Pho is like crack, only tastier, and everyone who's ever heard of it either has a personal story to tell of their own addiction, or witnessed a loved one going through it. At the height of my addiction, I was eating two to three bowls a week. Then, two things happened: I moved away from easy access to pho, and became vegetarian (eventually to turn vegan). Though options for omnivorous pho are now popping up around me all the time, the vegetarian pho always seems like an afterthought in local pho houses as they're so lacking (there are some exceptions, which I'll write about soon).
So when planning our trip to Southeast Asia, among things I was most excited about was getting some pho at a purely vegetarian restaurant in Vietnam. So naturally, I was a kid in a candy store from the moment we stepped off the bus in Saigon. We weren't hurting for vegan options there. We didn't visit the place in the picture above, but I loved the message.
The first place we went was An Lac Chay in the Pham Ngu Lao area, District 1. We ended up making a second trip here. It's located near a huge cluster of inexpensive guest houses, and up the street from the bus stop where we were left off from our trip from Phnom Penh.
Here's a map showing roughly where it is. The address is 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao St (not actually on the main road), located just above Margherita, an Italian/Mexican place. Once you've found it, walk into Margherita and walk up the steps on the left.
We started with the pork skin rice paper rolls at 12,000 Dong ($0.60):
And then, the moment I'd been waiting for, the pho:
At 30,000 Dong, Marya splurged and got the stewed Chinese mushrooms:
On our second trip, of course, I got more pho (not pictured). We also got this pork rib dish as an appetizer, though it's intended to be an entree:
Marya got this Lotus Salad (with fake ham):
The area where we stayed in Saigon had many cavernous and winding alleys that seemed straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. We had fun exploring them. Adding to the adventure is that motos are always speeding through them. Here is one of my favorite alley pics I took when we were trying to navigate back to our guest house:
These trash cans were everywhere, in our guest house, our travel agent, and in many of the restaurants and bars: