Hi everyone. I hope you’ve had a fantastic month of May and survived the blistering heat which was much warmer than usual. Well, here’s hoping for a better and a cooler month of June. We have to be positive, but I can’t promise that it will be any cooler.

Many visitors often ask me what most locals do in Saigon? We go cruising. Cruising the streets of Saigon is what locals do on a daily basis. Besides work, we’re always on the go on our scooters, mopeds and motorbikes in search of something fun to do. Fun in Vietnam has always meant eating, chit-chatting and drinking coffee.

What I’ve found to be one of the most popular crowd pleasers amongst Saigonese (besides coffee and karaoke) are hot pots and shell fish. The reason is that these popular foods are meant to shared, and the bigger the crowd the better. The conversation, the atmosphere, the food; everything seems to be better when there are more people around. I’ve previously written about shell fish so I figure hot pots deserve their moment as well.

Hot pot, also known as ‘steamboat’ in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and China, originated over 1,000 years ago in Mongolia during the Jin Dynasty. Later it was spread to China during the Song Dynasty and also continued during the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty.

A simple metal pot of various seasoned stocks simmering in the centre of the table while ingredients are continuously added to the mix. Nothing is off the cards where hot pots are concerned; seafood, thinly sliced beef, assorted leaves and vegetables, mushrooms, beef balls, fish balls, tofu. Everything is cooked at the table in the broth. Egg noodles or vermicelli are commonly served with the hot pot and, of course, a nice dipping sauce.

Here are some notable hot pot places to start your journey:

Lau Dau Ca Dan Ich
99 Chau Van Liem, D5 // 08 3856 5240 //4pm – 10pm
The name literally means ‘fish head hot pot’. This popular place specialises in fish head and is located on Chau Van Liem near Nguyen Trai Street in District 5. It can get very busy in the evenings.

Quan Lau Dong Xuyen
407 Nguyen Chi Thanh, D5 // 08 3856 6376 // 3pm – 11pm
Lau Dong Xuyen offers an assortment of hot pot styles (though mainly Chinese), such as a mushroom loaded option for vegetarians, seafood, Thai (for that extra spicy kick), and a combination of all of the above.

Restaurant 13
13 Ngo Duc Ke, D1 // 08 3823 9314 // 8am – 10.30pm
This long-standing eatery is popular for both locals and expats for their simple family-style meals in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Despite their popularity for large family meals, they also have some outstanding hot pots. One in particular is called lau mam (fermented fish hot pot). You might have to get used to the smell, but believe me… it is good.

See you next month!