Binh Quoi 1 Tourist Village is a big time outdoor riverside hangout for weekend scoffers. It’s a wee bit of a trek out from the centre of town to Binh Thanh District – about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic – and you’re not gonna find gourmet grub at the numerous stalls, stands and serving areas dotted around this green acres site. But after paying your 89,000VD entrance fee and receiving a ‘fee paid’ sticker on your lapel you’re free to roam, chew and slurp on whatever takes your fancy.
The seating has that rustic lo-rise bamboo theme goin’ on. There are two central huts, one with the grilled grub, rice, soups, porridges and rice paper wrap numbers. The other hut has the plates and bowls. It’s a serve yourself buffet deal. Dotted around the central stand are ten or twelve individual stalls all concentrating on just one or two dishes. There are also a couple of stalls right on the waterfront. You do have to pay extra for drinks. There’s the usual beer and coke and a sniffta of buzzmungusly rough ruou is sure to take the enamel off your teeth and put a tiger in your tank.
This is one of the first dishes you’ll come across as you enter from the car park. It’s a hollow puffed up rice ball skillfully made by deep frying and manipulating a wodge of rice paste in a very hot wok. it’s chopped up and served as snack scoff on a plate and tastes not unlike the rice section of a Banh Tet. Very greasy. If you’re interested I filmed the rice sphere chef massaging one of his balls in hot oil. It takes a little over a minute of gentle tossing to swell his ball to the size you see above. Quite a handful, no?
Here’s one of the snail sellers. Apologies for less than clear images, nightime and my digital camera are still having issues with each other.
The soup selection is meagre considering the range on offer on the streets. However Binh Quoi does say it offers only "40 pure and primitive dishes of the south". Here’s a Bun mam vat and behind here there’s a woman doling out Bun rieu.
You’ll also find Banh xeo, Banh khot, Banh beo and Banh cuon on some of the smaller stalls. Above we have one chef about to reveal her rice flour pancake, steamy hot and ready to fill with minced pork and dip in nuoc mam (fish sauce).
The grill section has unexciting pork, beef and chicken kebabs. You can also snag a grilled rat or two. Above is the grilled rat. It’s rather bony and tasteless. All a bit fiddly really. While you might impress the crap out of your mates by eating this, you won’t enjoy it. In fact you probably won’t enjoy an awful lot at Binh Quoi. I first came here a few years ago and I remember it being quite good, although not great. The location is certainly fun and family friendly, there’s plenty of clean green grass space for the kids to run around, but the food is patchy at best. That said, I’d still recommend it, just not sure why…