Street food in Ho Chi Minh City has recently been given a facelift with at least two new items on the menu – a Vietnamese-style fruit buffet and fast food.
Fruit buffets have flourished in the southern city for months.
The Mix Max shop by the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal in District 3 has already become well known amongst residents for its fruit buffet service.
The shop is actually a large wooden cart with enough space to display 12 trays of ready-made fruit.
After selecting the fruits from it, diners can sit together on small stools round a low plastic table set on the sidewalk.
Thuy Minh, 27, a banker, is a patron of Mix Max.
“I like eating fruits on sunny days and here at Mix Max, I can select the kind of fruit I enjoy,” she said.
“It’s pleasant to sit here in the open air, savoring delicious fruits at a cheap price.”
Mix Max has been open for just a month but already can be considered a success.
Nguyen Duc Hung, the 24-year-old owner, said, “It’s lucky that my shop is often overcrowded. Sometimes, I’ve sold out most of the fruits at as early as 9:00 pm.”
For just VND25,000 (slightly over one U.S. dollar), diners can select their favorite fruits from the 12 varieties to fill or blend them in a glass with yoghurt.
“Mix Max also has staff to prepare or blend fruits on customers’ request,” Hung said.
Tran Thanh Hoan, 22, has run his fruit buffet shop, F4U, in Phu Nhuan District for a week and has already attracted many customers.
His clients can select from 14 types of fruit at VND20,000 (less than a U.S. dollar) for a blended glass at the eatery open from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
They can also ask to prepare the fruits themselves.
Additionally, buffet shops of cakes, tea and milk, and cheese rice paper have opened in all corners, from large streets to small alleys in the city.
In an alley in Go Vap District, the Deli shop is a ‘haven’ of countless kinds of rice paper prepared with different flavors such as garlic-soaked, fried rice paper, and baked rice paper with cheese or onion.
For VND80,000 (US$3.60), a customer can select 20 different dishes made of rice paper, tea and any kind of beverage.
Owner Thanh Tuyen said she opened Deli three years ago but has turned it into a buffet service for the last two weeks.
Ho Chi Minh City has other buffet shops such as Thi Buffet for cakes in District 1 and Phu Nhuan District, which costs VND55,000 ($2.4) per entrance ticket.
A meat-stuffed sandwich is fast food well-known in Vietnam for decades, but young people have taken it to ‘a new height’ with the two most famous brands “1 phut 30 giay” (1 minute 30 seconds) and “Ma Hai” (Mommy Hai).
“1 phut 30 giay” now has 130 stalls in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring Dong Nai Province, as well as Da Nang City in the central region, selling over 16,000 loaves of bread a day.
Pizza is likely a newcomer to the fast food menu in the city, and is being welcomed by young people for its convenience and affordability, two important factors in a dynamic hub with a population willing to try new trends.
Pizza and hamburgers have been carried on motorbikes and carts across Ho Chi Minh City for sale, adding yet more diversity to Vietnamese street food.