This guy sells Ha cao from a pavement level steamer outside No. 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in District 1. Ha cao are small, slightly sweet, slightly gloppy dumpling or dim sum. They’re filled with seasoned minced pork. They’re not the most common of streetsnacks in Saigon, but they’re not that uncommon either. I stop by for a nibble simply because I haven’t seen any for quite a while. I’m no expert on these, the only other Ha cao I’ve ever tried are some rather yummy ones at the rather good noodle restaurant, Mi Chu Tac in District 3.
Here they are, all warm and cosy inside that clean steam machine above. They’re quite a bit smaller than the Ha cao at Mi Chu Tac. These are bitesized. This gentleman serves them in a plastic beaker, with a splosh of soy sauce, a dollop of chilli and a bushel of Vietnamese coriander rau ram. It’s quite a harsh herb, but I like it. You often see it served with clam and fish dishes and it always comes with embryonic duck eggs, hot vit lon. It’s also meant to give men a rollocking great stiffie… Ooh err missus. Not sure what effect it has on women.
This Ha cao comes served with a wooden stick for capturing the dumplings and a plastic spoon. One serving costs 5,000VD and very pleasant it is too. Not at all filling. With or without an erection, the rau ram is an excellent, sharp and minty bit of hedgerow to crunch along with the squashiness of the Ha cao. However this snack isn’t a ‘go out of your way 500 miles, sell your granny and re-mortgage the house’ taste, but it is well worth sampling if you spot it on the street. Cheap too. But what isn’t out here, ehh?? More snaps.