Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pizza 4P's @ Saigon Centre in Ho Chi Minh City [Vietnam]

Pizza 4P's - it was strange when I first heard of the name as the Great Kon declared quite a number of years ago that it was the best meal he ever had at Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC); yes, I would have assumed it was Vietnamese cuisine he was referring to but the word "pizza" was pretty telling! 

A few years had passed since the Kon's declaration of love and the eatery had now expanded to 32 branches, with two in Cambodia and 14 in HCMC. Our plan was to patronize only on day three of four of our trip but we found a branch at Saigon Centre, decided to have dinner there instead. p.s. photo was taken at closing time.

We left it to the Great Kon to order as both Alex and I were first-timers, and our dear friend knew exactly what to pick given he will dine at Pizza 4P's whenever he is back to the city. 

Chilli oil I can understand but why would there be a bottle of natural honey? Was it a sweetener for tea or coffee? You would find out the answers shortly.

Sapporo Beer - this small glass of draft beer cost just 39,000 dong (about S$2.20) whereas non-alcoholic drinks like orange juice was priced at 55,000 dong! The first sip - shiok! 

Basket of Bread - honestly, I believe these were baked pizzas without any toppings! Whatever the case, our group was famished and it's nice to have something warm to fill the tummy while we awaited the arrival of the main dishes.

A bit burnt; no complaint though. 

Homemade Artisan Cheese Platter - I don't profess to be a cheese connoisseur but since having the cheese platter at Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas; I have at least turned into a cheese lover. Specifically when I had them with nuts and chutney! 

I still don't recognize the types of cheese even though I enjoyed most of them except for the thick one; the rest had this interesting smoky flavor. By the way, the cheese were made using "fresh milk from cows that grew up in the rich nature of Da Lat" in Vietnam.

Burrata Parma Ham Margherita
- this was said to be a visual pleaser given the huge white dollop of burrata cheese, which I wouldn't know how to handle. Should I use it as a dip or eat the pizza first and take a scoop?
Staff to the rescue; of course you have to cut it up! 
And then spread them out. So much for being ignorant. 

Would you have expected burrata cheese to be rich with an intense flavor? I did and given the high expectation came disappointment. There wasn't much of a taste even though I had to admit that texture wise; surprisingly soft and moist. I wouldn't count this pizza as being spectacular in the taste factor. 

4 Cheese Pizza - this was the pizza that got the Great Kon hooked to Pizza 4P's. Comprising of mozzarella, parmesan, camembert and blue cheese, you can also opt for a 5-cheese version if you enjoy raclette. 

I prefer pizzas with toppings and this plain, simplified version didn't get me excited. Bread with cheese would simply be too boring for my palate but I was so amazed by the intensity of cheesiness, which also cleverly avoided by being too overwhelming. 

Personally, this was still a tad too much cheese for me, and this would be the moment where you make use of the honey! The touch of aromatic sweetness brought this to an entirely different level that I didn;t think was possible. Maybe we can prepare some honey the next time we had pizzas! 


This late dinner was no doubt satisfying, and we cleaned up every single morsel. Alex was impressed, and you know what happened when Alex was impressed? We went Pizza 4P's again on day 4; this time to its branch near Ben Thanh Market! I shall explore more about the name then. Good night!

65 Lê Lợi, Bến Nghé, Saigon Centre Shopping Mall
Level 6, 01-02, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, 

As above.


Sapporo Beer - 39,000 Dong
Basket of Bread - Complimentary
Homemade Artisan Cheese Platter - 95,000 Dong
Burrata Parma Ham Margherita - 398,000 Dong
4 Cheese Pizza - 240,000 Dong
(Subject to Taxes)

Monday, January 30, 2023

The Famous Ben Thanh Market @ Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Known locally as Chợ Bến Thành, I first heard of this famous market at Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) when some people termed it as Vietnam's equivalence of Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market

For clarification, it's incomparable! Chatuchak Weekend Market was way bigger, selling a wider variety of merchandise and services, and said to have more than 20,000 stalls at its peak. Ben Thanh Market had like only 6,000 businesses across 1,500 booths. 

