Popular snack "Bo Bia" in Saigon

Bo bia (Bò bía) is one of the most popular street snacks in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The normal street muncher, on the other hand, prefers to overlook it. Perhaps it's because it looks like Goi Cuon, a popular Vietnamese fresh spring roll. In fact, it is completely different from the flavor and the inside ingredients.

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With its unique rice paper wrapping, bo bia looks like a little version of goi cuon, but this is where Vietnam's influence ends and China takes over. The inside of the roll resembles popiah, a Fujian-style fresh spring roll. While goi cuon relies on herbs like mint and chives to add flavor, bo bia uses each filling item to create a unique flavor not present in Vietnamese cuisine: the roll is filled with thinly sliced jicama and carrots, egg omelette ribbons, xa xiu (Chinese sausage), and dried shrimp. To give the roll its distinctive appearance, the sliced xa xiu is inserted into the last layer of the rice paper wrapper. It comes with a peanut dipping sauce that tastes similar to the one offered with goi cuon in Nha Trang. The sauce is finished with fried shallots and chopped chilies.

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Bo bia is a smorgasbord of tastes and textures. The jicama and carrot give the roll a crisp texture that balances out the softness of the egg. The fatty xa xiu gives the roll a richness that goi cuon lacks.

The majority of bo bia vendors ride bicycles through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, and you'll probably hear them before you see them. Only take-out servings are served by these vendors, and everything is packaged in plastic bags. That's good for the rolls, but it's a pain to try to dip the bo bia into the sauce in the bag.

If you want to sit on a red plastic stool, go to Ho Con Rua or Turtle Lake on Pham Ngoc Thach and Vo Van Tan, where you'll get your dipping sauce served in a genuine cup. Because the rolls are just around the length of an index finger, most people purchase them in batches because one isn't enough to fill you up. Each roll will set you back 6,000 VND.

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Leading Bo Bia Eateries in Saigon:

Bo Bia in Tan Dinh Market – 127 Nguyen Huu Cau, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam
Bo Bia Cu Xa Lu Gia – Cu Xa Lu Gia resident area, District 11, HCMC, Vietnam
Bo Bia Tran Binh Trong – 210 Tran Binh Trong street, District 5, HCMC, Vietnam
Bo Bia Ly – 120E Dinh Tien Hoang street, Da Kao ward, Disctrict 1, HCMC, Vietnam
Bo Bia Suong Nguyet Anh – 93 Cach Mang Thang Tam street, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam

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