn’t be complete without going to Truong Dinh Street to try the com hen, but taking a look at Dong Ba Market should also slip onto the agenda. The market is a cinch to find. If crossing the Trang Tien Bridge, hang a right on Tran Hung Dao and walk a few minutes. It’ll be on the right. The market is kind of where the Dong Ba Canal splits from the Perfume River, or across from the eastern corner of the Citadel.
The majority of the market is undercover and offers your usual gamut of made in Vietnam goods like inexpensive home and kitchenware, souvenirs, ceramics and foodstuffs. The vendors aren’t in-your-face like those at Saigon’s Ben Thanh Market, which makes for a more pleasant explorative experience.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of the market is the fresh produce section, not that difficult to locate really, and more importantly the “food hall” where a few ladies grab your attention by smiling and batting their eyelids to get you to sample their edibles. Ahem, I mean the food they dish up. Why the hell not, I say!
A very roughly-written and faded menu swings overhead, obviously scribed in Vietnamese, but with the food piled on display platters there’s no need for translations. If it looks good, order it, right? We join a few of the local market-goers and take a small plastic stool, parking ourselves in front of all the food. Front row seats. You can’t get better than that.
Deliciously sticky and charred thit nuong (pork skewers loaded with lemongrass) and a couple of serves of the curious-looking dumplings I simply had to try. Banh nam it, I believe, is a local specialty of crispy fried rice cake topped with a gelatinous mochi-like dumpling with a dried shrimp at its centre.
The other one, banh bot loc, is another variation of gelatinous rice flour dumpling also with a dried shrimp at its centre, along with a small chilli. Coriander and fried shallots are sprinkled on top for a touch of freshness and crunch. The ladies serving were a hoot as well. Three plates of food for 110K ($5). You’ve gotta love that!