With four main gates that have names corresponding to north (Bắc), south (Nam), east (Đông) and west (Tây), the directional sections concentrated on certain products; for example, more dried food products in the eastern section.

I went twice and the photographs taken were from two dates (28 October and 01 November 2022); there was a wider 'street' in the middle of each main gate that intersected in the center of the century-old, single-storey market. 

You would be swarmed with the large bags of dried products and coffee and stall-owners wouldn't hesitate to approach you for sales; just be firm and politely reject if you are not keen to make any purchase. If you want to buy, bargaining is a "must". 

To me, the market was really touristy and most items are roughly the same, unlike Bangkok, where you can find more independent designs and offerings and, way better marketing. 

Honestly, most night markets in Bangkok were similar one or two decades ago but they evolved rapidly to become a major tourist attraction not only for foreigners, but also for the local populace! 

I had gotten past the age whereby I would buy such souvenirs to collect dust at home. However, I was indeed on the lookout for some piggy banks to add on to my collection. p.s. couldn't find a unique one.

The clothing shop at the back had like fixed pricing although I bet tourists would still attempt a bargain if they could. Designs, however, were more for the much younger or the older generation. 

Food stalls in the market; one thing I regretted was not trying any of them when I was there, although I might assume this would cater more for foreigners like locals, and hence, would either be not as authentic and / or too pricey! Soursop smoothie at 30,000 Dong (about S$1.70) sounds reasonable though.

My favorite custard apples! The fruits looked so utterly fresh yet I didn't even attempt asking for the prices. I ate a lot of fruits when I am at home but once I am overseas, my fruit intake would likely be limited to those served in hotel's breakfast buffets. 

Considerations included not knowing if the fruit was ripe, whether there would be pesticide or added chemicals and / or I am paying a reasonable price for it. 

Cute baby carrots! Would tourists buy fresh produce if they don't have a kitchenette in their accommodation? To put things in context, my mom ever brought back two yams from China and I had purchased six ears of corn and brought them back to Singapore from Cameron Highlands

The inner passages were tighter and maybe because there weren't that many tourists, the 'window shopping' was quite pleasurable. Furthermore, the high ceiling likely contributed to better air circulation as I don't get all sweaty and hot when I was there, unlike Chatuchak Weekend Market.

A better look at the yellow metal architecture of the market. With a total area of 13,056 m², this market was completed in 1912, with a major renovation that last took place in 1985. That's almost forty years ago! 

Section I spent the most at; the one offering dried nuts, fruits, coffee and tea! The one thing I told myself to buy would be lotus seeds and there were so many, many stalls to choose from. If you ask me, there's another market at Chinatown, Cho Binh Tay, that offered better pricing but I didn't buy enough; hence, the need to come back to Ben Thanh Market on my last day to make last-minute purchase.

The good thing is that I already roughly knew the market price and hence, the threshold on how much I am willing to pay. So, I went with the above stall and bargained the deep fried lotus seeds from 500,000 dong to 430,000 dong a kilogram; sampling is a must though as I don't mind paying slightly more for better quality. At Cho Binh Tay, average pricing would be about 400,000 dong a kilogram. 

Okay lah, the lady operating the stall was nice; so a higher premium would still be acceptable. Name card as appended above for ease of reference.

I didn't buy any coffee beans / tea leaves though as there were too many types! For coffee, I am more into 3-in-1 though. There's the all-famous weasel coffee and surprisingly, it's not the most expensive; the coconut coffee was more than double at 250,000 dong per 100 grams! 

Ceramic coffee drippers! If you don't know how to use a Vietnamese coffee dripper, you may check out this YouTube video here. Since the dripper is quite commonly used in Vietnam, I am going to check out the supermarket to see if they sell it, likely at a much more economical pricing. 

Two random photographs.

Operating hours of Ben Thanh Market are from 6am till 6pm but the streets surrounding the market would be converted into a night market after 6pm. I didn't have a chance to check it out; maybe next time.

Ancient-looking street lamp which could have benefited with a fresh coat of paint even though this might result in loss of its antiquated look. 

A short video clip taken in the market! 


Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, 
Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

As above.